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Best primary schools in Bournemouth and Poole

Best primary schools in Blandford

Best primary schools in Sherborne

Best primary schools in Dorchester and West Dorset

Special Educational Needs

Best primary schools in Dorset - Sherborne AbbeyFamilies looking for places at the most in-demand state primary schools in Dorset may find them oversubscribed and difficult to get into. Understanding the admissions policies (including the oversubscription criteria) of your preferred schools in Dorset is essential so it‘s important to do your homework. Our advice on primary school admissions covers the application process and the best ways to research your options. 

Primary schools in Bournemouth and Poole

Bournemouth has a number of excellent state primary schools, including the following three. Elm Academy in Kinson has a school council, wellbeing dog and character awards while Jewell Academy in Townsend, close to the Royal Bournemouth Hospital, has its own sensory garden.  

Queens Park Academy in East Way admits children predominantly from the Queens Park and Charminster areas. In Poole, Lilliput Church of England Infants School is highly regarded. Relocating families are drawn to the area by its proximity to Poole Harbour and the views across to Brownsea Island as well as the school itself. 

Best state secondary schools in Bournemouth and Poole

Best private schools in Bournemouth and Poole

Best nurseries in Bournemouth and Poole

Primary schools in Blandford

In Blandford itself, Archbishop Wake Church of England Primary School describes itself as ‘a busy but friendly school, with lots going on’. Meanwhile, on the outskirts of town, Blandford St Mary Church of England Primary School is a well-regarded one-form entry primary. 

Many villages in this part of rural Dorset still have their own primary schools. The best include Sturminster Marshall First School and Hampreston CE VA First School, both near Wimborne.

Best state secondary schools in Blandford

Best private schools in Blandford

Best nurseries in Blandford

Primary schools in Sherborne

Families relocating to Dorset often choose the charming, well-heeled market town of Sherborne, with its glorious abbey and honey-coloured stone. Primary schools in Sherborne include Sherborne Primary School and Sherborne Abbey C of E Primary School, both of which are well thought of by local families. 

The surrounding area has several state primaries, including the outstanding Thornford C of E Primary School, a small village school in Thornford, four miles south-west of Sherborne, and Buckland Newton C of E Primary School, halfway between Sherborne and Dorchester, which has been deemed the top primary school in  Dorset.

Best state secondary schools in Sherborne

Best private schools in Sherborne

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Primary schools in Dorchester and West Dorset

DorchesterThe Prince of Wales School in Dorchester is regularly one of the most over-subscribed primary schools in Dorset, receiving nearly twice as many applications as it has places. 

West of Dorchester, in the picturesque village of Cerne Abbas is Cerne Abbas CE VA First School, known as ‘a small school with a big heart’. Meanwhile, as well as having strong links to the church and local community Winterbourne Valley CE VA First School in Winterbourne Abbas, five miles from Dorchester, offers a breakfast club, after-school club, educational visits and a busy programme of outdoor education and games.

Best state secondary schools in Dorchester and West Dorset

Best private schools in Dorchester and West Dorset

Best nurseries in Dorchester and West Dorset

State primary schools for children with special educational needs in Dorset

Both Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council (BCP) and Dorset Council set out their SEND provision and services on their websites. Options for children with special educational needs across the county range from state-funded special schools to enhanced provision within mainstream schools. BCP has a full list of special educational needs provision. Dorset Council also publishes online its list of special schools

Most special schools in the county are all-through schools, such as Beaucroft Foundation School in Wimborne, which caters for children and young people aged 4 to 19 who are experiencing learning difficulties, including complex needs and those with autism. 

Also judged to be outstanding is Longspee Academy in Poole, a special school that supports children aged 5 to 12 who present with social, emotional and mental health difficulties. Part of the Ambitions Academies Trust, Longspee has a secondary school too. Other outstanding options are Westfield Arts College in Weymouth (4-19) and Yewstock School in Sturminster Newton (2-19).  

Mainstream schools in Dorset, whether state or independent, have learning support departments to help with mild learning difficulties so check their websites for details.

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