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Marlborough College
Marlborough College
Marlborough College
Marlborough College
top 200
Marlborough College Marlborough, Wiltshire Visit
school
Marlborough College
Marlborough
1,013 pupils, ages 13-18
Mixed
Boarding

Marlborough College

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Our view

With its formidable reputation as one of the country’s top public schools (it’s also one of the very few genuinely seven-days-a-week schools left in the UK), Marlborough might be forgiven for resting on its laurels. But that’s not the Marlborough way. Recent initiatives include a new method of teaching and learning that places health and mental wellbeing at the centre of everything, while the College’s continuing drive to increase accessibility has seen a boom in bursaries. As the inspirational head Louise Moelwyn-Hughes says: ‘We are changing the face of Marlborough College through diversity, and access is at the heart of what we do.’

Where?

The hugely smart market town of Marlborough is a pretty peachy place to call home (it’s got a Space NK, a Rick Stein restaurant and the poshest branch of Waitrose outside Belgravia). Less than half an hour south of the M4, backing onto gorgeous Wiltshire countryside, the school itself sits just off the eastern end of the high street in 286 acres of grounds. Its compact centre is focused around Court, with its imposing original school buildings and gothic-style chapel.

A skip across busy Bath Road takes you to some of the boarding houses, playing fields, music and art schools and a clutch of other extensions built to keep up with the school’s growth. Having the town on the doorstep counts for a lot – it prevents cabin fever and the urge to escape to London at weekends, and locals are both pupils’ best friends and biggest critics (you can guarantee any public slips in standards will swiftly make it back to the powers-that-be). Pewsey and Swindon are the nearest train stations.

Head

Louise Moelwyn-Hughes is one impressive lady. Massively understated, quietly confident, hugely approachable and self-deprecating, she clearly understands what makes people tick and has a reassuringly balanced view of the world. She has managed to combine and absolutely nail being a mother of three, a talented and motivated professional and an inspirational woman who is quicker to acknowledge the success of others than award herself the same recognition.  

She initially rebuffed the invitation to apply as Master, so the College asked Mrs Moelwyn-Hughes ‘theoretically’ what she would have done if she took the job. ‘Academic ambition’ and ‘access’ were her responses – and when Marlborough agreed to wholeheartedly back her suggestions if she accepted the role, she couldn’t refuse. One of Mrs Moelwyn-Hughes’ greatest pleasures, she told us, is overhearing pupils talking about their lessons or discussing a topic they have been learning rather than just chatting about when’s the best time to get changed for sport.   

When she took the reins in 2018, there were 11 pupils on full bursaries. Since then, the number of assisted and fully subsidised places on offer has increased exponentially – there are now 44 pupils on full bursaries and 120 receiving partial ones. In April 2023, the school launched its 10-year Marlborough Difference Campaign to offer 100 pupils 100 per cent bursaries that cover not only fees, but – if needed – uniforms, trips and any other extras. The campaign has already raised a huge £27 million. ‘The response has been extraordinary,’ says Mrs Moelwyn-Hughes, who is proud to see Marlborough leading the field in its commitment to providing an education to anyone who would thrive here. She tells us that this kind of pupil diversity is a win-win: not only does it benefit the recipients themselves, it also has a positive knock-on effect for everybody else as well – pastorally, academically and socially. It’s all about ‘how pupils treat each other and are respectful of different opinions, backgrounds, needs and cultures,’ says Mrs Moelwyn-Hughes.

Admissions

No two ways about it: Marlborough College is a popular place and parents will have to be on the ball. You can put your name down five years ahead of entry – and although there are a small number of places available for anyone who has left it until their child is in Year 7 or 8 before applying, the main bulk of the incoming cohort is assessed and places offered in Year 6. Open days often attract over 100 families, so visit early. It’s also possible to book a second, more exclusive tour at a later date (don’t be daunted by the size of the school). And make sure your child is well endorsed by their current school; a significant part of the process rests on the previous head’s reference.

Prospective pupils sit a handful of assessments (they’re designed to spot tutoring, so don’t do it) and the ISEB pre-test, before two interviews. CE is used only for setting purposes. The academic ante has certainly been upped, but Marlborough is looking for character and all-rounders rather than academic whizz-kids. Currently more boys than girls start at 13+ due to space in the boarding houses, but another 40 or so join in sixth form, evening out the numbers. There are plenty of scholarships (which entitle the bearer access to the scholarship programme rather than any fee remission), as well as the aforementioned, impressively burgeoning bursary programme. A strong collaboration with Swindon Academy sees several pupils joining Marlborough, and the Academy’s grammar stream is supported by the College through teaching and sharing resources. Academy pupils can even have overnight stays. ‘It’s a proper partnership where both schools are learning from each other,’ says Mrs Moelwyn-Hughes. 

