In the early 1930s, Abbot John Chapman of the monastic community at Downside, Somerset wanted a larger building for his Junior School. After considering some 30 locations, the monks bought a large country house called Paddockhurst near Turners Hill in West Sussex.
The house was formerly the property of the first Lord Cowdray, who had died in 1917. It lay in 500 acres of landscaped grounds surrounded by woods and fields and with a view southwards over rolling countryside towards Ditchling Beacon on the South Downs. Being situated on a ridge of the Sussex Weald, the Worth site enjoys fresh air as well as outstanding views.
The Junior School thrived, despite being evacuated back to Somerset during the Second World War while Canadian troops were stationed in the house. By 1957 pupil numbers had risen to 256, making it the second largest preparatory school in the country. The same year Worth Abbey became independent from Downside, and two years later in 1959 the independent Senior School was founded. By 1965 a Junior House for boys aged 11 to 13 had replaced the Preparatory School.
In the 1990s Worth became the first English Benedictine school to take boarding and day pupils, when two day houses were founded, Chapman and Farwell. The important transition to co-education began in 2008, with the first boarding and day girls accepted into the Sixth Form. Girls were welcomed into the lower years in 2010 and by September 2012 the School was fully co-educational in all years.
Worth School seeks to inspire it’s students with the love of learning and intellectual curiosity that will prepare them both for the challenges they will face at school, and those to follow when they leave Worth. High standards of teaching and first-class facilities enable the pupils to aim high throughout their time at the School and to fulfil their academic potential, whether through the A Level or the International Baccalaureate.
The Wider Curriculum represents a substantial part of the educational experience, involving a full choice of activities that take place beyond the academic curriculum – and usually outside the classroom. Worth sees it as an essential part of the learning experience, offering boys and girls the opportunity to learn about life in its broader context: its challenges and opportunities, how to respond to successes and occasional disappointments. It also represents the significance of extra-curricular activities within the ethos of the school and the idea of a balance to be achieved between academic focus and recreational enjoyment.
The School has had a lay head since 2002 with the Abbot being President of the Board of Governors. Selected members of the monastic community also serve as Governors or as House Chaplains.
Today, Worth School – “a school for the Lord’s service” – is thriving with nearly 600 pupils, encompassing boarding and day pupils, girls and boys.
One component of the Wider Curriculum that Worth School uses is it’s Community Support. Pupils have a number of options with which to demonstrate their support and some examples are included here.
At the start of the school year each head of house nominates a charity that will receive sponsorship raised by the pupils. In 2015 the head of Rutherford House, Barnaby Elwes, nominated OOSO. Furthermore he was instrumental in securing 64% of the vote that resulted in OOSO being elected Charity of the Year for the whole school.
In November 2015 Jackie Beaumont and Nick Maynard were invited down to the school to address the Young Medics. Their presentations were followed by dinner with the students and afterwards they addressed the whole house to explain more about what OOSO does and how it helps patients their carers, families and friends.
It was a rewarding and pleasant evening and OOSO is extremely grateful for the generosity and thoughtfulness extended during the visit and for the sponsorship events being planned.