Guide to Independent Schools

School details


Bancroft's School, Woodford Green, Essex IG8 0RF

Enquiries & application

Admissions Registrar

T:  020 8505 4821

Co-ed, 11-18, Day
Pupils: 851, Upper sixth 111
Fees: 4528 per term
Affiliation: HMC


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School details


What it's like

Founded in 1737, it has occupied its present premises in Woodford for about 100 years. There are long-standing links with the Company of Drapers. The main buildings are handsome Victorian architecture and the later structures blend in sympathetically. The school is well equipped with excellent modern facilities, including a new performing arts centre, indoor sports hall and art and ceramics centre; the school has a further 16 acres of playing fields nearby and access to all-weather hockey pitches. It is fully co-educational, having first admitted girls over 30 years ago. A well-run school with vigorous local support, its cosmopolitan student body reflects the diversity of the local area. It provides good teaching and the examination results are very good. A wide range of sports and games is played with considerable success (a large number of county representatives and some internationals). It has a good range of clubs and activities including a large CCF, Sea Scout and Explorer Scouts and an impressive record in the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme. There are three major dramatic productions a year and a variety of choirs, orchestras and musical ensembles.

Pupils & entrance

Pupils: Age range 11-18, 851 day pupils (462 boys, 389 girls). Entrance: Main entry ages 11 and 16. Own entrance exam used plus interview. For sixth-form entry, exam in 2 AS-level subjects, interview and good GCSEs (usually grade A in sixth-form subjects). No special skills or religious requirements. 25% of intake from state schools , some 50% from own prep school.

Scholarships & bursaries

Up to 27 pa scholarships awarded at age 11 and 16, typical value 25%-50% fees (most academic, some music); plus up to 7 means-tested scholarships awarded at age 11, up to full fees.

Head & staff

Head: Mrs Mary Ireland, in post from 2008. Educated at Notre Dame School, Dumbarton, and at St Andrews University (biochemistry) and Dundee University (education). Previously Deputy Head at Christ's Hospital, Boarding Housemistress at Ardingly, Head of Science in a prep school and taught in comprehensive schools. Also governor of Great Walstead School (Haywards Heath), former Director of the HMC housemasters and GCSE science examiner. Teaching staff: 80 full time, 12 part time.

Exam results

GCSE: 112 pupils in fifth, all gaining at least grade C in 8+ subjects (99% of pupils included English, maths, a science, a humanity and a modern language; pupils not currently required to take a humanity). A-levels: 111 in upper sixth, all passing in 3+ subjects with an average final point score of 456.

Pupils' destinations

99% of sixth form leavers go on to a degree course, 12% to Oxbridge. 20% take courses in medicine, dentistry and veterinary science, 20% in science and engineering, 40% in humanities and social sciences, 10% in art and design, 5% in eg drama and music.


GCSE, AS and A-levels. 20 GCSE subjects, 25 AS-level, 24 A-level. Sixth form: Most sixth formers take 4 subjects at AS-level, 3 at A-level. Extended Project, AS-level critical thinking, certificate in financial studies, ECDL and music theory all offered as sixth-form options. Key skills IT is taught. Vocational: Work experience available. Languages: French, German and Spanish all offered to GCSE, AS and A-level. Regular exchanges and visits to France, Germany and Spain. ICT: Taught both as a discrete subject and across the curriculum. Computers for pupil use, all networked and with email and internet access.

The arts

Music: More than 50% of pupils learn a musical instrument; instrumental exams can be taken. Also AS-level musical technology. Some 12 musical groups including 6 choirs, 3 orchestras, 2 rock bands. Drama: GCSE and A-level theatre studies offered. Majority of pupils are involved in school productions and house/other productions. Art and design: On average, 30 take GCSE, 10 A-level. Design, pottery, photography also offered. On average 5 pupils to art college each year.

Sports & activities

Hockey, netball, tennis compulsory for girls; rugby, hockey, cricket for boys; swimming, gymnastics, athletics for all; some 6+ additional options including squash, aerobics, golf, soccer. BAGA, RLSS exams may be taken. Many county players at various sports; netball team regularly reaches national finals. Also bronze, silver and gold Duke of Edinburgh's Award (large numbers involved; average of 16 golds pa); CCF; Sea Scouts and Explorer Scouts (popular for boys and girls); community service. Over 30 clubs, including poetry, drama, Amnesty, chess, electronics, history, singers workshop, engineering education scheme, Young Enterprise, Kids Lit (2009 international champions).

School life

Uniform: School uniform worn; dress code in sixth form. Houses and prefects: Competitive houses. All upper sixth take on responsibilities. School Council. Religion: Church of England school. Chapel/assemblies. Special Catholic, Jewish and Hindu assemblies, Muslim prayers. Social: Lectures organised by departments. Wide range of trips abroad, including language visits, music tours (eg Italy), sports tours (eg South Africa, Australia). Pupils allowed to bring own car/bike to school. Meals cafeteria-style. School shop.


Pupils failing to produce homework once might expect detention; those caught with cannabis on the premises might expect suspension; those supplying cannabis would expect expulsion.

Association of former pupils

the Old Bancroftians Association, contact Mrs S Day (

Former pupils

Denis Quilley (actor); Prof Sir Frederick Warner; Fred Emery (journalist and broadcaster); David Pannick QC; Sam Smith (tennis player); Alan Davies (actor and comedian); Peter Erskine (entrepreneur); Samantha Spiro (actor); Anita Anand (broadcaster); Harry Kunzru (novelist); Adam Foulds (poet and novelist); Dr Mike Lynch (computer entrepreneur); Andy Saull (rugby).