Dauntsey's School

Logo of Dauntsey's School

Pupils Info

Gender – Co-Ed School
Age range – Age 11-18
Number of pupils on roll – 780 Pupils


Average Class Size: 18
Day and Boarding school
Oxbridge Entrance Percentage: 8%
Day: £16,365 – Boarding: £27,495
A* to B at A-Level Percentage: 80%

Dauntsey’s is a sprawling school with a tight-knit feel; a regal red brick façade marks your arrival, as do the resolutely green doors that students have scrambled through since 1542. The amble in boasts an impressive tree-lined driveway with plenty of surrounding green for the sizable 30-acre campus. A mixed boarding and day school for 11-18 year olds: it sits a comfortable 10-minute drive away from the quaint (and sleepy) town of Devizes, but is also close enough to the livelier towns of Salisbury and Marlborough. Lower School boarders delight in retreating to the manicured grounds of The Manor House in time for their evening prep and bed; this split gives the Lower School a nice balance of boarders and day pupils

Background and Reputation

The school, founded in 1542, was originally a farming school, and still has a reputation for being down-to-earth with a huge spectrum of pupils from all different backgrounds. This makes for ‘well rounded, talented pupils.’ There are no airs and graces here. Since 2002 the school has sported a stylish navy blue uniform that replaced the long-standing ‘Mallory Towers gone bad’ brown attire that the school was becoming synonymous with. With a reputation for producing competitive academic results, an epic tradition of outstanding ‘Westend-worthy’ Drama, the rambling backdrop of the Salisbury plains and a brand new state-of-the-art science block. Dauntsey’s has become waitlist- popular in the past 5 years.

Academic and Exit Results

Dauntsey’s students work incredibly hard, and yet there is no pressure-cooker environment. Praise is lauded on those who achieve, but other arenas like sport and drama are celebrated with equal intensity. Notably there is ‘Gifted and Talented’ scheme that supports the exceptionally bright children, but Boy B elucidates that ‘this by no means creates any feeling of segregation. It is simply something to aspire to if you want to.’ Teaching is great across the board: the English and Theatre Studies department being especially popular with the pupils. The Physics department always trumps in the results. The most recent A level and GCSE results (2012) speak for themselves with just over one in five of the 435 A Level entries being awarded a glittering A* grade. Over 80% of all the entries resulted were an A, A or B grade, with a swell 56.3% achieving an A or A grade. The GCSEs were a similar story, with over 40% of examinations sat achieving coveted A* grades, championing the school record of

  1. Outstandingly 51 of a 108 strong year group received eight or more A/A* grades. A respectable amount of pupils head to Oxbridge every year, although there is not a huge emphasis on drilling pupils into perfect Oxbridge candidates. Those who exhibit particular flair and originality in a subject are encouraged to apply, and this is facilitated through a range of help, from ‘The Headmaster’s Essay Society’ to Mr Nigel Yates’ (esteemed Head of the Geography department) famed ‘Lunch Club’ where everything from Philosophy, Mandarin and David Cameron’s chinos are discussed. Mr Andrew Brown (English teacher) has a formidable reputation for getting a large amount of his English pupils into Oxbridge. Boy A reports how a teacher gave him one-on-one tuition for two terms before interviews. ‘The school is packed with teachers who genuinely love teaching, and they go above and beyond to help us achieve our goals.’

