TAG: Richard Cairns (Headmaster 2006)

10 August 2017

End of Trinity Term 2017 Letter from the Head Master

Dear Old Brightonians,

As you walk along the streets of most German cities, you might, as you pass the entrance to a house or an apartment block, suddenly feel a small change in the level of the pavement.

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16 December 2016

End of Michaelmas term 2016 letter from The Head Master

Dear Old Brightonians,

This has been a year in which once again the focus has been on creating an environment where every child feels valued for who he or she is. That’s not always easy amidst the maelstrom of hormonal change that bedevils teenagers (and no doubt drives one or two parents to distraction).

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20 June 2016

NEWS & PHOTOS: The WW1 Memorial Statue unveiling, 17th June 2016

On Friday 17th June we gathered to remember the 976 Old Brightonians who served in the Great War and in particular the 149 who died, never to return.

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16 December 2015

End of Michaelmas term letter from The Head Master

Dear Old Brightonians,


Two years ago, a boy came to see me in my study to tell me that he had been diagnosed with testicular cancer and was about to embark on a gruelling course of chemotherapy. He was 17 years old at the time. Thankfully, he is now fully recovered.


Almost four years ago, on the first day of term, a 14-year old girl, Naishel, collapsed in the corridor outside Seldon House unable to breathe. She died on her way to hospital. I can still remember ‘phoning her mother to tell her that her daughter was dead. My words were hopelessly inadequate but I still remember every one. Hours later, I gathered Naishel’s year group together in chapel and told them too. I can still picture that moment. A dark, cold, January morning. Children too stunned to speak or even to cry.

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20 August 2015

Almost a thousand A* grades at GCSE

I am writing to report some excellent GCSE results, with a record number of A* grades. I suspect they will again be the best of any co-ed school in England and certainly among the top three such schools.


100% of grades were at A*-C, with a record number of A* grades: almost a thousand!

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13 August 2015

"I bring news of terrific A-level results..."

Dear Old Brightonians,


I bring news of terrific A-level results. By every measure, these are comfortably our best ever:

A*/A 82.7% (74.15% in 2014)

A*/B 98.1% (94.0% in 2014)

A*/C 100% (98.9% in 2014)


To give you some indication of how well the Upper Sixth has done, the A* - B percentage places Brighton ahead of where Westminster, Eton and Winchester were last year.

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08 December 2014

The Cairns Tower, Brighton’s newest addition to city skyline, is unveiled at last!

Brighton College has launched a new city landmark today with the unveiling of its grand gatehouse tower at its entrance – finally built after a 125-year delay. The tower, which has been named Cairns Tower after the school's headmaster, was supposed to be the crowning glory of architect Sir Thomas Graham Jackson's late 19th century additions to Brighton College (founded in 1845) but a shortage of funds meant his splendid creation was never finished. In 2012 the College engaged historic building specialists Richard Griffiths Architects to complete the original design of the tower externally. The tower has been paid for, in the most part, by one very generous, anonymous donor. Other donors followed suit and the result, which was unveiled in front of the whole school with much celebration, is set to be a breath-taking addition to the Brighton skyline.

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24 November 2014

Brighton College’s transformation into top UK school is recognised with award

Brighton College's metamorphosis into one of the top UK schools in the country has been recognised after its management scooped the Outstanding Senior Leadership Team of the Year gong at the Independent School Awards 2014 in Nottingham.

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21 August 2014

Richard Cairns writes: 2014 GCSE results

Dear Old Brightonians,


I am writing to report another excellent set of GCSE results.


These are the first GCSEs to have been seriously toughened up by Michael Gove, with all exams taken at the end of two years as opposed to the modular system of recent years. In addition, easier elements of the English Language GCSE (such as speaking and listening) no longer count towards the final grade. It is all the more impressive, therefore, that our boys and girls have done so well. 

