Clifton College in Bristol has a rich and established heritage with the British Armed Forces and the families that serve within it. For over 150 years the College has provided a base for the children of serving Forces personnel.

Clifton’s military heritage

For 150 years our House staff have been supporting children as they face the challenges associated with the Forces lifestyle, such as having a parent posted abroad. Although we are not a military school, we understand the importance of nurturing individuals’ skills and allowing them to experience adventure and challenge through our extensive extra curricular programme.

In 1875 Clifton introduced The Cadet Corps and since then many Cliftonians have represented their country. Influential Cliftonians include Colonel Francis Younghusband, the famous explorer of Tibet, and Field Marshal Haig. Many recent Cliftonians have followed in their footsteps. The list of achievements of Cliftonians is impressive: one Commander-in-Chief, one Army Commander, 23 Major-Generals, 52 Brigadier-Generals, 5 VCs, 180 DSOs and 14 Knighthoods.

But things have changed since Field Marshal Haig studied here in the 1870s, and a Clifton College education these days offers your children a broad curriculum, personal and academic support, a home away from home.

Why is Clifton College perfect for military families?

We are proud of our strong military tradition and that we are the school of choice for many HM Forces families. Our Forces community values the flexibility and individual support that our wrap around care offers day, flexi-boarders and boarding pupils. Currently nearly 10% of our boarders (more than 35 children) come from military families (the national average at other boarding schools is 6%). We offer a 20% discount for our Forces families.

Our outstanding facilities and more than 45 extracurricular clubs and activities, such as DofE and LAMDA, offer limitless opportunities for pupils to find and follow their passions. While some children choose to follow careers in their parents’ footsteps (our Upper School has one of the best and largest Combined Cadet Forces in the country), and the wide range of backgrounds of our pupil population ‘allows children to develop other friendships and experience other walks of life’ (HM Forces parent).

“The stability from the age of 8 that it has given me as my family moved around has meant a lot to me.” Georgie, Year 12

Clifton College is co-educational for children from 2 to 18, so siblings can remain at the same school throughout their education. Boarding starts at the age of 8, in Year 4. This continuity is valued highly by the children and their parents. We have several entry points throughout the year, and are well accustomed to supporting children’s integration into school life.

We have an established community of Forces families at Clifton. While pupils value having other Forces children at the school, parents value the opportunity to meet Forces parents and also other families through Old Cliftonian events, for example and the Friends of Clifton group.

Why Bristol?

Bristol is the largest city in the South West, neatly positioned near the M4/M5 intersection with excellent rail links and an international airport. It is the UK’s 10th largest city and has a population of just fewer than half a million.

It has two universities, is known for being ‘green’ and is a cultural centre for arts, music and animation. Bristol is one of only a handful of UK cities to have its own elected mayor. In 2014 it was named as ‘Best Place to Live’ by the Sunday Times newspaper and is the 2015 European Green Capital.

Clifton is a beautiful residential area on the edge of the city, near the Downs, Bristol Zoo and our most famous landmark, the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Poet Sir John Betjeman once described it as the ‘handsomest suburb in Europe’.

Home from home

Our unique House system which provides Houses for both day and boarding pupils, offers a nurturing and supportive atmosphere in which your child is encouraged to seize each opportunity and fulfil their potential. Our House staff have many years’ experience of the challenges faced by Forces families. They ensure your child will receive individualised care and guidance.

As Forces parents you will no doubt agree with The National Military Family Association:

“Facing frequent home moves and loved ones away on long deployments, life as the child of someone in HM Forces can be unsettling. The school ‘just understands’ how they might be feeling and supports them in whatever ways they need.’’ HM Forces parent of Year 6 boarder

The House system at Clifton College forms a key part of our pastoral care. Each House in The Preparatory School and The Upper School is run by a Housemaster or Housemistress who is supported by a team of five academic tutors and a matron. It’s your child’s home away from home.The modern boarding Houses all benefit from up-to date facilities, wifi, libraries, recreational indoor and outdoor spaces, light, airy dorms and quiet areas to relax with friends.

All boarders whose parents reside overseas also have a nominated UK-based guardian who will care for your child during Exeat.

All-round experience

College life is busy and fulfilling. Preparatory School boarders enjoy regular Sunday day trips and weeknight activities, while the larger contingent of boarders in the Upper School have a combination of organised activities and access to supervised and unsupervised facilities in school and the local area.

“Academic results are important but many parents want a rounded school that offers many strings to the child’s bow. “ (current Forces parent)

There are 40 after-school clubs, including 14 music groups and 8 dance groups, plus many drama productions throughout the year. From baking to rock climbing, table tennis to theatre trips, no one can claim to be bored.

Academic excellence

The Pre Prep and Prep schools build strong foundations for The Upper School and external examinations. From Year 4 each child is assigned a tutor to provide academic guidance to help them realise their full potential.

The College benefits from modern classrooms, outstanding facilities and innovative teaching. GCSE pupils can choose to study from a list of more than 30 subjects, while 31 A Level courses are taught, including eight languages. Most students study 11 subjects at GCSE with a success rate of 85+% A* to B grades and at A Level our pupils achieve on average 80% A* to B grades. 98% of the pupil body goes on to higher education with 80% attending Russell Group and 1994 Group universities.

We have an array of Scholarships and Bursaries, awarded to gifted children at 11+, 13+ and 16+.

College Discount

Clifton College is proud of the support it provides to the children of parents in the British Armed Forces and offers a 20% discount to our Forces families. We also offer a sibling discount which is applicable when siblings attend the College at the same time. We offer 5% discount for a second child, a 20% discount for a third child, and a 50% discount for fourth and subsequent children. The discount is applied to the fees of the youngest sibling.

The next steps: how to register

Our Admissions team would be delighted to hear from you:

For the Preparatory School (ages 2 to 13) arrange a visit by contacting Prep Admissions on 0117 315 7160, e-mail

For the Upper School (ages 13 to 18) arrange a visit by contacting Admissions on 0117 315 7110, e-mail