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Dorset Private Schools & Special Schools


The isbi Schools Directory Guide To The Top Private Schools & Colleges In Dorset

For anyone planning a move to or within Dorset in South East England we have collated information below about different places to live, schools, estate agents and other information we think useful for relocating within this fantastic Dorset.

Offering some of the best living anywhere in Great Britain, Dorset's famous British cities and towns include Bournemouth, Weymouth and Dorchester.

Dorset has a great choice of high quality UK private schools, beautiful countryside, lots of activities and excellent housing - with a fantastic range of different properties to call home, from country mansions and estates, cottages and bungalows to new build executive housing, family townhouses and apartments.

"Dorset is a county in south west England. It’s known for the Jurassic Coast, a long stretch on the English Channel where the cliffs contain many fossils, and rock formations show millions of years of geological history. Two prominent natural landmarks are Durdle Door, an ancient stone arch, and the layered cliffs at nearby Lulworth Cove. The towns of Poole, Weymouth and Swanage are popular for their sandy beaches." Dorset Travel Guide

Dorset sits on the coast of the south west of England, sharing a border with Devon to the west, Somerset to the north west, Wiltshire to the north east and Hampshire to the east. 

The history of Dorset is rooted in the Neolithic era when the Romans conquered the indigenous Celtic Tribe almost 12,000 years ago. The Saxons also settled in Dorset and made it a ‘shire’ in the 7th century however the Saxons failed to fend off the Vikings as they invaded the British Isles in the 8th century.  




Have you booked to attend any School Open Days & Open Events yet?

Visit the comprehensive isbi School Open Days Guide with the latest School Open Days & Open Events dates and timings for School Open Days happening near you.

The isbi School Open Days & Open Events listings have the information you need on Open Days & Open Events happening at your favourite schools soon.

We highly recommend attending School Open Days - they are a great way to learn about and to experience a school and discover if it is the best school for you - or alternatively ask for a private tour of your favourite schools, when it suits you.

Looking for a prestigious Independent (private) school in Dorset, GB?

If you are thinking of moving to live in Dorset (or you already live in Dorset but are considering relocating) and you and your family are researching some of the best private schools in Dorset there is a big choice of high quality Dorset schools, with a number of the Dorset’s highest ranking Independent schools considered to be some of the best in the UK. 

Dorset’s private education sector features day schools and boarding schools, girls’ schools, boys’ schools and co-educational (mixed) schools, including leading private Nurseries, Prep Schools, Independent Secondary and Sixth Form schools and colleges. 

Find Private Schools In Dorset, UK (Or "Private Schools Near Me")

Developed over the last 36+ years, the isbi School Search Directory is one of the largest and most comprehensive private schools directories available, helping thousands of families to find, compare and select good schools since the 1980s.

>   You can search for private schools with a reputation for excellence in Dorset and in the cities of Dorcester and Bournemouth towns like Poole, Christchurch and Weymouth by using our Private Schools Directory and Independent Schools Finder (powered by isbi's School Search Directory) or by clicking on the names of the schools and colleges listed below to see detailed profiles with photos, videos, maps etc.

>   With our expanded school search technology you can filter your search by the type of school you are looking for such as day and boarding, gender, age range, academic study, religious affiliation, school fees, scholarships and bursaries, open days etc.

>   You can also focus your search on just private Pre-Prep and Prep schools or on Independent Senior and Sixth Form schools and colleges, or view search results for all of them together.

Please explore isbi.com for detailed information and guides about good schools of all types and for open days, school and college and news, articles and blogs with details of school associations, glossaries and explanations about examinations and qualifications and expert advice about independent education at private schools and colleges around the UK and worldwide.




Please see below for a full list of private schools and colleges in Dorset, some of the best of which being:



Castle Court Preparatory School

Wimborne, Dorset, England, BH21 3RF

Private School (Fee Paying), Co-Educational, 2-13 years, Day

At Castle Court, they recognise that you only have one childhood, that’s why they aim to foster self-esteem and confidence, and develop academic, sporting and creative prowess.

[Read More About Castle Court Preparatory School...]



