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.
Varndean is a school that strives to give every student the opportunity to become the best version of themselves.Varndean is also a warm community that aims to support every student in whatever way they need. For me, this is why Varndean stands out as the creative, welcoming and inclusive place it isStudent Headteacher
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.
Student Headteacher - Leah
Head Student- Ruby
Head Student - Gaby
Head Student - Aya
Head Student - Megan
Head Student - Amber
The Senior Student team (seen below in the Varndean Globe amphitheatre) are 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.
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.