What Are the Top Private Schools in the UK?

The educational system of the United Kingdom is regarded as one of the greatest in the world. It is known for having a comprehensive national curriculum and a wide range of schools to choose from.

Private Schools in UK

Schools that do not receive funding from the state, but instead rely on fees paid by parents, are known as private schools. They have a broad range of rates and can cater to any age group. Private schools and independent schools are commonly used interchangeably, however independent schools are governed by a board of trustees, whereas other private schools may be administered solely by the school’s owner with no oversight from a third-party organization. 

What is the average class size at private schools in the United Kingdom?

In comparison to public schools in the United Kingdom, private schools are known for their lower-class sizes. Pupil-to-teacher ratios at private schools are substantially lower than those at public schools, which typically average between 30 and 32 students per class. Many of the best private schools have outstanding academic standards, with many pupils achieving in GCSE and A-level exams.

Types Of Private Schools

A private school might be boarding or day, single sex or co-ed. They may be classified as:

    • Pre-Prep Schools – Schools for children aged 4 to 7 years old
    • Prep Schools – Taking in youngsters aged eight up to either eleven or thirteen years old
    • Senior Schools – From the age of 11 or 13 until the age of 16 or 18, depending on whether they have a sixth form.
    • All-Through Schools – Accepting children as young as 3 and as old as 16 or 18 (depends on whether they have a Sixth form)
    • Private Sixth Form College – Accepting pupils between the ages of 16 and 18

Let’s take a look at some of the most prestigious private schools in the United Kingdom.

1. St. Paul’s Girls’ School

St Paul’s Girls’ School is an independent day school for 11 to 18-year-old girls in Brook Green, Hammersmith, West London, England.

The Worshipful Company of Mercers established St. Paul’s Girls’ School in 1904 using a part of the John Colet Foundation’s endowment to develop a girls’ school to match the boys’ school he had established in the sixteenth century. Some of the governors are representatives of Oxford, Cambridge, and London’s respective universities.

Since its founding, this institution has maintained the belief that it is vital to provide female students with the knowledge, experience, and self-assurance necessary to fulfill their full potential and become useful members of society.

2. St. Paul’s School

John Colet, the Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral, established St. Paul’s in 1509. St. Paul’s School is one of the UK’s top private schools, providing an exceptional all-round education to some of the country’s finest boys aged 7 to 18.

St Paul’s School provides a challenging academic program in addition to several extracurricular activities in the areas of music, theater, and sports. There is a strong emphasis on allowing students to follow their own interests and passions both inside and outside of the classroom. St. Paul’s School is a fast-paced atmosphere where intelligent young men flourish.

3. King’s College School Wimbledon

King's College School Wimbledon

King’s College School is a coeducational day school for boys aged 7 to 18 and females aged 16 to 18. It was founded by royal licence in 1829 and now has over 1300 students and is one of the most academically successful institutions in the world.

King’s takes pride in combining academic success with a strong focus on pastoral care and an outstanding co-curricular program for all year groups.

4. Wycombe Abbey 

Established by Dame Frances Dove it in 1896, Wycombe Abbey is one of the best boarding schools in the world for young women and a haven for those who strive for academic brilliance, compassion, and moral character.

With over 125 years of expertise in teaching young women, the school has developed a friendly but challenging learning environment that helps girls become great leaders – of both themselves and others. It’s a great place to learn from subject-specific experts who encourage students to take risks in their education. Co-curricular activities provide enough opportunity for all students to pursue their interests and discover new ones. Rather than just offering a curriculum and test syllabus, they think that genuine learning comes from developing intellectual curiosity and cultivating a passion for the subjects that will remain with the girls throughout their lives.

5. Brighton College

Brighton College was established in 1845 by William Aldwin Soames, the first independent school in Sussex. 

Brighton College is a co-educational day and boarding school with three campuses in Brighton, East Sussex: Brighton College Nursery & Pre-Prep School, Brighton College Prep School, and Brighton College. The Sunday Times named it the ‘United Kingdom School of the Decade.’

Brighton College is a prominent independent school for girls and boys from the ages of three to eighteen. With consistently high A-level and GCSE scores and a variety of extracurricular activities, The College is one of the greatest coeducational schools in the UK and is well-known for its emphasis on compassion. It also excels in other areas, including the arts, music, dance, theater, and sports.

6. Magdalen College School

William Waynflete created the school in 1480 because he saw education as a tool for social mobility and sought to create a new kind of school. MCS swiftly became one of the country’s most prestigious institutions by establishing a strong link between school and university studies.

Magdalen College School is an independent day school for boys ages 7 to 18, and a sixth-form program for the girls. About one-third of its A-level pupils go on to study at one of Oxford’s or Cambridge’s universities after graduating from the school.

Magdalen College School has an average class size of 25 for students in grades 7 through 11.

7. Sevenoaks School

Sevenoaks School is a coeducational independent day and boarding school located in Sevenoaks, Kent, that serves more than one thousand students in total. It is the second oldest non-denominational school in the United Kingdom, and it was established in 1432 by William Sevenoke.

Sevenoaks is a well-regarded institution of higher learning in the United Kingdom. Two times in a row, The Sunday Times has named Sevenoaks Independent Secondary School of the Year, and the UK Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) has given the school the rare designation of “Exceptional” for the academic achievements of its students.