10 best private schools in London and where to live nearby

10 best private schools in London and where to live nearby

Discover the 10 best private schools in London according to the 2023 League Tables for A-Levels results. With each school, we suggest family-friendly areas close by, and provide resident reviews of available homes there. Find the perfect school for your child and the ideal home for your family, all in one go!

London maintains one of the UK’s highest concentrations of the best private schools in the country. Our top 10 list below is based on the percentage of A or A* grades achieved at A-Level in 2023. You can view the full 2023 London Independent Schools league tables here.

Browse through the top 10 schools below. Attached to each ranking is a dedicated area guide for more information and new homes available nearby.

*Please note that in 2021, students did not sit public examinations due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Grades were awarded by teachers according to strictly controlled internal assessment criteria.

Best private schools in London

1. St Paul’s Girls School

87.83% A-A*

Going straight to the head of the class, the top position of the best private schools in London for 2023 is St Paul’s Girls’ School in Brook Green, Hammersmith. The day school for girls achieved an impressive 87.83% A or A* for A-Levels in 2023.

St Paul’s was founded in 1904 as a complement to the boys’ school that dates back to the sixteenth century. Gustav Holst and Herbert Howells were former Directors of Music at the school. Famous alumni of the school include the former Acting Leader of the Labour Party Harriet Harman, comedian Jennifer Saunders and actors Rachel Weisz and Misha Barton.


Ideally located for parents of children at St Paul’s Girls School, Hammersmith combines all the benefits of convenient access to central London, the City and the M4 with a leafy, relaxed environment. Its residential side streets and high-end newer developments sit comfortably alongside its excellent shopping and leisure options.

Read more about Hammersmith ?>


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2. City of London School for Girls

85.63% A-A*

A close runner-up, and located in the heart of the City of London’s popular and iconic Barbican development, City of London School for Girls is home to 671 day pupils aged 11 to 18. The school achieved 85.63% A-A* grades at A-level in 2023, with a near-perfect 94.90% achieving A or A* at GCSE level.

City of LondonCity of London
If you’re after a home with bags of character in a peaceful neighbourhood, look away now. The City of London or, ‘Square Mile’, made for those who want to work and play hard. The streets given over to glossy high-rise buildings and very little Read more about City of London ?>


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3. St Paul’s School

85.10% A-A*

Third on our list is St Paul’s School in Barnes, South West London. The school posted a 85.10% rate of A or A* results in 2023. St Paul’s sits on a leafy 43-acre site beside the Thames.

Despite its location, the school is connected to St Paul’s Cathedral, having been founded by the Dean of the Cathedral in 1509. Notable former pupils (known as ‘Old Paulines’) include diarist Samuel Pepys, writer G.K. Chesterton and the former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne.

Borough of Richmond upon ThamesBorough of Richmond upon Thames
Consistently voted one of Britain’s happiest places to live, Richmond Upon Thames is an affluent residential district. And why wouldn’t its residents be smiling from ear to ear? This Zone 4 London borough connects to hotspots like Clapham Junction and Victoria. But, with its Read more about Borough of Richmond upon Thames ?>


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4. Westminster School

84.82% A-A*

This historic co-educational school lies in the heart of Westminster, just moments from Westminster Abbey and the Palace of Westminster. With such a prestigious and inspiring location, it’s perhaps unsurprising the school regularly features near the top of the league tables.

In 2023, 84.82% of pupils achieved A or A* grades at A-level. This is in addition to impressive GCSE scores, where 96.30% achieved maximum grades.

Borough of WestminsterBorough of Westminster
You’ll spot scenes of Westminster on most London postcards, and it’s little wonder. After all, this place hosts riverside icons like the House of Lords, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. Not to mention the black taxis and scarlet phone boxes synonymous with England’s capital. Read more about Borough of Westminster ?>


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5. James Allen’s Girls’ School

82.85% A-A*

Hitting the middle spot on this prestigious list, James Allen’s (JAGS) is one of the most sought-after girls’ schools in the capital. Sitting pretty across a glorious 22-acre site in Dulwich, it also enjoys easy access to the rest of South London via excellent transport links. JAGS has a diverse student body, and the focus is to encourage intellectual curiosity through a wide range of extra-curricular activities.

Borough of SouthwarkBorough of Southwark
Southwark is nestled on the South Bank of the Thames, and among its luxury riverside apartments and ultra-modern offices, are some of London’s biggest icons. This area is rich in culture, architecture and entertainment, charming millions of visitors (and residents) each year. For the Read more about Borough of Southwark

6. Highgate School

85.04% A-A*

Climbing up from 8th place in 2022 to 6th in 2023, with results of 82.83% A-A* at A-Level, Highgate School is a co-educational day school with a history dating back to 1565.

