Best private schools in London

Choosing a school for your child can seem like one of the biggest decisions parents have to make. School Guide's league tables can help you find the right school for your child. We’ve analysed all the government and Ofsted data, recent school performance and parents’ views of the school to give a unique objective School Guide Star rating for each school in our league tables. 

Best Private Schools in London

If you’re looking for a private school in London, it can seem as if you’re spoilt for choice, with lots of well known high performing schools spread throughout the capital. Some of the best private schools in the country are in the London. But with so many schools and so much information available, it can be hard to know where to start. There is a huge variety of schools, from those with competitive entrance exams aiming to select the most academically able, to those catering for a broader range of academic ability. Some schools embrace their inner city locations and make the most of all the cultural and historical treasures on the their doorsteps. Others are in more leafy enclaves surrounded by fields and with outstanding sporting facilities. 

We would always recommend thinking carefully about what type of school would suit your child and what is important to them before you look into each school's facilities, performance and reputation. 

To help to give you a taste of just some of the outstanding schools in London, here are the top ten independent schools in London from our league table. They all have a five star School Guide Star rating, exceptional academic results, brilliant facilities and offer lots of extra-curricular activities.

1) St Paul's Girls School 

St Paul’s is one of the country’s leading independent schools, describing itself as a school “Where anything is possible”. It’s known for its dynamic curriculum and aims to offer a classical, yet forward looking education to girls aged 10-19. Renowned for achieving exceptional academic results, the school also has an emphasis on kindness and individualised pastoral care. 

Founded in 1904, St Paul’s was one of the first schools to believe in the importance of educating women to fulfil their potential, giving them the skills and confidence to take their place with pride in a modernising and fast-moving world. This tradition remains at the heart of the school. 

The exceptional academic standards at St Paul’s are enhanced by the warm relationships between staff and girls. Visitors and inspectors comment on the sheer joy girls have in their learning, and the encouragement everyone is given to dig deeper, to explore ideas, to challenge preconceptions and to develop their own ideas. 

The school aims to celebrate the individuality of its pupils and offer them “freedom of dress, opinion and activity”. There are an extremely wide range of sports, music, drama and other extra-curricular activities available, allowing every girl to find an activity that they love. 

Academic scholarships aren’t available, but music, art and drama scholarships are and there is a large bursary programme. 

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2) Westminster School

Describing itself as “A progressive school on an ancient site in the heart of the world’s most vibrant city”,  Westminster School is deservedly proud of its outstanding reputation as one of the leading public schools in the country. 

Westminster School has a long and distinguished history, having been established by Benedictine monks in the early fourteenth century. Henry VII personally ensured the survival of the school and Elizabeth I confirmed the royal patronage. It still has a close relationship with Westminster Abbey and the Dean of Westminster is chair of the School’s Governing Body. 

Following highly competitive entrance exams, boys join the school from 13, either as day pupils or boarders. Since 2017 the sixth form has been coeducational, with about 70 girls joining the school each year. 

From 13 the curriculum is directed at GCSEs/IGCSEs, from 16 at Advanced Level and Cambridge Pre-U examinations. Admission is open to any applicant who meets the entry criteria. Bursaries are given as necessary.

The school aims for its pupils to enjoy “open minded enquiry, rigorous discussion and the search for explanation well beyond the examination syllabus.” Teachers and other staff work hard to value and support all of their students and encourage them to make the most of the incredible range of opportunities on offer. 

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3) King's College School 

King’s College School is set in an idyllic location, just across from the green of Wimbledon common, and provides a stimulating and challenging education for boys who are bright and curious. There are entries at 7+, 8+, 9+, 10+ and 11+ and virtually all the boys move to the Senior School at 13+. The sixth form is co-educational. 

The school gets outstanding academic results and there is also a strong focus on care, kindness and personalised pastoral care. There are a huge range of sporting, artistic, musical and creative activities for boys to be involved in. 

