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Giggleswick School
Giggleswick School
Giggleswick School
Giggleswick School
top 200
Giggleswick School Settle, North Yorkshire Visit
Giggleswick School
335 pupils, ages 11-18
Day and Boarding

Giggleswick School

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Our view

This school in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales is one to watch. Numbers are growing and families far and wide are taking note of its unique offering – a nurturing setting that celebrates the individual and has some of the UK’s best outdoor pursuits on its doorstep. It’s no wonder it’s seeing both a drift from local schools and an interest from parents further afield. Giggleswick’s #throwyourselfin campaign really sums up the ‘let’s go for it’ spirit which is seen everywhere from the classroom to the sports field.


Located on the edge of Giggleswick village, the school encompasses an expansive 215 acres of Yorkshire Dales. It was founded in 1512 and has a rich history (head Sam Hart is particularly keen to showcase this), with many impressive, listed buildings made from traditional Yorkshire stone. It’s modernised inside, with some new extensions, and there are more recent buildings, such as the Richard Whiteley Theatre (named in 2010 in honour of the late Countdown presenter, who was a pupil and benefactor here), which also serves as a community arts hub for films, theatre and music performances.

High on a hill, the chapel was bestowed by Victorian philanthropist and politician Walter Morrison, and pupils take a scenic walk to the Grade II-listed building to attend thrice-weekly services. A charming cricket pavilion is used by boarders in the summer for barbecue and rounders nights, and there’s an observatory in the grounds for budding astronomers.

There are eight school buses covering a radius of 50 miles and serving towns including Harrogate, Ilkley, Skipton, Lancaster, Kirkby Lonsdale and Clitheroe – and the friendly bus drivers are considered an important part of the Giggleswick community. There’s also a chauffeur service for boarders arriving by train or plane.


Head Sam Hart took up the post in January 2022. He was previously at Winchester College and was attracted by Giggleswick’s non-selective, nurturing philosophy, as well as its breadth and location: ‘It’s an academic school, but there is a focus on all areas, and that gives the pupils the opportunity to find their own interests.’

His style is very open-door (one pupil tells us the school feels friendlier since he’s arrived), and he likes to know what’s going on so he can take a strategic and operational approach to making improvements. His previous career as an army officer no doubt informs his methods: seeking opinions and making decisions for the best interests of the pupils. ‘Leadership must be flexible. It depends on the audience,’ he says.  

His biggest change since taking up the headship has been to restructure the school day, bringing in more supportive prep time and extra time for co-curricular activities. There are now staggered lunchtimes, an hour of supervised study (with supervision tiered to pupils’ needs) and then an hour of co-curricular with 80 different activities on offer from water polo in kayaks in the pool to knitting in the library. For Year 11 and 13, there are study workshops tailored to their exams. Pupils had a say in the changes and pupil-led activities are next on the agenda.


The school is non-selective; there is an entrance assessment at Years 7 and 9 but that’s only for setting purposes. What it is looking for are pupils who embrace Giggleswick values and get stuck in with school life.

Years 7, 9 and 12 are the main entry points, but a few join in Years 10 and 11, mainly from Spain and Germany for one academic year. Out of the boarders, 80 per cent are British; there are international pupils from 11 countries, including Germany, Spain, Croatia, Hong Kong and Japan.

Academics and destinations

In line with the school’s learner profile – curious, skilled, aware, passionate, creative, proactive, resilient, assured – the emphasis is on quality rather than quantity. And the new structure of the academic day absolutely does that, giving pupils targeted support where it’s needed. In the sixth form, pupils can take a mixture of A-levels and BTECs, and there is a commitment to bespoke exams so pupils can follow their own path. At the moment two are doing a BTEC in performing arts and one student is studying A-level Latin, even though it’s not yet offered at GCSE. The introduction of Year 7 and 8 scholars Latin, though, means it soon will be. At GCSE, the curriculum is based around three tenets: academics; the CASE (Creative, Active, Service, Enrichment) programme; and skills to develop leadership, teamwork and communication. The latter includes mentoring at the prep school and helping to coach sport as part of a sports leadership award.

Academically gifted pupils have a weekly Aspire Programme session, where they discuss and debate everything from rococo art to forensic science, plus the Creative, Active, Service and Enrichment programme offers subject visits, speakers, competitions, clubs and workshops, as well as university-related opportunities in subjects that pupils are taking. For sixth-formers, the Giggleswick Diploma captures and rewards each pupils’ participation in the whole curriculum.

Most leavers head off to Russell Group universities – two have offers from Cambridge this year for medicine and classics – while a smattering choose apprenticeships and degree apprenticeships. What most impresses us is the way the school shepherds its leavers, helping them to find the right place for them, not what they think others might expect of them.


The school has a good reputation for sport, with many pupils reaching county level for rugby, hockey, tennis, athletics and football. There’s an Elite Sports Programme for sports scholars in Years 7 and 8, with invites offered to gifted pupils from Year 9; it includes talks and sessions on nutrition, psychology in sport and mental wellbeing. Each year, the whole school takes on The Gaggle, aka the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge – a breeze for such a sporty lot.

