The Best Secondary Schools in Harrow: A Parent’s Guide

Discovering the ideal secondary school in Harrow isn’t just about exams and education. It’s about encouraging a lifelong love of learning, intellectual curiosity and opportunity.

Nestled in northwest London, Harrow is renowned for its picturesque surroundings, thriving community spirit, and abundance of cultural amenities. It’s perhaps no surprise then, that Harrow also boasts some of the best secondary schools in the country.

In this comprehensive guide, you’ll find a complete list of secondary schools in Harrow, both state-funded and private. We’ll discuss the reputation and rankings of Harrow’s leading schools, so you can make secondary choices with confidence. 

We’ll also dedicate a section to the prestigious Harrow School, globally renowned for its illustrious history and academic excellence.

How many secondary schools are there in Harrow?

There are over 24 secondary schools in Harrow, both state-funded and private. From the prestigious and historic Harrow School (attended by Winston Churchill, Stanley Baldwin and Lord Byron) to leading state secondaries like Avanti House and Bentley Wood High School, parents are truly spoiled for choice. 

But how to decide? First off, it’s important to understand exactly what’s available for your child.

Here’s your complete list of secondary schools in Harrow.

State secondary schools in Harrow

Private secondary schools in Harrow

We should also mention The Red Balloon Centre, based at Kenton Road in Harrow. Red Balloon Learning Centres offer an innovative mix of online and in-person learning for students missing from school because of bullying, anxiety or trauma. 

Although the centre covers core national curriculum subjects, they’re not a “school” in the strictest sense. Instead, they describe themselves as a “warm and welcoming educational community” offering qualifications, specialised therapy and extracurricular activities.

What are the best Grammar Schools in Harrow?

Despite its many fantastic secondaries (including the esteemed Harrow School), there’s a notable absence of Grammar Schools in Harrow.

However, for parents seeking top-tier educational opportunities for their children (without the hefty fees!), neighbouring Barnet boasts two of the nation’s best Grammar Schools: Queen Elizabeth’s Boys Grammar School and Henrietta Barnett Grammar School for Girls.

Beyond these two schools, St Michael’s Catholic Grammar School in Barnet shines as another exceptional choice. Embracing a Roman Catholic ethos, St Michael’s offers priority admission to Catholic students while also welcoming students from diverse faith backgrounds or none at all.

For more information about Grammar Schools near Harrow, including Latymer School in Edmonton and Slough Consortium Grammar Schools, read our in-depth guide to state-funded Grammar Schools near Harrow.

We’ve also compiled a complete list of Grammar Schools without a catchment area as well as the best Grammars in London.

What are the best secondary schools in Harrow?

With so many secondary schools in Harrow, how can parents narrow down their choices?

When it comes to the “best” secondary schools, the most prestigious and competitive institutions are Harrow’s independent schools. Of course what’s best for each child (and family) will depend on various factors including finances, academic aptitude, extracurricular interests, school facilities, ethos and individual preferences.

However, based on academic results, reputation and recognition, the three top secondary schools in Harrow are:

Harrow School

We’ll devote a section to Harrow School below, but suffice to say, this is one of the most prestigious schools not just in London, but the entire country.

Founded in 1572 under a Royal Charter granted by Queen Elizabeth I, Harrow has a rich history and tradition of academic excellence, leadership development and character education. 

The school’s iconic campus, with its distinctive Old Schools building and historic architecture, provides a picturesque backdrop for a rigorous educational experience.

Harrow School’s latest exam results >

John Lyon School

Founded in 1876, John Lyon School combines a strong academic focus with a supportive community ethos, providing students with a well-rounded education and ample opportunities for personal growth.

Describing themselves as “North West London’s leading co-educational independent school”, the school proudly states that “academic excellence” is at the very heart of what it seeks to achieve. 

With a broad curriculum as well as excellent sports and creative arts opportunities, students work alongside dedicated and enthused teachers to develop their “learning skills, creativity and the ability to fully apply themselves in all areas of life.”

John Lyon School’s latest exam results >

North London Collegiate School

Founded in 1859, North London Collegiate School is one of the best independent day schools for girls in the country.

It provides an “ambitious education” with a carefully judged balance of academic challenge and pastoral support. The school boasts “glorious facilities” and “extensive extracurricular activities” in a friendly and fun atmosphere.

Indeed, the school’s founder (Frances Mary Buss) had the vision of producing “independently minded young women” with the confidence to go out and make a difference in the world. Today, this vision remains true and the school has an excellent track record of securing places at the best universities. 

Passionate teachers go above and beyond exam success, inspiring curiosity and a love of learning that stays with girls for the rest of their lives. 

North London Collegiate School’s latest exam results >

Looking for more fantastic private schools? Don’t miss our guides to the best private schools in London and the best private schools in the UK.

What are the best state secondary schools in Harrow?

Harrow is home to many great state secondary schools. Among these, Avanti House High School, Bentley Wood High School, Sacred Heart Language College and Salvatorian Roman Catholic College regularly top rankings for the borough.

The government’s Compare School Performance Service ranks secondary schools based on various criteria, including “Progress 8 Scores”, GCSE grades and the number of pupils going onto full-time education or entering employment.

