Dean Close School Review

Dean Close is a small independent day and boarding school in the Cotswolds for 500 students aged 11- 18 years.
At a glance
School type
Private
School phase
Secondary
Inspection rating
Excellent
Curricula taught
Availability 2021/22
No data
Availability 2022/23
No data
Annual fee average
GBP 27,000
Annual fees
GBP 26,940–26,940
Price band help
Premium
Status
Open
Opening year
1886
School year
Sep to Jul
Principal
Mr Bradley Salisbury
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Dean Close School
School type
Private
School phase
Secondary
Inspection rating
Excellent
Curricula taught
Availability 2021/22
No data
Availability 2022/23
No data
Annual fee average
GBP 27,000
Annual fees
GBP 26,940–26,940
Price band help
Premium
Status
Open
Opening year
1886
School year
Sep to Jul
Principal
Mr Bradley Salisbury
MORE arrow_drop_down

Dean Close is a small independent day and boarding school in the Cotswolds for 500 students aged 11- 18 years.

Dean Close School is part of the Dean Close Foundation, a family of schools that includes a pre-prep and prep school, senior school and sixth form – all located within Cheltenham. The school has around 150 pupils in the Pre-Prep (ages 2-7), 300 pupils in the Prep (ages 7-13) and 500 in Dean Close School (ages 13-18).

There’s a large boarding community, around 55% of students, and students come from both the local area and overseas; around 25% of the Senior school are international students, representing 28 different nationalities. 

Every girl and boy belongs to either a Day House or a Boarding House, which is run by a Housemaster or Housemistress. Dean Close’s caring and family vibe is built on a very strong house system, and students are quickly made to feel part of the community whether boarding or spending time before and after school in what’s known as the ‘Day House Village'. They’re also supported by a wide network of staff including their personal tutors and houseparents, as well as the chaplain and specialist teachers for their GCSE and A Level subjects.

Founded in 1886, the school has a strong Christian ethos that that is developed within the staff and children through everyday life, and students here are said to be “grounded, responsible and well-rounded young people”. The school has some outstanding facilities for sport and the arts, as well as beautiful grounds. Results are excellent, too.

Headmaster Bradley Salisbury has been at the helm since 2009.

Curriculum

Dean Close has a six-day week, and there are morning lessons every Saturday followed by games in the afternoon. 

There’s a broad language programme; students study French and Spanish from Fourth Form (Year 9) as well as Classical Greek and Latin. Creative arts and sport are taught as part of a carousel, which offers an introduction to art & design, drama, food & nutrition, music, PE and product design technology.

GCSE options include art, business, classical civilisation, computer science, design technology, drama, food preparation & nutrition, French, geography, history, Latin, music, PE, religious studies, Spanish, and the option to take triple science.
 
As students move into the Sixth Form, class sizes get small and the choice of subject gets wider (there’s a list of 28 different subjects). Sixth Formers are encouraged to become more independent; they select their individual tutor (often someone who teaches one of their A Level subjects) with whom they meet weekly and they take on various leadership positions within the school. They choose three or four A Levels and have the option to take complementary qualifications such as the Extended Project Qualification, the Leith’s Food and Wine Qualification, a sports or music diploma, or GCSEs in Italian or German.

The enrichment programme is a real strength here. It’s varied enough for students of all abilities, and it equips them with some key, additional skills that will prepare them for their chosen university or career pathway.

Sport and the arts

There’s plenty going in the arts and sport here. Throughout the year there are plays and shows in the purpose-built music school. A two-storey art school is particularly well-equipped for the fine arts, such as painting, drawing, sculpture and ceramics. And perhaps the school’s shining star is its 550-seat Bacon Theatre with a huge stage (the largest in Gloucestershire apparently), a retractable orchestra pit, dressing rooms, lighting rigs and a marble foyer. It’s quite something. There’s also a large 400-seat open-air woodland theatre (what a great setting for the many plays studied here), and a smaller drama studio for teaching.

Students can access a really wide variety of sports here too. There’s also an equestrian school on campus, and the chance to ride for the Dean Close team. Sports facilities include a sports centre with aerobics room/dance studio, fitness suite and indoor sports hall. There are two high spec, floodlit Astroturf pitches over 20 tennis courts, a 25m indoor pool, an indoor rifle range and climbing wall. 

There’s a really strong sports department that gets every student in Years 9, 10 and 11 playing for a team in any of the main sports. It’s also great to see students have full access to both Physiotherapy and Strength & Conditioning departments, as well as a 'Return to Play' programme for those who need it. This is a school that says it has a ‘sports for all’ ethos and makes the extra effort to really mean it. 

There’s also plenty of sporting pedigree here, too. The school has particular successes in rugby and hockey, and there are mentoring programmes and scholarships offered to the most talented athletes. The opportunities in rugby are excellent as the school has direct links with the RFU Regional Gloucester Academy and the Welsh Exiles; the school also has a former England hockey player as a coach who has helped to take Dean Close to over 50 national finals.

Beyond the classroom

You’ll find students being stretched and challenged in so many ways here, and the Combined Cadet Force, Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and Community Action programme are all well-established and popular. 

Winner of the best job title must go to the Head of Adventure who keeps students active and outdoors with activities including mountain biking, paddle sports, rock climbing, bushcraft and slacklining orienteering, Students can stay on campus to use the school’s own Bike Park DC, swimming pool and climbing wall, or travel to locations such as the Forest of Dean and Cotswolds.

There’s also a wide choice of activities and clubs in the school’s extra-curricular programme; all student take part in two different activities every day (after a popular break for buns at 4pm!).

Academic results

2021 A Level results: 35% were A*; 63% were A*-A; and 83% were A*-B.

2021 GCSE results: 43.8% were A*/9-8; 64% were A*-A/9-7; and 100% passed six or more GCSEs.

About 5% of leavers go to Oxbridge and over 50% receive offers at Russell Group universities.

Boarding

Dean Close has a total of 10 single-sex houses for full and flexi boarders (who stay one or two nights per week), as well as day students. Boarders include services families, expats, international students and some families from the local area.

The boarding houses are large family homes, all located on the 50-acre Dean Close site. 

Admission and fees

All students sit an entrance assessment for Years 9-13. As well as attracting overseas students, the school is very popular with military families (who receive remissions on both day and boarding fees).

Annual fees are £26,940 for day students, and £39,894 for boarders.

Our view

Good for: Whether joining as a day or boarding student, families can expect their child to quickly become part of the inclusive, welcoming and friendly community here. It’s a place for students of all abilities and with all interests – so whether your child is academic, arty or sporty (and either outgoing or the quieter type), Dean Park offers the facilities, support, expertise and subject choices to bring out their potential. It has a beautiful location in the Cotswolds, but not too remote, and fees are slightly below some of the more elite schools in the area,

Not for: There’s a strong Christian ethos that underpins the whole attitude to teaching, inclusion and pastoral care, although religion is not forced upon any student and it is a school for all faiths and none. It’s not as pushy as some more academic schools in the area, and the entrance exams are not as highly selective.

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