Founded by Sir Roger Cholmeley, a favourite of Queen Elizabeth the First, Highgate School has grown from educating 40 male scholars to 1,400 boys and girls today. It’s also closely connected to Tottenham Hotspur FC, the school’s principal business sponsor.

Its former pupils call themselves Cholmeleians or Old Cholmeleians (OCs), after Sir Roger Cholmeley. They include Poet Laureates Sir John Betjeman and Nicholas Rowe, composer Simon Bainbridge and film director Adrian Lyne.

Borough of IslingtonBorough of Islington
Islington is a borough of many faces. Its mish-mash of neighbourhoods each have their own distinct personality, from the urban bars and pubs of Angel to the chintzy antique stores of Camden Passage. Its properties have many guises, too – there are in-the-thick-of-it luxury Read more about Borough of Islington ?>


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7. King’s College School

Kings College School WimbledonKings College School Wimbledon

82.61% A-A*

King’s College School in Wimbledon is ranked at number 7 in 2023. This boys’ day school was founded by Royal Charter in 1829 and includes nearly 80 acres of grounds and sports fields, both on the main school site and nearby.

The school enjoyed a successful 2023, climbing into the top 10 in London with a success rate at A-level of 82.61%. An impressive 98.07% of pupils reached the maximum grades at GCSE level.

South West LondonSouth West London
There’s been a huge resurgence in South West London’s property scene of late, namely because this is an area of the capital with so much potential. The term ‘something for everyone’ is thrown around wildly, but in South West London’s case it’s actually justified. Read more about South West London

8. Alleyn’s School – Dulwich

78.42% A-A*

In 8th, Alleyn’s is a co-educational day school that’s another top performer in the leafy, affluent suburb of Dulwich in South East London. 2023 saw its senior students perform admirably with over three quarters achieving the top grads A*-A. There are around 1000 students in the senior school from age 11-18, though the school started out with just 12 children back when it was founded in 1605. The campus is an inviting blend of architectural styles, and boasts a sizeable theatre, indoor swimming pool and large sports hall.

South East LondonSouth East London
South East London stretches from SE1 down to SE20, encompassing the London boroughs of Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich, Lewisham and Southwark. Such a huge slice of the capital naturally has lots of different guises and offerings; from out-of-this-world dining scenes to riverside living and everything Read more about South East London

9. Godolphin & Latymer School

78.20% A-A*

Godolphin & Latymer School climbs up to the 9th spot on our list with 78.20% A-A* A-level grades in 2023. The school is located in Hammersmith, West London and was given the title of Independent Secondary School of the Year for 2020 by The Sunday Times.

The school’s history dates back to 1707, but the school moved to its current site on Iffley Road in 1862. Notable former students include actress Kate Beckinsale, singer Sophie Ellis-Bexter and journalist and broadcaster Nigella Lawson.

As a place to live, Hammersmith W6 combines all the benefits of convenient access to central London, the City and the M4, with a leafy, relaxed environment. Its residential side streets and high-end newer developments sit comfortably with excellent shopping and leisure options. These Read more about Hammersmith

10. City of London School for Boys

76.40% A-A*

City of London School for Boys was established in 1834 and has sat in its current site between the Thames and St. Paul’s Cathedral since 1986. The school has excellent facilities on-site, including an indoor swimming pool, while there are also playing fields in nearby Grove Park.

There are 878 day pupils at the school. 2023 results included 76.40% of pupils achieving A or A* at A-level, as well as 92.40% achieving top marks at GCSE.

City of LondonCity of London
If you’re after a home with bags of character in a peaceful neighbourhood, look away now. The City of London or, ‘Square Mile’, made for those who want to work and play hard. The streets given over to glossy high-rise buildings and very little Read more about City of London ?>


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As you can see from the list, the competitive standard among these top-ranking schools is incredibly high. Students at 2023’s top-achieving private school – St Paul’s Girls School – managed a remarkable 87.83% of A-Level grades at A or A*. Our list includes both day and boarding options, as well as girls’, boys’ and several co-ed schools. With this range of admissions options, and different London areas, you should be able to find the ideal school for your children.

FAQs on London Schools

Which part of London has the best schools overall?

If you’re talking about all London schools’ aggregated scores as awarded by Ofsted, then Harrow is the top-performing London borough. 38% of schools in Harrow have an ‘outstanding’ rating.

Which London borough has the most grammar schools?

Bexley is the London borough with the most grammar schools, boasting no fewer than four. All of them have an exemplary reputation, making Bexley a hub for grammar school excellence.