Progress 8 Score

A Progress 8 score shows how much academic progress pupils make at secondary school between Key State 2 and Key Stage 4. It’s based on results in various subjects, including English, Maths, Science, History, Geography and Languages.

A score above zero means that students have made more progress than average. 

In excellent news, all of the top five Harrow Schools are rated “well above average”.

  • Whitmore High School: 1.06
  • Bentley Wood High School: 1.05
  • Sacred Heart Language College: 1.04
  • Avanti House High School: 0.93
  • Salvatorian Roman Catholic College: 0.62

GCSE Grades

The top five Harrow schools ranked by the percentage of students who achieved a Grade 5 or above in both English Language and Maths GCSEs.

  • Avanti House High School: 80%
  • Pinner High School: 75%
  • Sacred Heart Language College: 75%
  • Salvatorian Roman Catholic College: 71%
  • Nower Hill High School: 69%

Further Education

The percentage of pupils staying in full-time education or directly entering employment.

  • Avanti House High School: 98%
  • Nower Hill High School: 98%
  • Bentley Wood High School: 97%
  • Park High School: 96%
  • Rooks Heath School: 96%

These are just a few examples of Harrow state secondaries that are highly regarded for their academic standards, extracurricular offerings and supportive learning environments. Families should visit as many schools as possible to determine the best fit for their child.

Harrow School: A Brief Introduction

When it comes to secondary schools in Harrow, no guide would be complete without Harrow School

Harrow School is one of the country’s most prestigious independent boarding schools. Renowned for its prestigious reputation and centuries-old tradition of academic excellence, Harrow School has educated many of the country’s finest minds and political leaders.

Notable alumni include Priministers Winston Churchill and Stanley Baldwin, the actor Benedict Cumberbatch, the poet Lord George Gordon Byron and NASA astronaut Nicholas Patrick.

Harrow School: Reputation and Rankings

Why is Harrow School so famous?

Harrow School’s fame can be attributed to several factors. Firstly, its long and illustrious history dating back over four centuries has established it as an iconic institution in British education. 

Ever since its founding in 1572, Harrow’s commitment to academic excellence, leadership development and character education has produced generations of accomplished alumni who’ve made significant contributions to society. 

The school’s traditions, such as the iconic straw boater hats and distinctive boarding house system, further contribute to its unique identity and global recognition.

Is Harrow better than Eton?

Harrow School and Eton College are two of the leading boarding schools in the country. They’re both renowned for excellent academic standards and high social status. As you’d expect, both schools offer astounding facilities and fantastic extracurricular opportunities.

It’s hard to objectively say which school is better, as both schools have withdrawn from national league tables. They’ve declined to publish detailed GCSE and A Level results, making comparison difficult.

Discussing their decision to withdraw from league tables, Harrow states that examination results, in the context of a lifetime “do not determine success”. Instead, they wish to take the “long view” with their boys’ ambitions.

In terms of history and prestige, however, Eton might just pip Harrow. Eton College was founded in 1440 (130 years before Harrow School). It also boasts a record number of British Prime Ministers and an astoundingly influential alumni network. Indeed, no fewer than 20 Prime Ministers were schooled at Eton.

Harrow School: Admissions

Can anyone go to Harrow School?

Harrow School operates as an independent school and admits students based on a competitive admissions process. While the school welcomes applications from students of diverse backgrounds and nationalities, admission is selective and based on academic ability, character assessment and potential to contribute to the school community. 

Prospective students must demonstrate academic aptitude, personal qualities (such as leadership potential) and extracurricular achievements. They’ll also undergo an interview and assessment process.

Visit the Harrow School admissions pages for more information.

Is Harrow School hard to get into?

Harrow School’s admissions process is highly competitive, reflecting its reputation as a leading independent school. 

With a limited number of places available each year (admitting just 160 boys into Year 9 and up to 20 boys into sixth form) and a large number of applicants – gaining admission to Harrow requires strong academic performance, exemplary character and the ability to demonstrate potential for success within the school’s boarding environment. 

If you’re contemplating entrance, it’s best to book an open morning and get in touch with Harrow’s dedicated admissions team.

Harrow School: Fees and funding

Is Harrow School expensive?

As an independent boarding school with a prestigious reputation and extensive facilities, Harrow School’s tuition fees are among the highest in the UK. 

Tuition fees are just over £40,000 a year (or £16,850 a term). 

In addition to tuition fees, which cover academic instruction, boarding, laundry and meals, there may be additional costs for extracurricular activities, textbooks and personal expenses. 

While Harrow’s fees may be high, the school offers a range of scholarships and bursaries to support talented students from diverse backgrounds.

Is Harrow School worth it?

So, is Harrow School really worth it?

Ultimately, this will come down to your circumstances, and how much you value the social prestige that a Harrow School education brings. 

It certainly provides an unparalleled educational experience, not just in terms of exam results, but amazing extracurricular activities and a strong sense of community. The school’s distinguished history, esteemed reputation and extensive alumni network can provide valuable opportunities for career progression far beyond graduation. 

However, families should carefully consider the significant financial investment and weigh the benefits of attending Harrow against other educational options to assess if it aligns with your values and aspirations for your child. 

Are you considering secondary school options in Harrow?

