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  • Sir Roger Manwood's School
    Manwood Road
    CT13 9JX
  • Head: Mr Lee Hunter
  • T 01304 610200
  • F 01304 615336
  • E [email protected]
  • W
  • A state school for boys and girls aged from 11 to 18.
  • Boarding: Yes
  • Local authority: Kent
  • Pupils: 1,022; sixth formers: 238
  • Religion: None
  • Fees: Day free; Boarding £12,495 pa
  • Open days: September (for Year 7); November (for Year 12)
  • Review: View The Good Schools Guide Review
  • Ofsted:
    • Latest Overall effectiveness Outstanding 1
      • Outcomes for children and learners Outstanding 1
      • Quality of teaching, learning and assessment Outstanding 1
      • Effectiveness of leadership and management Outstanding 1
    • 1 Full inspection 26th April 2012
  • Previous Ofsted grade: Good on 24th November 2006
  • Ofsted report: View the Ofsted report

What says..

Trips abroad are referred to as Global Awareness and the ethos is ‘let’s go out and experience it’. Annual visits to twinned schools in China, the Gambia, Germany...‘We cram so much in and are encouraged to do as much as possible and try new things,’ said a pupil, ‘and there are prizes for everything.’ The girls have banished all institutional language from their boarding house and so their common room has become the living room and the kitchen is the social centre of the house, with lots of baking and toast and pot noodles...

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What the school says...

Converted to an academy 2011.

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School associations

State boarding school

State grammar school

What The Good Schools Guide says


Since 2013, Lee Hunter MA (Cantab) PGCE. Originally from the East End where his father was a docker, he was educated at Campion Grammar School, Hornchurch before it became a comprehensive and says it was this grammar school education which gave him the chance to go to Cambridge. Read natural sciences, turned down a research post and seriously considered making a career in youth work. He then took his PGCE at Durham and his first job was teaching chemistry at a truly comprehensive comprehensive where some pupils in his class were highly academic and others were illiterate; one of his rowing pupils became national champion. Three years at the small British School in Milan where he was promoted to head of chemistry, age 25; three at RGS High Wycombe as assistant head of science; 16 at Tiffin Girls’, latterly as deputy head, before coming to Sir Roger Manwood’s as head.

He has a keen eye for detail and, following some health issues earlier in his career, he says he has learned to appreciate every day as it comes. He likes to keep his hand in in the classroom and teaches science to year 9 and the EPQ to year 13 as well as games to year 7s. He knows most of the pupils by face if not all by name. His great love is travel and he has friends all over the world. He accompanies the pupils on as many school trips as he can and has been to Florence, Paris, India and China as well as on many DofE expeditions.

He is very supportive of the arts as part of his holistic approach to education and it is a great honour for pupils to have their artwork and textiles displayed in his study alongside the framed minutes from a governor’s meeting in 1892.

Academic matters

In 2019, 22 per cent of grades A*-A at A level (51 per cent A*-B) and 38 per cent A*-A/9-7 at GCSE. Offers German, French, Spanish and Mandarin at GCSE and many of those who get into Oxbridge are linguists; many of the language teachers are native speakers. A number of German and Spanish pupils come to board in year 12 and pair up with A level students to help with spoken language. Weekly taster lessons in Mandarin in year 7 and all study French plus either Spanish, German or Mandarin from year 8. Native speakers can take language GCSEs a year early.

GCSE options include computer science, music and drama. Science offered as three separate subjects and some years a few take the dual award. Technology taught as product design, and textiles offered through A level art.

Twenty subject options at A level including psychology, politics, business and film studies plus Spanish, German and French. The most popular subjects are maths, RS, biology, English and history closely followed by chemistry and physics. Students take only three A levels as the school feels that three good grades plus the EPQ are looked on more favourably by universities, and that students have more time for volunteering and other activities, tying in with the whole person ethos of the school. Sixth formers have their own study area with computers and wifi. ‘It is not an exam factory,’ said a pupil, ‘but it makes you driven to work.’