Facilities are excellent, with Astro pitches, a large sports hall for indoor cricket, grass tennis courts, rifle ranges, clay-pigeon shooting, natural rock faces, climbing walls, a dance studio, a swimming pool, a spin room with 25 bikes… the list goes on. Pupils also use Skipton tennis courts and the indoor driving range at Bentham Golf.

A new head of outdoor pursuits, Pete Keron, has recently come on board. A world champion kayaker, and a keen rock climber, fell runner and mountain biker, he has the Giggleswick ‘throw-yourself-in’ spirit pulsing through his veins, so no doubt will boost the already amazing OP offering.

The music, drama and art departments are impressive. Half the school takes music lessons, choir numbers keep growing and the Giggleswick’s Young Musician of the Year competition is eagerly anticipated – this year Olly Hamilton, the musical director for the BBC, was adjudicator. As is The Gigg, a line-up of live acts from all year groups that sees younger pupils performing with sixth formers, and the staff and house band as ‘session’ musicians.

Drama productions are ambitious and well-funded – last year’s production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was, says one parent, as good as a West End performance. It is strong on art, too, offering photography, textiles, fine art and ceramics. The 80 clubs and societies include everything from Model United Nations and debating to astronomy club held at the school observatory, with the option of taking a GCSE in the subject.


About 65 per cent of pupils opt in to either full or flexi boarding, rising to 75 per cent in the sixth form (the lucky teens have their own bar). Pupils can be full-time, five days or three days, and day pupils all have desk space, and some a bed, if they choose to stay beyond school hours.

Boarding parents are very supportive, and everyone has a mentor, a buddy and a tutor. The seven houses (each are a mix of boarders and day pupils) are very appealing, with cosy kitchens ready with ‘stidge’ (the school slang for doughnuts and snacks at breaktime), lots of nooks and crannies, comfy sofas and fairy lights, table football and pool tables, as well as plenty of bathroom facilities. Each of the houses has its own crest and there’s fierce loyalty. On the annual Scarrig cross-country run, pupils apply face paint in their house’s colours.

After Saturday school, there’s always a full programme of weekend activities, such as ice-skating, riding along the mountain-bike trail or sitting round the firepit roasting marshmallows. On exeat weekends, the school can stay open for children who are unable to go home.

School community

Strong on pastoral support, Giggleswick was recently awarded the Silver Award by the Leeds Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools, which ensures robust strategies are in place to enable a whole-school approach to wellbeing. The house system helps this to run comprehensively, offering a good support network with tutors, independent listeners, matrons and heads of house always available for pupils to talk to. The older pupils are also encouraged to support the younger ones. Year 13s act as mentors for Year 9s, holding half-termly check-ins, and a new wellbeing centre led by both medical staff and the chaplaincy is cementing itself as a supportive and welcoming space.

The older pupils take on prefect duties too. There are different praepostors (prefects) for each part of the school – music, drama, academic, equality, diversity & inclusion, sport and international students – which means the younger pupils know who to go to if they need help in a certain area and the older prefects take on responsibility for their department and organise events and fundraisers, including an annual charity ball for the younger years.

And finally....

A holistic school with the pupil firmly placed at the centre of everything it does, Giggleswick gets its results through an adherence to strong values. The ‘throw yourself in’ attitude helps children find their passions and grow in confidence, with exemplary pastoral care making that journey safe and supported. The new head Mr Hart, with his relaxed, friendly style and strong belief in respect and high standards, will no doubt only galvanise the school’s reputation for nurturing happy, well-balanced all-rounders ready to take on the world. 

Gallery See All

  • Academic results

    GCSE results
    A level results
    Download results as PDF
  • University destinations

    3% of leavers went on to Oxford or Cambridge university.
    50% of leavers went on to a Russell Group university.
    15% of leavers went on to a creative arts or vocational course.
    84% of leavers went on to their first choice university.
  • Subjects offered


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

    A Level

    Business Studies
    Design and Technology
    English Language
    Further Mathematics
    Government and Politics
    Religious Studies
    3D Design
    Theatre Studies
    Music Technology
  • Fees and bursaries

    Day fees per term

    Year 7£6,715
    Year 8 £6,715
    Year 9 £8,335
    Year 10£8,335
    Year 11£8,335
    Year 12£9,030
    Year 13£9,030
    Boarding fees per term

    Year 7£10,325
    Year 8 £10,325
    Year 9 £13,495
    Year 10 £13,495
    Year 11£13,495
    Year 12£13,970
    Year 13£13,970

    Bursary contact:
    UK Admissions Manager Katie Mallalieu-Black
  • SEND

    This school currently supports the following kinds of learning needs, health needs and physical disabilities:
    The school's Head of Learning Support, Vicky Coughlin, is qualified to conduct assessments to determine a child’s additional needs and there are specialist teaching assistants to support pupils in the classroom. The school looks at each child on a case by case basis and parents are encouraged to speak openly to them about their child’s learning difficulties.

