Academic Enrichment and Extension

Ardinians are encouraged to develop a genuine sense of intellectual enquiry, and academic life at Ardingly extends beyond the classroom. This allows every student to have the opportunity to explore different opportunities and ultimately to excel in something they are passionate about.

“Extension activities incorporating maths, science and engineering underpin their excellent achievement.”

ISI Report 2018.


Academic Societies

Our Enrichment Programme offers broad scope for a wide range of academic societies, many of which are led by departments or students. Academic societies include:

Solar Car Club, Shakespeare Society, Greek Club, Creative Writing Society, Economics Society, Model United Nations, Debating, Geog-Soc, History Soc, Space Design Club, Robot Wars, Mandarin Club, Med Soc, Physics Soc, Sophos (Philosophy Society), Politics Society.

Challenge Weeks

Each week sees a department hold a challenge week. During that week a range of additional activities, combined with a daily challenge, are presented to students. The intention is for students to explore subjects they study in a different way or to explore new subjects and new ideas. In addition to the subject-based challenges, topical ‘guest’ challenge weeks also take place;  in 2018 we have organised challenge weeks to mark the centenary of both women’s suffrage and the First World War Armistice, as well as Global Sustainability.


Ardinians are presented with the opportunity to hear a range of inspirational speakers delivering lectures and seminars on a range of subjects that embrace the curriculum. Individual departments invite a range of speakers and also make use of our proximity to London to take students to a range of public lectures available. A subgroup of the school prefect body organise our guest speaker programme, inviting in inspirational speakers from a range of fields to address the student body. Finally, the Sixth Formers host and organise a range of ‘Pelican Talks’ on areas of academic enquiry that interest them.


Our job is to help every student maximise their potential in every dimension.

This includes ‘able and gifted’ learners, with strong intellectual and academic abilities, and ‘talented’ learners with practical skills in areas such as sport, music, design or creative and performing arts.

Here are some of the ways we help to nurture and stretch our most able and talented students:

  • A comprehensive academic enrichment programme including lectures, societies and reading groups, Middle School Society and the Headmaster’s Lecture series
  • A full programme of educational trips and visits
  • Opportunities for students to develop leadership skills and flourish independently
  • The Oxbridge programme and support for applications to other leading universities globally. There are STEP classes and ACT classes for students applying to American universities
  • Academic links with higher education institutions and research institutions such as Stanford, Oxford and CERN
  • Opportunities for independent learning such as research essay competitions
  • Entrance in national competitions such as Biology Olympiad, Mathematics Challenge, Chemistry ‘Top of the Bench’
  • Termly cross-curricular extension workshops – recent themes have included ‘Remembrance’, ‘Gender’ and ‘2020 Vision: The challenges facing our world in the next decade’
  • The opportunity to work with professional musicians, such as the LPO and VOCES8
  • Individual music lessons
  • Opportunities to perform outside the school and enter local and national competitions such as Mid Sussex Music Festival and Woodard Musician of the Year
  • Art projects and the opportunity to enter national art competitions
  • A full programme of co-curricular trips and visits to art galleries, theatres and cultural events