Copthorne to 16

Senior School/Years 9-11 

We are expanding our provision through to offer GCSEs! From September 2021, pupils already at Copthorne or joining in Year 7 will be able to stay with us to Year 11. Our first GCSE exams will take place in 2026.   

We are a school which prides itself on developing pupils’ confidence, providing opportunity and realising pupils’ potential. We have continually adapted throughout our 120-year history to meet the changing needs of our community. 

Parents have told us they need a quality senior school alternative, if moving on to one of the increasingly academically selective independent schools is not right for their child. We celebrate the 50% of our pupils who move on to these highly selective schools with scholarships, but we know that all our pupils can thrive given the right environment.

 Find out more at our Virtual Open Morning on Saturday 8th May.

Our vision for the Senior School 

“Our  Copthorne to 16 education will enable your son or daughter to grow academically, emotionally and socially through a wide participation in the life of the school, and through making the most of the opportunities afforded to them. Along the way we have no doubt that they will also earn excellent grades, but they won’t be defined by those alone. That would be missing the point of a  Copthorne to 16 education. We are offering a different kind of independent education.”  

–  Chris Jones, Headmaster. 

Copthorne to 16 will offer a distinct, ambitious alternative to the highly academically selective senior schools that are not the right environment for all children. Our class sizes will be no more than 20 so every pupil is well known and supported.

Through the broad and balanced curriculum, our pupils will become independent self-starters, team players and problem-solvers. They’ll have resilience, determination and a perseverance that will enable them to become fully-rounded, valuable members of society. We will celebrate diversity and foster a culture of kindness, tolerance and good citizenship in all pupils.

Helping pupils look to the future and make informed choices about life and careers beyond Copthorne will be an important part of our senior education programme. We will seek to build extensive links with businesses, parents and alumni to give pupils as wide and inspiring a perspective on the world of work as possible.

Our current teaching team is well-equipped for the expansion to 16. Most of our Heads of Department are secondary teacher trained and have experience of teaching up to GCSE.

Beyond our excellent teaching, we will offer a wide range of learning opportunities, high expectations and a warm, happy, nurturing environment where pupils are encouraged to strive for excellence and supported to be the best they can be. Our extra-curricular programme for the Senior School will build on the wide variety of choice already on offer for pupils. Sport, music, art, drama and chess, as well as the Duke of Edinburgh Award, will all feature.

Developing physical and mental wellbeing will be an important part of our Senior School life. All pupils will be encouraged to take part in sports or a general exercise programme; taking advantage of our outstanding facilities which include a full-sized all weather astro turf pitch (brand new for September 2021), hard surface courts, expansive sports fields, a swimming pool, sports hall, climbing tower and beautiful woodland. 



Other things you will want to know 

Will the ethos of the school change?

Copthorne’s ethos is to Develop Confidence – Provide Opportunity – Realise Potential and this will remain at the heart of all we do.

Will pupils currently at Copthorne need to sit any assessments at 11+ in order to join Year 7?

No. Children in Year 6 at Copthorne will have a guaranteed place if they are making continued progress.

How will children be prepared for 11+ assessments for other independent schools, or do you expect all children to stay at Copthorne to Year 11?

Copthorne would continue to prepare children to move on at 11+ or 13+ to any school parents select, and we would continue to run 11+ preparation classes/support, Atom Learning, conduct interview practice as we currently do. Reigate, Caterham, Lingfield, Ardingly, Hurst, Worth all have 11+ and 13+ intakes, and all value Copthorne children.

Moving forwards, we hope that the vast majority of Copthorne children in Year 7, (whether moving through from our Year 6, or joining from outside) will be assumed to be staying until Year 11 for GCSE’s.


Will Copthorne still prepare children to leave at 13+ to other independent senior schools, as well as helping children to prepare for scholarships?

Yes. Copthorne will still prepare children for 13+ scholarships/entry to other Senior Schools. However, moving forward, we hope that the vast majority of children at Copthorne in Year 7 will remain here for GCSEs.

Will Copthorne offer scholarships in the senior part of the school?

Yes. Scholarships will be offered to both internal and external candidates at 11+ and, subject to certain criteria, these will remain with the child until the end of Year 11. Academic, art, music, sport, drama and all-rounder scholarships will be available. Assessments for the first scholarships in our Senior School will take place on 17 May 2021.