Academics and destinations

Academics are tip-top, but the focus is on encouragement rather than undue pressure. To that end, the school has introduced the Marlborough Mindset, a new method of teaching where health and mental wellbeing are at the heart of how pupils learn with every lesson including a mindset reference, such as sleep. It’s a fantastic amalgamation of researched and documented strategies to understand how pupils’ minds work and ways to develop the right skills and habits for independent and effective learning.

GCSEs are wide-ranging, including a choice from six languages (which are all sampled as part of a half-termly carousel in Year 9). And then it’s A-levels all the way, with a whopping 29 to choose from and no restrictive subject-block limitations. Most students do three A-levels and an EPQ, with subjects ranging from the design and build of a backyard BMX track to mulling over whether the UK will thrive after Brexit.

Pupils are assigned a Microsoft Surface device (which they use throughout their time at the school) to tap away on in lessons, but we were pleased to see a good old-fashioned library being well used too. The very beautiful main library sits alongside more cosy reading rooms and collaboration areas packed with interactive whiteboards, with trained librarians on hand until 9pm most evenings. Classroom work finishes early a couple of afternoons a week to make way for off-timetable extras including CCF, outreach and clubs.

Last year, for the fourth year running, average A-level grades were three As, and a whopping 97 per cent of 2023’s leavers gained places at Russell Group universities. It’s worth noting that Oxbridge applications have increased dramatically under Mrs Moelwyn-Hughes, whose reinvention of what it means to be ‘academic’ has boosted the confidence and awakened the cerebral curiosities of a number of students who wouldn’t previously have considered throwing their hat into the ring. All students are supported by a central careers-advice department that offers group and one-to-one support as early as needed.

Co-curricular

Team sports rule and everyone is encouraged to represent the school, irrespective of ability. Rugby is big for the boys (we hear Radley and Teddies are the grudge matches), while girls scoop up silverware in hockey (a new ex-GB player joins as head of hockey in September), lacrosse, netball and cricket. There’s no shortage of space or playing fields, and the swanky facilities include a Wattbike studio used for rehabilitation and pre-match training, a flash hydraulic-bottom swimming pool for scuba diving and a sleek health-club-style fitness centre. Other options are fishing on the River Kennet, polo, fives, rackets and golf on the Marlborough Downs.

Co-curricular is key and this lot hardly draw breath. Budding musicians benefit from masterclasses and workshops led by eminent composers and performers. The director of music is also a professional viola player and has forged a collaboration with the Southbank Symphonia which comes to the school to play alongside the pupil orchestra and run workshops. Thesps are mentored by a director-in-residence and welcome visiting touring companies to the school’s two theatres, while art takes place in a modern, purpose-built studio, led by Edward Twohig who is a professional printmaker. It’s a popular subject with around 87 pupils taking art GCSE and up to 50 taking art and photography A-level.

There’s a strong outdoorsy tradition, with heaps of climbing, canoeing, mountain biking and clay-pigeon shooting, and expeditions to places such as Nepal, Kilimanjaro and Iceland. CCF is compulsory for a term. Clubs and societies are both academic (20th-century drama, medicine, Shakespeare) and light-hearted (racing, retro book club, tug of war) and the ‘Life after Marlborough’ lecture series is a must for sixth-formers.

Boarding

Almost everyone here is a boarder (day-pupil numbers hover below 10) and house choice is important. Think about location, aesthetics and single sex versus co-ed (some boys’ houses take girls in the sixth form, others are linked to a girls’ house via a shared lobby, but don’t panic – bedrooms are strictly off-limits). Most are clustered around Court (pros: you’re in the thick of it; cons: there’s a feeling of always being on show), while a few are further out and best suited to those who like the feeling of ‘going home’ at the end of the day.

The other main difference is that those who are further out have breakfasts and some suppers in house (everyone else eats in the cafeteria-style central dining room in Norwood Hall). Preferences are considered, but cliques avoided by keeping pupils arriving from the same prep apart.

