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Canford School

Boarding 13-18yrs
Type: Senior, Sixth Form
Pupil Numbers: 654 (374 boys, 280 girls)
Entrance Procedure: The main entry points are at 13+ and 16+ with occasionally places becoming available for 14+ entry. For 13+ entry, pre-assessment in Year 6 or Year 7. ISEB pre-test followed by a Headmaster's List test day at Canford which is a mix of online tests and interviews. For 16+ entry, applicants are invited to the school early in November of Year 11 for a range of assessments including papers in their choice of A level subjects.
Fees per term: Termly School Fees: Boarders £12,686 Day £9,657

Head's Up

Our mission at Canford is to build a community of open-minded people who are motivated to embrace learning in all its forms, and committed to making a difference to their own lives, and to the lives of others. Our exceptional education grants freedom to grow and creates opportunities for all to explore, to express and to excel.

Ben Vessey

SNTV interview with Ben Vessey MA MBA

The inside track from a current parent

Our two daughters have very different characters so the first challenge was to find a school which had enough breadth and depth to let them both find their own path and develop their particular talents. We were even prepared to put them into different schools but after visiting all other options we felt Canford worked best for them both. We also looked for somewhere which had a strong record of success academically – but crucially we wanted somewhere that achieved academic results whilst maintaining a real life balance.

Both our daughters loved their sport and played instruments too so it was really important to find somewhere offering a high level in a wide range of areas. Initially we considered day places for both girls as we live quite close however we soon realised that the Canford full boarding model is ideal as it does let you have a proportion of Saturday nights at home in addition to exeats or half terms, although these were increasingly unused as the girls preferred being with their friends – typical teenagers!

Our daughters were welcomed with open arms into the school and through a jam packed programme of lessons, activities and house life had no time to feel homesick. Finding a balance between getting work done and choosing from so many co-curricular options was a challenge !

The other thing which stood out for us when visiting was how friendly, approachable and honest the pupils were. This really impressed us on our original tour – a school which is clearly proud and sure of all its pupil ambassadors – and this gave us a clear insight into what our daughters could potentially grow into as young adults. Confident but without a trace of arrogance.

Canford has certainly met all our expectations both for us and for our children. They are able to follow their individual paths because the school has given them the confidence and resilience to face the outside world with excitement and ambition.

As parents we love...

  • Confidence without Arrogance. Canford is not an arrogant school. Its pupils are confident but very down to earth and that’s just what we were looking for for our daughters.
  • The full boarding ethos. Boarding houses are second homes where lifelong friends are made. The love and care they receive from the house staff is exceptional.
  • The Fabulous Setting. My daughters have grown up in a safe, beautiful and inspirational school environment.

As pupils we love...

  • The community feel. There’s a real sense of belonging at Canford.
  • The range of opportunities. Something for everyone, high quality sport, music, theatre and so much more. A chance to try anything and find your ‘thing’
  • Lack of Social Pressure. Pupils are properly grounded and the school is all inclusive. You can be your true self without being judged.

What makes us different

Canford aims to challenge the intellect and broaden the vision. Experiences in the academic, co-curricular and pastoral education offered throughout their time at the school lead our pupils to question, to reflect, to make decisions and to act wisely, both as individuals and through their engagement with others. Life is full of challenges, and we want to equip Canfordians with the confidence and resilience to embrace and overcome them. Alongside ambition and strength of character, we seek to instil a deep understanding of the wider moral and social responsibilities that arise from living and working with others and which help to forge such strong bonds between all those who are part of the whole Canford Community.

The Good Schools Guide says: “With its first-rate teaching, stunning setting and innovative ideas, Canford is definitely at the top of its game.” We are proud of the recent national recognition we have received – currently Tatler Public School of the Year, Boarding School of the Year (Independent School Parent), ‘Among the top 10 most beautiful schools’ (The Daily Telegraph) and shortlisted for TES Senior School of the Year 2020. Yet we are prouder of the outcomes our pupils achieve, which enable them to move into the wider world confidentally and a sense of responsibility for their own lives and for the lives of others. As the school vision states: “A school community where all are inspired to explore, empowered to express and challenged to excel.” Whatever pathway a pupil chooses, there is the support to help achieve his or her goals. External examinations are tickets to the next educational stage and Canford has a deserved reputation for high academic achievement. Over 95% of all Upper Sixth leavers move on to university, the majority to Russell Group/Sunday Times Top 12 institutions. Alongside the curriculum runs a dynamic enrichment programme which broadens our pupils’ horizons alongside a wealth of co-curricular sporting and cultural opportunities. 8,888 hours of Community Action work were given by our Sixth Formers last year, with Canford a finalist two years’ running for the TES Community Partnerships award. Pastorally, ‘pupils are kind and respectful to each other’ (ISI) and Canford prides itself upon its warm, supportive community, large enough to offer a wealth of opportunity, but small enough for everyone to be known and valued. As a parent says: “All members of the school community feel part of something special.”


We hold Open Days twice a year, in Spring and Autumn. These offer the chance to see the school on a working day, take a pupil tour and visit all of our boarding houses. Book via the website www.canford.com/Open-Days Private visits are welcomed throughout the year and include a tour and visit to one boarding house. These can be booked directly with our Admissions office admissions@canford.com
Canford Magna, Wimborne, Dorset, BH21 3AD
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