Social and Pastoral

Pastoral care at Dauntsey’s is exceptional. Every school professes this, but Dauntsey’s has a ubiquitous ‘Listening Service’ through which pupils can confidentially book appointments with trained counsellors (teachers and upper school pupils) and then receive round-the-clock support. Girl B states ‘Pupils are encouraged to enjoy a friendly dynamic with their assigned house tutors, and regularly touch base with them to check everything is on track.’ In the Lower School, diary-like ‘planners’ allow children’s parents to write down any concerns they would like addressed that week. The Sanatorium is a hub of wise (old) nurses who tend to any sporting war-wounds, and poorly day pupils/boarders. These superb 24-hour facilities ensure that there’s a whole plethora of monitored suites where boarders can stay if they’re feeling particularly unwell and not up to sleeping in their dorms. As well as the more serious side to ‘The San’, it’s also a peaceful haven where ‘Lower School pupils could creep in for a cup of tea and a friendly chat whenever they’re feeling a little lost or overwhelmed.’ Girl A recalls, ‘It was pretty much a quiet, little sanctuary for when I first started out.’ At Dauntsey’s, Upper School Boarding houses tend operate like little families. Boy B says ‘Fitzmaurice house is basically all my better friends in one building. Mr Spencer (Housemaster) is a legend.’ Despite a friendly family atmosphere, Dauntsey’s is still very strict about pupils using ‘prep’ (homework time) to work, and not to ‘chill’. The library is port of call for most students in this time: ‘a lovely community with a colossal amount of resources and computers.’ In recreational hours, the tuck shop is a popular haunt, a spacious café with plenty of hot chocolate and snacks. For the Sixth Form, there is the rather cool ’17 Club’ that happens on a Tuesday and a Thursday night. Very much a club, it’s dimly lit with a bar (2 drinks only, ever) with a pool table and a constellation of squidgy lose-yourself-down-the-side armchairs. The ‘two drink’ limit in the 17 Club is administered with an iron rod, and means that drugs/ drink situations are almost non-existent at Dauntsey’s, bar perhaps the odd cigarette smoking but this is rare. It’s not a school for rebels. Termly Discos are much anticipated in the Lower School, Girl A admitted that ‘outfit planning could take weeks.’ And the older years revel in a slightly more decadent Valentine’s and Leavers’ Balls every year. Older pupils can also acquire the privilege of journeying into Devizes some evenings if they have a burning desire to stock up on cosmetics or clothes. Girl B, “Sometimes it’s nice to get out for a bit, we only get Exeats once a term.’ Boy A cites ‘deliciously healthy’ school food that was often peppered with indulgent treats such as the Friday Fish and Chips that teachers have been known to run for in order to get first dibs! In addition to this, there is a terrific salad bar, vegetarian options and plenty of juices. Girl A admits that the daily 4pm ‘tea can get a bit repetitive: I am not a big fan of muffins and lardy cakes, but the hot chocolate is worth playing two hours hockey for.’ Eating Disorders are very rare as a result of the mixed, relaxed environment. They occur, but incredibly infrequently.


There is a real sporting atmosphere at Dauntsey’s. Saturday afternoons are dedicated to match-playing, although the students take part in hundreds of sports clubs/lessons across the week. Dauntsey’s takes Hockey pretty seriously: they’ve produced an impressive number of professional Hockey players- one currently playing for Great Britain. The Rugby team regularly reaches the Daily Mail cup, and is headed up by the ‘very dedicated and driven’ Mr Olsen who is loved amongst the lads. Tennis is also extremely popular with boys and girls alike, and tuition is taken on the sun-strewn tennis courts throughout the spring and summer terms. The swim team competes comfortably with Millfield. Boy A: ‘Swimming-wise they could do with better coaches, but the talent is there. The 24-hour Swimathon last year was unbelievably good.’ Over the past three years Football has expanded. They now have a first and second team. Much to some pupil’s dismay, Lacrosse is not played, and this can sometimes put some people off. When raised with Girl B she says that ‘despite no Lacrosse, it’s the kind of school that if you requested it, they’d probably try to assemble a team by Friday.’


The extracurricular activities can seem a little dominated by Drama. The school has an amazing Head of Drama, Rikki Jackson, and every year the eagerly awaited musical is attended by thousands of people. The standard is so high that Cameron Mackintosh (ex-Dauntesian) invited the school to perform ‘Les Miserables’ (the Schools Premiere) at The Prince of Wales theatre, and more recently ‘Miss Saigon’. Art is really something at Dauntsey’s. Boy B remembers how ‘the art department are very eccentric, but then that adds to its brilliance.’ There is a whole building dedicated to art and crafts. An abundance of clubs exist to nurture creative potential. The Lower School, who rapidly fall in love with the department, exploit these to supplement their weekly art lessons. Sufficient opportunities exist to sate pupils’ curiousity for paintpots and pencil drawing. Sporting clubs are unparalleled due to the great facilities, but one of the inimitable gems is the off-shore sailing on board the historic Jolie Brise, the school’s tall ship. In addition to this there is also canoeing, cycling, conditioning, aerobics, ballet, judo, rifle shooting, self defence, rowing, sub-aqua, badminton, trampolining, water polo, weight training, squash, yoga, Duke of Edinburgh award club and equestrian activities to keep everyone busy.

Dauntsey's School

Headmaster: Mark Lascelles

Telephone: 01380 814500


Address: West Lavington Devizes Wiltshire SN10 4HE

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