Evenings and weekends are busy busy busy. Occasional ‘privs’ allow pupils to head home for the night on Saturday or pop out for lunch on Sunday once school commitments are done and dusted, but few take them up, usually for fear of missing out on a particularly good night in the sixth-form bar. Sundays are packed with trips, activities and house competitions.

School community

Pastoral care is strong. Pupil Wellbeing Ambassadors act as triage within houses, which means ‘the pupil voice is coming through loud and clear’, says Mrs Moelwyn-Hughes. ‘This helps us to do our job as we hear what they want and how we can improve.’ There’s also an excellent tutor system and a data-recording programme where staff can log any concerns, which are then picked up by the housemaster, and the College has a Behaviour Charter that clearly sets out the expectations to pupils, so everyone knows where they stand.

Sharing their resources with the wider community is something close to Mrs Moelwyn-Hughes’ heart. Twice a week, students dedicate time to something outside their own personal development, be that reading with a local primary-school child, taking a sports-mentor course or litter picking. All are designed to imbue a sense of service that pupils will take with them when they leave. 

The College has a Christian ethos but all faiths are welcome. Services are held in the beautiful gothic chapel several times a week depending on age group (fewer for the sixth form due to their other commitments), and it is also used for concerts and other musical events.

And finally....

The stellar education offered by Marlborough is second to none – and its holistic approach means pupils really blossom as people, not just academic achievers. They’re ambitious go-getters, but also kind and respectful of each other. It’s a winning combination. We all know Marlborough as the alma mater of our future Queen – but while appearing traditional on the surface, this is a school that ripples with vibrancy, vivacity and a certain amount of edge.

Gallery See All

Girl playing lacross with a black stick and yellow ball
Full orchestra on stage wearing black tie
Girl on stage singing in a striped cardigan with her arms in the air
Cricketer playing a shot in a blue helmet
Boy and girl examining a molecular structure in science class
Senior boy playing rugby in blue and white kit and blue boots
Girl playing hocking in navy kit and red shoes
Boy and girl examining a model skeleton in science class
Marlborough Master talking to pupils wearing suits
Choristers wearing red cassocks singing in chapel
Aerial view of Marlborough College
  • Academic results

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

    3% of leavers went on to Oxford or Cambridge university.
    74% of leavers went on to a Russell Group university.
    7% of leavers went on to an American university.
    10% of leavers went on to an overseas university.
    3% of leavers went on to a creative arts or vocational course.
    87% of leavers went on to their first choice university.
  • Subjects offered

    GCSE

    Ancient Greek
    Art & Design
    Biology
    Chemistry
    Computer Science
    Design and Technology
    Drama and Theatre Studies
    English Language
    English Literature
    French
    Further Mathematics
    Geography
    German
    History
    Italian
    Latin
    Mandarin
    Mathematics
    Music
    Physical Education
    Physics
    Religious Studies
    Russian
    Spanish
    Astronomy
    Sports Science

    A Level

    Ancient Greek
    Art & Design
    Biology
    Business Studies
    Chemistry
    Classical Civilisation
    Computer Science
    Design and Technology
    Drama and Theatre Studies
    Economics
    English Literature
    French
    Further Mathematics
    Geography
    German
    History
    History of Art
    Italian
    Latin
    Mandarin
    Mathematics
    Music
    Philosophy
    Photography
    Physical Education
    Physics
    Politics
    Psychology
    Religious Studies
    Russian
    Spanish
    Fine Art
    Sports Science
    Greek
    Music Technology
    Philosophy & Theology
  • Fees and bursaries

    Boarding fees per term

    Year 7-
    Year 8 -
    Year 9 £15,665
    Year 10 £15,665
    Year 11£15,665
    Year 12£15,665
    Year 13£15,665




    Bursaries
    Since it was founded, Marlborough has been committed to providing means-tested financial support to families who need it. The College offers bursaries at Year 9 and Year 12 entry and also has a hardship fund available for current parents whose financial circumstances unexpectedly change. Bursaries range from 5 per cent to 100 per cent, with the possibility of support being provided with additional costs such as uniform depending on family circumstances which are independently assessed during the application process. The bursary application deadline is 1st July prior to the October enrolment deadline. There are currently over 100 bursary pupils at the College and there are plans to dramatically increase this number via a major fundraising campaign called the Marlborough Difference Campaign.

