Written by our team of experienced education consultants, we are delighted to share our London Schools Guide. Every school has a different ethos, approach to teaching, facilities and staff. We know how important it is to find a school which is right for your child so here is our insight on the best independent Secondary Schools in London to help you to make that decision.
For more information on school choices, read our blog How to Find The Perfect School For Your Child or get in touch with our team via the contact form. We also offer bespoke support for families – from 60 minute consultations to discuss schools and their application processes, to academic testing and ongoing support which gives children the best chance of receiving an offer from their first choice school.
THE ACADEMIC PROFILING TEST
The Golden Circle uses the latest technology to inform parents on school choices and entrance exams. Using a new AI-powered assessment tool – The Academic Profiling Test – families are given an accurate insight into their child’s unique learning abilities.
Through an easy-to-use platform, our students take online tests in Maths, English, VR and NVR, and parents receive a detailed report on the child’s academic strengths and areas for development. Combining data with The Golden Circle’s expert knowledge of London and out-of-town schools, our education consultants provide evidence-based recommendations on school choices and a tuition route map to prepare optimally for school admissions tests at 7+, 8+, 11+, 13+ and 16+ entry points.
Our school APT assessments are priced at £750 and full school searches are £1400. These packages offer a detailed report on your child’s academic ability, school recommendations, and a personalised route map to prepare for Common Entrance exams.
SOUTH OF THE RIVER
1. DULWICH COLLEGE
Dulwich College is an academically selective independent day and boarding school that educates 1500 boys. The school prides itself on teaching respect and support for others, inspired learning and free thinking. Dulwich students achieve excellent examination results but are also not constrained in their learning. The school ensures that children learn beyond the syllabus in a way that is free from examination. As a result, students become intellectually curious, critical thinkers, and are supported by enthusiastic peer mentors. ‘Free Learning’ (a Dulwich College concept) is interdisciplinary in nature. It encourages pupils to challenge preconceived ideas, to make valuable cross-subject connections, and have interesting discussions with their peers.
Location: Dulwich Common, SE21 7LD
Head: Dr Joseph Spence
Pupils: 1,409 boys: 1,272 day; 137 boarding
Term fees: £7,224; boarding: £15,078
2. HAMPTON SCHOOL
At Hampton School they “aspire to enable our boys not only to make sense of the world but also to want to go out and improve it”. Described by Tatler as the Holy Trinity of academic rigour, sporting prowess and co-curricular achievement, the students at Hampton are driven by a strong sense of ambition and strive for excellence both inside and outside the classroom. A challenging and well-rounded academic curriculum alongside a wide range of co-curricular options is provided in a friendly and supportive environment, where Hampton boys are set to thrive and achieve success.
Location: Hanworth Road, Hampton, TW12 3HD
Head: Kevin Knibbs
Pupils: 1,329 day boys
Term fees: £6,915
3. KEW HOUSE SCHOOL
At Kew House School, their approach is providing individualised attention both academically and pastorally. By recognising and enhancing their student’s individual abilities, they place an emphasis on confidence, self-esteem and creativity. Students are encouraged to pursue excellence through a rich and broad curriculum, where core subjects coexist with an extensive range of challenging and stimulating subject options. A variety of clubs are also offered to enrich the pupils’ education, such as Swimming, Debating, Creative Writing, Mindfulness and Jazz. Kew House School is a nurturing environment and the perfect fit for a creative child.
Location: 6 Capital Interchange Way, TW8 0EX
Head: Will Williams
Term fees: £7,674
4. KING’S COLLEGE SCHOOL
Overlooking Wimbledon Common, students at King’s College School are set to thrive in an environment that is both famous for academic excellence and sense of community. Their exceptional examination results are the result of inspired learning, academic rigour and discipline. Their curriculum offers a broad spectrum of options and is delivered by an outstanding team of teachers, whose mission is to inspire the younger generations to make significant contributions to their chosen fields.
