Russell School

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Varndean School is truly different – from the moment you step through the doors, the vibrancy and energy of the people in it can be felt.  There is a hunger for learning from both students and adults, making it a fantastic place to work.

But it also places real emphasis on how we treat each other and tells us that we must be inspired by love and should therefore be kind.  Russell students will learn to be good people as well as learning to think critically and creatively ready for the challenges of the 21st century.


(Maternity Cover) Head of School - Ms G Neale

I joined Varndean this year and I am extremely excited to be working at such an impressive school. Being from Brighton means I understand the love and complexities of growing up in this varied and forward thinking community and I am honoured to be continuing the school's work in student development; enhancing and nurturing students' interests and love of learning! 

Despite living in London and Italy, and travelling the world, Brighton called me home to university and after graduating in 2010 I worked in schools in London, Lewes and most recently, another Brighton school.

Teaching English is my first love, only realised when revisiting my own school for career guidance from my previous English teacher who inspired me to follow my love of English. Over the past 13 years this passion has developed and I now equally enjoy working with students outside the classroom, striving to be a support network to guide them through the sometimes turbulent years of school. 

I know being part of Russell School base will allow me to continue this vital and rewarding work. 

Head of School - Abigail Holder

Hello, my name is Miss Holder and I am the Head of Russell School.

I joined Varndean in September 2016 and my career has always been based around supporting children and young adults whilst at school.

My role at Varndean is to ensure that each student has a positive and  rewarding experience during their time at Varndean School. I am here to not only support, guide and advise each and every student within Russell School, but also be a member of staff that parents can contact whenever  they need to discuss an issue.

School Leader - Rachel Christy

My name is Rachel Christy and I am a School Leader in Russell base. I have had a long career in hospitality management but in the last few years had a change of direction, working with young people in schools as a teaching assistant and pastoral lead here at Varndean.   

It is my belief that all young people have the ability to reach their potential. Through our work in school bases we support students' wellbeing and help to make their time at Varndean a positive experience.

Please contact me on extension 277 or email me at 

School Leader - Lucy Smallwood

My name is Lucy Smallwood. I have lived and worked in Brighton all my life and I joined Varndean as a School Leader in September 2021. I believe it is important to make students feel connected to school and to inspire them to do things they never thought they could, with empathy, humility and positivity.