Tonbridge School Guide: Reviews, Ranking, Fees And More
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Table of Contents
Summary Of School
- Type of school: Boys’ School
- Age range: 13-18
- Tuition Fees: £14,035
- Pupils: 780
- Boarders: 57%
- 2021 A Level Results: 87% A*-A
- 2021 IGCSE Results: 96% 9-7
Tonbridge School Overview
Tonbridge School was founded by Sir Andrew Judde in 1553, which makes Tonbridge an ancient school. Tonbridge is among the top boys’ schools in the UK and has garnered a great reputation over the years as an Eton Group school. The latest GCSE results produced at Tonbridge – 96% A*-As – is a display of the school’s outstanding academic programme.
Tonbridge is not only about academics – the school is well known for rugby, cricket, and music too. The school has had many alumni who have gone on to become international players for rugby and cricket. Additionally, Tonbridge has a strong musical tradition as around half of its pupils opt for musical lessons at the school and it also has a symphony orchestra. Every year, the school sees around ten of its students receiving a musical scholarship.
The school’s current headmaster is James Priory. Under Priory’s leadership, a holistic approach to education sees Tonbridge’s students not only excel academically, but in all other areas of their lives as students too. Their approach to education also develops the pupils’ critical thinking, intellectual curiosity, and interpersonal skills, all in line with Tonbridge School’s mission to foster creativity, confidence, and compassion in their students.
The school’s House system is the heart of the school which ensures every student at Tonbridge has adequate support and feels at home. Tonbridge offers students with plenty of opportunities through its outstanding facilities and wide range of activities to choose from. The school’s staff are dedicated to the learning and growth of their pupils.
Tonbridge School identifies itself as a school that celebrates the life of the mind, knowledge in action, and a sense of community. The school’s motto “Excellence for All” highlights the school’s mission to nurture excellence in their pupils.
Tonbridge School Courses / Programmes
There are a few pathways into Tonbridge School, depending on the year of entry.
Novi Curriculum (Year 9 and Up)
Students that enter Tonbridge in Year 9 usually do so via English prep schools or they have taken the school’s Scholarship Examination. Under the Novi curriculum, students have the option to take the following subjects:
- Modern Languages
- Divinity (Theology)
- Digital Creativity
- Design Technology
GCSEs and IGCSEs
All Tonbridge GCSE/IGCSE pupils are required to study English, Mathematics, and the Sciences. Additionally, students have to take four other subjects including a foreign language. Other subjects available are:
- Computer Science
- Design & Technology
- Latin & Green/Latin
- Religious Studies
Most students at Tonbridge will take nine subjects, although some may take ten subjects with either three Science subjects or taking both Latin and Greek.
There are four pathways in Tonbridge’s Sixth Form programme:
- 3 Principal Subjects + EPQ + Electives
- 3 Principal Subjects + AS Mathematics
- 3 Principal Subjects + Additional Language Qualification + Electives
- 4 Principal Subjects + Optional EPQ
These different pathways offer Tonbridge’s A Level students a customised curriculum that suits their talents and future aspirations well. Students have freedom to choose to do an EPQ, additional languages, or take AS Mathematics, which plays well on their academic strengths. Students are also encouraged to discuss their choice with the subject Heads.
Subject choices for A Levels offered at Tonbridge are:
- Classical Languages (Latin & Greek)
- Computer Science
- Design & Technology
- Further Mathematics
- Modern Languages (French, German, Mandarin, Spanish)
- Religious Studies
- Theatre Studies
Electives offered at Tonbridge provide a well-rounded education. These subjects build on skills and interests that are outside academia. Electives include:
- Public Speaking and Debating
- Global Perspectives
- Critical Thinking
- Creative Writing
- Sports Coaching and Leadership
- Interview Techniques
- Earth Science
- History of Art
- Philosophical questions
- Classical Literature
- Computer Programming
2020 Academic Results
- 2020 A Level Results: 72.2% A*/A
- 2020 IGCSE Results: 94.5% A*/A
In 2020, Tonbridge School’s GCSE graduates managed to achieve an outstanding 94.5% A*/As (Grade 7-9). This places Tonbridge among the top boarding schools in the country. Tonbridge’s 2020 A Levels cohort also managed to achieve 72.2% A*/As, an impressive feat for the school.
Tonbridge School Entry Requirements
Year 9 Entry
Year 10 Entry
Sixth Form Entry
Talk to us if you’d like to register at Tonbridge School. We can help arrange a (virtual) tour if you’d like to learn more. Book a free appointment with us now! Applications are subject to registration fees by the school.
Tonbridge School Term Dates and Application Deadline
There are three terms in a year which typically begins in late August and ends in early July of the following year.
Registrations should be made well in advance before the applicant’s entry year. Entry into Tonbridge is competitive – applicants into Year 9 typically apply by Year 5. Interviews and pre-tests will take place during Year 6.
Tonbridge School Fees
Fees for boarding students are £14,035 per term or £42,105 per year. Students taking music lessons will have to pay an additional £343 (per instrument) each term. Tonbridge School has been featured in our article Most Expensive Boarding Schools in the UK as the 7th most expensive independent school on the list.
