With a beautiful village setting in Suffolk, Culford is a co-educational boarding school which offers top-notch sport, excellent pastoral care and a modern take on education which leaves girls and boys ‘ready for life’.
A co-educational boarding and day school for students aged between one and 18 years, the school, an 18th Century mansion, is set in 480 acres of beautiful parkland which houses impressive sporting and academic facilities. With small class sizes and a nurturing environment, the school ethos is to create a community in which every child feels a sense of place and belonging.
In 1889 the 5th Earl Cadogan commissioned architect William Young to transform a mansion house near Bury-St-Edmunds into Italianate style and Culford House became a beautiful destination for entertaining royalty and notable guests. The estate was sold in 1933 and became the site for the East Anglian School for Boys in 1935 before later becoming one of the UK’s first co-educational boarding and day schools in 1972 after the students from The East Anglian School for Girls joined the boys.
Today, Culford School offers an excellent education to over 750 boys and girls, with boarding available from age seven. The school takes great pride in its outstanding pastoral care and in its academic and extra-curricular achievements. And, while the school is selective, it accepts students of a broad ability range.
From Nursery to Pre-Prep, Prep, Senior and Sixth Form, the school provides a ‘home from home’ environment created to nurture but also to inspire and challenge, helping children to develop in all areas and to find and pursue the interest which most drive them. All students have access to the school’s incredible sporting and arts facilities and to beautiful grounds which incorporate woodland, lakes and more.
The school’s mission is to provide the right environment for students to learn and to make children ready for life by developing resilience and compassion. Culford develops children’s skills through alternative approaches, introducing students to philosophy from an early age and encouraging understanding not only through listening but also through questioning.
There's a strong emphasis on pastoral care, recognising that a student's emotional well-being is not only crucial as their academic progress but to their personal development. Over half of the school’s academic staff are trained in Youth Mental First Aid and all staff and house tutors provide excellent support to students, ensuring they feel comfortable and nurtured throughout.
The school prides itself on fostering a strong sense of community and on instilling positive values in its students while also recognising individual needs, offering support during any difficult times and instilling resilience and confidence.
“Our aim is that each child fulfills their potential as a well-rounded individual and that children: have high self-esteem; show empathy towards others; are respectful of others and the environment; and show a good understanding of our core Christian Values.”
Core values are continuously reinforced through the school’s Learning for Life Programme which includes education and discussion on subjects beyond academia and weekly Collective Worship covers themes for thought and reflection. Most impressively, Culford truly values student responsibility and voice with several student committees allowing a fair say and responsibility for collective decision making.
Parents will be happy to hear that good manners and respect for others are hugely emphasised and celebrated at Culford – the academic journey here is underpinned by a goal to build compassionate, empathetic students who will be ready for a world after school.
Culford provides a high-quality, personalised learning programme that’s very much about each child – whether they need extra support or can be further challenged. After the Early Years and a focus on building social skills, creativity and basic numeracy, the Pre-Prep students begin a more formal education journey where subjects including English, Maths, Science, Art, Music and PE are introduced.
As students progress to the Prep School, the curriculum becomes more comprehensive and core subjects (English, Maths, Science and History) are complemented by a wider range of subjects including Geography, French, Spanish, Religious Studies and Design & Technology.
At Senior School level, students follow a balanced curriculum in preparation for GCSE exams – and are able to choose from a diverse range of options including the Arts, Humanities, Sciences, Languages and Business Studies on top of the core subjects. And finally, Culford School’s Sixth Form offers a variety of A Level courses which provide the opportunity to specialise in chosen subjects while preparing for university or career aspirations – including a ‘work hard, play hard’ mantra.
The school aims to deliver an education that is challenging, enriching and fun. Headmistress Claire Bentley says:
“Our teachers work hard to ensure lessons inspire children to be curious and inquisitive, tapping into their imagination and creativity. As they move through the school, students start to make things happen for themselves and revel in the opportunities to be adventurous.”
A strong emphasis is also placed on extra-curricular activities to complement the academic experience via a wide range of sports, arts and clubs.
Sport at Culford really is in another league and the school offers qualified, specialist teaching for a huge range of sports, at all ages, in absolutely first-class facilities.
These include a Sports Centre with 25m heated indoor swimming pool, fitness studio and strength/conditioning suite, indoor cricket nets and Merlyn bowling machine, golf swing studio and modern climbing wall plus championship tennis facilities with six indoor and six outdoor courts (the school is an LTA Regional Player Development Centre with current national champions in many age groups).
