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Westbourne House School
Westbourne House School
Westbourne House School
Westbourne House School
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Westbourne House School Chichester, West Sussex Visit
Westbourne House School
342 pupils, ages 2½ - 13
Day and Boarding

Westbourne House School

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Our view

An idyll of all that is enchanting in childhood – sprawling grounds, woodland playgrounds, acres of playing fields, mucking about in boats on the school lake... Westbourne House has managed to bottle that elusive formula of what makes a prep school perfect: not too big (360 pupils), a small family feel, and yet an immensely large site, fizzing energy and, oh yes, top-drawer academics.


With 100 acres in deepest West Sussex, Westbourne House must surely bag the award for most handsome prep. Just outside Chichester, close to the South Downs and a stone’s throw from the gorgeous Wittering beaches, it is not surprising that water sports are an important part of school life. Kayaking and canoeing take place on the school’s lake, along with fly fishing, nature studies and interesting experiments that involve crafting rafts out of barrels. The superb sports facilities include an indoor pool, squash courts and climbing wall.

The onsite nursery and pre-prep are housed in their own separate building and grounds, close to the main school. Imaginative displays festoon the foyer, with everyone taking part in creating them – this is a fun, creative, immersive experience the minute you walk through the door. We found magic and inspiration in bucket-loads here, from a well-thought-out Gruffalo den in the woods to the classrooms vividly decorated with themes: Under the Sea, How to Catch a Star, Zoom into a Good Book. This place offers a gentle transition from nursery to Reception and is one of the loveliest, most uplifting pre-preps we’ve seen.


Martin Barker is celebrating a decade at the helm. A calm, steadying hand, he is inspiring yet firm, friendly yet forceful. Inclusive and holistic are his buzzwords; he is keen to encourage confidence, for children to have a go at anything and everything and for them to acquire skills and develop talents they never thought they had.

It’s all about the staff in Mr Barker’s book – attracting them, inspiring them, keeping them. He believes that if he can secure dazzling teachers, the rest will take care of itself. Which, of course, it does. Many staff live on site, which helps with the family atmosphere.


Westbourne House is fervently non-selective. This is very much a through school from nursery to Year 8 – very few peel off before that. Admissions are possible at any time and into any year group, and the school prides itself on being able to accommodate households relocating with children joining in all years, provided there’s a space. A good sprinkling of overseas pupils arrive in Year 6, eager to experience English boarding school life at its best.

Academics and senior school destinations

Parents often choose the school for its terrific academic record, expecting and demanding great results, with an eye on entry into the top boarding schools. Saying that, achievement in itself is what matters here, for every level of ability and effort is recognised. A few years ago, the school adopted the High Performance Learning philosophy, which encourages children to develop skills such as lateral thinking, empathy, perseverance and resilience. In 2021, Westbourne House picked up the prestigious High Performance Learning World Class School award, which recognises the very best schools around the globe at the forefront of educational thinking.

The IT suite is exciting, with rows of iMacs and Lego robotics kits amongst other funky gadgetry, and the science department impresses, with chemistry, biology and physics taught as separate subjects in Years 7 and 8 (not often the case at prep schools, and brilliant preparation for the next stage). Science clinics offer support for children at both ends of the scale, and pupils with SEND needs are offered in-class support, with individual breakout sessions and regular feedback from subject teachers where necessary.

The newly refurbished library is a fantastic space, with 1,000 new books to keep the reading bug alive. Reading lessons are part of English and a new programme sees pupils writing an analysis of books they’ve read, with new ones they might enjoy being recommended.

From Year 5 upwards, Learning for Life lessons kick in, with everything from organisation and revision skills to interview practice and touch typing on the agenda. There is no formal Saturday school; instead, pupils play a wide range of sports matches (if you’re selected for a team, you’re expected to turn up) and enjoy a fantastic programme of activities from the educational to creative arts – think chess, fly-fishing and baking – optional but popular for both boarders and day pupils.

