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 and FCDO 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 and FCDO familes. 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%). 

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. 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 4 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. September is our traditional entry point but we can be flexible to personal requirements and are well accustomed to supporting children’s integration into school life.

We know how important a safe, welcoming and supportive community is for those considering boarding. We pride ourselves in creating an environment that helps our entire family know the correct decision has been made.

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.

Bristol is regularly named as one of the “Best Places to Live” in the Sunday Times newspaper’s annual listing, even topping the list! Bristol is a UNESCO City of Film and former European Green Capital. Bristol has high level sports clubs including football, cricket, rugby, basketball and ice hockey attracting crowds of supporters every week. Bristol has two universities and a large selection of cultural venues and events.

Clifton College is located in the beautiful residential area of Clifton, on the edge of the city, near the Downs and our famous landmark, the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

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 tutors and a matron. It’s your child’s home away from home. The modern boarding Houses all benefit from up-to date facilities, 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. The latest digital technology enables easy, regular communications with parents. This ensure you are kept informed; wherever you are in the world.

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 a wide range of 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)

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.

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.

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 personnel from the Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office. We hope this strong military tradition will continue to thrive, and we recognise that the financial support we offer our families is key to this success. In an effort to make this process simpler for families we have streamlined the system for support. This will make it easier for families to know what fees need to pay each term. 

If you claim Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA) for your child to take a full boarding place at the College, the amount that you will personally pay will be fixed at a flat rate per term. The College will provide a Forces/FCDO Boarding Award against the termly fee that will leave the balance payable after CEA of the amounts in the table below.

Prep School Years 4 – 8 £1,050
Senior School Years 9 – 11 £1,575
Sixth Form Years 12 – 13 £2,100

The CEA release their rates annually and details of the current year can be found on our website, along with how the fees are calculated. The parent contribution on top of the CEA will remain fixed at the values given. The annual CEA update and our own annual fee review may impact the flat fee and parents will be given a term’s notice of any changes.


The next steps: how to register

Visiting the school and meeting the team is a key part of your admissions journey. We recognise this isn’t always possible so also offer video calls at a time convenient to you. we also hold an online open event each year. For more information please contact our admissions team who would be delighted to hear from you. 

For Pre-Preparatory (ages 3yrs to 8yrs) arrange a visit by contacting Prep Admissions on 0117 315 7160, or email:

For the Preparatory School (ages 8yrs to 13yrs) arrange a visit by contacting Prep Admissions on 0117 315 7160, or email:

For the Upper School (ages 13yrs to 18yrs) arrange a visit by contacting Admissions on 0117 315 7110, or email: