Why Cranleigh

Location & Setting

Cranleigh is privileged to be able to occupy a stunning rural site between Hascombe Down and Winterfold, on the south-western edge of the Surrey Hills – officially acclaimed as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Set in about two hundred acres of farmland close to the West Sussex border, it offers a peaceful haven in which the young can develop in relative freedom, yet at the same time it is only an hour’s drive away from the West End, where the musicians, artists and drama students regularly visit professional performances, further enhancing their enjoyment of their respective subjects.

The campus contains a closely-knit group of buildings, the oldest of which date back to the 1860s, and the newest of which (the spectacular Emms Centre for Sciences and Languages) was formally opened by Lord Patten of Barnes in May 2009. At the heart of the School, both physically and spiritually, the Chapel and the Quad are amongst the finest examples of Henry Woodyer’s architecture, and make a striking impression as you drive along the road through Smithwood Common and over the brow of the hill, with the beautiful red-brick exteriors coming into view across a swathe of green lawns.

Academic Success

The academic sphere is the most important of all at Cranleigh, and, as with all other aspects of school life, we expect Cranleighans increasingly to set their own targets as they move up the School. Fostering independent learning and self-motivated work are two crucial goals. We also believe that there’s strong evidence of a correlation between a pupil’s co-curricular life and the success he or she has inside the classroom. The old adage ‘if you want something done, ask a busy person’ fits the Cranleigh ethos as well as any! It’s a philosophy that seems to stand firm in our results: Cranleigh has a proud record of Oxbridge success, and in recent years over 85% of our pupils have gone to their first-choice university, with over 70% to Russell Group universities.

Pastoral Care

We are proud of our pastoral care, and of the carers that look after the wellbeing of your children whilst at school… from the sports coaches and catering staff to the dedicated matrons and housemasters or housemistresses. We strongly believe that each Cranleighan should be valued as an individual, regardless of his or her interests or abilities, and we recognise a pastoral dimension in almost every activity that takes place. This means that every member of Common Room is not only required to be a teacher and coach, but must also develop skills as a sensitive tutor. Tutor groups are rarely more than eight or nine, and are organised by Houses under the leadership of the Housemaster or Housemistress. Tutors take an interest in all aspects of their tutees’ lives at Cranleigh, and they are the first-stop communication link for parents. The development of a young person’s feelings of self-worth underpins all aspects of the pastoral work carried out by the Common Room at Cranleigh, and all the staff work tirelessly to ensure that the young at Cranleigh are safe, happy and have a sound sense of wellbeing.

Opportunities & Choice

As the last Inspection Report noted, Cranleigh’s facilities are outstanding. The opportunities are there for all to have a chance to develop, and aspire to be the best. We deliberately plan our days so that after the important business of academic work has been done, priority time is given exclusively to the performing arts and then to sport, which takes over before supper. At Cranleigh it is possible to be a Grade 8 musician, an NCO in the CCF, a member of the cast in the School Play and play for the 1st XV – in addition to studying for exams successfully! But it is not only about those at the top end of the spectrum. We value the U14 D team as much as the Senior 1sts, the Grade 2 guitarist as much as the Grade 8 cellist, and appropriate fixtures and events are run for all abilities. In essence, Cranleigh’s broader educational approach is based on offering opportunities to all girls and boys, regardless of their ability in any one particular sphere.

Why? We passionately believe that young people find out who they really are when they actively commit themselves to a range of sporting, performing, creative or service activities. The personal nature of their commitment encourages self-motivation – and in the process they also learn how to get on with different people; what teamwork is about; how to challenge themselves, and also what their own limitations are. Most have a great deal of fun in the process! A glance at a copy of any edition of The Cranleighan will give you a real flavour of this side of Cranleigh life.

Partnership with Parents

The primary focus of Cranleigh’s boarding ethos is to provide opportunities to pupils that would be unavailable to them at home. We do not, for example, agree with the view that boys and girls should move away from their parents to teach them ‘independence’. On the contrary, we recognise the sacrifice a family makes when a son or daughter is away from home, and we hugely value the regular input parents make during term time. A parent’s decision to allow a son or daughter to spend so much time away can really be justified only by the fulfilment of their lives at school. The significant majority of Cranleighans are extremely busy during the first six days of the week – but most choose to be at home with their families after Saturday matches, returning for Chapel (and to prepare for the week ahead) on Sunday evenings. In the interim, our parents are very much part of the education of their sons and daughters. We keep in regular touch with reports, and the house staff get to know the parents very well indeed over their five years at the School.

Family Environment

Cranleigh is a co-educational school for boys and girls between the ages of 13 and 18 – enabling brothers and sisters to be educated together. Its strong sense of community reflects the fact that most Cranleigh families live within an hour’s drive of the School – indeed, some of the parents seem to become as much a part of our community as their children! We welcome this involvement because it reinforces the family-focussed values of the School; it helps to underscore our unstinting anti-bullying ethos; it encourages the development of our pupils’ self-confidence, and it forms the foundation for firm friendships fostered both in school and out – many of which turn out to last a lifetime.


Cranleigh’s foundation in 1865 was the result of the combined inspiration of two remarkable Cranleigh men: the Rector, The Revd Henry Sapte, and the Squire, Sir George Cubitt. Sir George donated most of the land and – with the generous support of many other local families, especially that of Sir Henry Peek – the design and the construction of the buildings became a reality. The School grew quickly to about 300 boys by the turn of the twentieth century. Further increases in numbers have taken place at various stages of expansion over the past century or so. Today there are just over 400 boys and 200 girls at Cranleigh, of whom nearly three-quarters are boarders.