Common Entrance is only taken for maths, English and science. Leavers head predominantly to local schools, a mixture of day and boarding. Brighton College, Canford, Bryanston, Hurst College and Seaford bag the biggest number of pupils, with Lancing and Cranleigh also on the slate, and Sherborne Girls gaining in popularity too. Mr Barker begins the ‘next-step’ conversations with parents in Year 5, helping guide them towards the schools that best suit their child. Westbourne gets an impressive number of scholarships, about which he is refreshingly self-effacing.


Sports hall, pool, cricket nets, squash courts, Astro, dance studio, climbing wall… plus a nine-hole golf course on-site and real tennis at Petworth. Not to mention the lake for canoeing and kayaking from Year 2. Basically, the sports facilities are fab. So it’s no great surprise that the standard of sport itself is first-rate. These teams win a lot (and there are plenty of vocal parents on the sidelines confirming that), with cricket a particular strength. There are lots of county cricket players and girls’ cricket is developing rapidly.

The smart, recently refurbished standalone music school makes for a strong culture of music, and has over the years clocked some pretty impressive tours, including singing in Notre Dame, the Vatican and at the Last Post at the Menin Gate Memorial. Three quarters of the children in the prep school play an instrument – all taught on site by visiting peris, who are mostly professional musicians. A string of orchestras, bands, choirs and chamber groups means there’s something for everyone.

Drama is similarly whizzy. Like music, it is a key part of the curriculum in all year groups, and we are pleased to hear that every year from nursery upwards puts on a play, with Years 6 and 8 producing musicals (and getting involved in lighting, sound and stage management) and Year 7 creating happy havoc with their sketch show.

The art and technology department is particularly impressive, with pupils in Years 3 to 8 enjoying an hour of art plus an hour of tech each week, covering textiles, food technology, ceramic, and robotics, a new addition which pupils are loving. The highlight is the food tech room, complete with a demo kitchen and individual preparation areas for pupils – a budding chef’s dream.

Where every school on the block now offers Forest School, Westbourne House was an early adopter of outside learning, and has its own DofE programme in the form of the Westbourne Award.

Post-pandemic, trips have returned big time; to the New Forest, Isle of Wight, kayaking in the Wye Valley, and even a cricket tour to South Africa for the Year 8s.


One of the most fun and flexible boarding set-ups we’ve seen, boarding is unsurprisingly hugely popular. There are seven different boarding houses: one in the main house (for Years 3 to 6), but the rest (Years 7 to 8) are set up as a cutesy cul-de-sac of village houses in the school grounds – each one has a married couple as houseparents – where children pop over to play in each other’s gardens (one even has its own trampoline). What a great way for the older children to learn to be independent while having real housemates – a proper dress rehearsal for senior school, university and beyond. Full boarding has been on offer for a while, attracting a number of Spanish, French and Chinese pupils, among others. A mammoth 100 children board at present (everything from one to seven nights a week), relishing their evenings running around the school grounds and getting stuck into a huge number of activities.

School community

Deputy head academic Barbara Langford deserves a special shout-out. Not only has she spearheaded the HPL Programme but, alongside pastoral lead Sam Pollock, she has also put together a total review of the pastoral care system, training all teachers on the processes to follow and creating access to an onsite emotional behavioural coach and a school counsellor, whose door (next to matron’s) is always open. The school runs regular ‘teen tips’ parent seminars, and Year 7s and 8s have their own tutors (and a specified pastoral head), more akin to what you’d expect at a senior school.

Westbourne House was founded at the same time as the Scout movement, and so the house system here borrows some of the lingo – houses are ‘patrols’, head boys and girls are ‘troop leaders’ and pupils work towards a boarders’ adventure badge; learning survival techniques, night navigation and outdoor cooking. Siblings are often in the same patrol, fostering healthy cross-year group collaboration.

When they arrive, new pupils are buddied up with an older pupil to help them settle in, and we spotted several Year 8s sporting ‘friend’ badges so littlies feel confident approaching them. Pupil camaraderie shone through during our visit – and the quietly confident Year 8 pupils who showed us around were brilliant ambassadors for their school.

