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Sandroyd School
Sandroyd School
Sandroyd School
Sandroyd School
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Sandroyd School Salisbury, Wiltshire Visit
Sandroyd School
230 pupils, ages 2-13
Day and Boarding

Sandroyd School

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Our view

Deliberately small and deliciously rural, Sandroyd attracts outdoorsy types looking for the full traditional-prep-school experience. Hold the glitz; here, it’s all about fresh air, building dens, riding ponies and producing happy, spirited children. They score full marks on the academic side, too. 


At the end of what must be the longest driveway in Britain, Sandroyd sits on the achingly idyllic 1,000-acre Rushmore Estate straddling the Dorset/Wiltshire border. The school is ringed by bluebell woods and immaculate parkland; sheep and horses graze languidly beside the pitches; parents walk their dogs and children stop for a natter on the steps of a striking copper-domed Victorian temple.

The main house – the former home of 19th-century archaeologist General Augustus Pitt-Rivers – is elegant but not stonking-great-country-pile intimidating. Lots of original features add to the charm – copper-embossed wallpaper, historic wooden panelling – but there’s no tiptoeing around the antiques; in fact, the historic main hall doubles up as a tournament area for ping-pong, one of the school’s great passions. The cosy pre-prep is in the grounds of the walled garden, and there's an adventure playground complete with its own pet corner for cuddles with fluffy friends between lessons (past residents have included a bearded dragon).

Four minibuses serve the school and the routes are essentially tailored to the pupils, with Tisbury, Salisbury, Ringwood and Blandford all catered for.


Alastair Speers and his wife Alice are very much a team. He was previously a housemaster at Oakham, she taught at a comprehensive in Uppingham, and together they’ve covered more than 10,000 miles on senior-school recces since taking the reins in 2016. Their two young daughters are pupils at the school.

Mr Speers is passionate about the importance of the formative prep years and has no plans to increase numbers; his focus is entirely on the pupils in his care and ensuring they and their parents are happy. The feeling of being part of one big family is strong – on our visit they were preparing for grandparents’ day, which is hugely popular.

With his open-door policy, Mr Speers spends a heroic amount of time getting to know his charges. When they say this is a tight-knit community, they mean it.


Non-selective, Sandroyd attracts a broad pool. Early registration is encouraged; if there’s a waiting list, preference is given to parents who got their form in first. Everyone is invited to a taster day, which gives the school a chance to get a snapshot of each child’s ability. Once the offers roll in, opportunities abound to get to know the school, with taster days, taster boarding sessions and more. At 11+, there’s always bumper demand from overseas pupils whose parents want a slice of this gloriously British pie.

Academics and senior-school destinations

Full marks for the wonderful purpose-built pre-prep and nursery, which is brilliantly kitted out for little ones with dedicated sleep rooms, sensory areas and a large outdoor playground with sand pits and slides. Days begin with ‘wake & shake’ dance sessions, and prep school children often pop over to read with the youngest pupils. Pre-prep pupils’ eyes lit up as they told us about their parachute classroom in the woods (where ukulele lessons and wood carving are both highlights), and Bramble the dachshund often wanders in and out of the classrooms.

Mr Speers is quite rightly proud of his top-notch team of inspiring teachers, and there’s an amazing teacher to pupil ratio (daily staff briefings ensure no issue – pastoral or academic – falls through the cracks). Sandroyd pupils are focused, not hothoused. Class sizes are teeny, so there’s no hiding behind a textbook, and setting begins in Year 5, with extra scholarship groups to stretch the brightest. Plenty of coding and digital learning too, and lots of opportunities to engage in lateral thinking, with children scratching their heads over such philosophical conundrums as ‘If a cow could talk, would you eat it?’.

Academic work done and dusted by early afternoon, the rest of the day is freed up for sport, music, drama and STRIVE, where pupils might learn to assemble a vacuum cleaner, pick up sign language, develop their compass skills (lucky Year 8 pupils spend a few days wild camping in the hills of Dartmoor), learn cookery or knuckle down with a cryptic crossword (the sort of things we should all be learning but somehow never find the time).

Pupils sit Common Entrance in all subjects (Latin included), and leavers hop off to schools both close to home and further afield; over a third usually pick Canford, Marlborough, Sherborne (Boys and Girls) and Bryanston, while others go on to Eton, Radley, Winchester, St Mary’s Calne and Downe House. Bucketloads of scholarships are the norm – this year there were 17, including seven art and five academic. Mr Speers is wary of placing too much emphasis on scholarships, but there’s a set devoted to those in the running for one.


