Ellis School

Ellis badge logo rgbEllis School's desire to focus on sporting, artistic and cultural education alongside academic success was born from the inspiration of our visionary namesake and former Headteacher, Ethel Ellis. Miss Ellis was the first Headmistress of Varndean School and took the first step towards creating the school you see today. She became Headmistress of Varndean School in 1909 when it was still called 'York Place School' and was situated at a site opposite St Peter's Church. Miss Ellis had a vision to move the school to a site where the students could enjoy wide open spaces and thus, moved the school to our current site and renamed it 'Varndean School'.

Miss Ellis's passion for sport, art and cultural education has flowed through the school ever since and continues to be the pillars of which Ellis School is founded upon. She valued individuality as, 

one of the greatest things in the world, upon which the fineness and quality of which so much depends.

Head of School - Laura Fairbank

I grew up in Brighton and was lucky enough to have some inspirational teachers who helped me to achieve my best but also made me want to work in education. I studied Geography at The University of Leeds and then embarked on some travels across the globe (I'm a Geographer after all) including Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, USA, Thailand and Hong Kong.

I completed my teacher training at The University of Sussex in 2012 and then worked for 6 years in Hackney before joining Varndean in 2018. I am still extremely enthusiastic about Geography as a subject but my career to date has led me to develop particular interests in supporting disadvantaged students, those with special educational needs and equalities related work. 

Deputy Head of School - Sandra Knights

London born and Midlands bred, I moved from Northamptonshire to Brighton University after finishing my A levels. I have lived and worked in Sussex ever since…it’s where my heart is! After finishing my degree in History and English I spent time travelling around Europe trying to decide my future. Finally, after flirting with journalism and contemplating law, I enrolled on a PGCE course at Sussex University to train to teach history. I have never looked back.

School Leader - Caroline Ball

I started working at Varndean in 1998 and worked in a number of different administration roles before starting as the Ellis School Leader in September 2012.

I am the first point of contact for students, parents and staff to come to for enquiries and concerns covering a wide range of issues including uniform, behaviour and attendance.

School Leader - Donna Mills

I started working at Varndean in September 2006 and have worked in a few different roles including Student Supervisor and FDA in Performing Arts before starting in Ellis School Base as School Leader in September 2018.

I am the first point of contact for students, families and staff to come to for enquiries and concerns covering a wide range of issues including uniform, behaviour and attendance.