If you’re currently researching secondary schools in Harrow for your child, get in touch with our expert team at Achieve Learning.  We offer bespoke 11 Plus tuition (from both Year 4 and Year 5), realistic mock exams and academic consultancy.

With a proven track record of securing entrance to the country’s most prestigious secondary schools (both state-funded and independent), we’ll help your child achieve their academic goals.

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The Best Secondary Schools in London: Your Ultimate Guide

Navigating secondary school choices in London can feel like a daunting task. With so many exceptional institutions dotting the city, selecting the right one can be overwhelming. 

Each school boasts unique strengths and teaching philosophies, whether it’s an academic powerhouse securing entrance to top-tier universities, an innovative hub pioneering fresh curricular approaches, or a nurturing sanctuary prioritising students’ holistic well-being.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll introduce the top ten secondary schools as ranked by the 2024 Sunday Times Parent Power Guide. We’ll also discuss the best London boroughs for secondary schooling and the schools with the most competitive applications.

So join us as we unveil London’s best secondary schools – and make choices for your child with confidence.

What are the best secondary schools in London? 

There are some truly fantastic secondary schools spread throughout London. In the latest Sunday Times 2024 Parent Power Guide (widely seen as the most authoritative UK league table), Wilson’s School in Wallington led the pack as the top state secondary. To help you explore the best schools in the capital, here is the complete top ten list.

The top ten state secondary schools in London

1. Wilson’s School (Wallington)

Wilson’s School in Wallington stands as a testament to centuries of academic tradition and excellence. Founded in 1615 by Royal Charter, it boasts a rich history steeped in educational heritage. 

This boys’ grammar school has consistently maintained high academic standards, carving a niche for itself among London’s esteemed institutions. Beyond academics, Wilson’s offers a vibrant array of extracurricular activities, nurturing well-rounded individuals ready to navigate the challenges of the modern world.

2. Queen Elizabeth’s School (Barnet)

In the leafy suburb of Barnet, Queen Elizabeth’s School stands as a beacon of scholarly excellence since its establishment in 1573. This distinguished boys’ grammar is renowned for its rigorous curriculum (going above and beyond the national curriculum), which has produced generations of high achievers. With a strong emphasis on STEM subjects, the institution fosters a culture of innovation and intellectual curiosity.

3. The Henrietta Barnett School (Hampstead Garden Suburb)

Established in 1911 (and named after the eminent social reformer, Henrietta Barnett), The Henrietta Barnett School has consistently upheld a legacy of academic excellence. 

Its selective admissions process ensures a cohort of motivated students eager to excel in their studies. But beyond exams, the school fosters a culture of holistic development, offering extracurricular activities ranging from sports to community service, empowering young women to become leaders of tomorrow.

4. St Olave’s Grammar School (Orpington)

Tucked away in Orpington (in the London Borough of Bromley), St Olave’s Grammar School stands as a bastion of academic achievement since its inception in the sixteenth century. 

Like all the schools on this list, this boys’ grammar school is renowned for its rigorous academic standards and competitive admissions process. With a commitment to nurturing well-rounded individuals, St Olavians are encouraged to strive for excellence, embodying the school motto: “To be, rather than to seem.”

5. The Tiffin Girls’ School (Kingston)

In picturesque Kingston upon Thames, The Tiffin Girls’ School epitomises excellence in education. Established in 1880, it has remained at the forefront of academic achievement, providing a nurturing environment for young women to thrive. 

From STEM subjects to the arts, Tiffin Girls’ empowers its students to explore their passions and realise their full potential, preparing them to make meaningful contributions to society.

6. Tiffin School (Kingston)

Situated alongside its counterpart, The Tiffin School for Boys has upheld a tradition of academic excellence and holistic development since its founding in 1880. 

With a focus on STEM subjects and humanities, Tiffin School offers a rigorous academic curriculum complemented by an “extraordinary breadth” of extracurricular activities. Here, young men are inspired to cultivate their interests, embrace challenges, and emerge as well-rounded individuals.

7. The Latymer School (Edmonton)

Nestled in the vibrant community of Edmonton, The Latymer School has maintained its strong roots in the local community since its inception in 1624.

This co-educational grammar prides itself on its inclusive ethos and commitment to nurturing the talents of all students. Expect a holistic educational experience that fosters intellectual curiosity and personal growth; embracing diversity and forging lifelong connections.

8. St Michael’s Catholic Grammar School (Finchley)

In the heart of Finchley, St Michael’s Catholic Grammar School stands as a testament to academic excellence imbued with Catholic values. Established in 1908, it nurtures the spiritual, moral and intellectual development of its students. 

With a rigorous curriculum complemented by a rich array of extracurricular activities, St Michael’s fosters a supportive environment where young women flourish academically and personally. 

9. Newstead Wood School (Orpington)

Established in 1957, Newstead Wood School has garnered a well-earned reputation for its high academic standards and supportive learning environment prioritising “warmth and kindness”. Here, young women are encouraged to explore their interests, embrace challenges and aspire to be the best they can be.

10. Sutton Grammar School (Sutton)

Since its founding in 1899, Sutton Grammar School has prided itself on a tradition of excellence and commitment to providing a well-rounded education. Here, young men are inspired to pursue their passions, push the boundaries of their knowledge and emerge as confident, compassionate individuals.