Sherborne Girls School

Sherborne, Dorset, England, DT9 3QN

Private School (Fee Paying), Girls, 11-18 years, Day & Boarding (Full)

Sherborne Girls is a friendly, vibrant and highly motivated community at the forefront of women's education. They aim is to provide a rich, all round education enabling girls to enjoy fulfilling and active lives, have open and enquiring minds and develop the character and courage to make a valuable contribution to a changing world.

[Read More About Sherborne Girls School...]



Canford School

Winborne, Dorset, England, BH21 3AD

Private School (Fee Paying), Co-Educational, 13-18 years, Day & Boarding (Flexi, Full)

Canford’s vision is for a school community where all are 'inspired to explore, empowered to express and challenged to excel.' Canford is committed to educating pupils to make a real and positive difference in a challenging, diverse and often inequitable world.

[Read More About Canford School...]



Top Private Independent Secondary Schools & Colleges In Dorset, UK

Some of the best Independent Secondary schools and colleges and Sixth Form schools and colleges in Dorset, Great Britain providing a top-tier, world-class British day and boarding single-sex and mixed education for boys and girls include:

Top Private Pre-Preparatory & Preparatory Schools In Dorset, UK

Some of the best Pre-Prep and Prep schools in Dorset, Great Britain providing a top-tier, world-class British day and boarding single-sex and mixed education for boys and girls aged from 3 years to 11 or 13 years include:

Special Needs Schools In Dorset, UK

Some of the best Special Needs schools in Dorset, Great Britain providing a top-tier, world-class British Special Needs and Special Education Needs education for boys and girls (single-sex and mixed) include:




Where To Live In Dorset, England, UK

The most popular British cities and towns in the Dorset area (GB) include, with approximate population numbers:

>  West Dorset, Dorset,UK

Dorchester (19,000), Bridport (12,900), Sherborne (9,500) Lyme Regis (3,600)

>  North Dorset, Dorset,UK

Gillingham (21,100), Shaftesbury (7,300), Blandford Forum (8,700), Stalbridge (2,600)

>  Weymouth & Portland, Dorset, UK

Portland (12,700), Weymouth (95,000), Foruneswell (3,800), Upwey (4,300)

>  Purbeck, Dorset,UK

Corfe Castle (1,400), Langton Matravers (970), Worth Matravers (640) Church Knowle (300) 

>  East Dorset, Dorset, UK

Ferndown (25,600), Alderholt (3,100), Chalbury (140), Edmondsham(200) 

>  Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole, Dorset, UK

Bournemouth (183,500), Poole (151,500) Christchurch (45,800), Wimborne (15,552)




Dorchester is a very popular place to live and many people move to Dorchester each year, or to near Dorchester and the surrounding area, from around the United Kingdom and abroad.

Many of those moving to Dorchester are escaping more urban living in London or other larger cities, deciding to relocate to the Dorset capital to enjoy a different pace of life and the historic and elegant surroundings of a prosperous city with great facilities and leisure amenities, high quality housing and schools, fantastic pubs, restaurants and sports and popular cultural events, arts and music.

Ten Things To Know About Dorchester, England, UK

> FACT 1:  William Barnes, poet famous for works including ‘Blackmwore Maidens', ‘The Castle Ruins’ and ‘Mater Dolorosa’, wrote his poems whilst living in Dorchester. His roots are evident within his poetry as the Dorset dialect can be seen all throughout his poems. There is a statue of William Barnes outside St Peter’s Church which was unveiled in 1889. 

> FACT 2:  Maiden Castle is the largest Iron Age hill fort in Britain! Built around 600 BC it is an extraordinary landmark and makes for a lovely day trip. 

> FACT 3: Famous author and poet Thomas Hardy is from Dorchester, he was born in 1840 in Higher Bockhampton. You can even retrace the steps that the ‘Mellstock Quire’ characters from his novel ‘Under the Greenwood Tree’ took! 

> FACT 4:  In the west of Dorchester a new development known as Poundbury has become famous for being one of the most innovative building projects in the county! The project was designed on land owned by Prince Charles under his Duchy of Cornwall.

> FACT 5:  Dorchester is twinned with Lübbecke in Westphalia, Germany, Holbæk in Denmark and Bayeux in France. Dorchester’s most recent twinning was with Holbæk as a result of their shared love of community plays! 

