Top Independent Schools in the UK (based on GCSE results)



There are currently around 2,500 independent private schools in the UK, providing education to over 615,000 pupils each year.


Independent schools are fee-levying schools which are directed by a board of elected governors. Parents pay a premium to get a top class education for their children, with the expectation of their child walking away with top grades. 


But how much does it cost to go to one of the best performing private schools in the country – and is it really worth it?


We’ve compiled a list of the top 100 independent schools in the UK based on GCSE results in 2018, and revealed the price of attending each one.


Whether its a school fit for a royal or the school that the country’s prime minister attended – you can find the top-rated private schools below…


Top 100 independent private schools ranked by GCSE results and price to attend


Rank School Name Day or Boarding School? Gender 9 – 7 or A*- A % Costings (from £)
1 St Paul’s Girls’ School Day Girls 99.26 24,891
2 Godolphin & Latymer School Day Girls 97.95 22,595
3 St Mary’s School – Ascot Both Girls 97.85 27,630
4 Guildford High School for Girls Day Girls 97.53 17,214
5 Westminster School Both Co-ed (Boys Only 7-16) 97.33 29,709
6 North London Collegiate School Day Girls 97.21 20,430
7 King’s College School – Wimbledon Day Boys (Co-ed 6th form) 96.4 22,335
8 St Paul’s School Both Boys 96.14 25,032
9 Eton College Boarding Boys 95.75 40,668
10 City of London School for Girls Day Girls 95.61 18,384
11 Wycombe Abbey School Boarding Girls 95.2 29,205
12 Magdalen College School Day Boys (Co-ed 6th form) 95.15 18,477
13 Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls Day Girls 94.31 18,393
14 Perse Upper School Day Co-ed 94.18 17,322
15 Wimbledon High School Day Girls 93.58 18,810
16 Hampton School Day Boys 93.56 20,055
17 Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School, Elstree Day Boys 93.54 20,346
18 King Edward VI High School for Girls Day Girls 92.75 12,888
19 Cheltenham Ladies’ College Both Girls 92.7 29,280
20 Highgate School Day Co-ed 92.45 20,970
21 James Allen’s Girls’ School Day Girls 92.4 17,991
22 Putney High School Day Girls 92.18 18,900
23 Alleyn’s School, Dulwich Day Co-ed 92.02 19,851
24 Lady Eleanor Holles School Day Girls 92 20,196
25 Sevenoaks School Both Co-ed 92 27,585
26 Notting Hill and Ealing High School Day Girls 91.71 18,561
27 Winchester College Boarding Boys 91.11 38,100
28 Manchester Grammar School Day Boys 90.93 12,570
29 City of London School for Boys Day Boys 90.8 17,901
30 Brighton College Both Co-ed 90.44 24,420
31 Withington Girls School Day Girls 90.3 12,990
32 Oxford High School GDST Day Girls 89.75 15,546
33 South Hampstead High School Day Girls 89.56 18,654
34 Royal Grammar School – Guildford Day Boys 88.82 18,285
35 Trinity School – Croydon Day Boys (Co-ed 6th form) 88.64 17,448
36 University College School Day Boys (Co-ed 6th form) 88.01 20,328
37 Abbey School – Reading Day Girls 87.97 17,640
38 The School of St Helen and St Katharine Day Girls 87.89 16,470
39 Concord College Both Co-ed 87.43 14,280
40 Badminton School Both Girls 87.29 16,425
41 Tonbridge School Both Boys 87.25 30,342
42 Merchant Taylors’ School Day Boys 87.16 20,698
43 Wellington College Both Co-ed 87 30,375
44 Royal Grammar School – Newcastle Day Co-ed 85.82 13,164
45 Bancroft’s School Day Co-ed 85.74 18,123
46 King Edward’s School – Birmingham Day Boys 84.92 13,692
47 St Catherine’s School – Guildford Both Girls 84.88 18,375
48 Channing School Day Girls 84.82 19,410
49 St Albans High School for Girls Day Girls 84.58 18,795
50 Eltham College Day Boys (Co-ed 6th form) 84.55 17,775
51 Downe House School Both Girls 84.55 27,495
52 Dulwich College Both Boys 84.44 20,448
53 Francis Holland School – Sloane Square Day Girls 84 20,910
54 Harrow School Boarding Boys 84 40,050
55 Headington School Both Girls 83.79 19,905
56 Kingston Grammar School Day Co-ed 83.78 19,230
57 Abingdon School Both Boys 83.7 19,950
58 Ibstock Place School Day Co-ed 83.5 20,880
59 City of London Freemen’s School Both Co-ed 83.12 18,279
60 Sir William Perkins’s School Day Girls 82.22 15,915
61 St Albans School Day Boys (Co-ed 6th form) 82.18 18,600
62 Oundle School Both Co-ed 82.17 23,505
63 Rugby School Both Co-ed 81.75 22,437
64 Stephen Perse Foundation Day Co-ed (Diamond model 11 – 16) 81.13 17,490
65 St Swithun’s School Both Girls 80.88 20,565
66 Queen’s Gate – Kensington Day Girls 80.57 20,550
67 Caterham School Both Co-ed 80.42 18,900
68 Benenden School Boarding Girls 80.26 37,950
69 St Mary’s School – Calne Both Girls 80 29,025
70 Reigate Grammar School Day Co-ed 79.74 18,720
71 St Helen’s – Northwood Day Girls 79.67 17,448
72 Palmers Green High School Day Girls 79.47 16,260
73 Loughborough High School Day Girls 79.16 12,549
74 Surbiton High School Day Girls (Co-ed 4 – 11) 78.91 17,400
75 King Edward’s School – Bath Day Co-ed 78.79 14,475
76 Warwick School Both Boys 78.31 13,194
77 Epsom College Both Co-ed 77.07 25,266
78 Radley College Boarding Boys 77.04 38,325
79 Howell’s School Llandaff GDST Day Girls 76.87 14,070
80 Leicester Grammar School Day Co-ed 76.82 13,029
81 Forest School – London Day Co-ed 76.79 18,681
82 Croydon High School GDST Day Girls 76.6 16,656
83 Bablake School Day Co-ed 76.2 11,694
84 St George’s College Day Co-ed 76.13 19,185
85 Ardingly College Both Co-ed 75.72 23,985
86 Bradford Grammar School Day Co-ed 75.71 12,669
87 Charterhouse School Both Co-ed 75 33,630
88 Exeter School Day Co-ed 74.91 13,230
89 Burgess Hill Girls Both Girls (Co-ed 2 – 4) 74.74 18,900
90 St John’s School – Leatherhead Day Co-ed 74.73 24,300
91 Whitgift School Both Boys 74.26 20,640
92 Francis Holland School – Regent’s Park Day Girls 73.98 20,040
93 Wolverhampton Grammar School Day Co-ed 73.72 13,662
94 Chigwell School Both Co-ed 73.45 17,985
95 King’s High School for Girls Day Girls 73.2 12,975
96 The King’s School – Worcester Day Co-ed 72.8 13,989
97 The Grange School Day Co-ed 72.8 11,850
98 Marlborough College Both Co-ed 72.62 37,815
99 King’s School – Canterbury Both Co-ed 72.28 27,495
100 King Edward VI School Day Co-ed 72.21 16,050



