Student leadership, democracy and student voice are central to the way our school works.
We provide opportunities for our students to develop all their varied talents and mature into confident young adults.
Each year students in Year 10 apply for leadership positions in the school and in July 2016 over 100 were appointed to a range of senior student roles. The team is headed by a Student Headteacher, currently Halima, and Head Students Tom and Helen. They are ably supported by their deputies and various student committees who all feed into the Student Council. At various points in the year the Senior Students attend the staff Senior Leadership Team meeting, chaired by the Headteacher, and have regular lunchtime meetings with Headteacher Mr Deighan to put forward proposals on behalf of the student body they represent. They are also consulted on many areas of school life and can contribute to departments and help shape their learning at Varndean School.
It is a great privilege to serve Varndean as student head teacher. I have a strong drive to see things through to completion and have a competitive side to me which just wants to constantly do better. I strive for success at Varndean School for all of the students at Varndean School and hope that I can help get the students voices heard. Since having a growth mind-set has had a fundamental effect on my education. I would also like to enforce the concept of having a growth-mind-set to Varndean pupils as I believe that every student at Varndean has true potential to succeed and I would like to help them achieve their goals. Varndean nurtures the student’s talents and encourages them to reach their maximum potential. The four schools system allows us to have extraordinary care and compassionate staff who care about the students on a genuine level and support diversity across the whole school.Student Headteacher
Varndean is not just a school, but a community which welcomes everyone with open arms and a cheerful smile. It beholds a vibrant and attentive ambience that creates a good working environment as well as a happy place to be. The huge range of opportunities and activities that are available here will allow you to discover new aspects of yourself you never knew you had. Pride and challenge create Varndean’s ethos and to succeed in these 2 things Varndean will support, care for and challenge you.
During my time here, Varndean has allowed me to endeavour to reach my true potential, Varndean encouraged me to become more confident, Varndean has given me amazing opportunities, Varndean has challenged me to be proud of myself. I am honoured to represent Varndean as Head girl and cannot wait to give back to this community that has given me so much.Head Student
Student participation is very important within a school community and taking on a Senior Student role is a good way of having a voice. I really enjoy working with a team and am looking forward to working on and undertaking projects for the school and classmates.Head Student
Ever since I began at Varndean, I wanted to be able to make a change on how the school was run, that was why I decided to apply for the Senior Student Voice team, so I could really make a change. As Deputy Head boy of the entire school I work closely with the Senior Leadership Team to make the school as enjoyable as it can be for the students.Deputy Head Student
During my time at Varndean I have been offered a plethora of opportunities, from the Brilliant Club (which helped me further develop my skill set) to the many trips on enrichment week (which have broadened my mind and my friends) - there have always been activities offered to me. When applying for senior student I was ready to face the challenge and was immensely proud when I became Deputy Head girl of the whole school. This adds to the list of opportunities Varndean has offered me and taking up the role seemed like the best way to give something back. I'm looking forward to the new and upcoming challenges I will face in this position; contributing to my school community.Deputy Head Student
Senior Students are a vital part of the school and work with the senior leadership team and teachers to make improvements to the learning environment of their peers. They apply and are interviewed for a wide range of posts, including Student Head of Schools, Department Senior Students, Charity Leads, Sports Leaders etc. 106 students were appointed to these roles during the recruitment round at the end of their Year 10 in the Summer term of 2016.
We are pleased to announce the new Senior Student body for 2016-2017.
Student Headteacher - Halima
Head Student - Thomas
Head Student - Helen
Deputy Head Student - Joel
Deputy Head Student - Millie-Mae
The 2015-2016 Senior Student team (seen below in the Varndean Globe amphitheatre) were a very active body, organising events such as the Leavers' Prom and the yearbook, numerous charity events, representing students' issues, canvassing their views on the Make your Mark campaign and they also developed a Student School Improvement plan for the year. In March 2016 we were thrilled to host the first Head Student Conference, an idea borne and realised by Student Headteacher Wednesday. Senior Students from across the city came together to discuss student voice, wellbeing, equality and sustainability in our schools, and featured guest speaker Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion.
Information from the Student Cabinet
The student cabinet is made up of representatives from all year groups across Varndean School and they meet to express views of the entire student body. The cabinet is led by the Senior Students who then report to the issues raised and any changes requested to the Senior Leadership of the school. This is a chance for students to get their voices heard and influence the direction of their school.
We are also fortunate to have past and present members of the Brighton Youth Council at Varndean School, who invite our students to vote on the National Youth Council annual campaign topics and get their voices heard at local Council and Parliamentary levels.
