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Dauntsey's Devizes, Wiltshire Visit
865 pupils, ages 11-18
Day and Boarding


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Our View of Dauntsey's School

Dauntsey’s is a warm and welcoming centre of learning and adventure. Pupils are taught to be courageous but humble, an ethos to be cherished in a world full of competition and entitlement – they are lucky to be here and, refreshingly, they know it.


Mark Lascelles is the warm, approachable and unassuming head of Dauntsey’s School. At the helm here since 2012, he was formerly a housemaster and teacher of geography and cricket at Shrewsbury. A father of three girls, he is passionate about the co-ed environment, which he says reflects real life, and his pride in the school’s inclusivity is tangible. His centrally located office area is on the flight path for throngs of pupils going about their daily business, offering a casual interaction that is so often missing at senior level. He is down to earth, friendly and driven – much like Dauntsey’s itself.

His decade here has been busy: the school has invested heavily, and the once slightly dated classrooms have been tastefully replaced by state-of-the-art teaching environments. Landscaping around new buildings has been beautifully done and it’s clearly a place created for children (the table-tennis tables dotted around are just the tip of the iceberg).

Mr Lascelles has already overseen an ambitious five-year investment and growth strategy, delivering a splendid athletics track and its adjacent pavilion, which offers a fabulous view of two impressive Astros and provides a multifunctional space for lectures, socials, events and the all-important match tea. There are many exciting plans for the future, including a new sixth-form day centre and a goal of making the school site entirely car-free.

But while Mr Lascelles is undoubtedly delighted with these achievements, it’s how his pupils turn out that makes this modest head most proud. He encourages pupils to be ‘adventurous in learning, friendships and interests’, and he says that kindness is the school's number one priority. And, indeed, kindness breeds happiness and happy children thrive.

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.

Where is Dauntsey's School?

Set in over 150 acres, Dauntsey’s occupies an enviable position in the stunning Vale of Pewsey, five miles south of Devizes, in Wiltshire. Importantly, there’s a plethora of local village pubs, perfect for a parental pre-match Saturday lunch or some army tank and Apache spotting on nearby Salisbury Plain.

Access by road is straightforward, with Bath, Salisbury and Swindon all within 40 minutes and London only 100 miles by road or easily reached from one of three local train stations. Overseas pupils can hop on the RailAir bus link at Reading station to ferry them to Heathrow. The school also runs 15 bus routes to bring in day children from the surrounding towns and villages.


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.

Academics and destinations

Learning here is bold and immersive (science teachers have even built bespoke catapults to bring their experiments to life), and Mr Lascelles has worked hard to create an 'adventurous education' – be it through a physics lesson on board the Jolie Brise (more on that below) or a musical-theatre performance in the West End. He’s a big fan of a ‘progressive curriculum’ and is always seeking ways to extend the scope for his pupils – at present he’s looking into the addition of a music-tech BTEC.

Class sizes are relatively small, averaging 16 for a GCSE class and nine for A-levels – and although pupils do very well here, it’s clear that academic results are only part of the picture. It’s giving your best to learning that really matters. It's also worth knowing that this is a six-day-week school, with a full morning of academic lessons on Saturdays, followed by afternoons packed with sports matches and activities.

Although Dauntsey’s is less selective than local grammars, its results are better, with 66 per cent of GCSE grades marked 9-7 in 2022. A-level grades are similarly solid, with around 71 per cent securing A*-Bs. The most popular subjects at A-level are maths and chemistry, and science-related A-levels account for a third of choices.

About 75 per cent of leavers go to the top 15 or Russell Group universities.

Co-curricular at Dauntsey's School

Art, music and drama all thrive at Dauntsey’s and there’s no sign of any loss of momentum. Art is housed in its own standalone building, which is open until 10pm every evening and at weekends – which the arty pupils adore.

About 40 per cent of pupils have individual music lessons in at least one instrument and host an impressive number of concerts every year, from choral recitals to jazz and rock evenings. Access to a musical education is an important principle here, with GCSE music as well as music and music-tech A-levels on offer.

Dramatists are kept busy with at least seven productions a year, all of them open to the public – one of the many ways in which Dauntsey’s makes itself an integral part of the local community. The quality of these shows is jaw-dropping, and you have to pinch yourself to remember that the actors are not genuine West Enders. Previous billings include Legally Blonde, In the Heights, Les Misérables, Billy Elliot and Jesus Christ Superstar. Guys and Dolls, School of Rock and a boys-only dance show are all set to hit the stage later this year.

Dance is compulsory for the first two year groups, who learn street and hip-hop as a creative way to promote self-confidence and teamwork. We particularly loved the cheekily titled GNI, the boys-only dance group throwing some serious shapes with just one polite request: ‘Girls Not Invited’.  The annual school dance show is also a key part of the Dauntsey’s calendar.

