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Canford School
Wimborne, BH21 3AD Dorset
01202 841254


Canford Manor traces its origins to Saxon times and grew to considerable local prominence in the early Middle Ages, passing through the hands of the Earls of Salisbury and, as part of the Duchy of Lancaster, frequently reverting to the Crown.

From those times, only the Norman church and the 14th century John o'Gaunt's Kitchen survive. Services are held in the former and debates, meetings and receptions in the latter.
The main building, which forms the nucleus of the school was designed by Edward Blore and later by Sir Charles Barry in the early and mid 19th century. It is Grade 1 listed.

The buildings stand in fine parkland beside the River Stour. One of the most gratifying bequests to us is the rich arboretum, dating from the Victorian period, which graces the school in all seasons. There is ample space in the park to fulfill the school's sporting and other needs without affecting the beauty of the environment.

The Manor was purchased from Lord Wimborne and in May 1923 Canford School was founded. With an eye to both the past and the future, the school has developed a wide variety of modern facilities as its numbers have grown. Meanwhile, the ancient buildings and fine surroundings enhance the quality of the daily lives of all at the school.

13+ Entry

From Preparatory Schools

Most pupils come to Canford from a wide variety of preparatory schools, having taken the Common Entrance Exam there. Our pass mark of 55% ensures that pupils are comfortable with our academic pace and curriculum and can proceed to success at 10 GCSEs and 3 (sometimes 4) A levels.

From State Schools

A sizeable minority comes from state schools, having usually taken either the Canford Entrance Tests or the Canford Assisted Places tests. In both cases the tests cover a modest range of subjects and aim to identify potential rather than to test existing knowledge. Most applicants sit these tests at Canford.

From Overseas

Some of our pupils come from overseas. Similar tests are used to establish the pupil’s ability and suitability for transfer to Canford. These tests may be taken at the applicant’s school.


Most pupils enter while they are aged 13. There are naturally exceptions which may be the subject of discussion, each case being taken individually.

The Headmaster's List

If places are oversubscribed, later registrations will join the Headmaster's List. Those on this list are invited to compete for a limited number of places. Testing takes place in the spring of Year 7.

Fourth Form Entry

This is possible if space is available and if test results and school report indicate that the applicant is able to embark successfully on a two-year GCSE programme.


 16+ Entry

Entry into the Sixth Form is welcomed. Pupils join the school from a wide range of backgrounds, both educationally and geographically.

Applications on forms obtainable from Admissions are required during October and applicants are invited to the school early in November for tests, interview and a tour of the school. Applicants from overseas may take these tests at their school.

Conditional places are subject to a minimum points score of 42 on the best seven GCSEs at grade A to C (where A* scores 8, A = 7, B = 6 and C = 5). English and Mathematics should be achieved at grades A-C.

Ordinary Entrance Tests

Ordinary Tests consist of written tests in English, Maths and Reasoning, plus one* subject test taken from the following list: Biology, Chemistry, Economics, French, Geography, German, History, Latin, Physics, Religious Studies and Spanish.

The Curriculum

Canford sets its entry standards at a level which should enable the motivated pupil to achieve a wide range of GCSEs (at grades A to C) and three A levels of sufficient quality to enter Higher Education. Ninety five percent of Sixth formers proceed to university.


There is increasing pressure for exam success and, as shown by the statistics to be found on these webpages, Canford is successful in helping pupils of a wide range of ability to achieve their optimum potential. The school is not a hothouse, however, and it aims at more subtle and long lasting academic achievements.


The pursuit of academic success should be seen by pupils as a voyage of discovery with great potential for excitement as well as profit. Pupils are taught how to learn and to take pride in their performance. Once enthusiasm is generated, achievement is not far behind.


The curriculum is under constant review. In the Lower School it broadly follows the National Curriculum but is not constrained by it. Breadth is important and, in studying as full a range of subjects as possible, pupils can discover their strengths and keep their A level options wide.


Not all periods in the lower school timetable are exam orientated. The first year is used by all departments as a foundation year in preparation for the GCSE courses to follow. It is also an opportunity for 'tasters' in subjects such as Design Technology and Art that can then be chosen for GCSE. In the first and second years, a course in Personal, Social and Moral Education (PSME) is provided. This spends time on such issues as alcohol, drug abuse and sex and is designed to give pupils some bearings and fixed points as they negotiate the tricky waters of adolescence. There is emphasis on self esteem, relationships and independence of thought.


Pupils study for four AS levels in the Lower Sixth and most will study three A2 levels in the Upper Sixth. There is a General Studies programme which each term combines a lecture with discussion in small seminar groups.


Potential candidates for Oxford and Cambridge entrance are encouraged early in their Lower Sixth year to join extra classes and discussion groups to prepare for interviews.


The aim is to encourage the emergence of individuals whose specialist knowledge and skills are complemented and enlivened by a quick and critical interest in a broad range of issues.


Lower School: Shell


The balance and breadth of the Lower School curriculum allow for considerable choice when it comes to 'A' Level.The entire curriculum is reviewed regularly; changes are therefore likely from time to time.


Core Subjects


Design Technology

Latin or
Learning Skills or
Classical Civilisation

German or
Spanish or
Extra French

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