Brighton College has been named as the United Kingdom’s School of the Decade by The Sunday Times
TAG: Richard Cairns (Head Master 2006-present)
On Thursday 9 January 2020, we were delighted to welcome The Right Honourable Sir Nicholas Soames to officially open the School of Science and Sport. Designed by Ellen van Loon of OMA, our newest building is designed to seamlessly link sports and science and overlooks the Home Ground at the north end of the campus.
Three years ago, a young teenager clambered into the back of a frozen chip van on the final leg of his long journey from Syria to England. He arrived in a country he had only ever read about in books. He had no idea what sort of reception he would receive.
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.
Dear Old Brightonians,
It has been an odd sort of term. There has been the usual pattern of sports fixtures, concerts, plays and debates. Teachers have continued to stretch and challenge in the classroom. Pupils have continued to surprise themselves by how much they can achieve if they really put their mind to it. And the kindness and respect that the overwhelming majority of boys and girls demonstrate, day in and day out, remains palpable.
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).
With 505 grades at A* or A, 117 at grade B, 20 at grade C and 2 at grade D, our delightful outgoing Upper Sixth pupils are today celebrating a stellar end to their time here. Remarkably, 110 sixth formers secured A* and A grades in every single subject, with at least a dozen really wonderful characters pushing up from D grade predictions a year ago to a terrific set of B grades today.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
We've made the feature that appeared in the March issue of Country Life available here as a download.
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.
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.
I am writing with news of our A-level results. Of the 616 papers sat, the following grades were achieved:
This equates to 96% of grades at A*-B at this stage. These are the grades universities now demand.
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.
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.
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.
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*.
The Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, visited Brighton College earlier this month and spoke at our education conference.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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'.
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.
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”.
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.
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...?!?
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.
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.
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.
At this year's Annual Dinner, the Head Master gave a fascinating account of our very first OBs' escapades following their time at the College. Following some sneaky pilfering on our part we have at great expense secured a transcript of his speech (we asked for it... he gave it to us...) for your perusal...