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  • Haileybury
    SG13 7NU
  • Head: Martin Collier
  • T 01992 706353
  • F 01992 470663
  • E [email protected]
  • W
  • An independent school for boys and girls aged from 11 to 18.
  • Boarding: Yes
  • Local authority: Hertfordshire
  • Pupils: 872; sixth formers: 335
  • Religion: Church of England
  • Fees: Day £18,240 - £27,435; Boarding £23,620 - £37,215 pa
  • Open days: 4 November for our next 11+ and 13+ Open Morning or 16+ Open Evening on 12 October.. To book please visit website or call Admissions on (0)1992 706 200
  • Review: View The Good Schools Guide Review
  • Ofsted report: View the Ofsted report
  • ISI report: View the ISI report

What says..

A famous name in public school education, Haileybury has become equally renowned for its enthusiastic participation in the IB, which was launched in 1998 ‘to provide a broader curriculum’ and continues to flourish here despite floundering elsewhere. Co-curricular activities are very much part of Haileybury’s raison d’etre and for many families, it’s why they choose the school. ‘Both my children have learned to become their true selves and that’s a direct result of the school stretching them in all directions,’ one parent told us. But you might want to look elsewhere if...

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What the school says...

Haileybury is an independent co-educational boarding school which offers a fully-rounded education for boys and girls aged 11 to 18. Haileybury is located between London and Cambridge, set in 500 acres of beautiful rural Hertfordshire.

Founded in 1862, Haileybury is proud of its history, tradition, community and values, taking the best from the past while looking to the future. Academic achievement and outstanding co-curricular provision are at the heart of the school, offering Haileyburians a truly all-round education and ensuring they leave as confident, tolerant and ambitious individuals who are leaders and life-long learners.

Boarding continues to be popular at Haileybury which The Master, Martin Collier, attributes to the fact that the College provides its boarders with a fulfilling, happy experience. Approximately 75% of the pupils board across the thirteen Houses within the campus grounds where more than 90% of our teachers also live.

We offer a dedicated Lower School (Years 7 and 8), a unique Year 9 curriculum, a wide range of I/GCSEs and the choice of IB Diploma or A levels in the Sixth Form. Haileybury is consistently rank highly in The Times’ IB League Table. Our aim is to get every pupil into their first choice university.

Haileybury offers a range of Academic, Music or Sports scholarships which are measured as a percentage of the school fees. Bursaries are available to applicants according to need and are not reserved only for those who have been awarded scholarships.
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International Baccalaureate: diploma - the diploma is the familiar A-level equivalent.




What The Good Schools Guide says


Since September 2017, Martin Collier MA, previously head of St John's School Leatherhead. He read modern history at St John's College Oxford, followed by PGCE from London University. His first 10 years of teaching were in the maintained sector, at the 'fantastic' Thomas Tallis in south London and the 'tough' Weavers School in Wellingborough. He then moved into the independent sector and Oundle School, where he worked through roles of head of history, director of studies and second master. He also has many years' experience as an examiner with different boards, has been involved with the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency and has appeared as an examinations expert before the House of Commons select committee on education. He is also chair of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC) academic policy group.
No extrovert, but quietly impressive and we loved his sing-song intonation and commanding hand gestures that have an almost sermon-like effect. Not the warm and cuddly type, but genial and passionate about getting the best for every pupil. Big on vision (in his wider roles, discussions stretch as far as ‘curriculum planning for 2035’) but also detail (‘schools are all about detail,’ he says). ‘Some say he’s scary, but he’s not once you get to know him,’ insist pupils, who say they see him regularly around school (no wonder, when he spends three days a week showing prospective parents round) and value ‘the way he asks for feedback and acts on it’. Has made ‘plentiful changes’ including around timetabling, recruitment of new staff, tightening up lesson planning and use of reflection within lessons; parents see it as ‘upping the ante academically’ and it’s gone down a treat. ‘I think he will do tremendous things,’ mused one; clearly the general consensus.
Married with three older children, he lives (as all masters have since time immemorial) on-site but is the first not to use its tucked-away sitting room as his main office, which has now been moved centre stage to the picturesque quadrangle where ‘I see everything, and where pupils can see me.’ It is, he says, the ‘best view in the school.’ We agree.


