Hanford School

Dorset, United Kingdom

Location: Dorset, United Kingdom
Type: Mainstream School
Phase: Primary
Funding status: Independent
Gender: Girls
Age range: 7 - 13 years

About Hanford School

Ask any former parent, pupil or member of staff about Hanford and you’ll be bombarded by passionate praise in celebration of its glories: its quirkiness, its freedom, its quintessential Englishness. 

Hanford opened in 1947, founded by The Rev Clifford Canning and his wife, Enid. It was her dream to run a girls' school and her vision was that it should feel like a family home. Together, they chose the magical Jacobean Hanford House near Blandford with its bucolic grounds bordered by the River Stour and nestling between the ancient hills of Hod and Hambledon. She made some very progressive decisions all those years ago - decisions that have proven key to Hanford’s enduring success: subject specialist teachers, no uniform, no head girl, lots of ponies and a homely atmosphere.  

Today's visitors would be forgiven for thinking that they have travelled back in time and arrived somewhere between Malory Towers and Hogwarts. A school tour is generally given by a pair of girls whose passion for Hanford is infectious. They will enthusiastically machine gun the ponies' names, tell you about the school's esoteric traditions - the manners system (grading girls from a Piglet to Royal Guest via a Boa Constrictor), the Chicken Committee and the Hanford Hullaballo.  They will also point out all the bonkers names given to individual branches of their famous climbing tree (Bog Roll). 

Hanford may not have state of the art facilities but it does not lack anything critical to teaching today's children. In fact, the imagination and inventiveness of the staff that goes into using what comes naturally to the school within its grounds and buildings is impressive. Perspective and landscape drawing is taught using the magnificent view of the Jacobean house down the drive and from the surrounding fields; while apples and pears from the orchard are used to teach still life drawing. The flowers offer endless opportunity for detailed pencil drawings and experimenting with colour. The ponies in the stable are still a firm favourite as a source of inspiration for teaching proportion and anatomy.  The creative work produced by the Hanford girls is consequently of a very high standard with over 10 art scholarships having been awarded in the past 3 years.  

English classes take trips to Lulworth Cove to develop their creative writing. Here they immerse themselves in the magnificent sounds, smells and scenery of our famous coastline. In the countryside, you are never far from animals and at Hanford they are quite literally on our doorstep. Girls at Hanford love to read, reading is a time tabled lesson here and books with animals are immensely popular, especially E B White’s book 'Charlotte’s Web'. After reading it in class, Year III visited a local farm in Stourpaine to find out more about pigs and to meet some real ones. 

At Hanford we are famous for our ponies; both keen riders and novices love being around them. Ponies teach the girls to consider something other than themselves - they learn to make decisions, develop confidence and appreciate the countryside. 

As far as the Geography department is concerned, all Dorset needs to make it the perfect place to study their subject is a working volcano. Topics such as the water cycle, settlement and erosion are all in evidence locally. At the river Stour, girls can see first hand how a river shapes the land. The top of Hambledon Hill is an excellent place to point out how landscape dictates settlement patterns, while Barton-on-Sea is probably one of the best places to witness costal erosion in action. 

Behind the hedgerows and rolling fields filled with corn and grazing sheep there is a lot on offer for the STEM subjects especially in places like Fleet Air Arm, Bovington Tank Museum and the Royal Signals Museum in Blandford. Also in those hedgerows and fields children can discover all manner of natural habitats to study. 

Inspiring teaching has always been the bedrock on which the school was founded: Hanford attracts the most outstanding teachers. We are always interested in hearing from teachers who feel that they would enjoy working in an environment which offers the freedom to exploit all that the school and its surroundings has to offer. If you would like to come and visit us at our next Open Morning, we would be happy to welcome you. Please contact Hannah Martinez in the office for further details (martinezh@hanfordschool.co.uk)

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Address: Childe Okeford, Blandford Forum, Dorset, DT11 8HN, United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 1258 860219
What people say about us

A school designed through the eyes of a child for the minds of the world.

- A Hanford Parent

The school is kind. It communicates 'care' across the breadth of its staff from the stables team to the Headmaster and everyone in between.

- A Hanford Parent

As staff, we are actively encouraged to get involved in all aspects of school life and we enjoy the freedom to develop our skills and interests as both people and educators. We are fortunate to be supported by an excellent SLT and , most importantly, Hanford girls are a delight to teach.

- A member of the Hanford English Department

A good teacher says hello whenever you walk by or asks how your day is going. Kind, little things really make a good teacher.

- A Year 8 Hanford Girl

if we had daughters we'd send them here

- Tatler Good School's Guide