Can parents apply for a bursary?

Children in receipt of a scholarship are eligible to apply for a means tested bursary. Up to 100% bursaries may be available depending on individual circumstances.

What will the class sizes be in the Senior School?

We are aiming to continue our model of two form entry, with class sizes of no more than 20 into the Senior School. This will ensure that the school is small enough that everyone is well known, and large enough to create good opportunities for pupils to socialise and make friends.

What extra facilities are planned?

We are working with educational architects on an ambitious plan to develop the site over the next 10 years. Our aim is to provide facilities to match a growing school, and these will be phased in over time.

The first of these developments is a new full sized and floodlit all-weather pitch, which will be ready for use by September 2021. We look forward to providing further updates as soon as we have them agreed.

What will school fees be for the Senior School?

An important part of our vision for Copthorne Senior School is to make it accessible to as many local families as possible. We understand that affordability is a key consideration for parents and have therefore taken the decision to keep fees for Years 9-11 at the same rate as we currently charge for Years 5-8.

Will you offer boarding?

We will continue to offer flexi as well as full time boarding if the demand remains high. 

What length will the school day be?

The same extended day will be available for all children – i.e. 7.30am to 6pm. We can extend this even further for families by prior arrangement.

Will the school extend its transport network?

We will continue to offer bus routes in line with demand, which may well extend to new routes. Families will be consulted on this in the Summer Term.

What GCSE options are going to be available?

Copthorne Senior School will offer a varied and dynamic curriculum, incorporating the study of academic subjects, music and the arts, sports and fitness, enterprise, careers insight and guidance, expeditions and personal challenge. We expect that pupils will typically study six core GCSE subjects and then select from an interesting range of optional subjects to complete their full GCSE portfolio.

How will the school be structured?

The Senior School will be in our New Block, giving pupils their own dedicated area of the school. Nursery and Pre-Prep will stay in their current buildings and Years 3 to 6 will move to the Main Building to be class teacher taught, with specialist subjects being taught in specific Key Stage 2 classrooms in the New Block.

Will the school need to employ extra staff?

Most of our Heads of Department are secondary teacher trained and have experience of teaching up to GCSE level, which means we are well-prepared to make the move to 16. As the school grows, there will also be the need to recruit additional teaching staff to ensure we can offer the widest possible choice of subjects at GCSE.

How will you select pupils who join from other schools in Year 7?

We will offer our Senior School places through a combination of formal assessment, interviews and group work, with an emphasis on the potential of the whole child.

What will be offered as part of extracurricular activities?

We already offer a wide range of extracurricular activities, including the Duke of Edinburgh Award, and these will continue to be developed as we grow the school to children into Year 11.

Sport – fixtures for senior pupils will be arranged against local schools of similar size/ability. We are fortunate to have a wide range of sporting facilities on site (with a new floodlit, all-weather pitch opening in September 2021) which will allow us to develop a wider range of sporting activities, that are not necessarily competitive team games. We expect this to include fencing, badminton, table tennis, climbing/abseiling, orienteering, swimming, tennis, athletics and keep fit, amongst others.

Music – working towards ABRSM music grades will be encouraged and our orchestra, choirs and ensembles will continue. All children, whether studying GCSE Music or not, will be encouraged to get involved in musical activities at the school to perform in front of their peers, parents and wider audiences.

Art – as well as Art GCSE on the timetable, there will also be opportunities for keen artists to enjoy art as an after school activity.

Drama – we will encourage drama at every level and school productions will be open to all. Previous productions have included The Lion King, Aladdin and Bugsy Malone. LAMDA Speech and Drama lessons will continue.

Chess – Copthorne has an impressive reputation within Sussex and beyond for producing talented young chess players and competitive chess teams who play regularly in competitions. Chess will continue to be an important feature of the Senior School.

Where will children go after GCSEs at Copthorne?

There are lots of good opportunities for post-16 education in the area. The excellent all-round education and good set of GCSEs that we expect pupils to achieve at Copthorne will prepare them well for whatever choice they wish to make for post-16 studies.

Is Copthorne to GCSE dependent upon approval from the Department for Education (DfE)?

Yes, it is, and we are confident that we have everything in place to gain DfE approval following our ISI inspection in the academic year 2021/22.

Where next...

Enquire Now

Enquire Now