Interview: the kids are alright

Mark Milling, Bursar at Lancing College, tells editor Stephanie Broad about the facilities that make Lancing a great environment

You are part of a fairly new leadership team – what’s your career been like so far?

I qualified as a chartered accountant in 1998, moved to Bristol in 1999 and worked in finance. I started working in schools a few years ago.

Tell us about what’s happening at Lancing College.

We’re investing £10 million in the school over the next three years, to refurbish all the day and boarding houses, increase capacity slightly and improve our facilities. We are also investing heavily in our two prep schools, Lancing Prep at Hove and Lancing Prep at Worthing. It’s an exciting time, and the capacity increase at Lancing will take the percentage of girls up to 50%, so we’ll be fully co-ed.

Our focus is on the ‘whole person’ as opposed to being an academic ‘sausage machine’, but we do expect the best out of everyone and our pupils are challenged and pushed continuously. Our ethos here is that “happy children are successful” rather than “successful children are happy”. We’ve got an amazing campus, including a farm, where people can breathe, have fun and thrive. As part of the investment we’re creating an equestrian centre, which will be ready by September 2016. The surrounding community uses our facilities as much as possible. The Chapel is always open to the public, and the children do a lot of charity work – local, national and international. We do a lot of work in Malawi – we built a school there and raise around £15-20,000 per year. Locally speaking, special needs schools visit us and sports clubs like Sussex Football and Sussex Cricket use the pitches for free. We try not to be the scary school on the hill!

Do you have any links with state schools?

Yes, we work with state schools and as part of Woodard, our parent charity, we are involved in academies including Sir Robert Woodard academy in Worthing. We use our different strengths to support each other.

What’s a typical day like for you?

No day is the same. I could be dealing with a senior banker one day, then trying to sort out a lavatory the next! My chief day-to-day role is problem solver and in the holidays I get stuck into bigger projects. I, together with my fantastic team, look after everything nonacademic – finance, grounds and estates, maintenance, catering, matrons, cleaners, HR and IT for the three schools.

What’s the best part of your job?

I think it’s working with all the people – it’s challenging, but you can have an effect on the whole school, on the community. We have children here from every type of background and have got quite a few pupils here on full bursaries.

It’s a really cosmopolitan school, with people from many countries including China, Nigeria, Russia and all over Europe. We think it’s positive that our UK students can meet the movers and shakers who are going to be driving the world forward over the next 50 years.

What’s special about Lancing?

It’s the atmosphere – the family feeling of caring, everyone loves the place. All of the staff seek to inspire and illuminate our charges. We are a Christian school – you don’t have to be Christian to be here, but what we do expect are the values of kindness and compassion.

What’s coming up next?

The refurbishment and extension projects are keeping us busy over the next few years, but we’re also focusing on our academic results, which I support through investment in teachers, learning and IT.

Is there a greater need for places in prep schools?

I think the prep school market is consolidating – we’re competing against a really good state sector at the moment. I think we’ll see fewer but even better prep schools over the next 10-15 years.

Mark Milling is Bursar at Lancing College.

www.lancingcollege.co.uk 

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