Parents are warmly welcomed here (there’s even a dedicated ‘grandparents’ day’ in the pre-prep). Some 40 per cent of families have relocated from London expressly for a broader, more tranquil environment, while still seeking academic excellence. The demographic is fairly local, although the expansion in boarding means that Westbourne is now on the radar for, and becoming popular with, international parents. A good minibus service runs to and from the South Downs and the Witterings (on the coast) – a boon for parents keen to avoid the notoriously bad Chichester rush hour traffic.

And finally...

‘Make the most of every opportunity’ sums up the Westbourne ethos. High-achieving and quietly confident, this is a school where children are expected to work hard and play harder – and judging by the happy faces we saw on our visit, it’s a philosophy that reaps rewards.

Gallery See All

Boys in red polo shirts playing brass instruments outside
Three pupils crouched on the grass in front of Westbourne House
Girls acting on stage in full makeup and costumes in a kitchen set design
Pupils walking on the green lawns in front of Westbourne House
Boy in a red and white top holding a blue and white basketball
Boy and a girl in red ties smiling in a science class
Boy acting on stage wearing a brown jumper and brown tweed cap
Boys and girls playing outside all wearing grey shirts and red ties
Pupils looking at a globe on a blue desk with a teacher
Two girls playing musical instruments
Two girl and a boy wearing wellies running along holding hands
Smiley girl wearing a red and black life jacket holding a red and yellow oar
  • Senior school destinations

    Senior school destinations

    Seaford College (13), Hurstpierpoint College (11), Lancing College (6), Bedales (1), Brighton College (7), Canford School (4), Benenden School (1), Bryanston School (1), Charterhouse (2), Cranleigh School (2), Christ's Hospital (1), Claysmore School (1), Oundle School (2), Portsmouth Grammar School (1), St Mary's Ascot (1), Sherborne School (2), Sherborne Girl's School (3), Wellington College (1)

  • Scholarships for senior schools


    Academic7Brighton College (1) Canford School (1), Churcher's (1), Seaford College (3), Sherborne School (1)
    Music1 Seaford College
    Drama1 Seaford College
    Sport11 Brighton College (3), Hurstpierpoint College (3), Seaford College (4) , Sherborne School (1)
    All Rounder3 Hurst (1), Lancing College (1), Sherborne (1)
    OtherDance Seaford

  • Fees and bursaries

    Day fees per term

    Year 1£4,405
    Year 2£4,405
    Year 3£6,300
    Year 4£7,220
    Year 5£7,365
    Year 6£7,365
    Year 7£7,365
    Year 8 £7,365
    Boarding fees per term

    Year 1-
    Year 2-
    Year 3 £8,896
    Year 4 £9,816
    Year 5 £9,961
    Year 6£9,961
    Year 7£9,961
    Year 8 £9,961

    Westbourne House offers means-tested bursaries of up to 100 per cent of fees to children who are talented in academics, music, sport or a combination of the three but whose parents would otherwise be unable to afford the fees. These awards are available to pupils entering between Years 4 and 7 and are subject to a full financial review.

    All applicants sit an assessment in English, Maths and cognitive abilities, as well as their area of specialism. They are expected to either possess strong academic ability or show much potential.

    Bursary contact:
    Admissions Aline Pilcher
  • SEND

    This school currently supports the following kinds of learning needs, health needs and physical disabilities:
    Currently about a quarter of pupils (99 pupils) are on their Individual Needs register. However this includes pupils who have been bereaved, have anxiety, dyslexia, dyspraxia, weak working memory, colour blindness, EAL, ADHD or low writing speed. From this list they have nine pupils who have severe dyslexia, ADHD or other difficulties.

