Alastair McCall, editor of the Sunday Times Schools Guide, Parent Power, said: “Brighton College is the stand-out candidate for this year’s Sunday Times Independent Secondary School of the Year award.
“A rise of more than 20 places in our performance tables in one year to 18th might have been reason enough to make the award, but this was Brighton College’s fifth successive rise in our rankings since 2006, an unparalleled achievement.
“While credit must go first and foremost to the children at this co-educational school, the shift in culture engineered by head teacher Richard Cairns cannot be underestimated.
“The school has been transformed in five years from one of middling academic achievement into one of the powerhouses of the independent sector – and all achieved without restricting entry to only the very brightest.
“Children are encouraged to achieve through exceptional teaching and pastoral care – and they are pushing the bar ever higher with the passing of each year.”
The newspaper said that since Mr Cairns became head master in 2006, academic results have soared.
This year the school achieved the best GCSE results of any co-educational school in the country with 91 per cent of grades at A* and A. This compared with a national average of 22 per cent.
A Brighton College spokesman said that the school’s popularity in recent years was reflected in a doubling in applications, with pupil numbers rising from 680 in 2006 to 950 today.
One independent commentator said that the secondary schools admissions lottery introduced by Labour in Brighton and Hove in 2007 had given Brighton College a boost.
Recently, Brighton College has taken over Roedean Junior School in Brighton and Handcross Park School, just south of Crawley. It has also opened a school in Abu Dhabi.
Earlier this year, the spokesman said, Brighton College received an “outstanding” rating in all ten areas of the 2011 inspection.
Mr Cairns, said: “The Sunday Times award is the most coveted award in education.
“It is the Oscar of the schools world and I am obviously thrilled.
“It represents a wonderful validation of all that we have tried to accomplish here over the last six years in seeking to create a climate that is caring and supportive but which also seeks to challenge and inspire the pupils to achieve more than they ever thought possible.
“It is also a terrific affirmation of the talent and enthusiasm of our dedicated teaching staff.
“Their joy at the news of the award was palpable.
“I hope that the boys and girls will feel just as proud when I tell them tomorrow.
“This is, above all, their award and to them must go the greatest credit.”