The UK’s 10 Best Private Schools and 5 Most Exclusive

The UK is home to some of the best and most distinguished private schools in the world, from diverse and international colleges in the heart of metropolitan areas to historic buildings located on vast, leafy campuses in the English, Welsh, and Scottish countryside. 

You’ll also find that Britain contains some of the most exclusive and expensive colleges around, with eye-watering fees and costly additional deposits. 

Here, we’ve compiled a list of 10 of the best private schools in the UK, as well as a rundown of the 5 most exclusive institutions nationwide. 

10 of the Best Private Schools in the UK at the Moment 

Each of these 10 schools has an excellent track record when it comes to generating top-level exam results and sending pupils to the best universities in the world. 

It’s worth noting that there are plenty of top-quality state schools in the UK. If you don’t have the resources to send your child to one of the schools mentioned in this article, check out the Definitive School Guides section of our website for more in-depth info on cheaper alternatives. 

  • King’s College School, Wimbledon, London 

One of the best private schools in the UK, this renowned institution was originally founded in 1829 by George IV and his royal charter. Today it serves over 1400 pupils, guiding them towards fantastic A-Level and International Baccalaureate results and sending them to prestigious universities across the globe. 

In 2020, over 65% of Upper Sixth pupils received a 7 in their IB subjects, while over 90% of students taking A-Level subjects earned an A or A* in their subjects. In the same year, 19 pupils went on to study at Oxford while 19 went on to further study at Cambridge. 

  • Cardiff Sixth Form College, Cardiff, Wales 

Cardiff Sixth Form College caters to talented pupils between the ages of 15 and 19. The school has an excellent record when it comes to students’ A-Level results, with 98% of the Upper Sixth body achieving A or A* grades in their chosen subjects in 2021. 

Every CSFC student has the option to speak to a counsellor on a regular basis: pupils also can see an on-site nurse whenever they wish. These staff help to guide individuals through what can be a difficult transition period in their lives.  

  • Westminster School, Westminster, London 

This well-known school is situated in the grounds of the ancient Westminster Abbey, in the heart of London. Westminster School has outstanding, state-of-the-art facilities, from the vast on-site library and the gorgeous Manoukian Music Centre to the outdoor shooting gallery. 

It also has a professional-style gym for the school’s rowers, cricketers, netball and football players.  

  • Brighton College, Brighton  

This inclusive and vibrant college is spread across 3 separate campuses in Brighton and is one of the best private schools in the UK. The Sunday Times recently cited Brighton College as the 3rd best school in the country when it comes to A-Level results, and an extraordinary 49% of Upper Sixth pupils earned A* grades in the 2020 exam cycle. 

On average, 20% of Upper Sixth students receive conditional offers to study at Oxbridge on a yearly basis, with 186 pupils heading to one of those prestigious universities over the previous 6 years. 

  • Queen Ethelburga’s College, Thorpe Underwood 

You’ll find this attractive, red-brick college in Thorpe Underwood, a gorgeous estate a few miles northwest of York. Pupils have access to over 220 acres of alluring countryside while they’re studying and playing sport at Queen Ethelburga’s College. 

In 2021, 6 students received offers to Cambridge, while 3 earned offers from Oxford colleges to study a wide range of subjects. 

Those coming to Queen Ethelburga’s College from across the globe will have access to the comprehensive and excellent international support network in place at the school. This department expertly guides each student through the process of learning English as a second language. 

Queen Ethelburga’s also has an on-site, state-of-the-art Sports Village, which includes a weights room, swimming pool, fitness centre, and a BMX track. 

  • King Edward’s School, Edgbaston, Birmingham 

This boys’ school is situated near Birmingham, in the West Midlands region of England. Originally founded by King Edward VI in the mid-1500’s, nowadays this classy institution teaches boys between the ages of 11 and 18. 

Sixth Form pupils will study the International Baccalaureate, while Senior School students take at least 10 subjects at GCSE level. In 2021, 7 pupils achieved the maximum total score of 45 points in the IB, putting them in the top 0.5% of students across the globe. 20 of the Upper Sixth students earned 43 or 44 points overall. 

  • Withington Girls’ School 

You’ll find this diverse and well-known girls’ school in Fallowfield, a suburb of Manchester in the north of England. Withington welcomes girls between the ages of 7 to 18, and teaches a wide range of eclectic and challenging academic subjects to its exceptional pupils.

