With over 500 free secondary schools in London, deciding which is the best school for your child in the capital can be challenging.
If your child’s academic ability places them within the top 25% of their year group, you may be considering a grammar school education. Keep reading to find out more about the best grammar schools in London.
Grammar schools are a type of state secondary school in the UK. They are free, funded by the government. Known for academic success, they are selective, meaning that they admit pupils based on their academic ability.
Entry to grammar schools in London is naturally more competitive than the rest of the country, as the large population of the capital means that a higher proportion of children are applying for a place.
Each year, The Sunday Times Parent Power releases its ‘best schools’ league tables based on that year’s exam results. The following state secondary selective schools in London were named as the top 10 for 2023.
The Henrietta Barnett School, founded by Dame Henrietta Barnett in 1911, is the top state school in the country. In 2014, the school was listed as having the highest rate of successful applications for Oxbridge of all state schools in the UK.
The Henrietta Barnett School is located in Hampstead Garden Suburb – an area of North London famous for its artistic, musical, intellectual, liberal and literary associations. Golders Green station, served by the Northern underground line, is a 20-minute walk away.
Entry to The Henrietta Barnett School consists of two 11 plus entrance exams (candidates who are successful in the first round are invited to a second round).
A level: 97.3% A*–B (ranked 4th)
GCSE: 98.8% A*/A/9/8/7 (ranked 1st)
Queen Elizabeth’s School, founded in 1573, is the top state boys' school in the UK. For the past three years, the school has had more students leave for Russell Group universities than any other state-funded school in the country.
Queen Elizabeth’s School is located in the borough of Barnet in North London. The closest station is High Barnet – just over 20 minutes’ walk away – which is served by the Northern line.
The entrance exam at Queen Elizabeth’s School is known to be competitive; thousands of boys sit the 11 plus exam each year with 180 places available for successful candidates.
A level: 98.3% A*–B (ranked 1st)
GCSE: 95.7% A*/A/9/8/7 (ranked 3rd)
Wilson’s School is an all-boys school with an exemplary reputation. In 2020, it was named the ‘London State Secondary School of the Decade’ by The Sunday Times. It was originally founded in Camberwell (South London) in 1615, making it one of the country’s oldest state schools.
Wilson’s School is located in Wallington – an area within the Borough of Sutton in South West London. Waddon and Wallington rail stations, both served by Southern Rail, are within a 23-minute walk of the school.
Candidates for Wilson’s School first sit the Selective Eligibility Test before being invited to sit the second-stage entrance exam. 180 places are available for successful boys each year.
A level: 97.9% A*–B (ranked 2nd)
GCSE: 95.4% A*/A/9/8/7 (ranked equal 4th)
Tiffin Girls’ School is an all-girls selective school with academy status. It was recently rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted and won an award a few years ago for the excellent results of its pupils who are in receipt of Pupil Premium.
Tiffin Girls’ School sits on a nine-acre site just west of Richmond Park in Kingston upon Thames, South West London. Kingston Station, which is served by Southwestern Railway, is a 17-minute walk from the school.
Along with its partner school – Tiffin School (for boys) – Tiffin Girls’ School operates a two-stage testing process, with 180 places available for successful candidates each year.
A level: 97.1% A*–B (ranked 4th)
GCSE: 94.9% A*/A/9/8/7 (ranked 7th)
St Olave’s Grammar School, previously known as St Olave’s and St Saviour’s Church of England Grammar School, is a selective school for boys. It was named The Sunday Times State School of the Year in 2008.
St Olave’s Grammar School is located in Orpington within the borough of Bromley (South East London). Orpington and Chelsfield rail stations, which are served by South Eastern Rail, are both a 20-minute walk from the school.
There are more than ten applicants for each place at St Olave’s Grammar School and a rigorous admissions process.
A level: 96.4% A*–B (ranked 5th)
GCSE: 91% A*/A/9/8/7 (ranked 17th)
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Tiffin School is the boys’ counterpart to Tiffin Girls’ School. It was founded in 1880 and has specialist status in the performing arts and languages.
Tiffin School is located in Kingston upon Thames – a town within the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, South West London. Kingston rail station (served by Southwestern) is only a five-minute walk from the school.
Tiffin School operates a two-stage testing process, with 180 places available for successful candidates each year.
A level: 91.5% A*–B (ranked 19th)
GCSE: 84.4% A*/A/9/8/7 (ranked 31st)
The Latymer School is a co-educational grammar school founded in 1624. In 2019, it was listed in The Sunday Times Parent Power as the top co-educational state secondary school in London and the fifth co-educational state secondary school in the UK.
The Latymer School is located in Edmonton – an area within the borough of Enfield in North London. Edmonton Green is a 14-minute walk away and is served by both the London Overground railway and Greater Anglia.
The 11 plus entrance exam for The Latymer School is known to be particularly competitive, with thousands of candidates applying for 192 places.
A level: 86% A*–B (ranked 49th)
GCSE: 91.6% A*/A/9/8/7 (ranked 14th)
Newstead Wood School, formerly known as Orpington Grammar School for Girls, is a girls' grammar school in the London Borough of Bromley with a co-educational sixth form.
Orpington rail station is a 14-minute walk from the school, and is served by Thameslink and Southeastern trains.
Pupils applying for Year 7 entry take an 11 plus test administered by GL Assessment. There are approximately 168 places available.
A level: 84.9% A*–B (ranked 59th)
GCSE: 92.6% A*/A/9/8/7 (ranked 12th)
Wallington High School is a girls' grammar school on the border of London and Surrey, just west of Croydon. It was founded in 1888 and is twinned with the boys-only Wallington County Grammar School. It has an excellent academic reputation, specialising in STEM and modern languages.
Wallington High School is a 16 minute walk from Wallington rail station, which is served by Southern Rail.
Girls applying for 11 plus entry at Wallington High School take the Sutton Selective Eligibility Test in Year 6. There are 210 places available in Year 7.
A level: 84.9% A*–B (ranked 59th)
GCSE: 91.3% A*/A/9/8/7 (ranked 15th)
Nonsuch High School for Girls is a girls’ grammar school with specialisms in science and languages. It was named after a palace, commissioned by Henry VIII, which was built in the next-door Nonsuch Park in the 16th century.
The school is located on a 22-acre site in Cheam within the London Borough of Sutton (South West London). Cheam rail station – served by Southern Railway – is a 15-minute walk from Nonsuch High School for Girls.
Like the other grammar schools in Sutton, candidates for Nonsuch High School for Girls sit an assessment process of two stages.
A level: 86% A*–B (ranked 49th)
GCSE: 87% A*/A/9/8/7 (ranked 25th)
Your child will need to take an entrance exam called the 11 plus to be considered for a place at a grammar school. This usually takes place in September when your child is in Year 6. Children with the highest 11 plus scores will be eligible for a place at a grammar school from Year 7 onwards.
The content of the 11 plus test varies across each school – take a look at our guides to the 11 plus in particular London Boroughs for more information.
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