To explore more leading grammar schools in the capital and beyond, read out guides to the best grammars in London and the wider UK, as well as a complete list of grammar schools without a catchment area.

Which London borough has the best state secondary schools?

If there’s one borough in London with the best state secondary schools, it’s the borough of Sutton. 

Indeed, the borough of Sutton contains the town of Wallington, home to Wilson’s School (the best school in the entire country) as well as Wallington High School for Girls and Wallington County Grammar School

You’ll also find several other leading grammar schools in this distinguished borough, including Sutton Grammar School and Nonsuch High School for Girls.

Which area has the best schools in London?

As you can see from the list above, the top ten secondary schools in London are spread throughout the capital.

That said, South West London is famed as the area with the best schools in London.

It’s a historically wealthy area, meaning lots of schools have long roots in the local community. In addition, there are plenty of green spaces and room for beautiful school campuses. 

Within South West London, Kingston upon Thames and neighbouring Richmond upon Thames stand out for their density of exceptional schools.

As well as the Tiffin School and the Tiffin Girls’ School listed above, notable schools include The Kingston Academy, Grey Court School, Waldegrave School and Orleans Park School. These secondaries consistently achieve outstanding academic results and provide students with a diverse range of extracurricular activities, sports and arts programs. 

What is the hardest school to get into in London?

The London Oratory School is widely regarded as one of the most challenging schools to gain admission to in London. It’s a Roman Catholic school that describes itself as “trad but quirky”. 

With a highly selective admissions process and a reputation for academic excellence, the school receives a large number of applications each year. It generally receives about 1,000 applications for 160 places. As a result, competition for admission is fierce.

Similarly, Henrietta Barnett School is known for its rigorous entrance examinations and high demand for places – with over 2,000 applicants for around 100 places in recent years!

Queen Elizabeth’s School in Barnet is another example of a highly competitive school, with a significant number of applicants competing for a limited number of places due to its exceptional academic reputation and impressive alumni achievements. 

As a rule of thumb, the higher up our top ten list, the greater the prestige, and the greater competition for places you’ll face.

Private schools in London: a quick overview

If you’re considering private as well as state schools in London for your child, here’s a quick guide to the most prestigious institutions.

What is the most prestigious secondary school in London?

Although just outside London, Eton College is the most prestigious secondary school near the capital – attended by many leading London residents.

Founded in 1440, Eton boasts a long history of academic excellence and counts numerous British Prime Ministers, members of the royal family, and prominent figures in various fields among its alumni.

Within the M25, leading private schools like Westminster School and St. Paul’s School for Boys have also earned reputations for academic rigour, impressive facilities and a tradition of producing successful graduates.

To better understand their prestige within the London education landscape, read our guide to the best private schools in the capital as well as the best private schools in the UK.

What is the best private secondary school in London?

As ranked by the Sunday Times Parent Power League Table, St. Paul’s Girls’ School is the best private secondary school in London. 

In its relatively short history (dating back to its founding in 1904), the school has consistently maintained high academic standards and a commitment to providing an exceptional educational experience. 

St. Paul’s Girls’ School is known for its rigorous academic curriculum, supportive learning environment and emphasis on extracurricular activities such as music, drama and sports. The school consistently achieves outstanding exam results and offers students access to state-of-the-art facilities and fabulous clubs including feminist society, dissection society and improv club (to name just a few!).

What is the best private secondary school in the UK?

St. Paul’s Girls’ School is ranked the top private secondary school not only in London but also in the entire UK.

Renowned for its academic excellence, the school consistently achieves impressive results alongside small class sizes, experienced teachers and a wide range of extracurricular opportunities. 

The school’s genuine commitment to fostering intellectual curiosity, creativity and critical thinking skills prepares students for success in higher education and beyond – making it a top choice for families seeking the best private education.

Are you applying to secondary schools in London for your child?

If you’re preparing your child for secondary entrance exams, our expert academic tutors can help. With a proven track record of securing places at the country’s best schools, we provide bespoke 11 Plus tuition, mock tests, academic consultancy services and more. Get in touch today to find out how we can help.

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London Private Schools: Your Guide to the Best Schools, Results and Fees

Welcome to our comprehensive guide to London’s private schools, your go-to resource for parents seeking the best educational opportunities for their children. 

From renowned institutions such as St Paul’s Girls’ School in Hammersmith to Westminster School in the heart of the city, we delve into the top ten private schools, known for their academic excellence and holistic approach to pupils’ development.

We’ll also provide insights into the best private colleges in London, how much you can expect to pay for private school and address the age-old question… is a private school education really worth it? 

London private schools: an introduction

What are the best London private schools?

London boasts some of the best private schools in the entire country. These elite institutions are spread throughout the capital, all offering a truly exceptional education. In The Sunday Times 2024 Parent Power rankings, the ever-impressive St Paul’s Girls’ School (based in Hammersmith) came out on top. 

But there’s stiff competition… here are the top ten private schools in London.

1. St Paul’s Girls’ School, Hammersmith

In the vibrant borough of Hammersmith, St Paul’s Girls’ School stands as a beacon of academic excellence and empowerment for young women. Established in 1904, it has maintained a distinguished reputation for nurturing intellectual curiosity and fostering independent thinking. 