Location: Southside, Wimbledon Common, SW19 4TT
Head: Andrew Halls
Pupils: 1,186 day: 1,088 boys, 98 girls
Term fees: £7,665
5. PUTNEY HIGH SCHOOL
The girls at Putney are as high-achieving as they are down to earth. In this challenging, fun and one of a kind environment, teachers and staff foster innovation and a modern approach through inspiring lessons. Putney High School has been nominated for two awards by the Chartered Institute for Service Engineers for their groundbreaking Biophilic Classroom initiative, where the benefits of nature for studying are examined. Through their ‘BREATHE’ programme, they prioritise the pupils’ wellbeing through a number of eco-friendly proposals.
Location: 35 Putney Hill, SW15 6BH
Head: Suzie Longstaff
Pupils: 710 day girls
Term fees: £6,609
6. ST PAUL’S GIRLS’ SCHOOL
With kindness, inclusivity and diversity at its core, SPGS educates over 700 girls in a friendly environment where the focus of education is not on passing exams, but developing a lifelong love of learning. Encouraged to explore ideas, develop their own interests and ‘dig deeper’, students are exposed to a wide range of subject options where the emphasis lies on curiosity, innovation and entrepreneurship. Their extensive programme provides students with opportunities to engage in cross-curricular projects – drawing links between technology, the digital world, and other subjects.
Location: Brook Green, W6 7BS
Head: Sarah Fletcher
Pupils: 771 day girls
Term fees: £8,629
7. ST PAUL’S SCHOOL
Similarly to the girls’ school, the boys at St Paul’s are set to thrive and reach academic excellence through the school’s diverse and comprehensive curriculum. Their approach combines tradition and modernity to provide students with a high-quality intellectual, physical and spiritual education. Their aim is to foster a culture of scholarship and develop critical thinking skills through inspiring and outstanding teaching.
Location: Lonsdale Road, SW13 9JT
Head: Sally-Anne Huang
Pupils: 958 boys: 922 days, 36 boarding
Term fees: Day: £8,636; boarding, £12,997
8. WIMBLEDON HIGH SCHOOL
Described 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 thriving school where intellectual ideas are nourished as much as the pupils’ individual interests and wellbeing. With a mission to inspire students in the classroom and beyond, the staff at Wimbledon High School offer a one of a kind education that rewards academic curiosity, imagination and innovative thinking. Pastoral care is at the core of the school’s ethos – students thrive academically as a result of feeling known, supported and understood. The girls at Wimbledon are taught to own their space and to develop a powerful voice, and also to cultivate a strong sense of agency and a desire to change the world for the better.
Location: Mansel Road, SW19 4AB
Head: Fionnuala Kennedy
Pupils: 680 day girls
Term fees: £6,578
NORTH OF THE RIVER
1. CITY OF LONDON SCHOOL FOR BOYS
This school’s breathtaking location between St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tate Modern gallery is one of the reasons why its students are so notably cultured. Happiness, success and curiosity are the main aims of this school, where its exceptional academic curriculum is matched by a comprehensive co-curricular programme in which students can choose among 78 different clubs – covering interests from Drama, to Sports, to Music to even gastronomical societies. The boys are able to take advantage of the school’s elite location, having regular visits to local museums, galleries, theatres and academies. Pupils are also offered the chance to partake in several educational trips around the world, consolidating the school’s mission to nurture culturally and socially aware young adults.
Location: Queen Victoria Street, EC4V 3AL
Head: Alan Bird
Pupils: 950 day boys
Term fees: £6,313
2. HIGHGATE SCHOOL
Located in the heart of Highgate Village, Highgate School educates over 1,200 day students and is considered one of the top co-educational schools in the UK. The exam results are outstanding – 91% of their sixth formers were awarded A* or A for their A Levels in 2021. Their aim is to nurture intellectual curiosity and academic rigour while also instilling a love of learning and nourishing confidence, resilience and belief in oneself. By discovering and pursuing their intellectual passions, students are set to blossom and enjoy their academic journey.