Class sizes range from 25-32 lower down the school with as few as five or six in some A level classes. Low staff turnover and the average age of teachers is 40s. ‘All are well qualified’, says the head, ‘and most have a good 10 years’ experience,’ but there is also a handful of NQTs and four School Direct teachers who train at the school and bring fresh ideas. ‘The teachers really care and want you to succeed,’ say the pupils. ‘It’s not difficult to be passionate about this place,’ says a teacher. 'It inspires confidence in the kids and they are not afraid to get things wrong’.

SENCo and four assistants cater for a range of needs from dyslexia and dyspraxia to ADHD and emotional difficulties – very few on the autistic spectrum. All year 7s screened for literacy and those with support needs have one fortnightly lesson and are tested again at the end of year 9. Older pupils act as maths buddies and reading buddies for years 7 and 8. ‘It is satisfying for both and also helps to bond year groups,’ says the head.

EAL offered on an individual basis, usually to international boarders – one TEFL trained teacher at the school. Gifted & talented identified early and challenged across the board, and offered extracurricular activities such as the science enrichment clubs and a visit to Cambridge in year 10.

Regular careers evenings and pupils encouraged to think about their future from an early age; careers boards are dotted about the school. Independent adviser comes into school one day a week and pupils can book appointments from year 9 onwards. Online Morrisby testing offered from year 9, year 10s spend a week doing business enterprise and year 11s do two weeks’ work experience after GCSEs – school can help with contacts. Plenty of help with UCAS forms and interview practice and year 12s attend an annual university fair at Canterbury. ‘The careers department is good at the bigger picture,' say the pupils. ‘You are not pushed in certain directions or made to apply to university but the school works at the wider options and is very supportive of apprenticeships.’

Games, options, the arts

Sport mainly played in break time and lunch time clubs; most continue into sixth form. Many play for fitness and being part of a team; ‘it is social and helps you make more friends,’ said a pupil. The school has its own floodlit mini Astro plus cricket and hockey pitches on site, with rugby pitches a short walk away, but not enough capacity to host hockey matches, which are played at Canterbury hockey club. Huge sports hall used for indoor hockey and a range of minor sports as well as whole school assemblies. Swimming at Thanet swimming club in Margate. School’s cricketers were recent Kent champions and pupils also play sport for outside clubs including elite Kent cricket teams. Girls’ hockey very strong with two recent junior international players and one who represented GB in the Olympics.

Each year some 20-30 gain DofE gold and 60-80 are involved with the CCF and take part in adventure training weekends and the annual summer camp. The CCF band is in much demand at carnivals, parades and Remembrance Day services.

Only about 120 take music lessons, but music is the most popular club and it is offered at GCSE and A level. ‘Musicians are a close knit group,’ said a pupil. ‘There is always something musical going on at the school,’ said a parent. Something for all abilities, including the school orchestra, brass, jazz and rock bands and several choirs and ensembles. Concerts throughout the year; the orchestra has an annual trip to a European city.

Active drama department with a big production every year, either a musical or a Shakespeare play, as well as drama studio productions. Offered at GCSE but not A level.

Students’ art displayed around the school and there are art and photography competitions throughout the year plus a competition to design a colouring book, and students exhibit at the Sandwich Art Society.

Trips abroad are referred to as Global Awareness and the ethos is ‘let’s go out and experience it’. Annual visits to twinned schools in China, the Gambia, Germany, India and Spain. Politics trip to New York and Washington, Geography trip to Isle of Arran, World Challenge expedition to Vietnam, the list goes on. Pupils have to self-fund the latter and can earn money through teaching English when they are there.