Sport is incredibly inclusive and, with over 700 matches taking place each year, everyone has the opportunity to take part – the school is keen to support athletes at every level and not just the elite, although the latter also receive top-class supervision with bespoke strength, conditioning and nutrition programmes for those who want them.  This has led Dauntsey’s pupils to a flurry of achievements – including 1st place at the European 400 metre hurdles and national equestrian success.

Rugby, football, hockey, basketball, tennis, athletics, cricket and netball are the main sports, although there are opportunities to represent the school in swimming, rifle shooting, fencing and equestrianism too. Dauntsey’s also promotes lots of non-competitive pursuits to keep children healthy and active, and the extracurricular programme boasts everything from karate to trampolining.

The adventure programme is as much a part of life here as classroom learning, and no review would be complete without a mention of the Jolie Brise. One of the most famous tall ships in the world, it has been sailed and maintained by Dauntsey’s pupils for over 40 years, during which time she has sailed the Atlantic six times, crossed the Bay of Biscay 10 times and navigated 200 miles inside the Arctic Circle. It is a beautiful vessel and a unique asset, especially for a landlocked school. But in true Dauntsey’s style, the Jolie Brise is not for show – it is part of the experience that makes this place very special.

Mr Lascelles is a keen advocate of adventure and exploration as a means to teach pupils the valuable skills of teamwork, risk management and communication. Orienteering, self-defence and survival skills take place weekly, and the fabulously titled head of adventure education has been instrumental in organising the Devizes to Westminster canoe race and a dazzling selection of trips to Iceland, Sweden’s Arctic territory, Bhutan, Mount Kilimanjaro and beyond.


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.

Dauntsey's School community

Pastoral care is excellent here, with tutor/pupil/parent relationships both important and effective. There are two school counsellors, each house has six tutors and there's a superb student-led listening service where pupils volunteer to be listeners and take a course that teaches them how to best offer support to their peers. Student voice too is vitally important here and is seen as a real strength by the pupils themselves.

The school is heavily invested in the local community, interacting with over 400 primary-school children every week by visiting them in their own schools or welcoming them to use Dauntsey’s facilities. The hardworking parental body form a strong core and the parents’ association generates additional resources, most recently hosting an exuberant ABBA-themed evening to raise a little bit of extra Money, Money, Money.

And finally....

From the moment we arrived at Dauntsey’s, we felt warmth, energy, authenticity and a charming confidence that never strayed into arrogance. This is a school that truly understands that learning happens both in and outside of classrooms, that lessons are learnt from success and failure alike and that pupils who have the confidence to think around a problem will be far better set up for life in a world where change is the only constant. The only thing that Dauntsey’s doesn’t have is a big name, and that in itself is very much part of its charm. For parents who want can-do, inquisitive and grounded children who appreciate their opportunities and surroundings, we think we’ve found just the place.

Gallery See All

Sixth formers in an English class studying Hamlet
Girls in black and white sports kit playing hockey
Cast of Legally Blonde on stage dancing
Test tube on fire in science lab with pupils in goggles watching on
Boy in a shirt and tie and blue apron sanding down a wooden board
External image of Dauntseys School
Girls in black tops and shorts running on the red tartan track
Teacher helping a boy and girl in class all wearing pale blue shirts
Boys in the music room wearing black and green headphones
Boys in white aprons preparing food in the kitchen
Boy in black and white top and red helmet in the green cricket nets
Three girls standing arm in arm wearing pale blue bibs
  • Academic results

    GCSE results
    A level results
    Download results as PDF
  • Subjects offered


    Art & Design
    Classical Civilisation
    Computer Science
    Design and Technology
    Drama and Theatre Studies
    English Language
    English Literature
    Physical Education
    Religious Studies

    A Level

    Art & Design
    Business Studies
    Classical Civilisation
    Computer Science
    Design and Technology
    Drama and Theatre Studies
    English Language
    English Literature
    Further Mathematics
    Government and Politics
    History of Art
    Physical Education
    Religious Studies
  • Fees and bursaries

    Day fees per term

    Year 7£7,910
    Year 8 £7,910
    Year 9 £7,910
    Year 10£7,910
    Year 11£7,910
    Year 12£7,910
    Year 13£7,910
    Boarding fees per term

    Year 7£13,090
    Year 8 £13,090
    Year 9 £13,090
    Year 10 £13,090
    Year 11£13,090
    Year 12£13,090
    Year 13£13,090

    Bursary contact:
    Bursar James Davey
  • Transport links

    School Transport
    School daily bus network

    Public Transport
    Nearest mainline train station: Westbury
    Journey time to London by train: 80 minutes
    Nearest international airport: Heathrow (80 miles)

  • Pupils tell us

    ‘The three best things about my school are the sport, the people because they are kind and friendly and the location as there is lots of outdoor space.

