Canford School, Wimborne, Dorset BH21 3AD
630, Upper sixth 127
Boarders £12,140 Day £9,241
Founded in 1923, Canford stands in a magnificent 250-acre park, close to both Wimborne Minster and Bournemouth. The River Stour forms a boundary and there are splendid formal gardens and playing fields. The oldest part of the buildings is a fine medieval hall (known as John of Gaunt’s Kitchen); part of the present building is Georgian, the rest was designed by Sir Charles Barry in 1847. There have been many modern additions to provide excellent facilities, including an art and design centre, music school, sports centre and theatre. The school became fully co-educational in 1995, having taken girls in the sixth form since the sixties. A very favourable staff:pupil ratio of about 1:8. Examination results are very good and academic performance is strong. Emphasis is placed on individual development both within and outside the classroom. Religious education is an important part of the curriculum. Many services (C of E) are held in the Norman church of Canford Magna in the school grounds. Music, art and drama are particularly strong. Games and sports are an important part of school life, with many teams competing at county and regional level and some at national level; facilities include a 9-hole golf course in the grounds and one of the few real tennis (or royal tennis) courts in the country. An unusually wide variety of extra-curricular activities include a flourishing CCF contingent, and pupils take part in local and international community services. Considerable enterprise has been shown in overseas expeditions to many parts of the globe.
Headmaster: Ben Vessey in post from 2013. Educated at Magdalen College School and universities of Southampton (history), Leicester (MBA in educational management) and Open University (teacher training). Previously Senior Deputy Head at Christ’s Hospital, Head of History, Politics and Law at Millfield, Head of History and Housemaster at Dauntsey’s. Teaching staff: 68 full time, 11 part time.
GCSE: 119 pupils in the fifth: 100% gained at least grade C in 5+ subjects (including English, maths, a science, a humanity and a modern language). A-levels: 142 in upper sixth. 99% passed in 3+ subjects with an average final point score of 366.
98% of sixth-form leavers go on to higher education (43% after a gap year), 10% to Oxbridge. 10% took courses in medicine, dentistry and veterinary science, 30% in science and engineering, 51% in humanities and social sciences, 6% in art and design, 1% in music and drama.
Music: 50% of pupils learn a musical instrument; instrumental exams can be taken. 15 musical groups – orchestras, bands, choirs, string quartets, jazz bands, rock groups. Evensong in cathedrals. Drama: Drama offered. Many pupils involved in house/other productions. Art and design: On average, 50 take GCSE, 18 A-level. Design, pottery, photography, sculpture, textiles and mixed media work also offered. Some 8 pa go on to art colleges.
Major sports are rugby, hockey, rowing, cricket, lawn tennis, netball; minor sports are squash, cross-country, real tennis, athletics, swimming, golf, sailing, aerobics. Some pupils members of national teams in rugby, hockey, sailing, real tennis, golf; several in regional/divisional sides; regular members of county/area teams in rugby, hockey, cricket, cross-country, squash. Also bronze and silver Duke of Edinburgh’s Award; CCF (optional); community service; links with several local schools including Langside School (Dorset SCOPE); regular participation in Kielder Challenge (for mixed teams of able/disabled young people); links with specific orphanages in India, Argentina, Ghana and Tanzania. Up to 30 clubs including debating, orchestra, table tennis, juggling, literary, fishing, chess, canoeing, bridge, bell ringing, art, choral.
20% have own study bedrooms, most share (with 2-4), 20% in dormitories of 6+. Single-sex boarding houses of 60-65, mixed age groups. Regular exeats (1Î_ days). Visits to Wimborne allowed by all pupils; sixth form allowed to Bournemouth.
is run by Mrs Rowena Gaston, Development Director, c/o the school.
Simon Preston (ex-organist, Westminster Abbey); Sir Ronnie Hampel (Chairman ICI); Henry Cecil (race horse trainer); General Sir Brian Kenny; Air Chief-Marshal Sir Roger Palin; Sir Hector Monro (MP); Sir John Drummond (arts administrator); Sir Anthony Bramall (former MP and ILEA Chairman); Sir Derek Bradbeer (Law Society); Lord Maclean (former Lord Chamberlain).