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Warminster School, Wiltshire

Muddy says: A co-ed, all-through day and boarding school on the edge of Salisbury Plain that prides itself on nurturing happy, confident and community-spirited pupils.

Jacobean exterior of Warminster School with lawns

What? Where? A 300-year-old, all-through, co-ed school for ages three to 18, Warminster School sits in the eponymous pretty market town a half hour south of Bath, with 60 glorious acres to roam around in and the picturesque Wiltshire countryside to feast your eyes on. There are 400 students in the senior school, with an equal split between borders and day pupils, and around 120 in the prep. Transfer to the senior school is in Year 7 (read about the prep here) with the majority of pupils staying on. The biggest outside intake is in Year 7, but many new pupils also join in Year 9, and the school is happy to guarantee places at Year 7 for Year 9 entry to pupils at different prep schools. Warminster went mixed way back in 1973, which makes it something of a co-ed veteran, and the school feels very homogenous unlike some more recent co-ed converts.

wrought iron gate, blue door, red flowers

The doorway designed by Sir Christopher Wren 

Facilities: Buildings range from 18th-century grandes dames – one with a rather special doorway designed by a young Sir Christopher Wren – to the shiny new Thomas Arnold Hall, where speakers come for regular lecture series (recent luminaries include historian Lord Peter Hennessy and Glastonbury Festival founder Michael Eavis). Senior school pupils enjoy dedicated subject blocks – the science centre is particularly impressive with its state-of-the-art labs, spacious layout and purposeful atmosphere, while the two-floor library in the same building is massive, with a huge collection of books and an expansive ICT suite.

pupil in lab coat looking through microscope

The Design Technology workshop is another knockout space with its own forge (!) and some eye-popping work by pupils on display, including a mid-century modern-looking desk (yes, really!) and a Coco Chanel-inspired clock. The modern languages building has Skype chambers for pen pal interaction, there are three large dedicated ICT suites and two drama studios equipped with lighting and sound.

tables in DT workshop

The impressive DT workshop

Sports facilities are also big and beautiful, with space for five rugby pitches, six football pitches, six rounders pitches, two cricket squares (one artificial), a massive all-weather area for hockey, netball and tennis, and a 400m grass athletics track – phew! The school is big on sport and everyone is encouraged to pursue their passion, be it ‘traditional’ games or something a bit different, like badminton, fencing or ballroom dancing. In the summer months, there’s an outdoor swimming pool that has everyone praying for warm weather.

A biggie for 2019 has been the addition of a fabulous new wowser of an astroturf – how smart does this look?

Academic results: The ethos at Warminster is all about unlocking pupils’ potential. Yes, there is an entrance exam and results are important – and indeed many pupils go on to Oxbridge and Russell Group universities – but what’s really valued is pupils getting stuck in, bringing their own unique set of skills to the table and being part of the school community inside and outside the classroom. It’s a school that feels very comfortable in its own skin – it’s not chasing results, parents’ approval, accolades. Rather, it is confident in the knowledge that if it fosters children’s self-belief and capacity for kindness, provides them with a safe and secure setting to have a go at things, and shows them that it’s OK to fail, it’s what you do afterwards that counts, that every pupil will leave knowing that they can achieve whatever they want. The high teacher to pupil ratio, small class sizes, hardworking but happy and relaxed atmosphere and impeccable pastoral care ensure pupils are all valued as individuals and leave with excellent life skills as well as academic qualifications.

three school pupils in uniform walking on the lawns

Boarding: Warminster is a fully signed-up member of the power of boarding to do good club and this philosophy rolls out to day pupils too, with everyone staying until 5pm – and often later for extra-curricular clubs (from CCF to astronomy club, drama to car building) during the week and coming in on Saturdays for sporting pursuits. There are five boarding houses and facilities are very pukka, with lovely sitting rooms, kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms which all feel very homely. House masters and mistresses take their in loco parentis roles seriously eating meals with their pupils and staying alert to any signs of discontent. On Sundays cinema trips, ice-skating, trampolining and other excursions are organised. The school is keen on keeping pupils busy and squeezing all you can out of life. 

comfy sitting room with pink purple and green beanbags purple rugs flatscreen TV green curtains,

The sitting room in one of the girls’ boarding houses

Headteacher: Matt Williams joined the school in September 2020 from Sidcot School, Somerset, where he has been the Deputy Head since 2014. Having started his teaching career over twenty years ago at a school in Berkshire, he then spent 14 years at Rugby School as Head of Drama and then Housemaster of a senior boys’ boarding house. Born and brought up in Birmingham, he is a loyal supporter of Aston Villa and also loves Rugby and Cricket – in fact pretty much any sport. Married to Nicola, a primary school teacher, he has three children and they all enjoy surfing and skiing; holidays are spent up mountains or near a beach!