Tonbridge School Reviews
Student names may be changed for anonymity*
“Tonbridge School had a very strong academic program. In particular the English department was known to be first rate. The science department has well equipped labs and classrooms. The arts and technology subjects are located in a superb new building with the most modern and up to date facilities available.”
“In the earlier years classes can contain up to 20 students and, for the majority of subjects, are not set in first year. After this, as students are able to choose which subjects they study, class sizes decrease and setting is brought in. At A-level classes are much smaller and usually no larger than 12 even in the more popular subjects. The teaching at Tonbridge is really first class. The staff try to give the pupils a broader education than the curriculum would otherwise allow. The staff are still able to teach the pupils all that they need to know to perform at least as well as those from other schools. The education I received at Tonbridge certainly opened my mind to discovering new things and gave me a desire to learn which I have found hugely helpful at university.”
“The school is blessed with fantastic facilities for the arts, boasting two extremely large art studios. These include a dark room, pottery, screen printing room and art library. The design technology department is just as large and is extremely well equipped. The drama department hosts a very large theatre that is frequently used by external parties due to its size and quality. Due to the facilities alone most students engage in this area of academics and the results are frequently outstanding. All of the physics, chemistry, biology and electronics departments have very well-equipped and maintained laboratories. The teaching of the sciences is very much geared towards getting the pupils to get as much hands on experience as possible without detracting from the required normal class teaching. The Smythe library caters to the humanities subjects very well.”
“As you progress in your years in Tonbridge, the teaching is tailored to you to harness your personal interests. Teachers encourage you to express your thoughts and what you may have misunderstood about something, and it is this two-way communication that makes the teaching great. With the extensive amount of sports and the Cadet force, there is a great emphasis on building leadership and teamwork skills that I find transfers seamlessly to the classroom.”
Tonbridge School Pastoral Care, House System, & Accommodation
Similar to many other UK boarding schools, Tonbridge School has a strong House system which provides the basis for good pastoral care of its students. At the centre of the House system is a Housemaster, who is responsible for overlooking the pupils’ academic progress and general wellbeing. Each House also has Matrons, tutors, and other staff as part of the Boarding House team which ensures that every student’s needs are met and their progress can be monitored closely.
The seven boarding Houses and five day Houses are responsible for creating a community within the school. It is also the heart of many student activities such as the inter-House competitions, House Leagues, concerts, plays, and so on. Parents may express an interest in a specific House if they have received an unconditional offer for a place at Tonbridge.
Tonbridge School’s Pastoral System also integrates other parts of the school and support staff, such as the school’s on-site, 24-hour Medical Centre, a Chaplaincy, and a school counsellor. The school has put a lot of thought into ensuring student welfare – it has even developed peer support networks to proactively deal with and prevent bullying through the Anti-Bullying Council.
There is the option for single, twin, or dormitory bedrooms. Each type of room will have bathroom facilities and communal areas. All of Tonbridge’s accommodations are within walking distance of the main campus.
Tonbridge School Co-Curricular Activities
Tonbridge has developed a reputation for excellence in sports. The school has a number of full-time specialist coaches who have coached and played at the highest levels and the school runs a network of Academies in rugby, hockey, and cricket.
All sports at Tonbridge operates in a club system and it provides students with ample opportunity to participate competitively based on their abilities. The Houses hold the House Leagues which allow students to contribute by representing their House. There are over 20 sports available at Tonbridge, which are:
- Ultimate Frisbee
- Water Polo
The school’s Sports Centre is a world-class sporting facility which includes over 100 acres of well-maintained playing fields, three astro-turf pitches, and an all-weather athletics track.
Clubs & Societies
Tonbridge aims to encourage its students to explore their interests outside of their school programme. The school has a wide variety of clubs and societies that caters to different types of interests. Societies that are available at the moment include:
- Arcana (Maths)
- Bee Keeping
- Bridge The Gap
- Classical Film
- Creative Writing
- Debating (Junior & Senior)
- Digital Creativity
- Frusta Frustra (Sixth Form)
- Green Committee
- Isos (Social Science)
- Lower School Politics
- Modern Languages (Sixth Form)
- Sub Aqua
The school’s programme is designed to allow for co-curricular activities on every Wednesday afternoon. Some students opt to join the Royal Navy, Army, RAF sections, or the Combined Cadet Force. Those inclined towards the outdoors would join the New Terriers, while those with a passion for the arts may choose to undertake Art or Music activities. There are a wide range of other activities available:
- Tonbridge Community Action Group
- Life Drawing
- Formula 1 Design
- The Tonbridgian (school magazine)
- Film Studies
- Investors Club
- Model United Nations
- Game Design
- History of Art
- Hoghead Theatre productions
- Technical Theatre
- Film Production
The EM Forster Theatre houses the school’s Drama department and it offers Tonbridge students the opportunity to participate in theatrical productions, whether it be on- or off-stage. The theatre puts on nine major productions in a year and organises workshops and trips to professional shows. Houses also organise play productions which are entirely pupil-led.