    This school currently delivers the following interventions to pupils in class and outside class to support their learning, health and/or physical needs:
    They have three specialist teachers for children with specific learning difficulties as well as two other members of staff with a specialist qualification in teaching students with Dyslexia. Their specialist staff deliver individual lessons, run focus groups and support and advise teaching staff. They also have two Academic Mentors who work with students in and out of class. They therefore offer a wide variety of additional services to meet the individual needs of pupils. Their staff who are members of the Individual Needs Department are well qualified to support individuals with special educational needs and/or disabilities. The IENCO advises staff regarding the needs of individual students in their classes. All activities and trips are well planned and staffed. Risk assessments are completed. The requirements of children with additional needs are considered, and it is usual for a specific member of staff to be allocated to a child with significant needs.

    This school currently provides the following support for pupils' mental health needs
    Westbourne House encourages children to learn about and practise techniques that support their mental health via Learning4Life lessons. This is an initiative that forms a vital part of their pastoral care programme. Learning4Life includes and goes beyond PSHE (personal social and health education) and teaches children how to apply strategies to encourage wellbeing. Pupils can 'self-refer' by speaking with their form teacher or in Years 7 and 8, their personal tutor. They also have specialist support through their IN Department who work closely with the Pastoral Team and parents. On the flip side, they have a focus on 'wellbeing' in their summer term pastoral programme where the children learn positive practical ways to look after their mental health, cope with exam stress and be mindful. On occasion they ask outside speakers in, a regular being Alicia Drummond from Teen Tips, who not only provides information and insight for pupils but also runs parent workshops.

    Co-ordinator: Sharon Morton
  • Transport links

    School Transport
    School daily bus network

    Public Transport
    Nearest mainline train station: Chichester
    Journey time to London by train: 90 minutes
    Nearest international airport: London Gatwick (47 miles)

  • Parents tell us

    ‘The school is in a beautiful setting, surrounded by lots of green space and its own lake. We thought our energetic young boys would have plenty of space to enjoy.

    We were impressed by the amazing sporting and musical opportunities and we had an instinctive feeling that the school was right for us – a good fit in terms of staff and pupils.

    Westbourne House was completely oversubscribed at the time we applied. The admissions team were very competent and friendly, and we were lucky that in the end, places opened up for all of our children in the time frame we required.

    Our children were always made to feel welcome. They had lovely individualised day visits that they (and we) enjoyed.

    Martin Baker, the headteacher, has taken the school from strength to strength. We have been involved with the school for a decade now, and during that time there have been many teachers that have stepped up and positively impacted our children's lives.

    The school has always had an exceptional pastoral care programme. From time to time, there have been presentations for the parents to attend so we can be educated on pastoral care issues.

    They have used some innovative ideas which are fun and engaging for the children, helping them to understand some complex issues. My children have always felt supported and known who to turn to if they need a listening ear.

    Two of my boys have progressed on to Harrow and they were very well-prepared on arrival. My elder daughter has an unconditional offer of a place at Benenden School and I am sure she will feel well-prepared when she starts there as well.

    The school is a close-knit community. There are usually three class representatives for each year group who organise regular social events and attend the representative’s meetings at school. In my experience, new families are always drawn in and encouraged to take part in these.

    Westbourne House has exceeded my expectations in every way. I feel extremely lucky that my children have had such a happy and fulfilling childhood at Westbourne and have made so many beautiful memories and great friendships.’
  • Pupils tell us

    ‘The three best things about my school are: the space because you can play outside in the huge fields, I like going into the boundaries and building dens, also I really like the lessons because they are very fun.

    I was very nervous before joining but after visiting the school twice before I went, I didn’t feel so scared. It took me about four days to settle in with the help of my buddy who I sat with at lunchtime and in class.

    If I have a problem, I go to Mrs Pollock. Our headteacher is very kind. I love maths because I have lessons with Mrs Langford.

    Monday is often good food because we have sausages and gravy. Wednesday is great because we have a roast.

    “Crusts” is school slang for first break because we get bread with butter or sometimes a flapjack and fruit.

    I wouldn’t change anything if I was head for the day.’

    ‘The three best things about my school are: the lunches because they are delicious, the playtimes because they are outside and super long and also the sport which is really fun.

