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School Profile

Blandford Forum, Dorset, DT11 0PX, United Kingdom.
Telephone: +44 1258 452411
CEEB Code: 724090

Head: Sarah J Thomas
Deputy Head (Academic): Dr David A James
Head of International Applications: Fiona Pyrgos


Bryanston is a truly independent school. Founded in 1928, it uses a modified version of the Dalton Plan, an educational philosophy developed by the American educationalist Helen Parkhurst, who was influenced by thinkers such as Maria Montessori and John Dewey.

Bryanston seeks to educate young people in the broadest sense, teaching them how to learn, not just in the classroom but also outside of it; and about themselves as thinkers and global citizens. In addition to timetabled classes, regular one-to-one tutorials and work review periods in each subject enable pupils to develop excellent communication skills, become more mature and develop strength of character through exploration, discovery and reflection. Academic work is assessed in terms of both achievement and effort, with grades and comments entered weekly into the eChart, which is part of the school’s virtual learning environment and provides an up-to-date monitoring tool for pupils, teachers, tutors and parents.

Bryanston aims to enable pupils to gauge what their best is and can be, and helps them to achieve it (as opposed to making decisions for them or pushing them to achieve something else). Academic programs are tailored to individual needs, abilities and interests, and subject teachers are accessible throughout the day through the assignment room system. In addition, the school provides excellent academic enrichment and co-curricular programs, which afford many opportunities to broaden pupils’ horizons. The rest is up to them!                                                                 

Individuals and relationships really are at the heart of all that Bryanston does and guide how the school thinks about itself as a community. Set in 400 acres of stunning Dorset countryside, Bryanston attracts pupils from around the world, as well as London and other regions of the UK.


Old Bryanstonians retain a life-long affection for the school and many return year after year to support and inspire the current generation of students. Prominent alumni include –

The Right Hon. The Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, Former Lord Chief Justice and first President of the Supreme Court  – Frederick Sanger, biochemist double Nobel Laureate – Julian Braithwaite, UK Permanent Representative to the U.N in Geneva – Kwame Anthony Appiah, Professor of Philosophy and Law (NYU) –  HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, humanitarian and member of the international Olympic committee – elite sports professionals, incl. rugby internationals – Henry Pyrgos (Scotland); Phil de Glanville (England); Huw Bennett (Wales) – Carolyn Fairbairn, Director General, CBI – William Herbert, 18th Earl of Pembroke, British peer –  international designers – Sir Terence, Jasper and Sebastian Conran; Jasper Morrison – renowned artists – Sir Howard Hodgkin; Lucian Freud – and conductors – Sir Mark Elder CBE, Music Director, Hallé Orchestra; Sir John Eliot Gardiner CBE; Mark Wigglesworth, Music Director, ENO – custodians of the arts – Paul Thompson, Rector of the Royal College of Art; Dr Jago Cooper, Curator of the Americas at the British Museum; Perryn Leach, MD Houston Grand Opera – Myles Burnyeat, philosopher and classicist – several actors, writers and presenters, incl. – Emilia and Freddie Fox; Saira Shah, award-winning writer, war reporter and documentary-maker; Hossein Amini, award-winning screenwriter and director; Ben Fogle, adventurer; Simon Napier-Bell music manager and journalist; Nigel Barker, fashion photographer (US); Toby Sedgwick, award-winning movement director and choreographer (‘War Horse’ and ‘The Industrial Revolution’, Olympics 2012).



Entry to Bryanston is selective and the school admits largely from the top 25% of the ability range nationally. Entry is by academic scholarship or the Common Entrance examination, neither of which are standardized nationally. Bursaries are available. Over 95% of the cohort goes on to university, predominantly to UK institutions, and around 10% of our pupils come from the first generation in their families to attend university. Around 5% of students transfer to universities in the USA, Canada and Europe. Old Bryanstonians (OBs) find that they cope particularly well with self-directed learning in higher education thanks to the habits of self-discipline and organization fostered by our modified Dalton system.