With a commitment to academic rigour and an array of extracurricular activities, St Paul’s Girls’ School provides a supportive environment where students thrive academically and personally. Its illustrious alumni network includes trailblazers in various fields, such as novelist Dodie Smith and archaeologist Beatrice de Cardi.

St Paul’s Girls’ School GCSE and A Level results >

2. St Paul’s School, Barnes

Set against the picturesque backdrop of Barnes, St Paul’s School has led the way in terms of academic excellence since its establishment in 1509. This distinguished boys’ independent school combines tradition with innovation. 

With a rigorous academic curriculum and a strong emphasis on character development, St Paul’s School nurtures young men to become leaders of tomorrow. Its historic campus and rich heritage serve as a backdrop for inspiring intellectual curiosity and fostering a sense of community.

St Paul’s School GCSE and A Level results >

3. North London Collegiate School, Edgware

Situated in Edgware, North London Collegiate School (NLCS) is a testament to the power of private education. Founded in 1850, NLCS has a long-standing tradition of providing outstanding and inspiring education to girls. 

The school’s commitment to academic rigour is complemented by a diverse range of extracurricular activities, fostering holistic development and personal growth. With a forward-thinking approach and a supportive community, NLCS empowers its students to excel academically and make meaningful contributions to society.

North London Collegiate School GCSE and A Level results >

4. City of London School for Girls, Barbican

In the heart of Barbican, the City of London School for Girls (CLSG) epitomises excellence in education. Established in 1894, it has upheld a tradition of academic success and female empowerment. They describe themselves as “intellectually edgy, kind and unstuffy”.

With a diverse curriculum and an “extraordinary array of co-curricular opportunities”, CLSG provides a nurturing environment where students can explore their interests and realise their full potential. 

City of London School for Girls GCSE and A Level results >

5. King’s College School, Wimbledon

Founded in 1829, King’s College School combines a rich heritage with a modern outlook. 

With a focus on academic rigour, character development and extracurricular enrichment, King’s College School empowers students to become well-rounded individuals poised for success. 

The school offers a “true education in Mind, Spirit and Heart”. Indeed, its peaceful leafy campus and strong sense of community foster a spirit of curiosity, collaboration and lifelong learning among its students.

King’s College School GCSE and A Level results >

6. Westminster School, Westminster

In the centre of London, Westminster School is one of the country’s leading independent schools with a history dating back over 900 years. 

Founded in 1179 (yes, you read that right, 1179), it has a distinguished tradition of academic excellence, intellectual curiosity and social responsibility. Westminster offers a rigorous academic curriculum that’s complemented by its stunning campus and vibrant community.

Westminster School GCSE and A Level results >

7. Godolphin and Latymer, Hammersmith

Godolphin and Latymer School creates students who are “warm, lively and grounded in the real world”. The school boasts excellent academic results, with students pursuing a mixture of GCSE, A Level and International Baccalaureate qualifications. 

Girls “freely exchange ideas and opinions” with a culture of responsible risk-taking and resilience encouraged. Its inclusive community and supportive ethos empowers students to achieve their full potential and make a positive impact on the world.

Godolphin and Latymer GCSE, IB and A Level results >

8. Highgate School, Highgate

With a rich heritage spanning over four centuries, Highgate School (previously Sir Roger Cholmeley’s School at Highgate) is a leading co-educational private school. Founded in 1565, just over 1,400 students currently attend.

The school is also a founding partner of the London Academy of Excellence (featuring in our next section on London’s best colleges). Indeed, a charitable ethos runs through everything the school does, extending to the “Chrysalis Partnership” supporting 26 state schools across London.

Highgate School GCSE and A Level results >

9. City of London School, Central London

The City of London School (or CLS) couldn’t get more central. It sits on the banks of the River Thames, right opposite the Tate Modern Gallery and next to the iconic Millennium Bridge. It receives funding from the City’s Cash, an 800 year-old endowment fund managed by the City of London Corporation.

Founded in 1834, the school provides a dynamic learning environment that nurtures intellectual curiosity and fosters personal growth. Its vibrant community and supportive ethos empowers students to excel academically and grow into responsible global citizens.

City of London School GCSE and A Level results >

10. James Allen’s Girls’ School, Dulwich

James Allen’s Girls’ School (Dulwich) is the second oldest independent girls’ school in the country – founded in 1741.

With such a rich history, the school combines tradition with a forward-thinking curriculum. It caters to just over 1,100 students aged four to eighteen. In the Headmistresses’ welcome, girls’ opportunities to “flourish in an environment where there is no limit to their ambitions” are championed, alongside the school’s happy, diverse and dynamic community.

James Allen’s Girls’ School GCSE and A Level results >

What are the best private colleges in London?

In the UK, the term “college” can refer to different educational institutions depending on the context. 

Generally speaking, there are three types:

  • Further Education (FE) College: These institutions provide post-16 education, offering a wide range of vocational courses, A-levels and apprenticeships.
  • Sixth Form College: These colleges specifically cater to students aged 16 to 18 and mainly offer A-level courses.
  • Independent Schools: Some prestigious private schools, like Eton, Harrow, or Winchester, use the term “college” in their name. This is mainly down to tradition and historic prestige. However, they operate similarly to other private schools, offering education from primary through secondary levels.

