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.