Location: North Road, N6 4AY
Head: Adam Pettitt
Pupils: 1,277 day: 646 boys, 631 girls
Term fees: £7,200
3. SCHOOL 21
At School 21, both the staff and the students are driven by powerful moral values and a strong sense of community. Their ethos emphasises six main attributes that they wish to instil in all of their students to help them become contributing members of the 21st Century society: Professionalism, Expertise, Craftsmanship, Eloquence, Grit and Spark. With a philosophy of joy, curiosity, respect and kindness at his heart, in School 21 students are set to become culturally aware and are encouraged to produce work that matters.
Location: Pitchford Street, E15 4RZ
Head: Oli de Botton
Term fees: n/a
4. SOUTH HAMPSTEAD HIGH SCHOOL
South Hampstead High School educates 670 day girls and prepares them to be independent and well-informed young women. Both the curricular and co-curricular programmes are designed to ignite a spark in every pupil, allowing them to fuel a lifelong sense of achievement. Through stimulating lessons, teachers aim to create plentiful opportunities to develop creativity and to open their minds to allow deeper learning. Students are encouraged to make eco-friendly resolutions and contribute to the school’s mission to contribute to a greener world. In this warm, kind and friendly environment, every student is nurtured to become an important part of a community that prepares them to achieve excellence both in their academic and personal lives.
Location: 3 Maresfield Gardens, NW3 5SS
Head: Vicky Bingham
Pupils: 670 day girls
Term fees: £6,498
5. THE AMERICAN SCHOOL LONDON
The American School in London offers an excellent American education to the international student body in the heart of London. Pupils from all over the globe attend this institution – with more than 70 nationalities represented, there is a powerful sense of multiculturalism and diversity. The school prepares its students to thrive as learners and to become courageous citizens of the world, who present values of empathy, diversity and inclusion. Social and emotional well-being is as important as academic excellence, with the school providing extensive pastoral support. Students have access to a wide range of exciting courses and extracurricular activities, where personal interests and social connections are fostered and encouraged.
Location: 1 Waverley Place, NW8 0NP
Head: Coreen R. Hester
Term fees: £28,200 – £32,65
6. UNIVERSITY COLLEGE SCHOOL
UCS is one of the top academic schools in London. In a friendly, inclusive and positive atmosphere, UCS students achieve exceptional results in examinations and at university. Their liberal ethos encourages independence and self-discovery. Many students are involved in charitable enterprises, where they collaborate with different organisations in London and in the UK to give back to underprivileged communities. With a first-class reputation for its Drama and Music programmes, co-curricular activities are at the core of the school, providing students with the opportunity to develop their passions beyond the classroom.
Location: Frognal, Hampstead, NW3 6XH
Head: Mark Beard
Pupils: 903 day: 806 boys, 97 girls (all in the Sixth Form)
Term fees: £7,030
7. WESTMINSTER SCHOOL
Located in the heart of Westminster, this school sets children up for a lifetime of academic achievement and success. Their approach to teaching encourages debate and exploration of every subject. This leads to exceptional exam results and a roster of high achievers at university and beyond. The school has outstanding facilities, a comprehensive co-curricular offering, and numerous travel opportunities which enrich desk-based learning. Westminster School is committed to assisting those less fortunate and every year their boys spearhead a range of charity projects including those to help the local homeless community.
Location: Little Dean’s Yard, SW1P 3PF
Head: Dr Gary Savage
Pupils: 760 day and boarding
Term fees: Day: £10,497; boarding: £13869
8. WETHERBY SENIOR
Wetherby Senior is located in Central London and educates 415 students. Their mission is to provide an all-rounded, outstanding and progressive education, where every boy feels academically challenged and pastorally supported. With the aim to prepare their boys to become capable young men, Wetherby provides a diverse community in which respect is at the core. Effort is constantly rewarded and a curious mindset encouraged. Remarkable teaching is provided through a combination of different resources that combine a holistic approach with modernity and innovation. Pastoral care ensures all boys feel secure and guided through their academic journey, nourishing their empathy skills and encouraging them to become a positive influence in the lives of others. In this thriving and friendly environment, Wetherby boys are set to fully enjoy their school life and to form lifelong bonds with their peers.
Location: 100 Marylebone Lane, W1U 2QU
Head: Joe Silvester
Pupils: 415; sixth formers: 100
Term fees: £26,010 pa