King’s College School also encourages their whole community to get involved in tackling environmental issues. There have been a host of new green initiatives, including the use of renewable energy suppliers and electric vehicles as part of their commitment to minimising their ecological impact and working towards a net zero footprint.

A warm, welcoming school, where pupils thrive.

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4) St Paul's School 

St Paul’s offers “an outstanding, all-round education for gifted boys aged 7 to 18 years.” It aims to admit “highly able, committed and curious boys and provide them with a first class education and the skills to be able to contribute to wider society.” 

Boys enter the school at 7+, 11+, 13+, and 16+ and admission is following a successful examination process and interview.

St Paul's School was founded in 1509 by John Colet, Dean of St Paul's Cathedral and friend of Erasmus, who designed much of the original learning material for the School. The teaching methods and content might have changed since then but standards have remained high, with the school achieving some of the best academic results in the UK.

The school is located in a wonderfully green open space by the River Thames and has exceptional facilities, especially for a school in London, with its own boat club, concert hall, art gallery, cricket pitch and engineering workshop on site. 

There is an emphasis on encouraging a high degree of autonomy in pupils and a strong pastoral team to support pupils. 

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5) City of London School 

The City of London School aspires to fully prepare respectful, optimistic and inquisitive boys for the rapidly changing demands of the twenty-first century. They aim to provide an education in the broadest sense, combining academic excellence with exceptional pastoral care, framed by an outward-looking and forward-thinking approach. 

The school educates about 950 boys aged 10-18 in the heart of the City of London, by St Paul’s Cathedral. The school buildings are purpose built, modern and light with exceptional facilities. The City of London School has strong links to their sister school, City of London School for Girls. 

An award winning school with a great reputation for academic achievement and educational innovation. Most of their students continue on to top universities in the UK or abroad. 

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6) Wimbledon High School 

Wimbledon High School is a forward-looking day school in the heart of Wimbledon, offering a stimulating environment, a friendly community and every opportunity for girls to lead full and successful lives. A high-achieving school, WHS educates girls from 4 to 18 to believe in themselves, to think for themselves and to become intellectually robust.

They describe themselves as “a school with each individual at its heart, where girls are known and nurtured, where laughter fills the air…”

Wimbledon High School is a beacon member of the prestigious Girls Day School Trust, a group of schools that work together to deliver an outstanding education to girls across the country. 

The school offers a broad curriculum and prides itself on nurturing curiosity and valuing play and creativity. The facilities are outstanding and include an on-site swimming pool, nearby playing fields and a building devoted to design and technology workshops, science labs and art studies. There are a huge range of sporting opportunities including a rowing team and of course tennis! Girls from the school are  often selected to be ball girls at Wimbledon. 

An outstanding school which succeeds in its aim to be “a thriving hub of intellectual activity, where ideas shimmer, where academic curiosity is rewarded…”

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7) City of London School for Girls

City of London School for Girls is an academically selective day school for girls aged 11 - 18. The school describes itself as having “an intellectually edgy, unassuming and unpretentious environment, unshackled by tradition, and imbued with a relaxed excellence. This is a refreshing and modern place in which to learn.” 

City of London School for Girls is located in the Barbican, with access to a huge variety of educational and cultural opportunities in the heart of London. The school encourages the values of “respect, responsibility and resourcefulness” in its pupils and aims to produce a “pioneering generation”. It has an illustrious list of alumni, including the renowned historian Alison Weir and the fabulous Claudia Winkleman.

The pupil diversity reflects the cosmopolitan character of London. There are a number of academic scholarships and means-tested bursaries available. The school has close links with the nearby City of London School Boys School and strong relationships with its local community. 

The school prides itself on its academic but unstuffy reputation. Its results are outstanding and a recent Independent Schools Inspection Report was full of praise: "Pupils attitudes to learning are outstanding. Pupils of all ages display a thirst for knowledge, are intellectually curious and possess a natural desire to deepen their understanding at every opportunity."