The best sixth-form colleges in the capital feature a mix of free and fee-paying education. Here, you can not only expect stellar academic results, but strong pastoral care and advice for university and career progression.

Here are the best sixth-form colleges in London and their most recent A Level results.

Which area of London has the best private schools?

If there’s one area of London with the best private schools, it’s got to be South West London

Out of the top ten London private schools listed above, four are in South West London. This includes St Paul’s Girls’ School and Godolphin and Latymer in Hammersmith, St Paul’s Boys’ School in Barnes and King’s College School in Wimbledon.

Having said that, our top ten list features schools across the capital. Westminster School and City of London School for Girls are central, whereas Highgate School and the North London Collegiate School are based in North London and “JAGs” is South East. So no matter where you’re based in London, there are top private schools nearby!

You’ll also find some fantastic private schools just outside London. Some of the most prestigious and well-respected schools in the country, including Eton College, Harrow and Wycombe Abbey are all within easy reach of the capital. 

London private schools: results

Is going to private school in London worth it?

We’ve just seen some of the best private schools London has to offer. But they do come with some pretty hefty fees.

So is sending your child to private school in London worth it?

Private school education offers many advantages, chief among them an ongoing social and professional network, and the extra care and attention that small class sizes bring

With exceptional facilities and a broader range of extracurricular activities compared to state counterparts, your child will enjoy many exciting experiences they simply wouldn’t otherwise. The supportive and nurturing environment also helps create a strong work ethic and lifelong love of learning that will (hopefully!) see your child through university and beyond.

Ultimately, whether a private school education in London is “worth it” hinges on assessing the benefits, costs and alignment with your child’s educational needs. 

If you’re exploring options, there are many outstanding London Grammar Schools that don’t charge tuition fees. For instance, Wilson’s School (a boys’ Grammar, based in Wallington) led the Sunday Times rankings for School of the Year, both for London and the whole country. 

To find out more about Grammars in the capital, take a look at our complete list of Grammars in London as well as the top ten rankings both for London and the whole UK.

Do children do better at private schools?

Let’s dive into the numbers and talk about academic results.

In short, yes.

Children attending private schools are more than twice as likely to secure the best grades at A Level, compared to the state sector. 

In official figures released by Ofqual after 2023’s exams, 47.4% of private school students achieved A or A* grades. In comprehensive schools, this number dropped to 22%. This dropped even lower for state further education colleges, at 14.2%. For pupils attending state academies, 25.4% achieved As or A*s.

So yes, children do perform better academically at private schools.

However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that academic achievement isn’t the sole measure of a child’s success or well-being. Factors such as socioeconomic background, parental involvement, private tuition and individual motivation also impact educational outcomes. 

Is it worth sending a child to private school?

Sending your child to a private school is a decision that requires careful consideration of various factors, including educational philosophy, your financial resources and your child’s needs. 

So ask yourself… what do you value above all else for your child’s education? Some families prioritise academic excellence and believe the additional resources and personalised attention offered by private schools are fundamental to their child’s success. Others place greater emphasis on factors such as inclusivity, diversity, pastoral support or specialisms (like maths or language colleges), which may be found in both private and state schools.

While private schools offer many advantages, such as smaller class sizes, specialised programs and enhanced extracurricular opportunities, it’s essential to evaluate whether these benefits justify the costs. Essentially, can you afford private school tuition fees without compromising your family’s financial stability or long-term goals?

If you’re making this important decision for your child, it’s best to visit as many schools as possible. This will help you get a feel for different environments and educational approaches.

To kickstart your research, read our guide to the best private schools in the UK as well as a complete list of Grammar Schools that don’t have a catchment area.

London private schools: fees

How much does private school cost in London?

Private school fees in London can vary massively depending on factors such as the school’s reputation, location, facilities and curriculum offerings. 

On average, tuition fees for day schools range from £15,000 to £30,000 per year. For boarding schools, the costs can be substantially higher, exceeding £40,000 annually. 

With this in mind, it’s essential for families to carefully research and consider their budget, before committing to private school options in London. 

Here are the fees charged by each school listed above, with links to their fees and scholarships pages. 

How much is Eton per year?

Eton College, one of the most prestigious and exclusive private schools in the UK, commands some of the highest tuition fees in the country. 

As such, the annual fees for attending Eton College are just over £45,000 for boarding students. Parents might also face additional costs for extracurricular activities and outings, trips abroad, uniforms and other related expenses.

However, it’s important to note that Eton, like many private schools, offers scholarships and financial aid to eligible students based on merit or need. Families interested in Eton College should contact the admissions office for the most up-to-date fee information and details on available financial assistance.

How do I pay for private school in the UK?

If you’re considering private school in London for your child, it’s time to think: can you afford private school?

Paying for private school education in the UK requires careful financial planning and assessing various funding options. 