Is London a good city for university education?

London is one of the best cities in the world for providing a university education. It has 18 universities in total. Many of them rank within the top 100 universities in the world. Two of them rank within the top 10! These are at Imperial College London number 7 globally, and University College London (UCL) in joint 8th.

Where are the best universities in London?

If you’re seriously thinking beyond secondary school and into higher education, you may want to know where to look for the best universities in London.

Like many of the best private schools London offers, many of the best London universities are located centrally. Imperial College is located in South Kensington, while UCL’s main campus is in the Bloomsbury area. LSE (London School of Economics) is located in the borough of Camden and Westminster. City University’s main campus is in Islington.

However, you can find many of them spread a little further out. For example, you’ll find King’s College in Southwark. Also, many of the top London universities maintain key buildings outside central London.

FAQs on UK Private Schools

What is a private school?

In the UK, a private school, also known as an independent school, is a school that is not financially supported by the government. Instead, it supports itself by charging fees to its students. Private schools do not have to follow the national curriculum, and they do not use catchment areas when offering places to students.

Who can go to a private school?

Different private schools have different selection criteria when deciding who will be offered a place. Most private schools have entrance exams that they require applicants to take. An application may also involve a face-to-face interview with the headteacher or relevant staff members. Performing well on these tests and interviews should be enough to secure a place. The other main criterion is being able to afford the school’s termly fees.

Private schools generally do not make placement offers based on:

  • Where you live
  • Your nationality (international students are allowed to attend private schools)
  • Your religion (if the school is secular. There are many faith-based private schools in the UK)

What types of private schools are there in the UK?

The main types of private schools in the UK are:

  • Pre-Prep Schools – For children aged 4-7
  • Prep Schools – For children aged 8-11 or 8-13
  • Senior Schools – For children aged 8-11 or 13-16 or 18, depending on whether they offer a Sixth Form
  • All-Through Schools – For children aged 3-16 or 18 (Sixth Form depending)
  • Private Sixth Form Colleges – For students aged 16-18

UK private schools may be single sex or coeducational, faith-based or secular. Some are purely for day pupils or boarders, while many offer both options.

How much does private school cost?

In 2022-2023, the average private school fees across the UK were £15,200. If you are boarding at private school, the cost is substantially higher at just over £37,000 per year. If you look at “per term” averages, the cost is now at £6,944 for day pupils, and £12,344 for boarders.

How many students attend private school in the UK?

The proportion of students attending private schools has remained steady for the past 20 years, at around 6–7%. There are about 560,000–570,000 privately schooled students in England. In some parts of the UK, this concentration is higher. In Edinburgh, for example, about 25% of all school-aged children go to private school.

Is private school worth it in the UK?

Whether private schooling in the UK is worth the fees is a difficult question to answer. Private schools objectively offer their students more resources and facilities than state-based schools. If you take the 2022-2023 average private school fees of £15,200, this is nearly 90% higher than state-school spending per pupil for that year, which was £8,000.

While private schools have operating costs to cover, this spending gap means privately schooled children almost always gain access to a greater range (and better quality) of physical resources than state-schooled children. They also tend to experience significantly smaller class sizes, and more individual attention from their teachers.

However, lots of studies and anecdotal stories suggest that the benefits of private schooling do not match the constantly rising level of fees. They suggest that children can do as well, if not better, in a state-schooled environment. Their message is that “expensive does not automatically mean better“.

Ultimately, every parent must decide if the private school in question is the right fit for their child or children. Then they must decide if the cost is worth the supposed benefit.

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How to find the best schools in London

There are plenty of tools out there to help you find the best schools in London, or any part of the UK for that matter. The first place to look is the UK Government’s school finder. It lists the details of state and public schools in England, along with their performance and overall Ofsted rating.

My Top Schools provides listings and rankings of UK private schools based on exam results. It enables you to search and filter by different types of private school, including by the cost of fees, gendered schools and boarding schools. Best schools is another useful source of advice on the UK’s independent schools.

Finally, the Sunday Times Parent Power guide gives extensive advice and guidance on UK state and public schools. You’ll have to be a subscriber for full access, but you can also find the rankings published elsewhere on the internet.

Good luck finding your ideal choice among the best private schools London has to offer. Check back regularly for updates on the best places to live in London in terms of great school/university access.

HomeViews is the only independent review platform for residential developments in the UK. Prospective buyers and tenants use it to make an informed decision on where to live based on insights from carefully verified resident reviews. Part of Rightmove since February 2024, we’re working with developers, house builders, operators, housing associations and the Government to give residents a voice, recognise high performers and to help improve standards across the industry.

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