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15 August 2014

Izzy Meikle-Small (Ch. 2009-14) celebrates after juggling A-level study with acting

Brand new Old Brightonian Izzy Meikle-Small, star of television series The 7.39 and the film Never Let Me Go who has starred alongside Olivia Coleman and Kristen Stewart, said picking up her A-level results was more stressful than appearing in premieres of her films.

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14 August 2014

2014 Brighton College Results

Dear Old Brightonians


It has been a busy and emotional day at the College as our Upper Sixth received their results. I write this afternoon merely to put some further flesh on the news I e-mailed out to you this morning.


Essentially, Brighton sixth formers have bucked the downward national trend again, with some stunning A-level results, including a record number of grades at A* (an impressive 181 A* grades in total). The College also celebrated another rise in the proportion of grades at A* and A, those grades demanded by Oxford, Cambridge and other elite universities.

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26 June 2014

Accelerando on site!

The Head Master was on site with Sandy Chenery last week discussing plans for the Music School as the build progresses. Alongside many other advantages that the Music School will bring, pupils will also benefit from state of the art recording facilities, enhancing and refining their performance techniques and of course recording them for posterity. Many pupils compose their own works and the opportunity to perform and record these will nurture their talent, and extend the breadth of their experience. Sandy and his team have spent many hours planning the Music School to ensure that all the pupils needs are met.

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21 June 2014

Brighton College Donor Garden Party

The Head Master hosted a garden party for donors to the school last weekend, against the delightful backdrop of the 1st XI playing Bedes. A wonderful afternoon was had by all – prefects hosted tours around the College, peeping in on the rehearsals for the Dance Show in the Great Hall, the spectacular Art Show in the art studio and a look in on New House and Head's House (where some of our donors very much enjoyed playing on the subbuteo table).

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13 May 2014

Sir John Chilcot (H/S. 1952-57) opens spectacular new boarding house

NEWS (13th May 2014): Brighton College's most recent building, New House, has received a prestigious award from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) for architectural excellence.


At their annual awards ceremony, RIBA presented the College with a South East Downland regional award for the boarding house. This is the third such award for Brighton College, both the Simon Smith and Skidelsky Buildings having also received the honour in 2012. Brighton College was also named the Royal Institute's South East Client of the Year for the second time in as many years - a very rare privilege. Congratulations to all involved.

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09 April 2014

"Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside" - Brighton College in Country Life

We've made the feature that appeared in the March issue of Country Life available here as a download.

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11 December 2013

Letter from the Head Master, end of term, Christmas 2013

Dear Old Brightonians, A day from now, term will end. The signs are clear already. Yesterday, boys and girls were sporting Christmas jumpers in aid of the Rocking Horse charity. Today, the porters are lugging bottles of wine, chocolates and flowers across the quad to favoured teachers and House tutors. Vast quantities of cake and chocolate will be consumed in the final few lessons. Christmas lunches will be served, crackers will be pulled, hats donned, jokes told and so the longest term will come to its inevitable conclusion. The college will fall silent. Only a few cold, sad seagulls (and the Bursar) will remain.

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14 September 2013

"Heads of School" Dinner report, 14th September 2013

The College welcomed back Heads and Deputy Heads of School on the evening of 14th September, stretching from 1951 up to the present date for a Heads of School Dinner.

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22 August 2013

Letter from the Head Master: "GCSE Results 2013 - Brighton College breaks UK GCSE record"

It was smiles all round on Results Day today as we celebrated being the highest performing co-educational school ever in the UK, with 95% of  GCSE grades at A* or A.

Last year, The Sunday Times named Brighton College UK School of the Year for being the only school to improve its results for seven years in succession. The college has maintained that extraordinary trend.

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19 August 2013

Letter from the Head Master, Richard Cairns

I am writing with news of our A-level results. Of the 616 papers sat, the following grades were achieved:


A* 147

A 302

B 142

C 22

D 2

E 1


This equates to 96% of grades at A*-B at this stage. These are the grades universities now demand.