Academic Programs

Bryanston offers a program of secondary education to pupils aged 11-18 years old. Uniquely and historically, Bryanston uses the letters D, C, B, A3, A2 to denote year groups, equating with years 9-13 respectively, within the UK national system. On arrival at the school in year D (equivalent to US 8th Grade), pupils are obliged to study a breadth of subjects, enabling them to make a well-informed choice when selecting their GCSE subjects. In year C (US 9th Grade) and year B (US 10th Grade) it is possible to study nine or more of the subjects offered at GCSE level in almost any combination. In year A3 (US 11th Grade) pupils elect one of two academic pathways: either A levels or the IB Diploma, and are able to choose from a wide variety of subject combinations:

Each academic department arranges its own setting. There are no fixed streams and no fixed forms. Throughout his or her five years at Bryanston, each pupil has a completely individual academic program and may be in top sets in some subjects and middle or lower sets in others. Bryanston does not use class rank or grade point average in assessing pupils; instead, academic achievement is reported through the UK’s national public examinations system. The vast majority of pupils pursuing an A level program are required to pursue four subjects in year 12 (US 11th Grade) to ensure academic breadth and a wider range of options for Higher Education. It will also be possible for them to continue these four subjects into year 13 to maintain this breadth and allow them to complete four A levels if they choose. Pupils graduate from Bryanston at the beginning of July. IB examination results are published in July; results for GCSE and AS/A levels are published in August, with certificates being issued in the late autumn. With the reform of A levels from 2016 university offers will increasingly be based on predicted grades provided by the school. In order to arrive at grades, which we believe are an accurate and fair reflection of a pupil’s prospects, we take a number of factors into account. Should an external examination result be under appeal, or if the exam is in the process of being retaken, we will base our grade on our own professional judgment of that pupil’s proven ability. At Bryanston we strive to do all we can to support each pupil’s application, while always acting with integrity and within our academic and professional code of conduct.


The General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) is a two-year course that is examined at the end of the equivalent to the US 10th Grade. Pupils normally take nine subjects. Core subjects are English Language, English Literature, Mathematics and the three sciences and it is usual for pupils to study at least one modern foreign language in their program. Over the past five years 54% of our grades have been A* or A and our GCSE grade averages compared with the national average were as follows:

GCE A levels

The General Certificate of Education (Advanced Level) is a two-year course examined at the end of the equivalent to the US 12th Grade and is the standard measure upon which UK universities make offers and confirm places. Pupils normally select three subjects, which they study in depth. Over the past five years 48% of our grades have been A* or A and our A-level grade averages compared with the national average were as follows:


Since the beginning of the 2012 academic year, we have offered the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma as an alternative course of study to A levels. This is also a two-year course with terminal examinations at the end of the equivalent to the US 12th grade. Pupils are required to study six subjects: three at higher level and three at standard level and complete an Extended Essay and a Theory of Knowledge course. It is required that the pupil studies English, Mathematics, a science, one other language, one arts and humanities subject, plus an additional subject from an area of their choice. Grades are awarded from 1 through 7, with 7 being the highest. Over the past three years our average diploma score has been 35/45 and our higher-level average stands at 17/21. All pupils have achieved their diploma, compared with the international average of 79%, and our average grades compared with international averages are:

Bryanston is proud of its excellent co-curricular provision and there are extensive opportunities for participation in sport, the expressive and creative arts, and charitable and volunteering activities. All pupils in year D are required to learn a musical instrument and over half the year group carry this on in subsequent years. The academic enrichment program in years A3 and A2 includes lecture programs, discussion groups, extended research opportunities, and engagement with universities and employers through annual higher education, careers and business conferences. There are also strong links with Old Bryanstonians (OBs), who return to share their experiences and skills with current pupils. The expectation is that Bryanstonians will experience education in its widest context so that they become much more than the sum of the grades they receive and are better prepared for higher education and employment, equipped with a range of transferable skills.


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