United Kingdom / South East England / Kent / Cranbrook School

Cranbrook School Review

Located in rural Kent, Cranbrook is a high achieving co-ed grammar school that offers a well-rounded day and boarding education to students with a strong love for learning and a spirit of independence.
At a glance
School type
Grammar
School phase
Secondary
Inspection rating
Outstanding
Curricula taught
Availability 2021/22
No data
Availability 2022/23
No data
Annual fee average
GBP 15,500
Annual fees
GBP 14,400–17,250
Price band help
Premium
Status
Open
Opening year
1518
School year
Sep to Jul
Principal
Mr Will Chuter
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Cranbrook School
School type
Grammar
School phase
Secondary
Inspection rating
Outstanding
Curricula taught
Availability 2021/22
No data
Availability 2022/23
No data
Annual fee average
GBP 15,500
Annual fees
GBP 14,400–17,250
Price band help
Premium
Status
Open
Opening year
1518
School year
Sep to Jul
Principal
Mr Will Chuter
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Located in rural Kent, Cranbrook is a high achieving co-ed grammar school that offers a well-rounded day and boarding education to students with a strong love for learning and a spirit of independence.

Cranbrook is one of the UK's few state boarding schools. Founded in 1518 by John Blubery as a grammar school, Cranbrook is forward-thinking (its broad and enriched Sixth Form curriculum is a shining example of this), high achieving and selective without feeling too elitist.

Students join the school with an above national average attainment, and many leave with exceptionally high results at both GCSE and A Level. They make excellent progress across all subjects, so that by the end of Year 11, levels of attainment are exceptionally high. For the last two years, two thirds of GCSE grades have been at A* or A. 

This co-educational grammar school offers a government-funded education for 900 day and boarding students (families pay only for boarding). There are 240 boarders living in six Houses, coming from the UK and overseas. (All students must have a current UK passport or the right to residency in the UK.)

The school is one of around 40 state boarding schools in the UK, and offers many benefits of a private education without the cost. It is organised and run as a boarding school and day students can enjoy the benefits of boarding life while still living at home or paying boarding fees. They get access to the specialist teaching, sport and arts facilities found at an independent school, a broad extra-curricular programme, and the opportunity to stay at school for an extended day to complete prep/homework.

Will Chuter, Headmaster, graduated from Durham with a degree in Ancient History. He took up the role in January 2021. He was previously Deputy Head and Head of Classics at Gresham’s school in Norfolk and before that he was at Uppingham School. An Old Cranbrookian himself, something that parents warm to, Mr Chuter credits his education at Cranbrook for his "independent spirit, a love of learning, lifelong friends, and a passion for team sport and the arts".

The school was rated Outstanding in its latest Ofsted inspection in 2015.

Curriculum

While Cranbrook is a selective school that admits students based on strong academic performance in its day and boarding entrance exams, it is not a believer in "hot-house methods". However, it does expect hard work, commitment and independent learning.

In Years 10 and 11 students take 10 GCSE subjects including mathematics, English language and literature, one modern language and the sciences. Students can then choose between three optional courses from history, geography, Latin, French, Spanish, food preparation and nutrition, art and design, drama and religious studies.

The school has a large Sixth Form of about 360 students, who benefit from their own dedicated facilities. Most students study three A Levels, and it is also possible to take an EPQ or GCSE Astronomy. In addition to the core GCSE subjects, A Level students can study business studies, classical civilisation, economics, government and politics, further mathematics, drama and theatre, and psychology. It's a broad choice of subjects, and its balance of academic and creative, old and new subjects means that students of all 'types' are catered for. 

All students work towards the recently introduced Cranbrook Diploma, which runs alongside their formal studies and challenges them to develop new skills to improve their 'employability' and university applications.

To be awarded the Diploma, students need to achieve three A Levels, complete either the EPQ or an Independent Research Project, work experience (which is ideally linked to their career goals) and service to others. In addition, students need to be part of the community, whether playing for a sports team or sitting on the debating society. The Diploma fills the gaps in A Levels that the IBDP can offer with its Extended Essay and Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) elements. It shows how Cranbrook thinks outside the box and looks beyond the more traditional offering of A Levels to offer its students a much broader education.

Sports and the arts

Sport is compulsory for all year groups, and you'll find the facilities and variety of sports on offer exceed what is offered at a typical state secondary school. The main sports for boys are rugby, hockey, cricket and basketball and for girls, hockey, netball, rounders, basketball and cricket. Swimming (in an outdoor heated pool), tennis, yoga, dance and athletics are also on offer. The school has 50 acres of playing fields, squash courts, an all-weather Astro-turf pitch and a sports hall with a dance studio, weights gymnasium and cardio suite. Sports fixtures take place on a Saturday. The dance on offer is excellent and includes street, contemporary and musical theatre; a “DanSing” production  is performed annually.

There's a thriving arts scene here. The drama department is based in the fully equipped Performing Arts Centre, and Cranbrook has its own Queen’s Hall Theatre which seats 350 people. The Performing Arts Centre is equipped with two large recital rooms, six practice rooms, a recording studio and a music studies classroom with software for the composition of music. Every year there is a whole school production which alternates between a play and a musical, and there is a separate junior production.