More academically able applicants than in the past, though school won’t be pinned down to saying it’s more academically selective. Cohort of 65 in year 7, a further 70 in year 9. Unusually, also a healthy intake (20) in year 10. Typically, 70 new pupils enter the sixth form, including about 40 from overseas. At this juncture the school is heavily oversubscribed, with about three applicants for every place. Entrance tests at all levels in maths, English, verbal and non-verbal reasoning. Year 9 entry pre-tested by negotiation with the prep school 12 or 24 months in advance and entrance exam used for setting. ‘We are looking for somebody who wants to do their best, is B+ to A* academically and will throw themselves into the co-curricular.' Wide range of feeders including Heath Mount, Duncombe, Lochinver House, Beechwood Park, Davenies, St Joseph's in the Park, St Hilda's and St Faith's.


No leavers after GCSEs generally. Post A levels and IB, it’s mainly to Russell Group universities (most popular choices include Bath, Bristol, Birmingham and UCL). Wide range of subjects, the sciences and maths being most popular. Good specialist advisers, but some parents would like more support for North American and European universities, which pupils are increasingly choosing (‘everything is geared to Oxbridge applications and medics,’ said one); head says he’s addressing this. One to Oxbridge in 2020.

Latest results

In 2021, 84 per cent 9/7 at IGCSE; 70 per cent A*/A at A level (91 per cent A*/B). In 2019 (the last year when exams took place), 65 per cent 9/7 in IGCSE; 38 per cent A*/A at A level (and 71 per cent A*/B). IB average score 37 in 2019.

Teaching and learning

A famous name in public school education, Haileybury has become equally renowned for its enthusiastic participation in the IB, which was launched in 1998 ‘to provide a broader curriculum’ and continues to flourish here despite floundering elsewhere. About 110 sixth formers (over a third) follow the diploma programme, with about 40 arriving each year specifically to do it. ‘The IB is engrained into our culture and we embrace it philosophically, including the individual thinking, lateral thinking and pupil-driven learning,’ says head. A levels, however, are still very much on offer and the school does very well in both sets of exams. English, history and drama notably strong; ditto for maths (‘if you can do maths, everything else follows,’ believes head). Highly qualified staff (including a hefty sprinkling of doctorates) generally teach across both systems. ‘The teachers are amazing – they go above and beyond,’ said one pupil.

Lower down, IGCSEs in just about everything. Here, all do a compulsory core of maths, English language and science. From year 7, pupils pick two languages from German, French and Spanish and one from Latin or classical Greek – compulsory until the end of year 8, when pupils are ‘strongly encouraged’ to continue at least one. German and Italian also taught to the native speakers taking the IB. Setting in maths and languages from year 7, science and English from year 9.

Overall high aspirations, with sane expectations. ‘It’s not uncool to be clever or try your best but it’s very unpressurised,’ said a parent. ‘My son got amazing GCSE results, much better than we expected, but without any stress and hassle,’ said another. Parents appreciate the teaching recruits – ‘the majority were good before, but certain departments were stronger than others, whereas now it’s good across the board,’ said one.

Learning support and SEN

All pupils are screened on entry ‘to understand how they are as a learner’ and as such, learning support is not an add-on but an integral part of education, although typically around 50-80 have a diagnosed SEN (mild to moderate) and get more help than others; a small number, too, have extra help with English as a second language. School has one of the most sophisticated tracking systems we’ve seen – ‘we get to know the pupil first, then the data helps us understand how to tailor their learning.’

The arts and extracurricular

Co-curricular activities are very much part of Haileybury’s raison d’etre and for many families it’s why they choose the school. ‘Both my children have learned to become their true selves and that’s a direct result of the school stretching them in all directions. This, for me, is the biggest stand out point,’ one parent told us. School says it helps that 95 per cent of staff live on-site – ‘they’re committed and involved at every level.’

Music out-of-this-world. The school has a 30-year tradition of exceptional choral singing and won the BBC Songs of Praise School Choir of the Year some years back (it has reached the semi-final twice since then too). Practically every parent we spoke to mentioned the head of music by name, describing him as ‘charismatic’ and ‘phenomenal’. ‘He’s so inclusive too, it’s not just about favouring the best,’ said one. Chamber choir of about 30, plus larger chapel choir of about 90. Wide range of other musical opportunities, from jazz bands to concerts and musical theatre. Twenty peripatetic music staff, with pupils studying everything from harp to bassoon and from organ to jazz piano.