    Bursary contact:
    Director of Admissions Mr James Lyon Taylor
    admissions@marlboroughcollege.org
  • SEND

    This school currently supports the following kinds of learning needs, health needs and physical disabilities:
    Where needed, Marlborough's specialist intervention supports pupils to develop strategies to overcome their specific learning difficulties, gain confidence in their own learning, fulfil academic potential and acquire study skills that will equip them for life at university and beyond.

    This school currently provides the following support for pupils' mental health needs
    The network of those with responsibility of pupils’ mental health needs includes House Tutor teams, the Medical Centre, Chaplaincy and counselling team. Pupils can self-refer. There is a drop in safeguarding hub which is open 7 days a week for advice of all sorts and a friendly face.

    Co-ordinator: Mrs S E Armitage sarmitage@marlboroughcollege.org
  • Transport links

    School Transport
    School bus service to/from London

    Public Transport
    Nearest mainline train station: Swindon
    Journey time to London by train: 55 minutes
    Nearest international airport: London Heathrow (63 miles)


  • Parents tell us

     

    ‘We chose the school due to its good reputation for sports and educational standards. It is co-ed and full boarding was important as we lived overseas initially. The location is good for parents working in London. If your child shows particular interest in any subject, there has always been a teacher or supporting staff happy to engage and further educate. 

    As part of the admissions process there was an interview and an online unprepared test which took place at school. Marlborough used Common Entrance results for initial setting in academic groups. The master Mrs LJ Moelwyn-Hughes is engaged with kids to discuss what is working and what can be improved. She has excellent and proactive communication with parents. 

    There are plans for a new science hub. 

    There have been many members of staff who have made a particular difference to my child’s time at school. From subject- orientated teachers to enthusiastic sport-team coaches, they all engage the children. My youngest, currently in lower sixth, is still getting tutorials for a small group interested in extending physics discussions over Easter holidays.

    The housemasters have a big influence over their time at school. I get as much information as I need from Marlborough. My three boys have all been self-starters, so we leave them to sort out their needs at school. We have termly reports and yearly parent-teacher meetings. 

    I do see the housemaster and dame when I pick up for exeats or term ends for casual exchange. One housemaster has been excellent at crushing any small issues which may arise. Dame knows the boys very well and she is very caring. The pastoral care has definitely improved over the eight years we have had our boys there. 

    The older boys didn’t have a problem transitioning to university. They are already independent, and thinking and research is encouraged at school. Parents are invited to the annual play and concerts and parents see each other at pick-ups. There are plenty of extracurricular possibilities for kids wanting to grab them. I think it probably helps that all our boys have been very self-motivated and made the best of their time there. The school lived up to our expectations.'

    ’Marlborough is a happy and vibrant school. It is kind and teaches children to be good contributors to society rather than focus on themselves. We have three children with varying interests, talents and academic abilities – Marlborough has allowed them all to be the best version of themselves. 

    My son is now in his first year of university and left Marlborough with good life skills and the confidence needed to enjoy and achieve at university. The admissions process was smooth, warm and efficient. They allowed us to look at all houses and interview all house parents. 

    The Master has good leadership qualities and is liked by staff, pupils and parents. She is not a showwoman but has a steely strength that commands respect. She also displays warmth and empathy, and has an open-door policy. The house parents have all been important mentors, my daughter’s tutors are an incredible support and my son’s rugby coach in his last year showed them the power of being a team player. His maths teacher at A- level supported him and her diligence gave him incredible self-belief and courage. 

    The communication with parents is excellent. The Master is very good at communication and demonstrates clear thinking and vision about what the college should strive to be during her time. She is always thoughtful, and individual and group success is always recognised. 

    The pastoral care is excellent – the school looks after your child from the moment you drop them off. They know your child well and support them carefully and give them tools to deal with modern-day pressures. It is very open and all staff are approachable. 

    Marlborough does not spoon-feed. It does have a frequent and detailed report system charting how your child is progressing. I would describe it as a school that encourages rather than challenges. My three all are very different but responded well to this encouragement and have all achieved well so far. 

    The school teaches self-governance and prepares the students for the next stage of education – they are independent creative thinkers. Marlborough has a strong sibling policy and many OM’s are parents. This leads to a warm inter-generational feeling at sports and speech days. 

    The college is unashamedly full boarding, therefore a PTA is not relevant, but the mothers create house-year-group coffee mornings and all are welcome to enjoy catching up. My new-parent advice would be trust the college – they will look after your child, and under their wing they will grow into a fine young man or woman, ready and prepared for the next stage.’ 

