Mr Lascelles is off to Epsom College in September 2024 to take up the headship there. New head Jon Davies will step into his shoes, joining Dauntsey’s from his current role as senior deputy head and vice principal of Kingswood School, Bath. We look forward to meeting him in the autumn.
Dauntsey’s prides itself on allowing individuality to shine – and while it’s not known for its selectivity, competition to get in is strong, with more applicants than available places at 11+. Candidates sit papers in creative writing, verbal reasoning, comprehension, puzzles and problem solving, and spelling and grammar, and they are invited to an interview too. Roughly 50 per cent of pupils arrive from prep schools and 50 per cent from primaries, meaning that with about 60 schools feeding into the pot, it’s a blank canvas with no cliques or large groups dominating the settling in.
For the 35 or so pupils joining at 13+, selection is based on the ISEB Common Pre-Test as well as an interview. Applications can be made in Year 6 or Year 7, and for those not at prep school, there is the option to sit the school's own assessments. It’s worth noting that only boarding places are available at this entry point, and new starters join boarders at The Manor (where the lower school boards) for one year before moving up to the senior houses in Year 10.
Open to both day pupils and boarders, sixth-form entry is based on predicted grades, school references and an interview. About 35 pupils join at this stage, bringing the head count to around 860.
A range of scholarships and awards are available at all three entry stages, as well as a scholarship supplement for families of scholars needing fee assistance.
Boarders account for about 40 per cent of pupils at Dauntsey’s. Strictly speaking there’s no flexi option, but boarding is very flexible and boarders can return home each weekend or go out or home for supper with parents mid-week, if they are local. The boarders tell us that after the day buses leave at 5.20pm, the vibe instantly changes from school to ‘home’, which helps them all switch off. The school’s location makes it attractive to forces families who, like all parents of boarders, can be reassured that about three-quarters of the boarding fraternity stay in over the weekend. There’s certainly no mass exodus and the range of high-adrenaline to chilled-out weekend activities are all well attended.
The Manor is a co-ed boarding house and home to lower-school pupils in Years 7 to 9; it has a homely energy, with a relaxed and natural communication between the year groups. Upper-school boarders are accommodated in single-sex houses, two for boys and two for the girls. The houses differ slightly in style, personality and facilities but all ooze charm.
Senior boarders take responsibility for a great deal of their own downtime activities (just under half of sixth-formers board), although the sixth-form socials at weekends are laid on at the school’s 17 Club. Sixth-formers are allowed two drinks a week and, while this is carefully logged, there is little need for such checks as the students respond so positively to the trust placed in them. Being a sixth-former here really does feel like a special privilege, offering the joys and opportunities of the Dauntsey’s bubble alongside a carefully crafted and grounded preparation for the real world – such as doing their own laundry from time to time. We loved the relaxed and comfortable interaction between our sixth-form guide and the house staff we met, all adding to the very homely vibe.
What is the history of Dauntsey's school?
Dauntsey’s was first founded in West Lavington 1542. It opened in accordance with William Dauntsey's wishes; he left money for a grammar school and almshouse in his will, and the Mercers' Company built them. In 1895, Joseph Chamberlain opened the school's new site as Dauntsey's Agricultural School. In 1929, the school acquired the Manor House estate, and by 1930, the school was called Dauntsey's School, focusing on agriculture. Girls were able to join from 1971, and in 1972, it became more academically focused. Over time, the school has grown, adding facilities such as Fitzmaurice House in 1967 and, more recently, a hockey Astroturf pitch.
Which notable alumni attended Dauntsey’s School?
Since its inception, Dauntsey’s has seen its fair share of alumni who have gone on to have notable careers in a variety of professions. Some of these include novelist Andrew Miller, journalist and presenter Ed Mitchell, Eastenders theme composer Simon May, and Olympic silver medallist sisters Guin and Miriam Batten.
Don’t panic! We have more than ten years’ experience of visiting schools and advising parents, and we are all parents ourselves – we can make this easier for you.