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HM Forces Families

We welcome children from HM Forces families and see them thrive within the 24/7 full boarding environment. Lieutenant Colonel Dan Culley

A number of pupils from HM Forces families join Canford each year.   They are attracted to the school by the full boarding model, where on average at least 70% of boarders are in school each weekend, excellent academic achievement, a supportive school community of strong pastoral and wellbeing care, a wealth of co-curricular opportunities including an award winning CCF and impressive facilities set within 250 acres of stunning landscaped grounds in beautiful Dorset.  A number of our teaching and house staff being ex military is also reassurance for families that the school has an understanding and awareness of the unique situation that children of HM Forces parents are in.

For new joiners from September 2022, we will be offering a 10% discount to current serving families, subject to terms and conditions and the School's usual Admissions entry process.  More information on scholarships, fees and finance is available at the bottom of the page.

As Armed Forces’ parents living abroad we were looking for a school that delivered three things; a great education; strong development of the pupil and their character; and amazing pastoral care with a strong sense of community. It’s why we chose Canford and why, a few years later, we believe in Canford.  Current HM Forces Canford family

A 24/7 Full Boarding School


We are a full boarding school.  There is no flexi or weekly boarding and on average at least 70% of boarders are in school on any given weekend, with a number of weekends requiring all boarders to be in school each term.  This means that children of military families will not find themselves on their own at weekends - on the contrary, there is a full programme of activities provided which are tailored to different age groups.  Saturday nights might be a pizza evening or a film night in the theatre, and Sundays could be house sports or a trip to a water park or the beach.

Houses are second homes for our pupils, and provide a secure, friendly and fun environment.  Matrons and house staff keep a close eye on all the children in their care and are always ready with a hot chocolate or a chat if they are feeling lonely or homesick.  

All pupils and staff eat together in the main Great Hall which bring the school together as a community during the day and in the evenings and at weekends.  


I love boarding - it's like one big family and it's great fun in the evenings and at weekends.  Current pupil


Opportunities to Explore, Express and Excel

Our school vision is for all pupils to have the opportunity to be 'inspired to explore, empowered to express and challenged to excel.'  Canford has a well deserved reputation for excellent academic results leading to pupils moving on to top universities at home and abroad.  Over 80% of destinations are generally in the Russell Group, and as a SAT testing centre we see a number of pupils consider US university entrance each year.  We see exam results as tickets to the next stage of our pupils' lives, but that education is about so much more than this and high achievement is as a result of this dynamic educational environment.  We want all pupils to express themselves through the many different opportunities offered both within and beyond the classroom and encourage them to explore their own pathways and develop their abilities through areas which interest them.  Learning leadership, confident presentation, teamwork and critical thinking are all very valuable skills in the world of work beyond school. 

A supportive school community

As a school of 650 pupils, we pride ourselves on our warm, supportive community, large enough to offer a wealth of opportunity, but small enough for everyone to be known and valued.  In addition to full medical provision plus onsite counselling through our Health Centre, our pastoral care includes caring Housemasters and Housemistresses, good food, understanding when things go wrong, guidance and support.

Good communication within the triangle of child, parent and school is the backbone of our pastoral ethos.  This holistic approach encourages everyone to work together to bring out the best in each individual.

Pupils have a wide range of adults they can approach and who will have concern for them. Some pupils will find they talk best to matron, others to their Housemaster or Housemistress, tutor or health centre nurses. We have trained counsellors available if pupils are worried about something in particular, and pupils often find them particularly accessible.  Some prefer to talk to the Chaplain, as in addition to both formal and informal chapel services, societies and events, the work of the chaplaincy in our pastoral care is wide ranging and includes involvement in the wider life of the school.  Each pupil has an individual tutor with whom they meet regularly to ensure they are making the most of their days and are balancing their work with other commitments. We like to think that it would be hard for a pupil not to find someone he or she finds it easy to talk to.


An award winning CCF




I have loved my four years in the CCF and have been exposed to so many new skills and activities that I never would have had the opportunity to do otherwise, including cross country skiing in Norway, Ten Tors and the Rifles Cup - winning this was my highlight in the Upper Sixth.  Recent leaver

While we know that not every serving family has children with a similar interest in the military,  many find it beneficial that a school has a thriving CCF and that former members of HM Forces are among the current staff.  The Canford CCF offers Army, Navy and Marines Sections and is a very popular option for pupils from Fourth Form onwards.  Many stay on into the Sixth Form, taking up posts as Non-Commissioned Officers, following a Leadership Cadre, helping train and lead the junior cadets. 

The CCF is based at the south end of the campus, working from the purpose built Outdoor Education Centre and boasts a fully equipped assault course, 10m climbing wall, indoor range, FIBUA facility and landscaped battlecraft area for section attacks and other military activities.

CCF trips and expeditions take place each year both within the UK and abroad.  This includes Ten Tors training, adventure training in the Welsh Mountains, infantry exercises and the annual cross country ski and mountain survival trip to Norway, which is always oversubscribed.  

The CCF is led by Lieutenant Colonel Dan Culley (late RE) and Majors Ben Coward (late Rifles), Rob Hoey (late RE) and Craig Risbey (late RGBW) and Lt. Ed Johnson.

We were extremely proud to be named 'Best School CCF' in The Week's Best of the Best Awards 2021

Among the Top 10 Most Beautiful Schools

Sitting in 250 acres of glorious grounds just outside Wimborne and minutes from Dorset beaches, Canford provides a safe and inspirational school environment for pupils to live, work and grow. 

We are proud to have been selected by The Daily Telegraph as among the top 10 most beautiful schools, and mix Grade 1 listed buildings with modern, purpose built facilities which we are continually developing.  Two new boys' boarding houses, a new Outdoor Education Centre and a new Library are the most recent additions. Pupils take full advantage of the space.  The River Stour edges the campus and provides rowing direct from the Canford boathouse as well as the opportunity to explore elements of the Biology and Geography curricula.  The CCF uses the wooded areas for section attack and camping, with a wide selection of sports available offering something for all.  During each school year, the Manor House and Sunken Lawn area play host to Speech Day, the CCF Parade and Inspection, Remembrance Day Commemoration and many other school community events.

Canford School building and pupils


scholarships, fees and finance

For new joiners from September 2022, Canford will offer specific financial support to children of parents in the HM Armed Forces.  We will offer a 10% fee discount based on the following criteria:

1. The remissions are only open to pupils seeking to board.

2. Qualifying dates – the discount will apply in each term where at least one parent is in regular full-time service in HM Armed Forces

3. If the eligible parent, or both parents, leave the military, the final discount will apply in respect of the academic term during which the claimant completes their last day of service.

4. If more than one parent is serving in the Armed Forces, a maximum military discount of 10% will be available per child.

5. Our military remissions are only available to children of serving, regular members of the Armed Forces, not those of reservists.

Several families may still be eligible for scholarships and / or bursaries after receiving the military discount, in which case the following will apply:

1. Scholarships – the discount would apply first; any scholarships awarded would be calculated on the net fee.

2. Means-tested support - if eligible, the value of the remission and any scholarships would be factored into the calculation for means-tested support.

Scholarships and Bursaries Information

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