Sport is a big deal, and with grounds like these, there’s tons of it – no less than five sessions a week. It’s rugby (the Year 7 team is currently undefeated, and some pupils compete in national Rugby Sevens tournaments) and football for boys, netball, football and hockey for girls; cricket, meanwhile, has gone co-ed and is proving a real hit. There’s also an impressive indoor pool and sports hall. Golf takes place at neighbouring Rushmore Golf Club and a new sprung-floor dance studio has seen demand for ballet skyrocket – a gaggle of girls were purposely pirouetting when we popped in, and the head is on a real drive to encourage more boys to take up modern dance.

Sandroyd is utopia for equestrians – children can bring their own ponies or borrow one of the school’s (there were 32 living onsite at the last count, 20 of which are owned by the school), enjoying hacks in beautiful Rushmore Park, showjumping in the newly spruced riding area or gallivanting around the cross-country course. Pupils often qualify for regional and national championships, and everyone is welcome to lend a hand in the stables. One of the girls’ dorms is called Pippa Funnell, a name chosen by the girls themselves – so it’s safe to say that horse-lovers will feel very at home here.

Music is also enthusiastically embraced, with 80 per cent of pupils taking individual music lessons with fortnightly showcases giving them an opportunity to perform in front of the whole school or smaller audiences if they’re more comfortable with that (it’s a great way to gently build confidence). Pupils can join the orchestra, plus several string, brass and wind bands, and the chapel choir, which is particularly popular.

A new performing arts building housed in the head’s old house, Paddock Cottage, is now open, giving a new venue for theatre practice. This year the Year 4s did a play about the Second World War, Year 3s brought the Vikings to life and Year 7s put on a circus showcase. The whole school gets involved in an all-out autumn production; this year it was Mary Poppins.

We were impressed by the vast array of tools and facilities for robotics, coding and 3D printing in the D&T room. With an eye on the future, the school has prioritised subjects such as coding in the timetable, with more practical elements now offered as hobbies. The art room has a bright and airy feel, and is often used by pupils as a space to hang out in as well as create their impressive artworks.

Outdoor learning is a big part of life here, with the pre-prep going off for weekly ‘into the woods’ sessions and pre-schoolers spending most of Wednesdays in the forest. Activities are timetabled and also happen ad hoc; if it’s a nice day, pupils jump on their bikes to explore the grounds, and anything outdoorsy is undertaken with gusto, be it pond-dipping, fishing, gardening or den-building. Paintballing and cinema trips are eschewed for lessons in survival skills or rough and tumble in the snake pit (we’re assured the snakes themselves are long gone). Not forgetting the school’s great love, table tennis – when we visited, the eagerly-awaited tournament final was about to take place.


Boarding numbers are booming, with around 180 on the roll. Years 7 and 8 are encouraged to sign up for full boarding; for everyone else, it’s flexi or full, with many choosing to stay over for a night or two each week. A quiet weekend sees around 45 pupils staying – though after Saturday matches you’ll often see weekly boarders pleading with their parents to stay at school. If they do, it’s a packed schedule of gardening, making elderflower cordial, karaoke, fashion shows and discos, as well as trips to the beach and outdoor cinema nights. Strictly no mobile phones – not that anyone has time for screens with so much else going on.

The boarding facilities are stellar – large and airy with some of the best views we’ve seen. Juniors bunk up in separate boys’ and girls’ dorms at the top of the main house, but everyone piles into the communal common room for board games, popcorn and movie nights. Older pupils get more space and freedom, including their own kitchen with all the mod cons for fixing up late night snacks. All in all, the boarding facilities feel incredibly homely, with older pupils looking after new arrivals and the comforting sound of hamsters scuttling around in their cages in the corner of the common room.

School community

With tutor groups no bigger than 10 meeting twice a day, no one goes under the radar here and the staff take their responsibility of being in loco parentis very seriously. All prep school pupils get a one-to-one session with their tutor or class teacher every week. A new daily PSHE programme in the pre-prep sees pupils learning about themselves and how to look after their wellbeing, and this holistic focus carries on with a dedicated PSHE teacher giving timetabled lessons to the older pupils every week. 