> FACT 6:  Dorchester is the birthplace of workers rights thanks to the trails of the Tolpuddle Martyrs. This group of farm labourers formed a group in 1834 under which they protested against poor pay. Today, their history is celebrated by the TUC every year at the Tolpuddle Festival. 

> FACT 7:  Dorchester has a famous villain! The ‘Hanging Judge’ arrived in Dorchester in 1685 as a rebellion against King James II unravelled. Judge Jeffreys was responsible for The Bloody Assizes, which were trials for the rebels involved in the uprising. Tragically, Judge Jeffreys sentenced 251 rebels and they were hung with their heads taken on spikes for display.

> FACT 8:  Dorchester is home to some breathtaking landscapes. In fact 40% of the area around Dorchester is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. 

> FACT 9:  Dorchester was originally founded by the Romans who came up with the name ‘Durnovaria’. Roman settlements can be seen all throughout the county, including the Roman Town House at Colliton Park which was discovered in 1937 and dates back to the 4th century.  

> Fact 10:  Dorchester has a Teddy Bear Museum and it is home to teddys dating all the way back to 1906! 

Where To Live In Dorchester, UK

Dorchester and the surrounding area offers a huge choice of high quality, premium and luxury property to meet the needs of any family, whether wanting a cottage, townhouse, large apartment, mansion or country estate, with or without granny annex, garden or swimming pool.  There are also property development and investment opportunities too, with land available to purchase and properties in need of renovation.

From central city living to rural, country lifestyles, Dorchester and the areas near Dorchester are full of bustling districts and leafy suburbs, lush green areas, charming Crescents and estates, rolling countryside, vibrant high streets, busy neighbourhoods and friendly residential communities.

Some of the popular residential areas include:

Abbotsbury Dorchester, Affpuddle Dorchester, Alton Pancras Dorchester, Batcombe Dorchester, Belchalwell Dorchester, Bincombe Dorchester, Bothenhampton Dorchester, Bradford Peverell Dorchester, Bradpole Dorchester, Charmouth, Chideock Dorchester, Eype Dorchester, Frampton  Dorchester, Higher Bockhampton Dorchester,  Ibberton Dorchester, Little Bredy Dorchester, Mapperton Dorchester, Melplash Dorchester, Preston Dorchester, Puddletown Dorchester, Toller Porcorum Dorchester, West Knighton Dorchester, Whitcombe Dorchester, Wynford Eagle Dorchester

Commuting To And From Dorchester By Rail Or Road

Relocating to Dorchester is especially popular with those happy to work from home most of the time but needing to occasionally commute to other places for work.

Others are happy to commute more regularly to London, Bournemoth, Bristol, Weymouth, Exeter and other locations for work.

Travel times to key destinations by road and rail include:

>  Dorchester To London:  London is about 131 miles by road from Dorchester via the M3 and driving to the centre of London from Dorchester normally takes under 3 hours.  There is a regular train service to London from Dorchester, with trains taking from 3 hours to 3 hours 30 minutes to get to London.

>  Dorchester To Bournemouth:  Bournemouth is about 28 miles by road from Dorchester via the A35 and driving to the centre of Bournemouth from Dorchester normally takes under 50 minutes.  There is a very regular train service to Bournemouth from Dorchester, with trains taking from 50 to 1 hour to get to Bournemouth

>  Dorchester To Bristol: Bristol is about 61 miles by road from Dorchester via the A37 and driving to the centre of Bristol from Dorchester normally takes under 2 hours.  There is a very regular train service to Bristol from Dorchester, with trains taking from 1 hour 50 minutes to 2 hours 20 minutes to get to Bristol. 

>  Dorchester To Exeter: Exeter is about 56 miles by road from Dorchester via the A35 and driving to the centre of Exeter from Dorchester normally takes under 2 hours.  There is a very regular train service to Exeter from Dorchester, with trains taking from 1 hour 50 minutes to 2 hours 10 minutes to get to Bristol.



Nearest Airports To Dorchester, UK

The nearest airport to Dorchester is Bournemouth International Airport (BOH) which is 26 miles away.  Other nearby airports include Bristol (BRS) (under 41miles), Southampton (SOU) (under 49 miles) and London Heathrow (LHR) (under 100 miles).




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