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Marlborough College
Marlborough College
Marlborough College
Marlborough College
top 200
Marlborough College Marlborough, Wiltshire Visit
Marlborough College
1,009 pupils, ages 13-18

Marlborough College

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Our view

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. It is one of the country’s most popular co-ed, full-boarding all-rounders, and one of the very few genuinely seven-days-a-week schools left in the UK. It is incredibly popular and deservedly so – it strives to exceed its acclaim rather than resting on its reputation.


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.


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, and Mrs Moelwyn-Hughes has an impressive target of 100, which would see Marlborough leading the field in its commitment to providing an education to anyone who would thrive here. But she’s keen to stress 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.


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 prep 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.

Academics and destinations

Academics are tip-top (they’ve had a pupil in the country’s top 15 highest-scoring GCSEs for the past two years), but the focus is on encouragement rather than undue pressure. To draw together the skills needed to make the most of opportunities in every corner of Marlborough, last year saw the opening of a shiny new Innovation Centre and the launch of ‘The Marlborough Mindset’ – 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 bring in their own MacBooks 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, almost all leavers hopped off to a Russell Group, with a pretty punchy cohort heading to Oxbridge and about 10 per cent leaving to study overseas. 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.


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, lacrosse and netball. 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, heaving with sixth-formers slurping smoothies. 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, while thesps are mentored by a director-in-residence and welcome visiting touring companies to the school’s two theatres. Art takes place in a modern, purpose-built studio, plus there’s an annual visual arts week and an artist-in-residence.

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.


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. There’s a new initiative of pupil Wellbeing Ambassadors, an excellent tutor system and a data-recording programme where staff can log any concerns, which are then picked up by the housemaster. 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...

From what we saw, it’s little wonder that Marlborough continues to be oversubscribed. Scholars are rewarded with status rather than fee remissions; instead, any financial leeway is piled into bursary and assisted places so that a wider range of students can flourish in this educational nirvana. There’s no hint of snobbery here. Pupils are proud of their achievements (and of each other’s), but they recognise their advantages and respect them with an incredible amount of hard work, rather than simply wearing their privilege as a badge of honour. It’s safe to say that this school is doing something very right.

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

    4% of leavers went on to Oxford or Cambridge university.
    88% of leavers went on to a Russell Group university.
    7% of leavers went on to an American university.
    9% of leavers went on to an overseas university.
    7% of leavers went on to a creative arts or vocational course.
    92% of leavers went on to their first choice university.
  • Subjects offered


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

    A Level

    Ancient Greek
    Art & Design
    Business Studies
    Classical Civilisation
    Computer Science
    Design and Technology
    Drama and Theatre Studies
    English Literature
    Further Mathematics
    History of Art
    Physical Education
    Religious Studies
    Fine Art
    Sports Science
    Music Technology
    Philosophy & Theology
  • Fees and bursaries

    Boarding fees per term

    Year 7-
    Year 8 -
    Year 9 £14,310
    Year 10 £14,310
    Year 11£14,310
    Year 12£14,310
    Year 13£14,310

    Marlborough offers a competitive bursary programme of up to 100 per cent of means-tested fee remission to new entrants at 16+. It also gives consideration to extra expenses, including uniform and school trips. While any student meeting the normal expected entrance requirements may apply for bursary assistance, awards are given at least in part according to merit.

    For more information, please see below:

    Bursary contact:
    Director of Admissions Mr James Lyon Taylor
  • 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
  • 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

  • See Marlborough College in our Senior Boarding Schools Guide.

    See Marlborough College in our Senior Boarding Schools Guide.

Marlborough College is
linked with:


Bath Road, Marlborough, Wiltshire SN8 1PA

01672 892300


ISI Report


Term Dates

Open Days

Open days and how to visit View Open Days

13+ Open Day (2027)
29 April 2023
16+ Afternoon Visit (2024)
03 May 2023
16+ Afternoon Visit (2024)
17 May 2023
16+ Afternoon Visit (2024)
07 June 2023
13+ Open Day (2027)
10 June 2023

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