Canford School

About Canford School

Headmaster Ben Vessey writes:

We want our pupils to encounter formative experiences through their education in the academic, co-curricular and pastoral aspects of their time here.  These in turn will lead them to question, to make decisions and to act vigorously, both as individuals and through their engagement with others.

 Such characteristics are crucial if our pupils are going to make the most of their own future, and contribute all they can to the world in which they live.  If they don’t aim high, they will fall short.  Life is full of challenges, and we want to equip Canfordians with the confidence and resilience to embrace and overcome them.

 We seek to instil a deep understanding of the wider moral and social responsibilities that arise from living and working with others. This is embodied in the vision, aims and ethos of the school where we want all our pupils to have the opportunity to explore, to express and to excel in all aspects of school life as part of our Canford community.  Our values of courageous attitude, purposeful engagement, humble ambition and gracious leadership underpin everything we do and help to forge the strong bonds between staff, pupils and parents which are a fundamental feature of Canford life.  Education is and has to be a partnership driven by mutual respect, trust and a willingness to work together for a better future.

Boarding at Canford

Canford has a 21st century boarding model, which commits to genuine 24/7 full boarding rather than weekly or flexi boarding options, but also allows pupils to spend a proportion of Saturday nights at home each year if they want to. Yet with a packed programme including Sunday trips to the beach and water parks, weekly Saturday night Sixth Form socials, film nights in the Layard Theatre and fun Sunday activities such as juggling lessons, pizza making and boarding ‘Bake offs’, alongside full use of the school’s facilities such as the boat club, indoor 25m pool, gym, dance studio and 9 hole golf course, it is perhaps not surprising that at least 70% of boarders choose to stay in on any given weekend.


Type of School Co-educational
Number of Pupils 650 pupils
Number of Boarders 65% with day pupils able to take full advantage of a 24/7 boarding school environment.
Age Range 13-18
Religious Tradition Church of England
Distance from Airports

Bournemouth airport – 20 minutes

Southampton airport – 45 minutes

London Heathrow – 1 hour 40 minutes

London Gatwick – 2 hours

Distance from London
Around 2 hours by train or car
School Links

No official links in terms of ownership, but we have strong relationships with over 100 different prep and senior schools who send us pupils each year.   In addition, Canford is one of only a handful of independent UK schools which fully sponsors an Academy school.  The Bourne Academy, based in East Howe, Bournemouth, is flourishing and there are regular link activities between our two schools, both for pupils and for staff, which are mutually beneficial for all.



Educational Programmes

Canford has a fine reputation for academic excellence, leading the way in the South West region.  Pupils study for GCSEs and A Levels and over 95% of pupils move on to top universities at home and in the US, plus to top Art colleges and Music conservatoires.  A number of pupils also consider degree apprenticeships, with recent success including with Goldman Sachs and PwC.

However, we see external exams simply as tickets to the next stage of education, and want our pupils to develop a love of learning in the broadest terms.  As Deputy Head Academic Ieuan Weir writes:  “It is a privilege for us as teachers to be catalysts for our pupils’ learning. Teachers and pupils work collaboratively in the pursuit of academic excellence, motivated by intellectual curiosity and a shared passion for knowledge.”

There is a whole range of academic and intellectual extension enrichment programmes and events from Year 9 through to Year 13, designed to allow pupils to question and to challenge.  An annual Festival of Ideas brings to Canford a wealth of speakers from all walks of life, and a cross-curricular programme allows pupils to make connections between different subjects.

Co-Curricular Programmes

We believe that young people need a range of varied and challenging choices at all stages of their education.  The so-called ‘soft skills’ developed by our co-curricular programme are as important as the academic skills when it comes to life beyond formal education.

Pupils at Canford are fortunate to benefit from excellent sporting and arts facilities and a broad choice of activities.   Learn Real Tennis on one of the few original school courts in the country, ascend Mont Blanc with the CCF Army corps, leap from great heights on the school climbing tower, take to the stage in dramatic or musical roles, or even indulge a passion for beekeeping. The lively cultural enrichment programme includes visiting lecturers and inspirational trips designed to encourage pupils to debate and challenge perceived wisdom and broaden their intellectual and cultural horizons.

While we do much at Canford to foster a love for subjects within the classroom and local environs, there is something exciting about a trip further afield. The benefits are not just subject specific, but develop a much wider range of skills of collaboration, team work, organisation and leadership. A school trip can be a very memorable part of a pupil’s school days – and great fun!