Fine art is offered at GCSE and A Level, and Cranbrook has two large studios with colour printer, digital SLR cameras, relief printing and screen printing; Sixth Formers are offered two life drawing classes per term and they have a separate gallery space. And there are several music ensembles such as orchestras, choirs, strings, jazz and brass, rock group and stomp style percussion group, and there is even the Battle of the Bands. 

Beyond the classroom

There are countless clubs such as robotics, amnesty, debating, chess, coding, finance and investment, Warhammer and many more; students are strongly encouraged to take part but they are not compulsory or part of the timetable. The school has its own observatory, used by students who join the astronomy club and or take an astronomy GCSE off timetable.

Cranbrook Combined Cadet Force is a popular activity for all year groups. It is split into two sections, Army and RAF. The students have numerous opportunities to participate in field days, overnight exercises, an annual adventure training trip, and international exchanges and expeditions. Cadets take part in competitions in radio, shooting and military skills, and can gain a BTEC in Public Services.

Most students here partake in the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme. In 2012, Cranbrook became a Directly Licensed Centre for the DofE, in recognition of its outstanding development and support of the Award.

Cranbrook has an exchange partnership with a school in Kerala, southern India and students visit during the October half term. It offers numerous school trips such as food trips to France, skiing trips, diving in Egypt and sports tours to Hong Kong and New Zealand. Other trips are linked to coursework such as language exchanges, geography field trips and history Battlefield tours.

The school has 12 single-sex houses – seven for boys and five for girls – where day and boarding students can mix and make friendships.

Academic results

In the 2021 GCSE results, 67% were Grades 7-9 and 98% were Grades 4-9. In the 2021 A Level results, 27% were A*, 57% A*-A and 83% A*-B. Five students took up their places to Oxbridge.

This is typical of the school's academic performance. Across almost all subjects, students routinely secure at least a grade C at GCSE. In maths, physics, chemistry, French, Spanish, biology and history, at least 75% of the grades awarded are A* or A.

Campus and facilities

Cranbrook has a hugely desirable location. Located in part of the Weald’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it's green for as far as the ey can see across the school's 75 acres. It has the benefits of being an easy commute to London and its airports, and just half an hour from the coast.

There are five day houses; the junior students have their own day house, Sellers, which consists of 120 students in Years 7 and 8. The other houses, Allan, Horsley, Lynx and Webster have a range of ages with a mixture of boys and girls.

In 2017, a new Sixth Form Centre was built, and the school boasts a fantastic library and an on-site observatory.

Boarding

There are six boarding houses, Cornwallis, Crowden and Rammell for boys; Blubery and Scott for girls; and the School Lodge 'entrance house' for around 30 new boys coming into Year 9.

The houses each have their own distinctive style, and rooms vary enormously from dorm sleeping ten students to single rooms with shared bathrooms. There are traditional buildings that feel warm and homely, such as School Lodge and Cornwallis, and purpose-built, contemporary houses such as Crowden, Blubery and Rammell.

Admission and fees

Cranbrook typically has 60 places available at 11+ and the admissions process involves taking the Kent Test (the old 11+). In Year 9, which is 13+, there are 38 day places and 52 boarding places available, 34 for boys and 18 for girls.

Around 90% of Sixth Formers here move up from Year 11, leaving just a small number of boarding places for Year 12 entry. Only the students with the highest predicted GCSE grades will be invited for interview.

Admission to state boarding schools in the UK is limited to children who are nationals of the UK and are eligible to hold a full UK passport, or those who have the right of residence in the UK. Since January 2021, they are no longer open to EU passport holders and nationals of other European countries.

Children can be living overseas when they apply, but they will need to provide a copy of their UK passport or right of residency in the UK. Families with British National (Overseas) status can apply for the new Hong Kong British National (Overseas) visa. If the visa application is successful, families who move to the UK can apply for their child to attend a UK state boarding school. All boarders from overseas must have a guardian in the UK when they arrive. In several state boarding schools, around 10-20% of boarders have an international background.

Applications are made to Kent County Council, not the school. Students applying for a boarding place will be invited for a boarding interview, when the school will assess their suitability to board; places are offered shortly after the interview. This will typically take place in September and/or January in the academic year preceding entry.

The oversubscription criterion for boarders includes: children who are looked after by a Local Authority, UK Armed Forces children, having a “boarding need” which could be that parents are living abroad, and having a sibling at the school (unless they are in Year 13).

Day student places at non-selective state boarding schools such as Cranbrook are made through the Common Application Form (CAF) to the local authority, and students must apply in Year 6 for a Year 7 place. The deadline to submit the application is October 31 in the year preceding entry. There is often a high demand for day places at these schools, which are awarded according to the Local Authority criteria of looked-after children, siblings and distance from school. You’ll often need to be living less than two miles of the school to stand a chance of getting a place.

You will find out if you have been offered a place on National Offer Day, which is March 1 every year.

Fees are only charged for boarders; on Years 9-11, it is £14,400 per year and Years 12-13 cost £17,250 per year.

Best for

Co-educational schooling
A Levels

Not for

A non-selective education
The IB

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