This table lists the Top 100 independent schools in the UK based on 2018 GCSE and IGCSE results. Rankings are based on the percentage of GCSE/IGCSE entries awarded 9-7 or A* and A grades. 


Our research shows that the average cost for private schooling is £14,102 per year for a day school and £32,259 per year for boarding school.


A day school is a non-residential school, where students are taught during the day and then return home afterwards. A boarding school provides education for pupils who live on the premises during term-time. Both types of schooling appear within our top 100 list – and both charge a pretty penny to attend.


Private schools significantly outperform state schools for the percentage of students achieving top grades



Faisal Nasim, Founder of Exam Papers Plus, said: “Despite the ever-increasing fees, competition for places at the UK’s top independent school is as fierce as ever. It’s clear that attending one of these schools is going to tip the odds in a student’s favour when it comes to examination results.”


He continued: “However, as a parent, it’s vital that you do your research and not rely solely on GCSE rankings and perceived prestige. It’s important to find a school that fits your child’s personality, somewhere they will thrive and flourish. It may well be that the school that’s perfect for your child is not on this list.”


The top 10 independent private schools in the country


St Paul’s Girls’ School


St Paul’s Girls’ School is an independent day school which is currently ranked as the top independent school in the UK.


Established in 1904 by the Worshipful Company of Mercers, the school is exclusively for girls and is located in Brook Green, Hammersmith, a district of West London.


It’s consistently ranked as one of the best independent schools in the country for academic performance and always ranks highly in the school league tables. Over half of its students achieve straight A* grades, with 99% of students achieving at least one A* or A grade in 2018.