    This school currently delivers the following interventions to pupils in class and outside class to support their learning, health and/or physical needs:
    The teachers have experience of differentiating work for those with learning difficulties, using structured multi-sensory teaching programmes and by teaching study skills, organisation and revision skills. They also offer curriculum support or specific English teaching for students who speak English as an additional language.

    This school currently provides the following support for pupils' mental health needs
    The school believes a pupil’s wellbeing and happiness is founded upon positive physical, intellectual, emotional, social and behavioural development. In particular, they work hard to maintain an open and trusting community in which pupils feel able to approach any member of the community (staff or pupil) knowing that each pupil and each member of staff has the right to be treated as an individual and with respect by other pupils and staff. Their Wellbeing Centre has recently been refurbished and is a welcoming and safe place for pupils who need support with their physical and mental wellbeing.

    The school has agreed and understood expectations and policies and has a Designated Safeguarding Lead with responsibility for all child protection, safeguarding and welfare issues: Christian San Jose, Deputy Head and from September '22 Christine Gemmell.

    All pupils belong to a House system and there are seven Houses run by a team House and teaching staff to support the pastoral needs and academic progress of every child. The Housemaster or Housemistress is responsible for the general welfare of each child and the Matron in each House helps with all day-to-day domestic, wellbeing and health matters. In addition, all pupils are assigned a tutor who they meet with every week to discuss academic and pastoral issues.

  • Transport links

    School Transport
    School daily bus network

    Public Transport
    Nearest mainline train station: Settle
    Journey time to London by train: 210 minutes
    Nearest international airport: Leeds Bradford International (35 miles)

School Updates

  • Giggleswick School vows not to increase fees amidst Labour's VAT policy

    One of the UK’s oldest boarding schools has announced its decision not to increase its fees should the Labour Party come into power later this year.
    Giggleswick School vows not to increase fees amidst Labour's VAT policy
  • 10 Questions with Sam Hart, head of Giggleswick School

    10 Questions with Sam Hart, head of Giggleswick School
  • Join our Virtual Introduction to Boarding in Year 7

    Join our Virtual Introduction to Boarding in Year 7
  • Giggleswick School Teacher wins Britain’s Most Brutal Endurance Race

    Giggleswick School Teacher wins Britain’s Most Brutal Endurance Race
  • Giggleswick School pupils prepare for next steps after GCSE success

    Giggleswick School pupils prepare for next steps after GCSE success
  • Giggleswick School students pursue their passions in A Level success

    Students at Giggleswick School in Settle are today celebrating A-Level success and are pursuing their personal passions as they move on to a wide variety of exciting futures.
    Giggleswick School students pursue their passions in A Level success
  • The 'Gaggle': A school adventure in the Yorkshire Dales

    Students and staff embarked yesterday on a memorable event known as the 'Gaggle.' This cherished tradition saw participants choosing from four routes that wind through the picturesque landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales. Each route offered its own unique experience, catering to different interests and abilities.
    The 'Gaggle': A school adventure in the Yorkshire Dales
  • Giggleswick School announces three new academic appointments

    Giggleswick is delighted to announce three new academic appointments, joining the team for the new 2023-24 academic year.
    Giggleswick School announces three new academic appointments
  • Giggleswick School graded 'EXCELLENT' in all areas

    Giggleswick School in Settle is delighted to announce that it has been rated ‘Excellent’ in all areas, following its recent Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) report.
    Giggleswick School graded 'EXCELLENT' in all areas
  • RSC Schools' Analyst Competition

    Year 12 Chemistry students participated in the national Schools Analyst Competition run by the Royal Society For Chemistry which incorporated a number of tasks over 4 hours.
    RSC Schools' Analyst Competition
  • Cambridge offers for Sixth Form pupils

    Congratulations to Year 13 students, Jemimah and Eleanor, who have been offered places at Cambridge University (Magdalene College) to study Classics and Medicine respectively.
    Cambridge offers for Sixth Form pupils
  • Chemistry Olympiad success

    Chemistry Olympiad success
  • Giggleswick is a Microsoft Showcase School

    Giggleswick is a Microsoft Showcase School
  • Students win National Minecraft Education Competition

    Students win National Minecraft Education Competition
  • Community effort ensures successful English Schools Fell Running Championships 2022

    Community effort ensures successful English Schools Fell Running Championships 2022
  • Giggleswick School launches bus service from York

    Giggleswick School, one of the North’s leading independent day, boarding and flexi-boarding schools, has launched a bus service from York which will run weekly. This will enable pupils from the York area to return home once a week while taking advantage of all the opportunities boarding provides.
    Giggleswick School launches bus service from York
  • See Giggleswick School in our All-through Schools Guide.

    See Giggleswick School in our All-through Schools Guide.
  • See Giggleswick School in our Senior Boarding Schools Guide.

    See Giggleswick School in our Senior Boarding Schools Guide.
  • Wellbeing at the heart of academic achievement at Giggleswick School

    How we look after our pupils at Giggleswick is equally important as academic achievement.
    Wellbeing at the heart of academic achievement at Giggleswick School


Giggleswick, Settle, North Yorkshire BD24 0DE

01729 893000


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