    The entrance exams were quite hard, but they were fun as we did a dance routine before them to relax. The interview was good fun because the teacher made me feel at ease.

    My advice to new students would be to stay calm, be yourself and be proud of yourself. It didn’t take me long to settle in as I had the help of the boarding house staff, my friends and my 6th form mentor who was brilliant. For problems I would go to my 6th form mentor or my tutor.

    Our headteacher is such a legend! We have a good relationship and high five when we see each other.

    Boarding is great fun and a new and positive experience. The food is generally really good; the chicken korma is the best!

    If I was head for the day, I would change the prices in the tuck shop!

    Dauntsey’s is a fab school and everyone should go there!'
  • FAQs

    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.

School Updates

  • Dauntsey’s appoints Huw Thomas as new Deputy Head (Pastoral)

    Dauntsey’s is delighted to announce that Huw Thomas will be joining the school in September 2024 to take up the role of Deputy Head (Pastoral). Huw joins Dauntsey’s from St Edward’s, Oxford, where he is currently Housemaster of Apsley House.
    Dauntsey’s appoints Huw Thomas as new Deputy Head (Pastoral)
  • Dauntsey’s paddlers craft their own challenge amidst DW Race disruption

    Dauntsey’s pupils forged their own 101 mile canal challenge when adverse conditions altered the course of the 2024 Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race, showcasing enormous resilience and unity.
    Dauntsey’s paddlers craft their own challenge amidst DW Race disruption
  • Dauntsey’s dancers impress at the Spring Dance Showcase

    Dauntsey’s Dance Programme ‘is streets ahead of rival schools’, emphasising that dance is something that all pupils engage with right from day one.
    Dauntsey’s dancers impress at the Spring Dance Showcase
  • Dauntsey’s appoints John Davies as new Head

    Dauntsey’s is delighted to announce that John Davies will be joining the school in September 2024 and taking up the position as the new Head of Dauntsey’s.
    Dauntsey’s appoints John Davies as new Head
  • Dauntsey’s team return to Romania to support children’s charity

    This summer saw a team of 23 Dauntsey’s pupils and staff head to Romania for the first time since 2019. The school has a long-standing relationship with the Nightingales Children’s Project there, and being able to visit the country and help with work.
    Dauntsey’s team return to Romania to support children’s charity
  • Dauntsey's celebrates equestrian success

    Dauntsey’s Equestrian Team are celebrating the end of a busy and successful year, which came to a close with three teams competing at the National Schools’ Eventers Challenge Championships at Hickstead.
    Dauntsey's celebrates equestrian success
  • Pupils wow at the annual Primary Schools Dance Show

    Excitement reached fever pitch as the curtain rose on the third annual Primary Schools Dance Show earlier in the term.
    Pupils wow at the annual Primary Schools Dance Show
  • Dauntsey's dancing legends

    More than 200 pupils took to the stage this term for Dauntsey’s annual Lower School Dance Show.
    Dauntsey's dancing legends
  • The 'Festival of Voices' comes to Dauntsey’s

    This year saw the introduction of a new festival at Dauntsey’s – The Festival of Voices - a week exploring, studying and celebrating the human voice.
    The 'Festival of Voices' comes to Dauntsey’s
  • Dauntsey’s pupils embark on DW training

    The countdown is now on for the 2023 Devizes to Westminster race.
    Dauntsey’s pupils embark on DW training
  • Dauntsey’s pupils take to the stage

    Dauntsey’s annual December musical lived up to all expectations with a lively and engaging performance of Guys and Dolls.
    Dauntsey’s pupils take to the stage
  • Reverend Richard Coles rounds off autumn Mercers’ Lectures at Dauntsey’s

    Reverend Richard Coles rounds off autumn Mercers’ Lectures at Dauntsey’s
  • Dauntsey’s Sixth Former Enjoys Winning Summer of Athletics

    It has been a fantastic summer of athletics for Dauntsey’s Sixth Former Ophelia (Phe Phe) Pye. At the start of the holidays, she was selected for the Great Britain & Northern Ireland Under 18 athletics team, to compete in the European Championships in Jerusalem.
    Dauntsey’s Sixth Former Enjoys Winning Summer of Athletics
  • See Dauntsey's in our Senior Boarding Schools Guide.

    See Dauntsey's in our Senior Boarding Schools Guide.


High Street, West Lavington, Devizes, Wiltshire SN10 4HE

01380 814500


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