With Mark Mortimer’s pretty impressive boots to fill, we have no doubt that Matt Williams will be a wonderful new addition to Warminster. Amongst his many successes, he has pushed concepts of leadership, community and stretching pupils and staff out of their comfort zones in order to achieve great things. He is a great believer in getting to know the pupils personally and his time as a Housemaster taught him that relationships are key to a pupil’s happiness and sense of belonging.

What else? The Sixth Form seems like a fab place to be. Pupils have their own block to hang out in with a rather fine-looking coffee machine, sofas, table football, telly, ping pong and large study space with computers. As well as A Levels, the school offers the International Baccalaureate Diploma and the International Baccalaureate Career-Related Programme, so there’s pretty much something for everyone. Sixth Formers are given a lot of independence to help get them ready for life after Warminster, with life skill lessons such as cooking available.

girl dressed as queen in school play

Queen of the stage

The school is rightly proud of its music and drama departments which together put on twice-yearly productions – one group of Upper Sixth Formers even took their show to the Edinburgh Festival to rave reviews. All the pupils are encouraged to get involved and there are over 40 performing opportunities every year, so things get pretty busy. Rehearsal rooms, a recital room and an iMac suite are all housed in the rather lovely chapel that dates back to the school’s convent days.

pupils with musical instruments

The top brass

Quirks: Forest school isn’t just for the younger pupils at Warminster. The school has a beautiful slice of woodland in the Longleat Estate, and senior school pupils go there to escape the digital world, explore nature and learn about woodland management. The school has strong links with the army and the CCF gets some great perks – cadets do survival weekends where they fire live ammunition on military ranges, go on gruelling Ten Tors events (they like that sort of thing apparently!) and get leadership chats from the Regimental Sergeant Major of 1 YORKs.

three boys camp fire in the woods

Marshmallow roast in the woods

Wraparound care: Very good. As mentioned the school day doesn’t finish until 5pm and day pupils can stay on for supper and prep and there are also evening clubs to as late as 9.30pm. Flexi-boarding can also be arranged. The school day starts at 8.35am, but day pupils are welcome to join boarders for breakfast at 7.30am.

Fees: Day: £5,522; boarding: from £10,810. Scholarships are awarded to pupils who show leadership and excellence in academic subjects, music, sport, drama, design & technology, art and for all-rounders. Bursaries are also available and a 1707 Bursary Fund looks to offer 100% fee support to children from low-income families. The school strongly believes it has a responsibility to promote and support social mobility.

Word on the ground: Parents love the school for the ‘soft’ skills and moral guidance it gives pupils, as well as its ability to transform shy followers into confident leaders.

children in white bee-keeping outfits

Busy with bees


Good for: Parents looking for an all-round education for their children, who believe that extra-curricular activities and what happens outside the classroom are just as important as what happens in the classroom.

Not for: Children who aren’t joiner inners. This is definitely a school where everyone is expected to play their part and push themselves out of their comfort zone.

Dare to disagree? The school is always happy to show prospective parents around. You can get in touch here. One family Skyped from New Zealand, so if you can’t physically get there, you can have a virtual tour! And do let us know what you think. Plus, take a look at their prospectus here.

Warminster School, Church Street, Warminster, Wilts BA12 8PJ, tel: 01985 210100,

6 comments on “Warminster School, Wiltshire”

  • Elle March 10, 2021

    I currently a year 10 pupil at this school, and ever since I have been here there has never been a dull moment, you can find support no matter your problem. Sport, Art and Photography, Drama, Music and the academic lessons are fun but also really easy to learn from. In the year and a bit, I have learnt more than anything I ever have in my entire education. Friendships there are loads of great people, make a good friends and they will stick close no mater what happens even Covid hasn’t stopped our friendships being so strong, friendly and supportive.

  • Katie August 17, 2020

    My 2 children went to this school and I can’t praise it enough. Whatever your child likes they’ll find it catered for here. Equal importance is attached to drama, sport, art, academic learning etc… The sense of community is palpable, it’s a very special place.

  • KerryH February 21, 2018

    Couldn’t agree more with your appraisal of the School. It is for the very reasons that you have outlined that our son will be starting at Warminster in September 2018. We are so impressed with the feel of the School and the staff and pupils are so warm and welcoming that you leave with that lovely warm glow! We had other options and initially our son was a little reticent, but with the help of both admission staff, teaching staff and pupils, he is now as excited as we are. We are all convinced that our son will thrive in the School environment – roll on September! Thank you Muddy Stilettos for confirming what we saw too!

    • sarahfrank March 2, 2018

      Yes, the warm glow is palpable – I’m sure your son will have an amazing career at the school!

  • Dipo Akintonde February 20, 2018

    We had some fears and apprehension when our 14 year old was to join the school as an International student.He had never left home before and we were worried about his settlement in a new enviroment..Well, we couldn’t have chosen a better school for him as he settled perfectly and began to thrive immediately.Though we visited numerous schools before we finally made the choice of Warminster,we knew the school would be the right fit for him, and feel vindicated without any reservations at all.

    • sarahfrank March 2, 2018

      It’s definitely a very special place!


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