In 2019, over 90% of the Upper Sixth pupils achieved a B or higher in their A-Level subjects, with 32% of students earning the maximum grade of A*. A total of 9 Upper Sixth pupils went on to study at Oxford or Cambridge colleges off the back of these exceptional results. 

  • Fettes College 

This exceptional and prestigious institution is one of the best private schools in the UK. It ‘s located in the heart of Edinburgh, next to the gorgeous Royal Botanic Garden and a mile or so north-west of Stockbridge and the historic Edinburgh Castle. 

Said to be the aesthetic inspiration for JK Rowling’s Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, this stunning school has many excellent facilities, including the well-equipped sports hall, water-based astro, and state-of-the-art classrooms. 

On average, Fettes Upper Sixth students achieve an IB result of 38.5 points or above (around 8 or 9 points higher than the current worldwide average). 

  • Oxford International College 

This Sixth Form College is situated in the centre of Oxford, next to Magdalen College and the famous Iffley Road Sports Centre, the site of Sir Roger Bannister’s four-minute mile in May, 1954. 

The school itself has an excellent academic record when it comes to A-Level results: in 2020, 98% of Upper Sixth pupils earned A* or A grades in their exams. 50% of the students who applied to Oxford colleges received an offer, a percentage way above the national average Oxbridge acceptance rate.  

  • The Perse School 

The Perse School offers a range of courses and learning opportunities to boys and girls between the ages of 3 and 18. Its campus is located in the south of Cambridge, just along the road from Homerton College and a short walk away from Cambridge University’s Botanic Gardens. 

In 2020, over 90% of Upper Sixth Form pupils earned an A grade or higher in their A-Level subject exams, with 21 students heading to study courses at Cambridge colleges, 17 going to Oxford, and one crossing the pond to study at Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts. 

5 of the Most Exclusive Schools in the UK

In terms of yearly fees and selection policy, the following 5 schools are some of the most exclusive in the country. 

  • Brighton College 

As well as being one of the best institutions in the country when it comes to academic results, Brighton College is also one of the most expensive boarding schools around. Overseas students are expected to pay upwards of £18,000 per term when they get into Senior School or Sixth Form. 

  • Cheltenham Ladies College 

This exclusive school caters to girls between the ages of 11 and 18 and is located in the heart of Cheltenham, across the road from Imperial Square and Gardens and down the street from the gorgeous Montpellier Gardens. 

You’ll find that enrolling in this exceptional school comes at a substantial price though: Senior School boarders will have to pay upwards of £13,000 per term, while day pupils will pay just under £9,000 per term. If you join Cheltenham Ladies College for the two years of Sixth Form, you’ll have to pay even more money. 

  • Oxford International College 

If you want to join Oxford International College, you’ll need to be prepared to shell out a lot of money for the A-Level cycle. The 24-month programme that starts in September and runs through to June will cost £23,970 in tuition fees and £24,210 in boarding fees for the 2021/22 academic year. 

If you want to enrol in the 12-month iGCSE programme, you’ll need to pay £24,990 for tuition and an extra £25,698 for boarding costs. 

  • Eton College 

Perhaps the most famous institution when it comes to elite and exclusive private schools in the UK, Eton is situated just north of the River Thames, a mile or so north of the historic Windsor town centre. Eton has educated a grand total of 20 British Prime Ministers, and sends a substantial number of its Upper Sixth student body to Oxford and Cambridge colleges each and every year. 

However, if you don’t receive any financial aid or scholarship of any kind to study at Eton, you’ll need to pay upwards of £14,000 for each one of the three terms in an academic year, making this school one of the most exclusive and expensive in the country. 

  • Harrow School 

This elite college is located in the town of Harrow in Greater London, a mile or so north of Wembley and several kilometres southwest of Edgware. For the 2020/21 academic year, fees were £14,200 for each term, with overseas applicants required to supply an extra deposit of £15,000 before they join for the year.  

Increase Your Chances of Getting into Oxbridge by Enrolling in One of These Schools

If you like the look of any of these schools, but don’t have the funds or resources to enroll, you can contact your preferred college of choice to find out more about their financial aid and scholarship options. 

You can also increase your chances of getting into your first-choice university by booking a consultation with one of our advisors or tutors at A&J Education today. Our expert mentors are well-placed to help bolster your university application and guide you through the challenging college admissions process.

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