Notable previous pupils include comedian and screenwriter Jennifer Saunders, and physicist Rosalind Franklin. 


The Godolphin and Latymer School


The Godolphin and Latymer School is an independent day school for girls in Hammersmith, West London. 


The school’s current building first opened its doors in 1861, serving as the Godolphin School for boys. Though initially successful, it closed in 1900, re-opening five years later as an independent day school for girls. The school then took on the name of the Godolphin and Latymer School due to its association with the Latymer Foundation.


The Good Schools Guide called the school a “very strong academic school with a friendly atmosphere, an outstanding head and a broad range of extra-curricular activities.” And the school’s GCSE exam results can support this, with over 97% of students achieving at least one A* or A grade in 2018.


Notable alumni include tv presenter Davina McCall, pop singer Sophie Ellis Bextor, and actress Kate Beckinsale.


St Mary’s School Ascot


St Mary’s School Ascot is a Roman Catholic independent day and boarding school for girls in Ascot, Berkshire, England. It is a member of the Girls’ Schools Association. 


The school is renowned for its academic performance, continuously topping school league table rankings. As of 2019, St Mary’s has been placed 12th in the Top U.K. Boarding School Rankings based on their exam results.


According to GCSE results in 2018, 97% of students achieved at least one A* or A grade, making St Mary’s one of four schools to surpass 97% for the top grades, according to the Independent Schools Council (ISC).



Guildford High School for Girls


Founded in 1888 by the United Church Schools Trust, Guildford High School is an independent day school exclusively for girls aged four to eighteen. It is one of the most successful independent schools in the country.


Located in Guildford, Surrey, Guildford High School comprises a Junior School, Secondary School and Sixth Form, and educates around 1,000 students. 


The students at Guildford High consistently achieve exceptional exam results, enabling them to secure places at some of the most competitive universities in the world. In 2018, over 97% of students were awarded A*- A grades.


Westminster School


Westminster School is an independent day and boarding school located in the precincts of Westminster Abbey. It is the only ancient London school to occupy its original site.


Up until GCSEs, Westminster is a single-sex boys’ school; girls are admitted at age sixteen into the Sixth Form.


Known as one of the UK’s leading academic institutions, with 97% of current students achieving A grades in 2018, the school’s famous alumni include journalist and filmmaker Louis Theroux, politician Nick Clegg and actress Helena Bonham Carter.


North London Collegiate School


North London Collegiate School (NLCS) is a top independent day school for girls. It is also a member of the Girls’ Schools Association.


Founded in Camden Town in 1850, the school is now located in Edgware, in the London Borough of Harrow.


Since then, generations of girls have received an ambitious academic education at NLCS, a school which continues to top league tables thanks to its outstanding academic performance. 


In 2018, over 97% of students achieved A-A* grades – placing the school 6th in exam result rankings. Notable previous students include actress Rachel Weisz and journalist and editor, Dame Anna Wintour DBE.


King’s College School



King’s College School is a selective, independent day school for boys aged seven to eighteen, and girls aged sixteen to eighteen. It is located in Wimbledon, London.


Founded in 1829 by royal charter, King’s College School is one of the most prestigious and successful schools in the UK. It is a school whose exceptional academic standards have helped them reach the top of national league tables.


The school currently educates just under fifteen hundred students, of which 96% achieved A and A* grades in their GCSE exams in 2018.


St Paul’s School


St Paul’s School is a selective, independent day and boarding school for boys aged thirteen to eighteen. It is located on a 43-acre site by the River Thames, in Barnes, London.


Founded in 1509 by English churchman and pioneer, John Colet, the school originally takes its name from the St Paul’s Cathedral in London. 


Known for its unwavering academic performance, St Paul’s also has one of the highest Oxford and Cambridge acceptance rates of any secondary school or college.


Over the last five years, more than 90% of St Paul’s students have achieved A and A* grades in their GCSE exams. 


Eton College


Eton College is an independent boarding school for boys, located in the parish of Eton, near Windsor in Berkshire, England. 


The school was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI, and has educated generations of British and foreign aristocracy, including prime ministers, world leaders and Nobel laureates. The school has also educated members of the Royal family, including Prince William and his brother Prince Harry.


Eton is one of the leading independent schools in the UK and it continues to provide a stimulating all-round education, resulting in academic excellence. In 2018, over 96% of students at Eton College achieved A* and A grades. 


Other notable ex-students include actors Hugh Laurie, Tom Hiddleston and Eddie Redmayne, and ex-Prime Minister David Cameron.