‘We cram so much in and are encouraged to do as much as possible and try new things,’ said a pupil, ‘and there are prizes for everything.’ Pupils take part in public speaking and debating competitions, produce an impressive school magazine and put together the sixth form fashion show; school recently won a grant to build a single pixel camera to investigate how insects see the world. Wide range of after-school clubs include particle physics society, fitness, gardening and DT.


Eight places in year 7 are reserved for boarders. Two boarding houses in the grounds, one slightly bigger, so girls and boys swap round depending on numbers. Both houses are kept immaculately and run by dedicated houseparents, a matron and a tutor, who keep in close contact with parents. Both have a homely, family feel with a maximum of three to a room with some single rooms and year groups kept together.

Many international boarders but boarding also becoming increasingly popular option for UK families. Boarders and day pupils integrate well and boarders often stay with local friends at exeats. They leave their houses at 8.15am and only sixth formers are allowed back during the day.

Majority stay in school at weekends and there's usually something organised, maybe a trip to the cinema or the pantomime, and boarders can take taxis to sports clubs and the local swimming pool. Younger boarders have supervised prep. Both boarding houses run a spiritual, moral and cultural programme and are transgender accepting. Different cultures are celebrated through food and cooking, birthdays are always celebrated with a cake.

The current boys’ house has a panelled hall with a pool table and games room with a television and PlayStation. The girls have banished all institutional language from their house and so their common room has become the living room and the kitchen is the social centre of the house, with lots of baking and toast and pot noodles. The houseparents have a young son who is very much part of the house family. The two houses mix together at weekends for barbecues, activities and debating.

Background and atmosphere

The school was founded in 1563 by Sir Roger Manwood as a Free Grammar School to educate the townspeople of Sandwich; it moved to its present purpose built 30 acre site off a quiet residential street 1895. The main building is red-brick Victorian and has been added to in a variety of styles over the years. Busy, welcoming reception area decorated with silverware, sports photos and handbag art. ‘The school is forward looking but has held on to its traditions,’ said a parent. ‘There is still a whole school remembrance service and two carol services that include everyone.’

Uniform worn until sixth form when students have to dress as if they were going to the office. ‘The uniform code is quite strict and some try to push the boundaries,’ said a parent.

Giving something back is part of the ethos of the school and the junior and senior charity committees raise about £20,000 per year. Sixth formers encouraged to take positions of responsibility as prefects and buddies to years 7 and 8; they host a lunch for 100 local pensioners, volunteer at local primary schools and run an annual maths competition and sports tournaments.

Pastoral care, well-being and discipline

Friendly community atmosphere ‘with mutual trust between year groups,’ said a pupil; ‘you can leave your bag outside lessons, everyone looks out for each other and it is easy to make friends.’

Good support system with form tutors and year heads the first port of call. A counsellor comes in one day a week and all have access to a well-being coach who can help with anything from stress management to diet and exercise. Pupils generally well behaved; school works with transgressors and will apply sanctions and temporary exclusions if necessary. Outside agencies may become involved and there is an occasional managed move.

Food good, say the pupils, with cashless cafeteria system, and they can take food away and eat in the grounds or the courtyard. Sixth formers have their own quiet study area and café where they can buy hot snacks.

The culture is ‘work hard, play hard’ and pupils are encouraged to develop new interests and take responsibility, but the atmosphere is much more relaxed than in many of the local grammars. Strong house system with emphasis on community – ‘it encourages you to get involved and have fun and is competitive in a nice way – inter-house sports are great for team building but are not taken too seriously,’ said a pupil. ‘You can do anything, get involved and get points for your house, including public speaking and the arts.’

Pupils and parents

Families represent the local population from middle class professionals to struggling single parents, with medics from the local hospital and creative types who have moved down from London. Many pupils become the first in their family to go to university. All parents automatically belong to Friends of Manwood and the PTA organises about four events a year. Old Manwoodians help with careers advice, interview practice and the CCF.