What is Brighton and Hove Youth Council? By former student Sian Carey
The Youth Council is made of young people aged 11-18 from across Brighton and Hove. Each school, college and youth group sends elected representatives. The Youth Council represents other boards in Brighton and Hove, for example the health and well-being board, which looks at health across the city. They also send representatives to the UK youth parliament, an organisation that this year is campaigning for votes for 16 and 17 year olds.
The Youth Council also runs campaigns such as anti-bullying and cheaper activities for young people. They are often consulted by council workers and other organisations on things that affect young people in the city. They also work with other councils like the Children in Care Council and the West Sussex youth council.
Why I ran for election for the Brighton and Hove Youth Council
By Head Student 2016-2017, Helen Protheroe
I think it is important students of all ages have a voice because they are part of a community where they live, go to school, socialise, play sport, travel and naturally they will have an opinion on all of these aspects of the community they live in, and more. As a consequence there should be a forum for students to express and put forward their opinions in an environment where they will feel happy to communicate effectively. It is good to hear the opinions of students and the different points of view they will have in comparison to adults, and especially how they want to make the community a better place for themselves and their generation.
Why I ran for election for the Brighton and Hove Youth Council
By 2015-2016 Varndean Student Headteacher and Youth Mayor of Brighton and Hove, Wednesday Croft
If you were to ask me outright why I decided to try for a place on the Youth Council, I’m not sure I could tell you exactly. I suppose I’ve always been involved in that kind of thing; student governors, school council etc.
I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of them and genuinely learnt a great deal. The Youth Council is a great opportunity to improve my people skills, get my voice heard and learn about how the country is run.
I think it is important for us; the teachers, leaders, lawyers, doctors of tomorrow to have a say in the decisions the council are making that could potentially change our future, be it for better or worse. It’s going to be really fun and I can’t wait to get stuck in!
Varndean School has a host of committees who meet to address a range of issues that affect our school community.
Promoting equality is a major focus at our school, and this is why student Equalities Group was introduced in March 2015. Open to students from all year groups, the group meets every Wednesday to discuss what can be done to celebrate the diversity in our school and tackle any prejudice and discrimination present in our community. So far, we have:
Created guidelines for assemblies to make sure that a variety of people are represented in the presentations.
Talked with representatives from Allsorts Youth Project (which offers support and runs activities for young people who identify as LGBT*U) about what we can do to help students who identify as such if they want advice or are experiencing issues.
Taken an assembly in which we explained what the protected characteristics are as defined by the Equality Act 2010 (disability, sex, sexual orientation etc.), why it is important to embrace our differences, the negative impact that discriminatory actions and language can have and what we as a group are doing and plan to do.
Put together information on sexuality and on gender, outlining different aspects and definitions associated with these characteristics.
Set up the ‘Equalities Allies’ - staff and students who have volunteered to be people that anyone experiencing discrimination-related issues or wanting information linked to the protected characteristics can talk to and get support from. (We have Sexuality and Gender Allies, Disability and Impairment Allies, Race and Religion Allies, Feminism Allies and overall Equality Allies.)
Worked on creating cards to attach to the lanyards that members of staff carry giving examples of phrases that they can use to challenge and question offensive and discriminatory language if they hear it being used.
Created diplays about groups that students experiencing equality-related issues can go to for support
This year we plan on continuing our link with Allsorts, as well as giving students more information on areas relating to the protected characteristics and strengthening our Equalities Allies scheme. There is always more we can do to promote equality in our school, and we can’t afford to be complacent; with the student body changing every year, there are always going to be new obstacles for us to overcome. It is our job to face these challenges when they come our way, and to continue to stand up for equality.
The Eco Committee work to maintain Varndean's Green Flag gold status and make our school a more sustainable community through energy reduction, solar programmes, recycling schemes, improvements to the school grounds and biodiversity
To maximise the use of our beautiful campus, Varndean School was successful in securing funding from Brighton and Hove City Council’s Wellbeing Innovation Fund to develop a community garden classroom. The benefits to young people’s wellbeing and development from learning outside the classroom are well documented with a recent coined phrase “nature deficit disorder” being discussed widely in the media.
In developing our garden classroom we aimed to develop an intergenerational skill sharing project where members of the older community with horticultural knowledge and skills can support the planning and growing of suitable plants and foods. Students will learn from their expertise and in exchange our young people will share their IT knowledge of Facebook, FaceTime, skype and email with the community volunteers to help combat the loneliness which can be experienced by older people whose families live further away.
This year, we have also worked with Dorothy Stringer School, in collaboration with Balfour Primary and Varndean College, to increase the biodiversity on campus thought the development of new Butterfly Havens on each of our sites. These chalk habits have been planted with native wildflowers to encourage a wider range of bug life to the campus.
The Amnesty Group support human rights both here and abroad.
Our four school Charity Committees work to raise funds and awareness of causes of concern to our student groups. Please see the charities page for further information.