A level-headed, thoroughly country bunch, parents are brilliantly supportive, laying on social events, school fetes and coffee mornings. Many pupils are local (there’s a lively dinner party circuit for the parent body here), while others come from further-flung pockets of Devon and Cornwall, and from London too. Forces families and expats are well catered for, means-tested bursaries are available and staff chaperone overseas-based pupils to and from the airport at the start and end of term (there’s always a clutch of Spanish pupils adding to the mix, as well as pupils from Ukraine and Japan).

Full marks for the casual uniform of sweatshirts over pupils’ own choice of shirt – it makes perfect sense when so much time here is spent outside or getting muddy with the animals.

A big shout-out for the food too. Everyone – from the maintenance crew to the matrons – joins pupils at mealtimes, creating a true family atmosphere. On our visit, children were enjoying a barbecue sitting on the grass outside.

And finally...

The school’s motto sums Sandroyd up rather nicely: ‘To Strive is to Shine’. A true all-rounder, this is a little slice of heaven for anyone who is willing to give pretty much anything a go.

Gallery See All

drama production at Sandroyd Prep
group of children in purple tops running in front of Sandroyd school
boy walking with a pony
Sandroyd pupils in navy sweatshirts outside
Sandroyd pupils in navy sweatshirts next to stone columns
pupils dressed up in armour with swords acting out a scene
little girl cuddling a guinea pig
boys in checked shirts on a go cart on the Sandroyd tarmac drive
girl leaping in the air with a yellow ribbon
Sandroyd headmaster sitting on stone steps with his family
boys in purple tops and socks sitting on the grass with a rugby ball
boy playing the piano in a wood panelled room
  • Senior school destinations

    Senior school destinations

    Last year, 40% of Sandroyd children achieved scholarships to their chosen schools. Seven boys headed to Eton, Winchester or Radley. 52% of boys and girls headed to one of Marlborough, Sherborne (Boys and Girls), Bryanston. Other schools include St Mary's Calne, Monkton Combe, Canford, King's Bruton, King's College Taunton, Clayesmore, Charterhouse, or Royal Hospital School.

  • Scholarships for senior schools


    Academic5St Mary's Calne, Charterhouse, Radley, Marlborough, and Monkton Combe
    Music1 Bryanston
    Drama3 Sherborne Girls, Monkton Combe and Bryanston
    Sport3 King's Bruton, Sherborne and Sherborne Girls
    Art3 St Mary's Calne, Bryanston and Charterhouse
    DT1 Sherborne
    All Rounder1 Clayesmore

  • Fees and bursaries

    Day fees per term

    Year 1£3,660
    Year 2£3,660
    Year 3£6,530
    Year 4£8,780
    Year 5£8,780
    Year 6£8,780
    Year 7£10,620
    Year 8 £10,620
    Boarding fees per term

    Year 1-
    Year 2-
    Year 3 £8,410
    Year 4 £10,620
    Year 5 £10,620
    Year 6£10,620
    Year 7£10,620
    Year 8 £10,620

    Sandroyd offers financial assistance to families who would otherwise be unable to take up offers of places. These awards are means tested and subject to a full financial history and annual review. They also offer fee assistance for the sons and daughters of servicemen and women killed or wounded on operations. In the occasion of a successful application, the child will be invited to the School for assessment and interview, after which the decision to award assistance is made by the School.

    Bursary contact:
    Bursar Rupert Burnell-Nugent
  • SEND

    This school currently provides the following support for pupils' mental health needs
    Sandroyd have a dedicated school counsellor in school twice a week and available at all times.

    Co-ordinator: Katherine McDonald
  • Transport links

    School Transport
    Escorted train service to/from London
    School daily bus network

    Public Transport
    Nearest mainline train station: Tisbury
    Journey time to London by train: 90 minutes
    Nearest international airport: Heathrow (80 miles)

  • Parents tell us

    ‘We chose the school as we thought it would provide both a good academic education and a good pastoral education. The admissions process was good and very welcoming. 

    The headteacher is very impressive. He is not an academic himself, but he has an excellent grasp of what an all-round education involves. 

    Dr Hasler made a particular difference to our son’s time at school in Year 4. 

    The school communicates very well with parents. The pastoral care is good. The teachers discuss not just educational progress, but their overall development and happiness. 

    Sandroyd is preparing my children well for the next stage of their education. The school's community is fairly close-knit. 

    There are regular events at which parents can meet and many attend matches. The school has lived up to my expectations.’

School Updates

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Sandroyd School is
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Rushmore, Tollard Royal, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP5 5QD

01725 530124


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