The grounds house netball courts, two floodlit AstroTurf hockey pitches, cricket square, golf driving range and grass pitches for rugby, hockey, netball and cricket. The School’s Golf Academy is linked to three golf clubs close by golf courses and the Football Academy has a thriving partnership with Bury Town Football Club, which allows experience of the sport up to semi-professional standard.
With an ethos that sport and athletic development should be available to all from an early age, the school focuses on students developing their skills in order to enjoy a lifelong participation in sport – and will support all interests from basketball and horse riding to scuba diving and water sports in an effort to promote a healthy and social lifestyle and make sure that there is something for everyone.
“We hope that the sport at Culford never loses its sense of fun and enjoyment,” says the school.
Sports scholarships are offered in recognition of students who show real talent and potential.
Just as with sport, Culford School strives to tap into the creativity of all students, whatever their skills – believing that ‘expressive arts are central to human society’. A truly inspirational new Art Centre offers a dynamic space for lessons and exhibitions and offers drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, textiles and other artistic media.
Dance, drama and music are offered with equal enthusiasm and really great facilities including a 250-seat auditorium, professionally equipped Studio Theatre, recording studio, music practice rooms and a music technology Apple Mac suite. The drama department produces an annual school musical in which many students take part either on or off stage and regular drama clubs and LAMDA lessons allow students to build confidence.
Music takes shape in the form of an orchestra, chamber choir, carols choir, wind band, jazz band – and also through house concerts, jazz evenings and many other events created to let everyone ‘have a go’. Dance is increasingly popular and there are opportunities to learn many different styles.
Situated in beautiful parkland with woodland on the doorstep, the students at Culford are extremely fortunate to have the most incredible outdoor areas to enjoy – be it through sports and adventures or as part of the Combined Cadet Force (CCF) via military and adventure training once a week or in taking part in the Duke Of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme.
Various trips abroad promote sport, learning and charity opportunities for each individual to enrich their own and other people’s lives, something that the school is passionate about. And there are clubs which suit every interest – from fashion to sailing, film club to pioneering. Sixth formers are given the responsibility to ‘make clubs happen’ – if there is an activity that isn’t being offered, the school will help make it available. Life beyond the classroom at Culford is nothing but varied and exciting – supporting the school’s mission to offer a balanced academic journey.
Culford offers full, part and occasional boarding (the latter being up to 10 nights each term to suit family life or school commitments) from the age of seven.
The majority of Culford’s boarders are full boarders, and while students may go home at the weekend after Saturday morning school, there are no compulsory exeats and an exciting programme of weekend activities means that many students stay.
Culford boasts four modern boarding Houses run by friendly and experienced Housemasters and Housemistresses and each boarder has a personal tutor.
Day students are fully integrated into the boarding community and can opt to stay for an extended day at no additional charge, joining in after school activities, supper and homework before going home up until 8.30pm.
Main entry points into the Prep School are Years 1-3 & 7, Year 9 in the Senior School, and Year 12 for Sixth Form.
Entry is based on online examinations in English and mathematics, verbal and non-verbal aptitude tests, current school reports and references – all arranged by the Admissions Office.
Annual fees for day students range from £14,160 (prep school) to £23,655 (senior school). Fees for full boarders are from £27,585 (prep school) to £37,155 (senior school).
Culford has a longstanding tradition of offering Scholarships to recognise and encourage students who show real talent and potential and offers financial assistance in the form of bursaries to assist children who may not otherwise be able to attend the school.
Good for: There is so much more to Culford than its beauty, facilities and grounds (although all three are seriously impressive). With a commitment to academic excellence, strong pastoral care and an emphasis on sports and extracurricular activities, the offering here really is balanced and well rounded. For students with undeniable sporting talent, this school would make an excellent choice.
Not for: The majority of Senior School students board so day students may feel excluded (although the school does make every effort for this not to happen). It’s been mentioned that Culford is ‘like a bubble’ – with students not really needing to leave its stunning setting – but that could also be a positive factor for many.
If you are the owner or the principal of the school and note any inaccuracies, or would like to update data, you can now open an account with us. You will also be able to add admissions availability per year group, and advertise current job vacancies. This is a free service. Please help us keep prospective parents up to date with your latest information.
Are you looking for a place for your child, and want help from our school consultants? If so, click on the link below, and we will forward your request for information to the school or schools of the same type that we are confident have availability. This is a free service for our readers. Request Information