A forward thinking senior school in a English village with a large boarding community, excellent sporting and design facilities, and a focus on broadening students' horizons beyond academia.
The headmaster since 2014, Martin Reader, was Oxford educated (English) and later obtained an MBA in school leadership. He has taught at Teddies, Oundle, and Reigate Grammar, where he was deputy head. He is forward thinking and has brought the school firmly into the 21st Century, especially with digital learning. Everyone must bring their school iPads to class. He champions good manners, thoughtful behaviour, and achievement in all fields, not just academia. He is extremely keen on increasing biodiversity on site and has started an eco-club. He has introduced longer lessons (50 minutes) but thinks that his pupils should be able to “have a go at everything” and not have a narrow, hot house education. Thinking, Being, Giving is his mantra: Thinking - questioning all aspects of academics, beyond examinations; Being - promoting wellbeing in the world; Giving - a culture of service. “Ultimately those who flourish, serve and lead in the future will be thinking, being, giving people.”
Key features: A beautiful equestrian centre, open to the public. It boasts two all-weather arenas and 60 acres of land. Several pupils keep their own ponies at livery or pupils can use the school ponies.
Cranleigh's family of schools includes Cranleigh Preparatory School for students aged 7 to 13 years, which is located on the same campus in the village. Moving overseas, Cranleigh opened its sister school in Abu Dhabi in 2014 and it is thriving, bringing “added richness and an exchange of ideas and culture to enhance (our) local boarding environment.” Cranleigh China was launched in 2019 following a partnership with Cogdel Education Group, and it plans to open a Cranleigh family of schools in China, adopting a similar ethos to Cranleigh’s sixth form. Cranleigh wants to start two-week school exchanges as soon as it is possible.
Cranleigh was rated Excellent in its most recently available ISI Educational Quality report (2015).
Teaching from Year 9 follows the National Curriculum of England, with English, Mathematics, and Sciences compulsory at GCSE level, with a choice of French, Spanish, and German for modern foreign languages, and a diverse choice of additional subjects. All sixth formers choose three A Levels and have to do an Extended Project Qualification. Some do a fourth A Level or an AS Level in, for example, Greek, Geology, or Computer Science.
Cranleigh is famous for being sporty, but the school is keen to point out that it has more to offer than “just” sports. It offers 10 grass pitches, three of which are AstroTurf; 21 tennis courts; four squash courts; six Eton fives course; a fantastic swimming pool; and a nine-hole golf course, to name just some of the facilities.
The school truly excels at rugby, but the girls’ and boys’ hockey are also outstanding. Sport is played four afternoons a week and the school has over 30 teams playing every Saturday. Students are coached by top sportsmen and women. In fact, an Olympic gold medallist runs the boys’ 1st X1 hockey team. Shooting, climbing, and sailing are also offered.
The art facilities are some of the best offered by a school in the country – six large studios with specialist provision for painting, printmaking, photography, sculpture, and ceramics. Life classes are offered to sixth formers. The Design Engineering department is also extremely strong and boasts three fully equipped studios and workshops, with 3D printers.
Community activities take place every Wednesday afternoon and there is plenty of choice from litter picking in the village, helping with a local school, working in a charity shop, and more.
In the co-curricular programme, 95% of Year 9 pupils choose drama as an option. There is state-of-the-art theatre technology and, located below the main theatre, a green room. Studios are newly refurbished and equipped with green screens. The music department is thriving, offering everything from music technology to organ lessons (in the Chapel).
The Combined Cadet Force (CCF) is strong at the school, with the Duke of Edinburgh award offered as an alternative.
Some 30% of students receive additional learning support. There is also a full-time EAL teacher.
Cranleigh operates a strict anti-bullying protocol in place, as well as zero tolerance to drugs.
Last year, 69% achieved Grades 9 - 7 at GCSE Level and 58% A* - A at A Level. Students go on to universities such as Exeter, Oxford Brookes, and Newcastle; three went to Oxbridge in 2020, and several to American universities.
Some 70% of students board and it is very much the ethos of the school. Whilst day students are welcomed, they stay until 9.30pm and have a full Saturday School day. Having said that, most of the students are weekly boarders and go home for weekends. The international students either remain in their boarding houses or stay with family, guardians, or friends. An excellent webinar on Dim Sum making was made one weekend by the Chinese students whilst in quarantine!
The newest girls’ house opened in 2019, and there are now 4 houses for boys and the same number for girls. The boarding houses are single sex but they are paired, so everything else is completely co-ed. Cranleigh does not offer “flexi” boarding and does not intend to, but day students can stay for the odd night at an extra cost, depending on availability.
The Van Hasselt Centre is one of the newer buildings, providing 24 classrooms, a cafe (the converted ancient squash courts), a lecture theatre, a new Sixth Form centre and more. The Emms Centre is also new and is used for modern languages, science, and IT. Both these buildings are light and spacious, striking against the original Victorian buildings.
Boarding fees are £39,330 per annum and day fees are £32,370 per annum with a long list of extra charges, for example UCAS fees and sixth form textbooks. A discount is available for the third and subsequent siblings. Scholarships are available at 11+, 13+ and 16+ for “those who show excellence in their field” and, if achieved, a means tested bursary is available for up to 30% of the fees.
Half of the student body joins at 13+ from the school's own Preparatory School, having taken the pre-test in Year 6. Potential students must attend one of the mandatory assessment days. Entry at 11+ is also offered into the prep school for two years, with guaranteed entry into the senior school at 13+. Twenty places are offered for sixth form (Post-16) entry, but competition is fierce. Students must be predicted Grades 9 - 7 in their GCSEs and sit verbal and non-verbal reasoning examinations, as well as submitting an essay. They will then sit an interview on Zoom. A reference from their current school is required.
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