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18 April 2013

Oxbridge Drinks, Thursday 18th April 2013

The inaugural drinks for Oxbridge OBs were held on Thursday 18th April at the Oxford & Cambridge Club. Hosted by Old Brightonians President and Hon. Fellow of Pembroke College, Cambridge, Sir John Chilcot (H/S. 1952-57) the drinks were a great success, proving to be a jocular evening with much bating between OB Oxford & Cambridge graduates.

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15 December 2012

Report: Brighton College Hong Kong Dinner – Saturday 15th December 2012

Globe trotting Headmaster Richard Cairns clearly has taken a shine to Hong Kong, Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. No sooner had he hosted an excellent evening at the China Club in late September than he was planning a return visit in December! This came to pass and we convened for dinner in the Peking Room at the American Club in Central.

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12 September 2012

England’s Headmaster of the Year

I am delighted to inform you that the Head Master has been awarded the title of England's Headmaster of the Year at a ceremony at the Dorchester Hotel in London last night, sponsored by Tatler magazine.

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23 August 2012

A record set of results!

Not to be outdone by the record-breaking Upper Sixth, our GCSE candidates have also enjoyed a record set of results. More than 90% of grades were at A* or A (those grades demanded by leading universities) and, astonishingly, the most common grade of all was an A*.

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01 June 2012

Speech by the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, at Brighton College

The Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, visited Brighton College earlier this month and spoke at our education conference.

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31 May 2012

City Plan ‘Question Time’ at Brighton College

On 31st May 2012 Brighton College hosted an important debate about the future redevelopment of the city of Brighton and Hove. Some 100 guests, including Caroline Lucas, MP, Councillor Jason Kitcat, Leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, as well as architects and developers from across London and the South East, packed the Rose Lecture Theatre for the ‘City Plan Question Time’.

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24 March 2012

New York Dinner 2012 report

The Old Brightonian USA group goes from strength to strength! The second annual dinner was held in late March at the beautiful Lotos Club on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

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24 February 2012

Oxbridge Dinner 2012

The now annual Old Brightonians Oxbridge Dinner for our current and recent Oxbridge undergraduates was held on a beautiful spring evening at Pembroke College, Cambridge last Friday 24th Feb.

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30 November 2011

Independent School of the Year Award 2011-12

The Sunday Times has announced that the winner of its much coveted Independent School of the Year Award 2011-12 is Brighton College. This is the most prestigious schools award in the United Kingdom.

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24 November 2011

HRH The Duke of York opens Brighton College Abu Dhabi

HRH The Duke of York visited Brighton College Abu Dhabi on 24th November along with Head Master Richard Cairns to formally inaugurate the new campus and take a tour of the school’s impressive academic and recreational facilities. The visit took place in the presence of His Highness Sheikh Hamed Bin Zayed al Nahyan, Managing Director of Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

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11 November 2011

UK Independent Secondary School of the Year 2011

I am writing with some fantastic news. The Sunday Times has decided to award Brighton College the title of UK Independent Secondary School of the Year 2011 in their highly influential Sunday Times Schools Guide to be published this Sunday and on line.

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11 October 2011

Make A Difference Day

Wednesday 28th September saw all Brighton College pupils and staff engage in over 100 community service projects in and around Brighton, as they set out to help their local area as part of the College's fourth annual "Make a Difference Day." Whether clearing Coldean Woods together with Brighton and Hove Urban Rangers or undertaking maintenance at St Dunstan's centre for blind ex-servicemen and women; marching and collecting in support of Breast Cancer Awareness or clearing scrub with the National Trust Downland Restoration Project at Devil's Dyke; baking cakes for the elderly, sorting stock for the Martlets Hospice charity shops or, indeed, picking litter from the beaches and roads of Kemp Town; more than 800 pupils worked in the community to support a huge range of projects across the city and local area.

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25 August 2011

Best GCSE results in Sussex

I am writing with very good news regarding our GCSE results which pupils are collecting this morning.

The boys and girls should be delighted. They have smashed the college record. Most importantly, every pupil achieved results that they can be proud of – whether that be ten A* grades or a mixture of A and B grades. Every set of results is personal, special and equally valued.