To cover the costs, here are a few avenues to explore:

  • Personal Savings: Some families opt to pay tuition fees directly from savings or investments, allocating a portion of their budget to cover educational expenses.
  • Scholarships and Bursaries: Many private schools offer scholarships and bursaries to students demonstrating academic excellence, talent in sports or the arts, or financial need. 
  • Payment Plans: Schools may offer flexible payment plans that allow families to spread out tuition payments over several months or years, easing the financial burden.
  • Educational Loans: Financial institutions may offer loans tailored to cover private school tuition fees. Families should carefully review loan terms and interest rates before committing to borrowing.
  • Employer Assistance: Some employers provide assistance or benefits to employees to help cover the cost of their children’s education, including private school tuition fees.

Are you sending your child to private school in London?

A private school education in the UK offers unparalleled opportunities for academic growth, personal development and enrichment. While the costs associated with private education are significant, there are various funding options available to help widen access to these prestigious institutions.

If you’re applying for private schools in London for your child, get in touch with our expert academic coaches today. With a proven track record of securing places at the country’s leading schools, we offer 11 Plus exams tuition, mock tests and consultancy services, to give your child the best chances of success.

London Private Schools: Your Guide to the Best Schools, Results and Fees Read More »

What are the Best Private Schools in the UK?

Welcome to your comprehensive guide to the best private schools in the UK.

With over 2,500 private schools in the country, navigating the varied landscape of secondary education can be a daunting task. With so many schools to choose from, how can you know which is best? And more importantly, which private school is best for your child?

In this article, we’ll present the top ten private schools in the country and answer parents’ most pressing questions. Whether you’re looking for schools with historic prestige or modern establishments at the cutting edge of education, we’ve got you covered.

What is a private school in the UK?

Private schools are essentially any school that isn’t funded by the government. This usually means parents are responsible for paying their child’s tuition fees.

Yearly fees can range anywhere from £3,000 to £50,000 or more. Most schools offer limited bursaries and scholarships to help with these costs, but competition is understandably fierce.

Because they aren’t funded by the government, private schools have more autonomy surrounding what they teach (although they’ll still meet National Curriculum requirements). They often feature smaller class sizes and impressive facilities such as modern science labs, arts spaces, sports provision, beautiful buildings and more.

What are the best private schools in the UK?

In the Sunday Times Parent Power Guide for 2024, many private schools maintained their stellar reputation for academic excellence and pastoral care. While St Paul’s Girls School in Hammersmith stayed firmly on top, it was closely followed by other leading secondaries quickly climbing the ranks.

Here are the top ten best private schools in the UK.

1. St Paul’s Girls’ School, Hammersmith, London

Found in Hammersmith, West London, St Paul’s Girls’ School has maintained its position at the top of the pile. 

Compared with many of the UK’s private schools, it’s relatively new – founded in 1904. Despite this, St Paul’s is renowned for its focus on academic excellence and creativity. 

With fees just short of £30,000 a year, it’s certainly exclusive. We’ll go into more detail on what makes this school so special later in this article.

2. Guildford High School, Surrey

Guildford High School has a distinguished reputation for academic achievement and holistic development. Established in 1888, it offers a nurturing environment where girls aged 4 to 18 can thrive academically and personally. 

The school’s historic campus includes charming Victorian buildings complemented by modern facilities, including advanced IT suites and a dedicated art studio. Fees are around £20,000 a year.

3. St Paul’s School, Barnes,  London

St Paul’s School in Barnes, Southwest London, is one of the oldest and most prestigious private schools for boys. Established in 1509, it has a rich history of academic excellence and leadership development. 

The school’s riverside campus offers stunning views of the River Thames and features historic buildings alongside modern facilities. All this prestige doesn’t come cheap however, with annual fees approaching £45,000.

4. North London Collegiate School, Edgware, London

North London Collegiate School is renowned for its academic rigour and global outlook. Founded in 1850, it’s one of the oldest girls’ schools in the UK. Fees are up to £24,000 a year.

The school has a strong tradition of fostering intellectual curiosity and social responsibility, with notable alumni including Vogue Editor Anna Wintour and suffragette Dorothy Evans.

5. City of London School for Girls, Barbican, London

City of London School for Girls offers a stimulating and exciting education for girls aged 7 to 18.

Established in 1894, it has a long history of academic excellence and creative development. The school’s urban campus features plenty of state-of-the-art facilities and a fully-equipped sports hall. Current fees are just under £24,000 a year.

6. Tonbridge School, Kent

Tonbridge School is one of the oldest and most prestigious independent boarding schools for boys aged 13 to 18. Founded in 1553, it has a distinguished history of academic excellence and sporting achievement. 

The school’s extensive campus spans 150 acres of picturesque grounds along the River Medway. Fees cost up to £46,700 a year. 

7. King’s College School, Wimbledon, London

King’s College School is an esteemed independent day school for boys aged 7 to 18. 

Established in 1829, it offers a supportive environment where students thrive academically and personally. You’ll find impressive Victorian buildings set amongst leafy grounds and a strong extracurricular programme. Fees are up to £26,000 a year.

=7. Magdalen College School, Oxford

In joint seventh place is Magdalen College School, found among the dreaming spires of Oxford. 

Established in 1480, it’s one of the leading private day schools for boys aged 7 to 18. The school boasts a mix of medieval buildings and strong pastoral care, with fees up to £22,000 a year.

9. Westminster School, London

Westminster School is one of the oldest and most prestigious private schools in the UK. 