As with music, art has its own purpose-built, spacious and light-filled building – open seven days a week and in the evenings, regardless of whether you’re doing a GCSE or A level. Offers 2D and 3D, print, ceramics, photography and textiles, with exams tailored to individual interests. Stunning works on display. Drama renowned for bringing a whole host of pupils out of their shell who may never have acted before. It’s not the same children on the stage every year, confirm parents, and again it’s not just about those doing a GCSE or A level (although both are available). Some pupils said they’d like ‘a bigger and better theatre’. Dance lessons on offer for about 100 keen participants in jazz, ballet, street and tap, plus an annual dance show. Trips galore, as you’d expect, as well as more modest outings to battlefields and cultural events.

Community service is huge – everything from digging gardens for the elderly to helping in local primary schools. School is particularly proud of being the single sponsor of a local academy which, says head, ‘is improving significantly as a result – it’s one of the most important things we do.’ Wednesday afternoons devoted to DofE, CCF and adventure training for years 9 to 11, broadening out in the sixth form to take in activities like photography and web design. ‘I’m not convinced it’s the best thing in sixth form, though – we barely have enough time to study as it is,’ one pupil told us; some pupils down the school also mentioned the need for ‘more free time’ with one girl looking completely dazed when listing her activities.


The school has an outstanding reputation for sport, which is compulsory for all throughout, with games afternoons twice a week and matches on Saturday. Plenty of teams too, often from A-D, so everyone gets a chance to show their mettle. And those who aren’t fans of the playing field can do ‘something less taxing’, with options including aerobics, badminton, trampolining, rowing, rackets, golf and sailing, among others – although pupils told us these never get taken ‘anywhere near as seriously as the core sports’. Though boys triumph in hockey and football (where the school plays in the Boodles Cup) and girls in tennis, hockey, netball and lacrosse (competing at county and national level), rugby and cricket remain the ‘communal sports’ and it’s not unusual for the whole school to turn out to cheer on matches played on the front field. Some niggles from parents about girls’ sports playing second fiddle, but pupils we spoke to were having none of it (‘lacrosse is massive,’ laughed one). Facilities out of this world, with a bright, modern pool, two Astroturf pitches and a professionally operated tennis club in the grounds (but another parent niggle here – ‘lower school aren’t allowed to use it, which is a bugbear,’ said one). The rackets court is also considered one of the finest in the world and plays host to the world rackets championship. High Performance Programme (including training and lectures) aims to help talented sportspeople raise their game. Proper physio support and hi-tech fitness monitoring equipment is business as usual here.


From year 9, about 70 per cent of pupils board, with a sizeable chunk of weekly boarders who leave late on Saturday and return on Sunday evening or Monday morning (except for five or six weekends annually, when all remain). Opportunities too for flexi boarding in years 7 and 8 and taster boarding (three days a week) in year 9. Unusually, a boarding ethos for all, with an opportunity for day pupils to stay until 9.30pm (though most leave at 6.30pm) and some have their own beds; fewer, though, with the recent spike in boarders – 50 more in the year we visited, bucking the national trend. School attributes it to their location and modern family-friendly approach and the boarders lap it up – ‘we’re like brothers and sisters.’
Seven boys’ houses, five girls’. Four more recently built, with light, bright rooms, the rest older but updated. ‘The house personality literally becomes the housemaster or mistress’s personality and I love that,’ said one parent. A couple of eight to 10 bed dorms in younger years; for the rest (and all from year 11), single or shared rooms – some with military-precision neatness, others in the kind of disarray you’d see in normal homes. Active inter-house social life and plenty of weekend activities for full-time boarders, with Saturday film nights and Sunday trips. Plus ‘a lot of people have flats in London’ or visit local pupils (with beneficent parents).

Ethos and heritage

The school was designed in 1806 for the East India Company by William Wilkins (also responsible for the National Gallery and Downing College, Cambridge) as a training college for civil servants bound for India. In 1862, after the closure of the college, it was taken over by Haileybury, to be transformed into a public school for families in the professions and services, amalgamating, in 1942, with the Imperial Service College. The first girls were admitted in 1973. Today the school continues to occupy an impressive slice (550 acres) of rural Hertfordshire, complete with magnificent neo-classical buildings constructed round a traditional quadrangle. Later additions include modern, purpose-built buildings which sit surprisingly well amongst the more established architecture, with favourites including the DT centre (easily the best we’ve seen) and regularly revamped science block (with wildlife documentary showing in lobby). Interestingly it was the domed chapel (more like a full-on church) that came out as the best-loved space in a recent pupil survey. All must attend services there four times a week. Beautiful, well-stocked library. ‘If they don’t have a book, they will order it for you.’