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18 August 2011

Letter from the Head Master, A Level results, August 2011

I am writing with news of our A-level results, which the sixth form will receive this morning.

It is all very pleasing. This very cheerful group has broken the school record for top grades with 75.9% of all grades at A* or A. These are the best A-level results ever achieved by a co-educational school in England. The college’s previous best was 72.8% in 2010.

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03 August 2011

Letter from the Head Master, Summer 2011

In Evelyn Waugh's Decline and Fall, the young Paul Pennyfeather, sent down from his Oxford college, is interviewed for a teaching post in the offices of Church and Gargoyle, scholastic agents. The proprietor, Mr Levy, explains to Pennyfeather that "in England we class school into four grades: ‘Leading school', ‘First-rate school', ‘Good school' and finally, ‘School". Paul Pennyfeather, of course, ends up in a ‘School'.

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30 June 2011

REPORT: Graduation Day 2011

Thursday night saw the Graduation Service and Ceremony for Brighton College Upper Sixth Leavers – the formal event to mark their departure from the College, in advance of the informal festivities of the Leavers’ Ball at the Hilton Metropole on Friday evening. Family, friends and staff crowded into the Chapel to celebrate the achievements of each and every member of the Upper Sixth, punctuated with some humorous and engaging reminiscence, provided by Theo Bunce and Emma Langmead.

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27 May 2011

Head Master’s Garden Party 27th May 2011

Although the weather disrupted the planned croquet on the lawn, it certainly did not dampen spirits at yesterday's Head Master's Garden Party.

The purpose of the evening was to bring together supporters of the College who have made significant donations to development projects over the two decades, to thank them for their valued support. These benefactors have enabled projects such as the Alexander Arts Centre, the Sammy Woods Pavilion, the Dyslexia Centre and the Kingsford Fund, to name but a few, to be fully realised.

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22 March 2011

ISI Inspection of Brighton College 2011

I am writing to let you know the outcome of our latest school inspection. The inspection began on Tuesday 11th January and was completed on Wednesday 9th February.

Inspectors assess schools in ten areas and grade them as ‘excellent’ (the equivalent of the state sector’s ‘outstanding’), ‘good’, ‘satisfactory’ or ‘unsatisfactory’. Typically, a school of our standing would hope to receive a mixture of grades at ‘good’ or ‘excellent’.

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19 March 2011

New York Dinner 2011

On a beautiful, early spring evening in the middle of March, 20 OBs and their partners gathered together in the beautiful Lotos Club, just a few blocks away from New York’s Central Park, to mark the re-birth of the “USA Friends of Brighton College”.

The occasion, organized by Development Director Debra Chalmers who has brought renewed energy and enthusiasm to her role, was attended by the Head Master, Richard Cairns; Second Master Simon Smith and Assistant Head, Alan Bird.

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27 November 2010

Annual Dinner 2010 - report

I arrived at my last annual dinner ‘in charge’ on an extremely cold evening thankful that, at least, we had no snow. After a short panic attack about missing table decorations, which turned up elsewhere in the school, I joined a packed Café de Paris for pre-dinner drinks before we repaired to a slightly chilly Dining Hall for dinner.

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17 November 2010

Reflections on the College’s current success by an all-but octogenarian former Headmaster

The recent great successes enjoyed by the College – surely a source of joy to all of us who love the place – have caused the Press to suggest that it was previously a ‘backwater’. So it seems right to refer to the work done in the last fifty years, that work itself laid on earlier foundations. After all, the decade before then produced Lord Alexander, Lord Skidelsky and Bishop Bavin (to say nothing of Sir John Chilcot) among others! And these last fifty years began with a visit from the Queen. Backwater...?!?

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09 November 2010

Brighton College at Abu Dhabi

It was a pleasure to meet Headmasters Dr Richard Cairns, and Brendan Law as well as other officials at the recent BCAD event at the Fairmont Hotel, Abu Dhabi on the 4th November 2010. A number of Old Brightonians were present and it would be good to keep in touch with those in the GCC region, as well as trying to make contact with colleagues from 1965 to 1969 when I was at the College.

