Looking for information on private schools in Greater London? Discover everything you need to know about the capital's senior private schools and take a look at our parents’ guides for more information about individual admissions processes and entrance exams.
Private schools, also known as independent schools, are fee-paying. State schools (including academies, grammar and comprehensive schools) are funded by the government and are free for children to attend.
Unlike state schools, teachers at private schools do not need to follow the national curriculum, although many subjects will still include the same topics on their curriculum. Pupils attending private schools in England will still take GCSE exams at the age of 15–16, and if the school incorporates a sixth form (ages 16–18), most pupils will take A level exams. Some schools may teach the International Baccalaureate (IB) alongside or instead of A levels.
Many of the top private schools in the country are located in London. Find out more about the best private schools in England based on rankings in the 2022 GCSE and A level league tables.
Tuition costs can vary between schools, but the average fee for a private day school in London is normally just over £6,000 per term (this is more for particularly prestigious schools or those in central London). The fees for boarding pupils (if the school has boarding facilities) are typically 50–100% more than the day fees.
Fees always include the cost of teaching and often include the cost of textbooks, materials, and most co-curricular activities. Some schools may include the cost of lunch into their fees, while some charge this separately (normally around £200–300 per term, per child). If you are registering your child for entry to a private school, make sure to check the school website and admissions policy carefully to find out what is included in the school fees.
Many private schools are able to offer financial assistance to students who meet their entrance criteria. The two main types of financial assistance are:
Bursaries: means-tested financial assistance to widen access for pupils whose families would not otherwise be able to afford their education. Bursaries are generally offered on a 'sliding scale' (i.e. students from households with a lower annual income are eligible for more funding than those with a higher annual income). If you are applying for a bursary, you will need to provide detailed financial evidence and you may receive a home visit from a professional appointed by the school.
Scholarships: talent-based financial assistance for pupils who excel in a particular discipline. The types of scholarships vary between schools, but the most common are academic, art, drama, music and sport. The percentage of fee remission is normally small (usually about 10%, although some schools may offer up to 50%). An increasing number of schools are removing the financial reward of their scholarship provision and making them ‘honour-based’ instead. This is a strategic move to funnel available funding to bursaries, allowing more pupils with genuine financial need to attend the school.
Co-educational (co-ed) schools educate both boys and girls together in mixed-sex classes.
While the majority of London private schools are still boys' or girls' only, an increasing number are welcoming students of the opposite sex from the ages of 16 to 18 to create a co-educational sixth form. The reason for this is normally to create a real-life environment for students as they end their formal education and progress to universities and careers.
11 of the private girls' schools in London belong to the Girls' Day School Trust (GDST) – a well-established network of 25 girls’ schools across the country.
Every private school is different and has its own unique admissions process. Some create their own entrance exams, some use an exam board and others may use both to shortlist candidates from one stage to the next. These are some of the common entrance tests used by private schools:
ISEB (Independent Schools Examination Board): an online adaptive test where candidates are assessed in English, maths, verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning.
CEM Select (Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring): an online non-adaptive test where candidates are assessed in English comprehension, maths, verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning.
CAT4 (Cognitive Abilities Test): an online non-adaptive test where children are tested in numerical reasoning (maths), verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning and spatial ability.
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City of London:
City of London School (boys only)
City of London School for Girls (girls only)
City of Westminster:
Eaton Square Senior School (co-ed)
Francis Holland School (Regent’s Park) (girls only)
Francis Holland School (Sloane Square) (girls only)
Maida Vale School (co-ed)
Portland Place School (co-ed)
Queen's College (Marylebone) (girls only)
Westminster School (boys to 16, co-ed sixth form)
Wetherby Senior School (boys only)
London Borough of Barnet:
Dwight School (co-ed)
King Alfred School (co-ed)
Mount House School (co-ed)
London Borough of Enfield:
Palmers Green High School (girls)
London Borough of Haringey:
Channing School (girls)
Highgate School (co-ed)
London Borough of Islington:
London Borough of Redbridge:
Bancroft’s School (co-ed)
London Borough of Waltham Forest:
Forest School (boys and girls taught separately)
Normanhurst School (co-ed)
London Borough of Camden:
South Hampstead High School (girls – GDST)
St Margaret’s School Hampstead (girls)
UCS Hampstead (boys to 16, co-ed sixth form)
London Borough of Harrow:
Harrow School (boys)
North London Collegiate School (girls)
London Borough of Croydon:
Croydon High School (girls – GDST)
Royal Russell School (co-ed)
Trinity School (boys to 16, co-ed sixth form)
Whitgift School (boys)
London Borough of Lambeth:
Streatham & Clapham High School (girls – GDST)
The Laurels School (girls)
London Borough of Southwark:
Alleyn’s School (co-ed)
Dulwich College (boys)
James Allen’s Girls’ School (girls)
The Cedars School (boys)
London Borough of Bromley:
Babington House School (co-ed)
Bishop Challoner School (co-ed)
Bromley High School (girls – GDST)
Colfe’s School (co-ed)
Farringtons School (co-ed)
Royal Borough of Greenwich:
Blackheath High School (girls –GDST)
Colfe’s School (co-ed)
London Borough of Lewisham:
St Dunstan’s School (co-ed)
Sydenham High School (girls – GDST)
Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames:
Kingston Grammar School (co-ed)
Marymount International School (girls)
Surbiton High School (girls)
London Borough of Merton:
King’s College School Wimbledon (boys to 16, co-ed sixth form)
Wimbledon High School (girls – GDST)
London Borough of Richmond upon Thames:
Hampton Court House (co-ed)
Hampton School (boys)
Lady Eleanor Holles (girls)
Radnor House Twickenham (co-ed)
St Catherine’s School (girls)
St Paul’s School (boys)
London Borough of Sutton:
Sutton High School (girls – GDST)
London Borough of Wandsworth:
Emanuel School (co-ed)
Ibstock Place School (co-ed)
Putney High School (girls – GDST)
Thames Christian School (co-ed)
London Borough of Ealing:
Notting Hill and Ealing High School (girls – GDST)
St Augustine’s Priory (girls)
St Benedict’s School (co-ed)
London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham:
Godolphin & Latymer School (girls)
Latymer Upper School (co-ed)
St James Senior Girls’ School (girls)
St Paul’s Girls’ School (girls)
London Borough of Hillingdon:
St Helen’s School (girls)
Northwood College for Girls (girls – GDST)
London Borough of Hounslow:
Kew House School (co-ed)
Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea:
Kensington Park School (co-ed)
Knightsbridge School (co-ed)
More House School (girls)
Queen’s Gate School (girls)
Give your child a head start with all the tools they need to get into an independent school in London. Start your 5-day free trial of Atom Nucleus today and access over 90,000 practice questions, unlimited online mock tests and more.
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