    I didn’t have to sit exams or have an interview. The teachers are really lovely. It took me the first term to settle in.

    If I have a problem, I go to Mrs Lovejoy, my teacher.

    Mrs Oglethorpe, the pre-prep headteacher, is kind and holds good assemblies. Mr Hanley sometimes takes us for sport and he does really good games.

    The best thing on the menu is sausages and chips, but I also like the sticky toffee pudding and the yoghurts.

    I wouldn’t change anything if I was head for the day.’

School Updates

  • WATCH: Developing dreams and potential

    WATCH: Developing dreams and potential
  • WATCH: Boarding at Westbourne House

    WATCH: Boarding at Westbourne House
  • WATCH: Westbourne House School - Boarders’ perspective

    WATCH: Westbourne House School - Boarders’ perspective
  • View from the Top: Martin Barker on choosing the right senior school for your child

    View from the Top: Martin Barker on choosing the right senior school for your child
  • Chichester Young Diplomats Shine!

    West Sussex Young Diplomats Shine! Westbourne House Students Triumph at Mini Model United Nations
    Chichester Young Diplomats Shine!
  • 10 Questions with Caroline Oglethorpe, head of Pre-Prep at Westbourne House School

    10 Questions with Caroline Oglethorpe, head of Pre-Prep at Westbourne House School
  • Twenty-six pupils have been awarded scholarships

    Westbourne House has been celebrating the children’s hard work and genuine delight in being challenged to achieve 26 scholarships - Academic, 8; All Rounder, 2: Art, 2; Drama, 1; Music, 1; Sport, 12.
    Twenty-six pupils have been awarded scholarships
  • Hundreds of pupils at Sussex school do yoga

    Almost 300 pupils did an hour of yoga at a Sussex school this week to increase their awareness of breathing and keep calm ahead of the exam season.
    Hundreds of pupils at Sussex school do yoga
  • 'Excellent in every way' - Westbourne House gets top marks from the ISI Inspectorate

    'Excellent in every way' - Westbourne House gets top marks from the ISI Inspectorate
  • First UK Under-13 girls' cricket team sets off on tour to South Africa

    Eighteen girls from a Chichester school are set to be the first Under 13 girls’ cricket team to go on tour to South Africa from the UK.
    First UK Under-13 girls' cricket team sets off on tour to South Africa
  • WATCH: 10 Questions with Martin Barker, headmaster of Westbourne House School

    WATCH: 10 Questions with Martin Barker, headmaster of Westbourne House School
  • WATCH: Thank you Mr Barker

    WATCH: Thank you Mr Barker
  • WATCH: Pupils show you around Westbourne House School

    WATCH: Pupils show you around Westbourne House School
  • Westbourne best for 'music' in The Week Independent School Guide

    Westbourne best for 'music' in The Week Independent School Guide
  • The changing face of Saturday school

    The changing face of Saturday school
  • Introducing Westbourne House's Pupil Editors...

    Introducing Westbourne House's Pupil Editors...
  • WATCH: Our deputy head on families moving from London

    WATCH: Our deputy head on families moving from London
  • See Westbourne House School in our Town and Country Preps Guide

    From bucolic country preps to schools on the edge of buzzy market towns or slap bang in the centre of a city, there are a myriad of prep school options up and down the UK and within a daily minibus-ride of the Big Smoke. Use our guide to help with your search.
    See Westbourne House School in our Town and Country Preps Guide
  • Kids on camera

    Kids on camera
  • WATCH: Opening of the new Performing Arts Centre

    WATCH: Opening of the new Performing Arts Centre
  • WATCH: Westbourne House Virtual Tour

    WATCH: Westbourne House Virtual Tour
  • WATCH: Welcome to Westbourne House School from the Headmaster

    WATCH: Welcome to Westbourne House School from the Headmaster

Westbourne House School is
linked with:


Coach Road, Chichester, West Sussex PO20 2BH

01243 782739


ISI Report


Term Dates


Open Days

Open days and how to visit View Open Days Register for open Day

Open Morning
05 October 2024

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