With the start of a new year upon us, many parents are looking to the future and weighing up options for the future education of their children. The UK boasts an extensive list of top class educational institutions – some of which are amongst the best in the world. With this in mind, deciding where to start looking with regards to schooling can be somewhat daunting to say the least. To help you get started with your search, we have collated our own Top Ten of the UK’s best private schools:
10. Dulwich College, London
Founded in 1619, Dulwich College moved to it’s current location on Dulwich Common in 1870. Attracting pupils from across the globe, Dulwich College is home to over 1300 boys, with the majority being day-pupils from the Greater London area. The College aims to develop the natural talents and abilities of each pupil. Achievements in both academic and extra-curricular activities are exceptional, namely due to the curriculum which has no boundaries for learning, and teachers that inspire a love for learning and developing thought. Pupils regularly participate in language Olympiads, the British mathematics challenges and debating. Sporting excellence is also frequently seen at Dulwich, with pupils often reaching national and country level for rowing, cricket and cycling. The school also boasts a strong Combined Cadet Force (CCF) and excellent Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) achievements.
9. Wellington College, Berkshire
Independent, Intellectual, Inspired, Inclusive and Individual are the words Wellington College uses to describe itself. Located an hour from London in over 400 acres of Berkshire countryside, Wellington is home to over 1050 pupils aged 13-18, of which over 80% are boarders in one of the sixteen boarding houses. The school aims to provide a transformative experience, developing to the full each of the pupils “eight aptitudes”. Pupils are supported through an excellent pastoral care structure, centred on the houses where each pupil is valued as an individual. Wellington produces excellent results year after year, with pupils demonstrating excellent knowledge across a wide range of subjects. Wellington is renowned for it’s exceptional sporting abilities, frequently competing in national competitions for hockey, golf, shooting, triathlon, equestrian and cricket (to name but a few...!).
8. Radley College, Oxfordshire
Founded in 1847, Radley College is set on a beautiful 800- acre estate four miles from Oxford. Radley states that “Each boy is encouraged, challenged and expected to become self-aware, confident, caring and independent young man such that when he leaves, he will be ready for the world beyond school…”. Art, Music and Drama all have a strong focus and the Chapel remains at the heart of what the school does, encouraging pupils to explore the spiritual as well as the material. In 2017, 89.92% of pupils gained A-Levels at A*, A or B grade. Radley boasts some exceptional sporting facilities including a 25metre swimming pool with diving pit, 5 squash courts, tennis courts, athletics track, 2 full size all weather pitches and a golf course.
All 690 pupils are full boarders. There are 10 boarding houses, creating a strong sense of community. First years are in cubicles within a shared dormitory, with pupils in second year and above benefiting from individual study bedrooms.
7. Winchester College, Berkshire
The longest standing institution on our list, Winchester College has been continually providing education since it’s foundation in 1382. The school aims to encourage, train and form confident, enthusiastic and well-rounded young adults who have a strong ethical sense and respect for life. Pupils enjoy an excellent, distinctive curriculum, which encourages intellectual curiosity, and as a result achieve exceptional results in national examinations. Extracurricular activities also feature prominently and to great success amongst the pupils. In recent years four rowers represented Great Britain, the chapel choir has recorded Stanford music and more than 40 pupils have reached the finals of the Mathematics Olympiad. Winchester is a full boarding school, operating seven days a week during term time.
6. Marlborough College, Wiltshire
Founded in 1843, Marlborough College occupies an extensive campus at the edge of the market town of Marlborough, Wiltshire. The College aims to guide pupils towards the discovery and development of their abilities and talents through both an academic curriculum and a broad range of extra-curricular activities. A mixed school, with over 900 pupils, Marlborough has an excellent reputation for high academic performance and strong results in national exams. With a curriculum designed to instil a love of learning, Marlborough seeks to offer all pupils the opportunity to develop talents, opinions and thoughts of their own. The college also boasts impressive sporting credentials and facilities including several all-weather pitches, several acres of grass pitches for hockey, rugby and cricket, a golf driving range, a shooting range and an top of the range indoor pool.
5. Tonbridge School
Set in 150 acres of Kentish countryside, Tonbridge has been providing top class education since the 16th century. Tonbridge aims to provide a caring and enlightening environment, in which the talents of each individual can flourish. The School has an excellent academic reputation, and pupils are encouraged to be curious and creative, resulting in exceptional results in national exams. The ISI recently stated that pupils “exhibit a very strong thirst for knowledge and a genuine desire to develop thinking skills…”. Pastoral care is of the utmost importance to the school, with an especially strong house system providing an excellent boarding experience for the boys. Extra-curricular activities are encouraged with success in music, drama and a variety of sports.
4. Westminster School, London
Located within a world heritage site, Westminster School has a rich history in educating the scholars of the future. Westminster prides itself on being “a place that embraces learning, encourages deep thinking and takes great pleasure in the pursuit of knowledge and understanding…”. Of the 740 pupils, approximately a quarter board in six the on-site houses.
The school has an excellent reputation for academic results, with pupils of a young age showing knowledge and understand far beyond their years. The most able pupils work at levels more consistent with early university work. Success is not just limited to academic pursuits; the school has won national tennis and rowing competitions, pupils regularly attain places in national orchestras and drama is strong across the age groups
3. St Pauls, London
Educating gifted boys for over 500 years, St Pauls in west London aims to provide an outstanding intellectual, physical and spiritual education. Last year’s ISI report praised the school stating, “Pupils grow into confident young adults as a direct result of the autonomy of the school provides them and the highest levels of pastoral support.”. Whilst boasting impressive exam results each year, St. Pauls prides itself that teaching is not limited by the national curriculum and regularly covers much broader subjects to develop the pupil’s intellect. Providing over 40 societies and activities, success at St Paul’s is not limited to the classroom, with everything from chess, debating, engineering, film making and even a space society on offer, there is plenty to stimulate and develop young minds.
2. Eton College, Windsor
The King’s College of Our Lady of Eton beside Windsor, commonly known as Eton College, was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI. The school’s aims are to promote the best habits of independent thought and learning in the pursuit of excellence to enable all boys to discover their strengths and to make the most of their talents. The Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) praised Eton during it’s 2016 inspection, stating “The school very successfully fulfils it’s aims to achieving excellence, encouraging innovation and supporting partnership within and outside the school community.” Academic excellence is evident at Eton, with 94.69% of all pupils gaining A-Levels with A*, A or B grade in 2017. Alongside this, art, music, drama and sporting achievements are also incredibly well represented across the school, with pupils encouraged to take up a wide range of interests and activities. With over 1300 pupils, Eton is one of the larger institutions, however, the size does not in any way comprise the quality of the education on offer.
1. Harrow School, London
Just 20 minutes from central London, Harrow sits on over 300 acres of conservation areas, a golf course and buildings of architectural and historical interest. Founded in 1572 under a royal charter from Queen Elizabeth I, Harrow boasts an impressive list of alumni including Churchill, Palmerston, Byron and Lord Rayleigh and attracts pupils from all over the world. Harrow believes that it’s all-boys, full boarding structure allows it to use the whole day productively, from lessons to games, groups & societies to extra subjects all fitting seamlessly into the timetable.
Academic life at Harrow encourages intellectual curiosity and independent thought through a balanced curriculum to broaden knowledge and understanding. Throughout the house system, all boys are encouraged to participate in sporting activities and competitions, building teamwork and leadership skills.
For more information on any of these schools, we recommend visiting the School website and the Independent School Inspectorate reports for each (freely available on the ISI website). If you would be interested in private tuition to guide your child towards entrance examinations for any of these, or another school, please contact us via email – email@example.com