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27 September 2010

Simon Smith, Second Master

Simon Smith has decided to retire at the end of the academic year after 38 years of outstanding service to the college, for the past eleven as Second Master.

He has been a wonderful support to me in my five years as Head Master, providing wise counsel, good humour and kindly reassurance throughout. My predecessors, Bill Blackshaw, John Leach and Anthony Seldon, also owe him a terrific debt of gratitude. He has served each of them with great loyalty. Above all, Simon has served this community. He has made time for colleagues and pupils in equal measure, supporting them when times are tough and admonishing them only when necessary.

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25 February 2010

Vice Presidents Luncheon 2010

The fifth annual Vice Presidents’ lunch saw us return to the Army and Navy Club, and once again we are very grateful to Peter Miller (C. 1945-49 ) for hosting the occasion and allowing us to enjoy the fine catering and premises of the club.

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08 December 2009

President's letter December 2009

I hope this finds you well and enjoying whatever season you may be in, although there has been little pleasure to be had in the recent British weather!

During the summer, Alison and I enjoyed a very agreeable trip to New York City with Richard Cairns and Simon Smith. All of us would like to grow an East Coast branch of the OBA and hope our visit has sown some further fruitful seeds. If you live or work there and have not already done so, please e-mail Fiona Aiken (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) with your contact details, so we can plan our next reunion.

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05 September 2009

1997-2005 "Seldon" reunion

On Saturday 5 September forty or so young OBs, from the Seldon years (1997-2005) returned to the College for an informal reunion. Anthony and Joanna Seldon dropped by to greet them and several members of staff from the same era.

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28 August 2009

GCSE results from Brighton College

I am delighted to send you details of this year's GCSE results from Brighton College - the best results in the school's history, with 50 pupils achieving nothing less than an A grade.  The highlights include four sets of twins and a boy who moved to the school in Year 9 "to be himself" and clocked up 11 A*s including Classical Greek.

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20 August 2009

A-Level results 2009

I am delighted to inform you that our A-Level results were even better this year: 95.1 % at grades A/B, compared to 94.0% in 2008, 87.7% in 2007, 77.8% in 2006 and 76.1% in 2005.

I am sure that this will keep us among the top 20 schools in England and I trust that we will remain the  top co-educational school in the land too.

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01 August 2009

New York Reunion 2009

A select gathering of New York based OBs met up at the Helmsley Park Lane Hotel on Saturday 1st August. The College was represented by the President, the Headmaster, Richard Cairns, and the Second Master, Simon Smith.

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26 June 2009

President's letter July 2009

I hope you are enjoying the summer (if that is the season where you happen to be). I hope also that you are enjoying the new look website, and I am very grateful to Alex Bremer (R. 1979-83) for his efforts in bringing it into the 21st century. The OBA has recently hosted two events, a Vice Presidents’ Lunch at the Carlton Club and the celebration of the entry of the latest cohort of College leavers into the Association, which coincided with the College graduation. For younger OBs we are arranging an informal reunion at the College for those who attended the school under Anthony Seldon, who was the Headmaster from 1997 to 2006. Details and/or reports of all these events can be found elsewhere on the site.

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01 January 2009

Letter From The Head Master

Dear Old Brightonians,

I thought you might be interested to hear that following an independent inspection by Ofsted, the boarding facilities and pastoral care at Brighton College were judged to be 'outstanding'. This is a verdict awarded to very few schools, and comes as news reached us that a league table published by the website www.best-schools.co.uk made Brighton the number 1 co-educational boarding school in the UK.

The college has invested more than £1 million in boarding facilities in the last year to help us meet the unprecedented demand from UK and overseas families wanting their children to board at Brighton. Further places will be available in September 2009 following additional investment. The boarding community here is now larger than anytime in half a century.

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