Established in 1179, it has a distinguished history of academic excellence, intellectual inquiry and leadership development. The school’s iconic campus is situated next to Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament, offering a historic and inspiring setting for learning and personal growth. Fees are up to £30,000 a year.

10. King Edward VI High School for Girls, Birmingham

Last but not least is King Edward VI High School for Girls. Situated in Edgbaston, Birmingham, it’s a renowned independent day school for girls aged 11 to 18. 

Established in 1883, it offers a supportive environment with well-equipped classrooms, a state-of-the-art sports hall and plenty of extracurricular enrichment. Fees are up to £17,000 a year.

What are the top three private schools in the UK?

As we’ve seen above, the top three private schools in the UK are:

  1. St Paul’s Girls’ School, Hammersmith (London)
  2. Guildford High School, Guildford (Surrey)
  3. St Paul’s School, Barnes (London)

To reach the top of nationwide rankings, each school prizes high academic achievement – with some of the best A Level and GCSE performances in the country.

As well as academics, all three foster strong pride and confidence in their pupils, preparing them for the world of university, work and beyond. Of course you’d expect a bespoke education and the best facilities money can buy, (including fun second-hand thrift stores, art galleries and concert halls), but even more importantly, these schools fully support and nurture the pupils in their care.

For more excellent schools, take a look at our list of the Best Grammar Schools in the UK, Grammars without a Catchment Area and the Best Grammar Schools in London.

What is the number one private school in the UK?

St Paul’s Girls’ School in Hammersmith is officially the number one private school in the UK. In fact, it’s topped the Sunday Times league table ten times in the past eleven years.

At the heart of St Paul’s Girls’ School’s outstanding reputation is its ethos. The school has a fun and energetic atmosphere with a creative, liberal teaching ideology.

There are few rules (for instance one Year 8 Biology assignment only stipulated it “must include a cheese sandwich”) and students don’t wear uniforms. The school works alongside students to provide a bespoke education tailored to their interests.

While St Paul’s says their education isn’t “just about passing exams” – they boast some of the most impressive exam results in the country. Just over 80% of GCSE entries secured a Grade 9, while 94% achieved an 8 or a 9. At A Level, 87% achieved A*s or As while 97% were awarded Bs or higher.

What is the most elite school in the UK?

If there’s one school considered the most “elite” in the UK, it’s Eton College.

Founded in 1440, Eton is one of the most famous and exclusive private schools in the world. It occupies a stunning campus just outside the historic town of Windsor.

Over 20 British Prime Ministers attended this prestigious school (it’s not nicknamed “the chief nurse of England’s statesmen for nothing!), alongside countless other luminaries from the world of business, culture, politics and royalty. Both Prince William and Prince Harry attended Eton.

As well as famous alumni, Eton prides itself on its high number of successful Oxbridge candidates, as well as securing places at leading Russell Group and Non-Russell Group institutions (such as the University of St Andrews).

Eton is also one of the most expensive schools in the country, with yearly tuition fees starting from £42,000.

Which UK city has the best private schools?

There’s one city that’s head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to private schools – and it’s London.

Around 20% of the UK population attended a private school. But this number increases to 33% for people living in London.

London has the highest concentration of private schools too. There are over 450 private schools in Greater London, including 25 private boarding schools.

In terms of quality, no fewer than six of the Sunday Times top ten private schools are based in Greater London. So if you’re searching for a city to give your child the best possible education – you can’t go far wrong with London.

Which private schools are hardest to get into?

If you’re considering sending your child to one of the country’s leading private schools, you’re probably also wondering how hard it is to secure a place.

Most private schools set their own 11 Plus exams. There’s often an interview too. The more prestigious (and better known) the school, the harder they are to get into. You’re often competing not just with UK applicants, but students around the world.

While strong academic performance is essential, these schools also look for well-rounded pupils who are the “right fit” for their unique school environment.

Some of the hardest private schools to get into include:

  • Westminster School: Westminster School has a long history of academic excellence and a highly competitive admissions process. Its central London location, outstanding facilities and strong academic reputation make it the top choice for many families in the capital.
  • St. Paul’s School, Barnes: St. Paul’s School is renowned for its rigorous curriculum and commitment to producing well-rounded individuals. Its selective admissions process includes challenging entrance exams and interviews, attracting top-performing students.
  • Eton College: Eton College is one of the most prestigious boarding schools in the world. With a rich history, exceptional facilities and a tradition of producing leaders in various fields, admission is highly competitive.
  • Harrow School: Harrow School is known for its academic excellence, strong pastoral care and emphasis on character development. Its picturesque campus, comprehensive extracurricular offerings and esteemed alumni network contribute to its high demand and competitive admissions.
  • Wycombe Abbey School: Wycombe Abbey is one of the leading girls’ boarding schools in the UK. With a focus on academic achievement and personal growth, Wycombe Abbey attracts top-performing students from around the world.

Are you considering private school for your child?

If you’re thinking about private school for your child, get in touch with our expert academic tutors. 

With a proven track record of securing places at the most prestigious schools in the country, we can help with entrance exam preparation, academic consultancy, mock tests and more.

What are the Best Private Schools in the UK? Read More »