Logo of Charterhouse

Pupils Info

Gender – Co-Ed School
Age range – Age 13 - 18
Number of pupils on roll – 800 Pupils


Average Class Size: 20
Day and Boarding school
Oxbridge Entrance Percentage: 20%
Day: £9,070 – Boarding: £10,975
A* to B at A-Level Percentage: 96%


Charterhouse is a famous school with a big reputation. There are more traditions than you can shake a stick at and a special language that bemuses outsiders (dinner is homebill, a lesson is a hash, prep is banco, the list goes on). Despite this heritage, Charterhouse is increasingly cutting edge. Boarding for only boys 13-16, until the arrival of girls for the sixth-form (boarding and day) keeps the boys and beaks (teachers), on their toes, while their facilities are second to none. The great emphasis at Charterhouse is on contributing: less academic students are encouraged to immerse themselves in sports for instance, while bad behaviour can be excused by general participation in school life. Opting out is not an option for Carthusians.

Background and Reputation

Charterhouse has weathered its share of storms over the years, from price fixing to failing to get Gary Lineker’s son into university. Perhaps the most serious criticism leveled against the school though, is that it is too archaic to be in touch with the modern world. However in recent years particularly, this argument holds less and less water. Charterhouse, at the instigation of its Headmaster John Witheridge, has spearheaded the new system of Cambridge pre-U exams as an alternative to A Levels; this, though controversial at the time, especially for such a historically conservative school, has paid off, with 100% of school leavers going onto to Higher Education (13% to Oxbridge). The school also seems to have got the hang of the work play balance. Though lessons are taken seriously, almost as much emphasis is placed on the other departments. All-rounders or arty types will benefit just as much from a Charterhouse education as the lab-bound straight A students.

Academic and Exit Results

Charterhouse’s move to the pre-U Cambridge Exam system, though a dramatic change, has not affected the school’s capacity to get top-notch results out of its students. Though the stress of Pre-U is said to be substantially greater than that of A Levels: the subjects are not modular and as there is not an AS equivalent, they are graded by a huge final exam, the Charthusians seem to be no worse off for the pressure. In 2012, 96% of pre-U exams were awarded Distinction or Merit grades. 78 pupils achieved Distinctions (or their A level equivalent) in all subjects taken and 21 got the equivalent of A level A* grades in all of their subjects. Charterhouse’s 2012 GCSE results are the third strongest ever achieved by the School. 43% of subjects taken were graded at A* and the figure for A* and A grades combined was 78%. All Charterhouse students take a minimum of 9 GCSEs: nine pupils this year gained straight A* grades and 41 achieved all A*s and As.

Social and Pastoral

Charterhouse is a deeply social place. There is great emphasis on school bonding; activities are organized, like the famous 50-mile walk for lower sixth, with the express objective of everyone getting to know each other. As a result Charterhouse can seem rather a closed community to outsiders; and the girls, when they arrive in the sixth form, typically find it difficult in the beginning, though when they’re in they’re in for life, and say they feel as though they have been at there forever. A great strength of the pastoral care is the house system. Each has a dedicated housemaster; deputy master and matron to keep an eye on things, though as a rule Charthusians are given a great deal of freedom.

Sport, Art, Music and Drama

Sport at Charterhouse is a big thing; for a school that claims to have co- created football this is perhaps not surprising. The best thing about Charterhouse sport is that although it’s fiercely competitive and played to the very highest standard (the school is regularly in the Public Schools Football Association cup final and hosts, and contributes players to county matches on it’s cricket pitch), less sporty types have a huge range of activities to participate in as well: from Trampolining Club (a great favourite with the 6 younger boys too) to Fencing. The facilities at Charterhouse are eye-wateringly impressive, and its pupils do them justice. Large swathes of the week and weekend are given over to sports and the school’s top athletes are treated with reverence bordering on adoration: banco is generally waived after a big win. Not many schools can boast having a BP Portrait Award winner as their Head of Art, but Charterhouse can. Under Peter Monkton’s direction the school’s Art Department, though always strong, has entered a new phase in its life. Don’t expect just still lives and clay figurines. If you go and look around the department, but instillations, animations and vast sculptures. One of the things that the Art Department has on its side is its size: the purpose built ‘studio’ is vast and put to good use. No project is discouraged on the basis of its scope; in fact the challenge is relished. ‘The more ambitious the better’ is the department’s credo. Charterhouse music is prominent, not just within the school (there arefrequently ten minute reciptals during quarter (break) and an Oratorio choir that lifts the ancient rafters) but also outside of it. Perhaps taking the lead from Vaughan Williams, who is a alumnus, there is more stress on individual composition than is common at school. To walk past any of the souped-up practice rooms of the music department is to be treated to a cacophony of intriguing sound. For, although there are masses of staff-run orchestras, choirs and quartets, there are even more informal student bands and rap groups. The upshot is that school life is full of recitals, often in the main hall but also spontaneously around the school. The best thing about Drama at Charterhouse is the sheer quantity and range of the plays it puts on. Within a typical year the school will stage around 8th full-length plays; from Cabaret to Hamlet there is always something brewing. Participation in these productions takes a huge range of forms; nothing, whether it is lights, costumes or ticket collecting is left to the staff. There is something so theatrical about Charterhouse and it’s students that it would be surprising if its drama department was in any way lack-luster. Happily it is far from this. Parents often go, and take friends to see, plays that their children are in no way affiliated with, as it just as good but cheaper than the West End.


Charterhouse is strong on societies. There are over 40 societies, organized by both student and teachers, and three school newspapers. In keeping with the school ethos of contribution, these are given a great deal of attention and encouragement from the staff and academic departments. Another great thing about going to such an active school is the organized outdoor activities. Throughout the school, students take part in Monday Activities, which are generally outdoor pursuit, like cycling or archery, and two weekends a year are given over to expeditions.

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