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8) Latymer Upper School

The only fully co-educational school on this list, Latymer Upper School in West London, educates around 1400 children from the age of 7-18. It describes itself as a “Rounded and grounded” school that aims to create “academic excellence in a dynamic friendly community.” Academic standards are extremely high and a wide range of extracurricular activities are on offer. 

The school was founded in 1624 by lawyer Edward Latymer, to provide an education for “eight poore boies” of Hammersmith. Whilst the school has changed a lot since then, they continue to aim to be as socially inclusive as possible. The school has a generous bursary fund, with nearly 300 of their pupils receiving bursaries. A current fundraising drive aims to increase that number. Latymer Upper School also works closely with local state schools and runs a Saturday school for local Year 6 pupils. 

Latymer Upper School is one of the leading co-educational schools in the country and is proud of its unashamedly academic but unpretentious feel. Visitors to the school comment on the energy and buzz of the students and the friendly and inclusive atmosphere. 

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9) Dulwich College

Dulwich College is a large, world-leading boys day and boarding school for pupils aged 7-18 years. It also has a co-educational kindergarten and infants school of 230 pupils, wonderfully known as DUCKS. 

They describe their ethos at Dulwich as “one of equality… our values are founded in respect and support for others alongside inspired teaching, genuine scholarship and Free Learning in and beyond the classroom.” 

Dulwich College enjoys a beautiful and historic site covering 70 acres in south London. The College is selective from Year 3 and is committed to both academic excellence and to providing an extensive range of co-curricular opportunities.

Dulwich College prides itself on its freethinking approach to education and aims to “foster curiosity and a lifelong love of learning.” One example of this is the Advanced Elective courses that it runs alongside A Levels with two other local schools. These 10 week courses aim to introduce students to a broader range of subjects, including Geopolitics, Law and Medicine and to encourage an independent, interdisciplinary approach to learning. 

Many of Dulwich College’s students, known as Alleynains, go onto to work in Engineering, the Health Services and Law. They also have a reputation for producing successful actors, musicians, sportsmen and writers. 

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10) Lady Eleanor Holles School

One of the top girls' schools in the country, LEH is an academically successful day school with an broad, dynamic curriculum and a varied programme of extra-curricular activities. 

The impressive newly appointed Head Mistress, Rowena Cole, describes the school as “a place of curiosity and adventure, where enthusiastic and bright young minds are encouraged to be bold and brave in their thoughts, actions, and dreams for the future. Pupils are given the encouragement, inspiration, and opportunity to experience new things, to take risks, and to innovate as they grow and discover more about themselves.”

Lady Eleanor Holles School is set in 42 acres of green space in south west London. It has a vast range of sports facilities, more commonly associated with boarding schools, including four lacrosse pitches, eight netball courts, six grass tennis courts, a croquet lawn, swimming pool and boat house. The academic and creative facilities are equally impressive. Girls are given the opportunity to explore a wide range of interests and discover new passions. 

A recent Inspection report praised the quality of teaching and commented that  “an ethos of kindness and social awareness percolates throughout the school.”  This is a happy, busy, school with enthusiastic pupils and dedicated teachers, where girls thrive. 

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More information on Independent Schools

For more details and data on any of these schools, click on the links to go to the School Guide information page for that school. There you will find a summary of the school and lots of details about the type of school, numbers of pupils, results and reputation. You can also look at our parent reviews of schools. Once you have found schools that you are interested in, visit the school website for more information and to get details of open days. We'd really recommend visiting schools with your child where possible. It is by far the best way to get a feel for whether a particular school would be a good fit for your child. 

Don’t worry if none of the schools listed here seems right for your child. School guide has information on nearly 25,000 schools, primary and secondary, state and independent. 

See our league tables for the best 200 primarysecondary and independent schools. You can also compare and contrast local schools and find out more about school catchment areas.