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Frequently Asked Questions

General FAQs

Where do pupils come from?

Canford's reach is wide, with pupils joining at 13+ from around 50 different Prep and Junior schools each year and at 16+ from both single sex and co-educational senior schools.

Are places booked up years in advance?

Canford is a very popular school so it is advisable to register as early as possible, by the September of Year 7 in order to have the best chance of a place, and sooner if you have a house choice in mind. Pre-assessment takes place in Year 7, although some places do become available later, and late scholarship candidates are always welcome.

Is Canford a full boarding school?

Canford is run as a seven day a week boarding school. There is no weekly boarding. About 30% are day pupils who benefit from the provision a boarding school offers.  Each weekend a programme of activities is offered, while the flexible exeat system means that pupils can spend a good number of Saturday nights at home each term if they wish to. On average over 70% of boarders remain in school on any given weekend.


How Academically selective is canford?

For us, attitude is the key.  We are interested in potential and people who enjoy their academic work.  Excellent exam results emerge from a broad-based, rounded education.  55% average is the minimum expected for those sitting Common Entrance.  Pupils not prepared for Common Entrance sit our own entrance papers.  Some pupils enter via scholarships.

Can I join in the sixth form?

Sixth Form entrants sit either our scholarships or entrance exams;  to those who are successful offers are made subject to achieving a minimum of 42 points on the best seven GCSEs  (where alphabetical grades are still used then A* = 8, A = 7, B = 6, C = 5).  Normally we would expect at least a grade 7 (or an A grade) in each subject to be studied in the Lower Sixth and at least 6 (or a B grade) in English and Mathematics.

Why are the fees so high?

Over 60% of the fees are spent on staff salaries.  To attract high quality teaching staff, Canford pays a little above the national rate.  The staff/pupil ratio is 1:7.5 and there are necessarily many support staff.  Facilities are modern and investments continue rapidly.

Can I visit before I join?

Once entrance examinations are completed, future Canfordians are invited to a familiarisation day where they meet staff and other members of their year group.  They also become more familiar with where they will be living and, if necessary, with the courses they will be pursuing.  In the first two weeks, each new entrant also has a pupil mentor to help guide them through their school routine.

Does canford operate any bus services?

For boarders, school buses run to Richmond, Fleet services, Winchester, Chichester and Southampton airport at half-terms and fixed exeats.

For day children, a school bus service operates within the Blandford, Poole, Bournemouth, Christchurch, Ringwood, Fordingbridge and Dorchester areas daily, and on other routes according to demand.

A full list of our routes is available on request.

Registration and Pre-Assessment FAQs

Why do you pre-assess?

We want pupils to join Canford who are the best fit, so that their senior school years offer the most positive experience possible. We are not just looking for academic aptitude. Wider ability, character, attitude and the potential to contribute and thrive here are also valued highly. Pre-assessment allows us to meet each individual pupil and the chance to see them working within a group. Equally if Canford is not the place for them, the pre-assessment process will flag this, giving families time to look for alternatives. Our schedule is in line with that of an increasing number of schools where Year 6 is rapidly becoming the normal pre-assessment time.

Is it better to register as early as possible?

We recommend registration as early as possible and certainly if one has a particular house preference, as house places are offered in date order.

can i choose whichever pre-assessment option i like? 

Yes. This is a decision for parents. It is recommended that you also consult with the Head at your child’s current school to choose the most appropriate option of the four. While places will fill up as time goes on, we will keep some places aside for late developers and for strong late applicants, but in general those entering Option D are likely to find only Waiting List places are available.  N.B.  Once you have registered for Canford, we will be in touch in good time to ask if you want your child to be entered for the next Option, so there is no need to do anything until you hear from us.

Do you ask for a reference from the current school?

Yes. References add an important dimension to our understanding of individual pupils.

what happens if I miss all four pre-assessment option deadlines?

It is still worth getting in touch as late places do often come up and our door is seldom completely closed.

what is the difference between conditional and unconditional places?

A few very strong candidates will be offered unconditional places. They will be expected to sit tests in the Easter or Summer Term of Year 8 for setting purposes only. Others will be offered conditional places subject to also passing an entrance test in Year 8 (Common Entrance, Canford Entrance Tests or the Academic Scholarship). In recent years, about 60% of those attending pre-assessment have subsequently been offered places. The offer of a conditional place indicates our confidence in the candidate’s potential to pass the entrance test.

what happens if my child is put on the waiting list

Those not offered a place immediately after their Headmaster’s List day will join the Waiting List. Pupils will be reconsidered as places become available and many do find places emerge in due course.

does the fact I already have a child in the school make a difference?

Younger siblings of current pupils who attend either Option A or B will not be in competition with other applicants for places, provided they reach an acceptable standard in the pre-assessment.

Financial Assistance FAQs

is there any assistance with fees?

Canford offers scholarships at 13+ and 16+ in a range of subjects and means-tested bursaries throughout the school which are worth up to 100% of fees.  Please visit our Scholarships and Fee Assistance page for more information.

can i enter for a scholarship without sitting a pre-test?

Scholarships are open to all, regardless of whether one already has a place in the school or not. We reserve a number of places for those who win scholarships without having sat any previous tests. Those unsuccessful at scholarship will be able to join our Waiting List, but there can be no guarantee that a place will become available for them.

Useful Facts and Figures



If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our Admissions office, either by email or telephone 01202 847207.