An all-through co-ed day school set in lush Surrey countryside near the borders with Sussex and Kent.
Lingfield College is an all-through school for boys and girls idyllically placed just outside Lingfield village in Surrey close to the borders with Sussex and Kent. It’s set on 40 acres and surrounded by fields and the lovely Surrey countryside. There’s a real feeling of being away from it all.
The school was founded in 1940 by a group of nuns as a girls’ school – and although it’s no longer a faith school, the Christian values are still firmly in place. The school has been fully co-ed for almost 25 years, and is now a pretty even mix of girls and boys. There are just over 900 students in total, spread across both the prep school and the senior school. Kids start at 2-years-old in the nursery, and most continue all the way through to A-Levels. Students come from a 10-mile radius around the school, which means there’s a really strong sense of community. And many students are involved with local sporting clubs, too, so the community feel goes beyond the school. It feels like a really accessible school – not poncey and posh – with a strong set of morals at its foundation and a great all-rounder offering in terms of academics, sports, music and arts.
The school is on one site, but the prep and senior schools are quite distinct from each other, separated by the London to East Grinstead train line. There’s no Georgian mansion building to create a breathtaking first impression – although the green space does a pretty good job of creating wow-factor.
The school has been purpose built so it’s tidy and functional-looking, rather than super-pretty, but this also means that classrooms and hallways are spacious and light-filled. Most have wonderful views out across the school fields and surrounding countryside, which is rather lovely. The fact these buildings have been specifically designed as a school creates an organised and harmonious feel, and that flows into the classrooms too, where there’s a real sense of calm.
There’s oodles of space here, and no shortage of sports fields, both grass and astro. The football / rugby / hockey pitches are situated on the senior school side, but there’s also a large field at the prep school, rather sweetly overlooked by an orchard which offers up an ideal spot for families to picnic while they spectate at these school’s sports day.
THE PREP SCHOOL
Let’s start with the littlies. There are three lovely big and light rooms in the nursery each interconnecting and with doors out onto a fully sprung Billy Bounce playground. The third room is specifically for the two-year-olds and feels really welcoming, with a big squishy leather sofa in one of the corners.
From reception upwards, it’s a two-class intake and the big selling points here – aside from the amazing outdoor space – are the dedicated drama hall, sports hall, computer suites and science rooms. The junior school also has its own dining hall, and a small forest school.
Music is a strong focus and there’s a wide choice of instruments taught and various music groups to join – although it’s all kept fun. I was rather taken by the names of the music groups: Flute Salad, Top Brass, Harp Attack, Fiddlesticks… you get the drift.
THE SENIOR SCHOOL
Most of the prep school kids move up to the senior school, although a handful go off to other schools – often because they’re after boarding schools or single-sex schools. From Year 7, student numbers double going from about 40 kids in a year group to around 90. Students who come to the school in Year 7 and Year 9 sit an entrance exam.
In recent years, the school has added an impressive performing arts centre and a new Sixth Form Centre with a dedicated Sixth Form dining hall. There’s also a wonderfully large art studio, music centre, assembly hall and sports hall with a fully fitted out gym.
Lingfield College is not regarded locally as hugely academically selective, but kids achieve good academic results without it being a hot-house. In 2018, more than 30 per cent of students achieved A-A* in all of their subjects. The maths results were notable, with all students achieving A*-B.
In GCSEs, 63% of all grades were between 9-7 (A*- A). 91% of all students studying English obtained grades between 9-7 (A* – A). 88% of students studying the three Sciences achieved marks between 9-7 (A* – A), and in Maths 98% of students achieved 9-4 (A* – C). In Music, all students achieved 9-7 (A* – A) grades.
Students go on to a wide range of universities, including Cambridge and Oxford, Bath and Exeter.
Richard Bool the man at the helm, and is now in his eighth year at Lingfield College. He was Deputy Head at Ardingly College in Haywards Heath before he arrived here and at Sherborne School in Dorset before that. But he’s come to education via a career as a solicitor at city law firms and a short stint in Brussels at the European Commission.
It’s always difficult for a headmaster to to fit in a teaching schedule, but Mr Bool still manages to teach Geography, History and Humanities. He also hosts weekly informal lunches with small groups of pupils across the year groups. As a headmaster, he’s keen to celebrate the strengths of each student and is proud of his school which stimulates and challenges students in a relaxed and supportive environment.
WRAP AROUND CARE
In the prep school, from nursery up to Year 6, there’s extended day care which includes a Breakfast club from 7.30am and the TeaRex after-school care til 6.30pm. In the senior school, there are a range of co-curricular after-school clubs from athletics and art to mindfulness, psychology and Spanish.
Nursery and Year 1 fees are £3,750 per term and Years 2-6 are £4,095 per term. In the senior school, it’s £5,409 for Years 7-11 and £5,451 for Years 12-13.
Academic, Art, Sport, Music and Drama scholarships are available, as well as bursaries.
WORD ON THE GROUND
Parents I spoke to like the school’s community spirit, as well as the down-to-earth nature of the school. The balance of academic, sport and creative arts is good, and of course they love the gorgeous campus.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Those looking for an unpretentious school with a good all-rounder offering. It’s also good for those wanting the ease of keeping their kids on one school from age 2-18.
Not for: Lingfield College isn’t hot housey – so it won’t suit overtly ambitious parents.
Dare to disagree? Check out the school for yourself at their whole school open day on Sat 28 Sept – there’s no need to book. There’s also a Sixth Form open evening on Thurs 10 Oct (contact the admissions office to reserve a space – tel: 01342 838153).
Lingfield College, Racecourse Road, Lingfield, Surrey, RH7 6PH. Tel: 01342 838153