City of London School for Girls


The City of London School for Girls (CLSG) is an independent day school for girls aged seven to eighteen, based in the London Square Mile.


The school was founded in 1984, using a bequest by William Ward, a merchant of Brixton, to provide a broad and liberal education for girls.


In 2018, CLSG was rated by The Sunday Times as the second-best independent school in the UK, based on GCSE and A-Level results, with over 95% of students achieving grades A and above.


Thanks to its outstanding academic reputation and leading league table results, The Good Schools Guide described the school as an “academic and hard-working day school that currently produces good results, articulate and independent girls.”


*All figures correct as of 2018. Visit the Best Schools website for more information.

7.6% of Primary School Applications Were Submitted Late Last Year

Primary School Application Deadline is Approaching


It’s that time of year again! Parents whose children are due to enter reception class in the coming September will be all too aware that the deadline for school applications is 15th January 2019 in England (with various dates throughout January depending upon council in Wales).


Submit late, and you risk your application only being considered once those submitted on time are allocated. This could leave you less likely to get your preferred choice.


But how many parents DO submit late?


Late Primary School Applications Statistics


We submitted a Freedom of Information request to over 200 councils at the beginning of December 2018 to find out:


  • How many primary school applications they received in total last year (for children due to enter reception class in September 2018)
  • How many were submitted late (after the official deadline had passed)


They didn’t all get back to us. We’re yet to hear from some, one council refused our request and several others told us they do not hold the information about the number submitted late.


But we did successfully hear back from 107 councils at the time of writing (outlined in more detail below).


From the 103 councils who completed our request for information, last year:


  • They received a combined total of 417,248 applications
  • 31,266 of those were received late


Percentage of primary school applications received late


That means nationally (based on our sample of 107 councils) 7.6% of applications for primary school are received late.


The Best and Worst Areas for Late Applications


But it’s not consistent across the country. Some councils have hardly any or no late applications, while others have over a quarter of parents submitting late.


The worst offenders from the 107 councils who responded to our request:


  • Merthyr Tydfil County Borough – 28% of applications received late last year
  • Gwynedd County Council – 23% of applications received late last year
  • Denbighshire County Council – 22% of all applications received late last year
  • Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council – 21.04% of all applications received late last year
  • Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council – 16% of all applications received late last year


At the other end of the scale:

  • London City Council: 0% of its applications were received late last year (though the council only processed 34 in total)
  • Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council: 0.2% of its applications were received late last year
  • Middlesbrough Borough Council: 0.3% of its applications were received late last year
  • Wokingham Borough Council: 0.4% of its applications were received late last year
  • London Borough of Islington: 0.4% of its applications were received late last year


How your council performed


Want to know how your council area performed? All the data we received before publication on 9th January is summarised below and you can download a raw data spreadsheet with information about responses statuses of all councils from here.


If your council was one of the 107 who responded, you’ll find their late primary school application statistics in the table below:



Why are there so many late applications in some councils?


It’s impossible to say why so many parents in some council areas submit their applications late. Though one theory we’d suggest is s lack of advice in terms of how to go about it.


Stacey MacNaught’s son is due to start school in Oldham in September 2019. Last year, her council saw 16% of its applications received late.


We asked why she feels this might be the case and she comments:


“We are obviously acutely aware of the fact our son is due to go into Primary School this September. My husband and I have been talking about schools since before he was born and we looked up all the information about the application process ourselves.


We’ve received nothing at all from the council – nothing to say our son is in this year’s cohort, nothing to say the application should be direct to the council rather than the schools and nothing advising us about how to go about visiting prospective schools. And, crucially, nothing telling us when applications open and close. We’ve had absolutely no word from the council at all. And I’ve got friends in the area in a similar situation, so I don’t think we are the only people experiencing that.


It’s perfectly feasible that some parents aren’t even aware their child starts this September. After all, we talk about compulsory education from 5, but children just starting reception are actually 4. So I imagine it’s absolutely realistic for some parents to just assume it must be the September after.


And for others, the fact the process is all online and all direct to the council might be overwhelming.”


Should I Be Applying?


If your child was born between 1st September 2014 and 31st August 2015, you should be applying for a Primary School place.


Late Primary School Application Statistics – Does it Matter?


It could matter, yes. In many cases, those who submit their application after the deadline will not be considered until those who have submitted on time have been allocated a place.


This ultimately leaves you less likely in most parts of the country to get your first choice of school.