Not a grand school in atmosphere. Manners are formal (new pupils jump to attention, teachers are addressed as Sir) but not stiff. And despite the pupils’ full timetables it’s surprisingly calm, not a bit frenetic. ‘You see these happy, helpful children wandering around and you realise what good individuals they’re producing – what more can you want for your kids?’ said one parent. International vibe is celebrated, with around 20 per cent from abroad.

Food comes highly commended; three compulsory self-service meals a day in the mammoth oak-panelled dining room, though parents and pupils say the favourites can run out fast.

Long tradition of charity work. The Haileybury Youth Trust, first set up in the East End in 1890 by old boy Clement Attlee, has been working with impoverished Ugandans since 2006. It receives grants from both UN and EU and has even patented a brick now used for building schools, kitchens and water towers.

Two further Haileybury branches operate in Kazakhstan, the first British public schools to be opened in Central Asia, with plans for more international schools. These help underwrite bursaries for UK-based students.

Pastoral care, inclusivity and discipline

The pastoral ethos is central to everything – 96 per cent of pupils said they have an adult to talk to at school in a recent survey. The chaplain (known as ‘the reverend’) is seen as a particularly key pastoral figure – ‘everyone trusts him,’ said one pupil. Lines of communication with parents praised, as is the school’s frequent tweeting – ‘it means I can always see what my son is up to pretty much all the time,’ said one.

Parents have mixed views on the transition from lower to upper school – everything from ‘my children were the only ones from the country we came from and they felt so included so quickly, there seem to be no cliques at all’ to ‘my son had a tough time at first and didn’t easily settle but they didn’t get to know how to handle it. The housemaster seemed out of his depth.’ Parents say the school essentially operates as two schools, a more-or-less self-contained lower school, running as a day prep from 11 to 13; and an upper school, from 13 to 18, which is very much a boarding school, with a full day of lessons and sport on Saturday; older pupils also told us they have ‘very little to do with the lower school’. But school insists there’s more integration these days, drawing the lower school into the upper ‘as we didn’t want the lower school to be a holding pen’.

Discipline standards are tighter under current head, whom parents describe as ‘no nonsense’ but ‘not draconian’. Sanctions run the usual gamut from detention to permanent exclusion, of which there have been a handful in recent years, plus around 10 temporary exclusions (‘typically a day or two to make a point,’ says head). Zero tolerance to drugs, but not enough of a problem (pupils concur) to do random testing (although they reserve the right). Bullying policy clear and pupils adamant strong community spirit prevents it. Strong prefect system.

Pupils and parents

Mainly from the nearest home counties – Hertfordshire, Essex, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire – and it’s easily commutable from London too. In general parents are ‘City folk, business people, successful professionals’ and as most live reasonably nearby, more involved than usual at boarding schools. Large numbers from Europe for the sixth form, particularly Germans and Italians. Pupils seem happy, confident, friendly and balanced.

Money matters

Academic, music, sport, art, and all-rounder scholarships form a complicated system, in addition to a range of (generous) means-tested bursaries.

The last word

A vibrant and busy school set in exquisite surroundings, with a long-established, successful IB diploma programme and an exceptional co-curricular offering. Great fun for those who want to be involved in everything it has to offer, although you might want to look elsewhere if you have a child who burns out easily.

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 are a small, fully qualified team which can provide specialist teacher assessments and specialist teaching for specific learning difficulties. Pupils are withdrawn from subject lessons once per fortnight for individual tuition which often focuses on spelling rules, writing skills, reading skills, comprehension exercises, memory trainers, study skills and exam and revision strategies. Each child has an individually-designed learning programme. Some pupils receive weekly tuition and this may involve supporting them with classwork and prep. We liaise with parents directly to discuss and review the support programme. Overseas children are able to have individual or group EAL teaching which normally takes place at the times pupils are not taking a Modern Foreign Language. Parents are required to pay an extra charge for all tuition.

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder Y
Aspergers Y
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders Y
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia
English as an additional language (EAL)
Has an entry in the Autism Services Directory
Has SEN unit or class Y
HI - Hearing Impairment
Hospital School
Mental health
MLD - Moderate Learning Difficulty
MSI - Multi-Sensory Impairment
Natspec Specialist Colleges
OTH - Other Difficulty/Disability
Other SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty
PD - Physical Disability
PMLD - Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulty
SEMH - Social, Emotional and Mental Health
SLCN - Speech, Language and Communication
SLD - Severe Learning Difficulty
Special facilities for Visually Impaired
SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty
VI - Visual Impairment

Who came from where

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