Former pupils include high court judges, bishops, senior military figures, international sportspeople. BBC’s defence correspondent Jonathan Beale, Olympic hockey player Melanie Clewlow, England cricketer Tammy Beaumont, high court judge Sir Robin Knowles and child actor Jack Scanlon are all Old Manwoodians.


Quite a broad intake for a grammar school: takes the top 38 per cent and pupils not under the same pressures as at the west Kent grammars. School still oversubscribed, but as long as a child passes the 11+ Kent Test, it is open to those who live closest and most come from within about eight miles. Preference to siblings. Most come from one of about 30 feeder primaries and local independent schools like Northbourne Park, Wellesley House and St Faith’s.

Boarders and those joining in other years take the school’s own tests in English and maths. Some 30-35 join the sixth form and require at least six GCSEs at 4 or above, with at least a 4 in English and maths and at least a 5 in most subjects to be studied at A level. International students need at least a 7 in the IELTs exam or IGCSE in English as a second language. Those not taking GCSEs sit school's own tests.


Around 20 per cent leaves after GCSEs – some don’t get the grades to move into sixth form, others move elsewhere for vocational qualifications or because they can’t study the subjects they want and there are a few who get offered scholarships by independent schools. Some go straight into apprenticeships with companies such as Network Rail or the Merchant Navy, others to a huge range of universities (about 50 per cent to Russell Group) to read anything from modern languages at Durham, English at Exeter, architecture at Edinburgh, journalism at Lincoln, sports therapy at Chichester to social work at Kingston. One to Oxbridge in 2019, plus three medics.

Money matters

Government cuts have led to the school cutting out a lesson on Friday afternoon, sports provision has been reduced and parents have to pay for some after-school clubs. This has upset some families but allows school to offer wide range of extracurricular activities. The head says that this has enabled the school to offer more fixtures than ever before and more parents have got involved in coaching teams. Parents asked to pay £5 per month into the Manwood Trust to help fund projects like the library refurbishment and school minibuses. Sixth form bursary fund for students who would not be able to stay on without help with travel, books and equipment. Boarders pay a boarding fee but the education is free.

Our view

A grammar school with an holistic approach to education where extracurricular activities are given almost equal weight with academic achievement. Pupils pride themselves on their individuality, are genuinely supportive of each other and show genuine kindness and consideration for others.

Please note: Independent schools frequently offer IGCSEs or other qualifications alongside or as an alternative to GCSE. The DfE does not record performance data for these exams so independent school GCSE data is frequently misleading; parents should check the results with the schools.

Who came from where

Who goes where

Special Education Needs

We cater for dyslexia, and have a dedicated one to one teacher. We use Touch, Type, Read, Spell. Help is also available for literacy needs and TEFL requirements. The majority of those identified with SEN have low level needs. 10-09

Interpreting catchment maps

The maps show in colour where the pupils at a school came from*. Red = most pupils to Blue = fewest.

Where the map is not coloured we have no record in the previous three years of any pupils being admitted from that location based on the options chosen.

For help and explanation of our catchment maps see: Catchment maps explained

Further reading

If there are more applicants to a school than it has places for, who gets in is determined by which applicants best fulfil the admissions criteria.

Admissions criteria are often complicated, and may change from year to year. The best source of information is usually the relevant local authority website, but once you have set your sights on a school it is a good idea to ask them how they see things panning out for the year that you are interested in.

Many schools admit children based on distance from the school or a fixed catchment area. For such schools, the cut-off distance will vary from year to year, especially if the school give priority to siblings, and the pattern will be of a central core with outliers (who will mostly be siblings). Schools that admit on the basis of academic or religious selection will have a much more scattered pattern.

*The coloured areas outlined in black are Census Output Areas. These are made up of a group of neighbouring postcodes, which accounts for their odd shapes. These provide an indication, but not a precise map, of the school’s catchment: always refer to local authority and school websites for precise information.

The 'hotter' the colour the more children have been admitted.

Children get into the school from here:

most years
quite often
sometimes, but not in this year

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