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Hanford School, Child Okeford, Blandford, Dorset, DT11 8HN

                                                                                ABOUT HANFORD

Hanford is, in the words of parents, a ‘gem’. Nestling at the foot of Hambledon Hill in Dorset, it is a place where children are free to enjoy their childhood, can begin to develop lifelong passions and interests and are prepared for life at senior school and beyond. When you catch your first sight of the beautiful Jacobean house, the ponies in the fields or the girls playing happily on the lawn, you immediately get a sense of what a very special place it is.

Mrs Canning, who founded the school with her husband in the 1940s, always wanted Hanford to work just like a family, encouraging freedom of thought, individual development and mutual respect and trust. These principles have been upheld ever since and Sarah C, her daughter, continues to play an active role in school life. We want all the children to feel at home here, with the freedom to roam around the grounds in their free time.

Hanford girls make dens, climb trees and, in the summer, ride before breakfast. They make their own clothes and develop as free spirits. They learn resilience, confidence and a sense of adventure and they develop friendships which will last a lifetime. They also learn to work hard which is why Hanford achieves excellent academic results: 2014 was the twenty-second consecutive year in which at least one Hanford girl has received an award from a senior school.

Our philosophy is straightforward: we aim to ensure that the girls at Hanford are happy, are making the most of the opportunities on offer here and are thoroughly prepared for the challenges of life at Senior School and beyond. We have no intention of joining the facilities arms race - what we lack in state-of-the-art facilities we make up for in the quality of the teaching and pastoral care and the breadth of extra-curricular activities.

Hanford is a vibrant and happy school for girls aged 7 to 13. While many join us in the IIIrd Form (Years 3 and 4), we are happy to be joined by girls at any stage. The majority of our children board, but we have always welcomed day girls who live locally or those who do not yet want to board full-time. Day girls are very much involved in everything that goes on at Hanford and they often stay the night so that they don’t miss the fun.

Please do not just take my word for it, however. I invite you to come and see for yourself and hear from the girls - our finest ambassadors - why Hanford is such a magical school.


Rory Johnston


Teaching at Hanford covers a much wider area than the National Curriculum. We teach French from Year 4 and Latin to the majority of the classes. There are school exams twice a year, and the girls are regularly tested to monitor reading, spelling and reasoning ability. Children are streamed as appropriate. The curriculum is taught by subject specialists, with children moving between classrooms for each lesson.

We have an up-to-date ICT room and make sure that our girls leave us with good computer skills – but we know that proper education is about much more than expensive technology.

We always try to be as flexible as we can, providing children with the support they need. For some, this means preparation for a scholarship or individual lessons in Russian or Mandarin. For others, it may mean extra help in English or Mathematics. We do whatever we can to bring the best out of every child.

Small classes and proven teaching methods mean that girls of all abilities do well at Hanford. In recent years all our children have passed Common Entrance into the schools of their choice. Girls have gone from Hanford to Benenden, Clayesmore, Bryanston, Cheltenham Ladies College, Downe House, Godolphin, Leweston, Marlborough, Roedean, Sherborne Girls, St. Mary’s Ascot, St. Mary’s Calne, St. Mary’s Shaftesbury, Stowe, Tudor Hall and Wycombe Abbey.

We are not a hothouse and do not seek to make children conform to any particular pattern, but over the same period, academic, art, and music scholarships have been awarded to Bryanston, Downe House, Marlborough, St Mary’s Calne, St Mary’s Shaftesbury, Sherborne Girls, Talbot Heath and Tudor Hall.

                                                                        THE STABLES AND RIDING

Hanford is famous for its ponies which provide fun for all and are suitable for children to handle and ride on the hill. It is possible for a child to bring her pony if it fulfils these criteria or to bring a pony to be schooled and ridden before a particular competition. Riding is an extra but is enjoyed by almost all the children, many of whom would not otherwise have the opportunity.

The Stables are Grade one listed, full of timeless atmosphere with the tack rooms and boxes still as they were originally set out. The emphasis of all the riding instruction is to teach the children to do as much as possible themselves.

There is a Riding Committee, members of which catch the ponies in the early morning, help groom them in break and take turns to help lead the beginners.

There is an indoor Riding School, an arena and cross country and jumping paddocks. Lessons with the instructors are always varied.

Children have “out” rides on the hills, never on roads, and in the summer they ride in the early morning before breakfast. Also in the summer, tetrathlons take place. One is held at Hanford in which anybody can take part – lots of running, puffing and shooting. There are different cross country courses for different standards – even the smallest riders.


                                                              LATEST NEWS

29 March 2016

Hanford Show Jumping Team Qualified for Nationals

Over the Easter holidays the Hanford Show Jumping teams both competed at the qualifying rounds at Morton Equestrian Centre near Dorchester. There were two teams competing one of 4 (Betsy, Alice, Clemmie and Ishbel) and another of 3 (Fleur, Georgia and Lara). 

The course required the girls to jump a clear round before they could then jump aginst the clock. Out of first team of 4 three completed a clear round and went on to jump aginst the clock and ended up coming second.  Unfortunatly one of the team's ponies just rolled a pole which meant that the team of 4 were not able to go forward to the nationals.  However the team of three were more lucky and all jumped clear and were impressively fast on the timed section.

We wish them all the best at the Nationals this weekend at Leighton Buzzard.