    ‘We chose the school due its all-round education and sporting excellence. There is a strong family and nurturing ethos. Co-ed was very important to us, and we really felt that they try to bring out the best in every child. The school came across as very organised and efficient. 

    My husband’s family attended Marlborough, which was also an important factor. The admissions process was really smooth and efficient – they tried to make it as stress-free as possible. 

    The housemistress is fantastic and the matron who provides pastoral care in the house is great. The school communicates really well. I feel very involved, although that might be more to do with the fact that my child tells me what she is doing! The pastoral care is excellent, and I feel like the school knows and supports my child very well in a firm but fair way. 

    The school’s community is pretty close-knit, with most families living close by. It is very welcoming to new families and quite a few social activities are organised. There is no PTA. The school has surpassed my expectations and I definitely feel that it has been the right choice. My advice would be to follow your gut instinct. Choosing a school is a bit like choosing a new house!’



  • Pupils tell us

    ‘The three best things about my school are my friends, the sport and boarding. As part of the admissions process, I had to take a pre-test in Year 7 at my prep school. Once I had passed the pre-test, I had to go for an interview at my first-choice house and another test.

    My advice to new pupils would be to just be yourself and get involved in everything the school has to offer so that way you can meet new people. It didn’t take me very long to settle in. There are a lot of staff to help you if you have any worries or problems.

    My housemistress is very nice and makes the boarding house seem homely. I chose my boarding house because it seemed sporty. I also liked the housemistress and all of the people who showed me around were really nice.

    The food is really good as they have lots of different choices. As a tradition we have to go to chapel every Sunday. Also, we call the teachers “beaks”. I wouldn’t change anything about the school.’

School Updates

  • WATCH: Start your journey at Marlborough College

    WATCH: Start your journey at Marlborough College
  • WATCH: Marlborough College Academic Scholarship

    WATCH: Marlborough College Academic Scholarship
  • WATCH: Sport at Marlborough

    WATCH: Sport at Marlborough
  • WATCH: Music at Marlborough

    WATCH: Music at Marlborough
  • OSCAR Foundation Visit

    The OSCAR Foundation, a non-profit organisation from Mumbai in India, visited Marlborough College for three days in early October 2023.
    OSCAR Foundation Visit
  • K2 Base Camp Expedition

    Russ Tong, Head of Outdoor Activities, offers a personal reflection on July’s OA Department expedition to K2 Base Camp and crossing the Gondogora La in Pakistan…
    K2 Base Camp Expedition
  • New Academic Society

    A new Academic Society for the Lower School has started this term with the aim of creating some more space and time for real academic enthusiasm outside the classroom.
    New Academic Society
  • Whole School Walk

    Congratulations to all Marlburians who completed the Whole School Walk on Sunday 1st October 2023, raising funds for The Marlborough Difference Campaign.
    Whole School Walk
  • Introducing the Marlborough Mindset

    The Marlborough Mindset is a strategic and evidence-based approach to study skills to support pupils in being productive and independent learners.
    Introducing the Marlborough Mindset
  • Chapel Choir in Berlin

    The Chapel Choir were invited to participate in an international choral concert at the Berlin Philharmonie, singing Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem conducted by the internationally renowned conductor Simon Halsey.
    Chapel Choir in Berlin
  • Marlborough Chalk Published

    The academic scholars’ project from this school year, Marlborough Chalk, is now complete and we are delighted to share the full publication with you here.
    Marlborough Chalk Published
  • Inspired by William Morris

    Inspired by William Morris
  • Shell MCM Exchange

    Shell MCM Exchange
  • Launch Day Triumph

    The Marlborough Difference Campaign for life changing bursaries officially launched at the College with a special Launch Day that raised a remarkable £1.3m from over 1000 donors. The amount is record breaking for such an event, not just for Marlborough but for any independent school in the UK.
    Launch Day Triumph
  • See Marlborough College in our Senior Boarding Schools Guide.

    See Marlborough College in our Senior Boarding Schools Guide.

Marlborough College is
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Essentials

Address
Bath Road, Marlborough, Wiltshire SN8 1PA

Contact
admissions@marlboroughcollege.org
01672 892300

Website
marlboroughcollege.org

ISI Report

Fees

Term Dates

Bursaries


Open Days

Open days and how to visit View Open Days Register for open Day

Visit day for Sixth Form entry 2025
11 September 2024
Visit day for Sixth Form entry 2025
18 September 2024
Visit day for Sixth Form entry 2025
25 September 2024


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