Welcome to our best independent schools guide 2024, designed to answer, which are the best 2024 INDEPENDENT schools near me?

THE BEST nearby independent schools

CLICK HERE to compare your selected independent schools.

How do I get my child into the best independent school?

This is all about:

  • Researching which are the highest rated schools in your local area.
  • Planning alternatives in advance – since there is of course no guarantee of your first choice working out.
  • Realistically assessing your current financial situation.

Here’s our popular Passed Papers You Tube channel.

Looking for your best local schools?

Here are the top UK grammar schools and our best grammar schools guide.

Find out more here about 13+ exam papers for the common entrance exam. 

Top independent schools league table

1 St Paul’s Girls’ School, London
2 King’s College School, Wimbledon
3 Wycombe Abbey School, High Wycombe
4 Magdalen College School, Oxford
5 Guildford High School, Guildford
6 St Paul’s School, London
7 Westminster School, Westminster
8= Brighton College, Brighton
8= City of London School for Girls, London
10 Sevenoaks School, Sevenoaks
11 Eton College, Windsor
12 The Godolphin and Latymer School, London
13 Haberdashers’ Girls’ School, Elstree
14 North London Collegiate School, Edgware
15 The Perse School, Cambridge
16 The Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School, Elstree
17 St Mary’s School Ascot, Ascot
18 Lady Eleanor Holles, London
19 King Edward VI High School for Girls, Birmingham
20 Royal Grammar School, Guildford

What are the Independent school league tables based on?

The independent school league table rankings are going to be based on the national GCSE and A-Level exams. Non-exam based criteria may are also used to determine the rankings.

How to interpret the Sunday Times school league tables

The Sunday Times‘s private school league tables make a fascinating read for anyone. In particular, if you are looking for the top independent schools in the UK. The Guardian, The Times and The Telegraph websites allow you to add filters to their published independent school league tables. So, you can

  • Pull out the top independent schools nearby. Then compare your chosen school group on those criteria which are most important to you.
  • Conduct your own analysis to determine which independent school best suits your child’s specific needs.
  • Visit each of your chosen independent schools. Which has the right ethos for your child.
  • Check the latest Ofsted report too.

Interpreting Ofsted reports

  • Each Ofsted report is an analysis of that school’s teachers’ professional competence .
  • Plus, whether Ofsted’s performance standards have been met across the school.
  • There are three possible outcomes: under-achieving; achieving; or outstanding.

top school league tables

Private School league tables

So what do this year’s results show? One of the main findings is that the gap between independent schools and state schools is narrowing. There were concerns that the introduction of a Grade 9 at GCSE (which is above the old A*) might favour independent schools. However, the reverse seems to be true.

In 2016 before the new grade system was introduced, just 79 schools managed to get 50% of their pupils achieving an A*. 63 of these were independent schools and 16 state schools. This year 38 state schools achieved the equivalent benchmark, approximately one-third of the total number.

Nor is it just selective grammar schools whose results are improving (though these schools still dominate the highest places). Ten of the leading non-grammar state schools have increased their proportion of top grades by nearly 50%. Conversely, results in the independent sector have remained broadly similar to previous years.

Independent school league tables

Regional differences

But it’s a complex picture. State school results are not improving uniformly across the entire UK. The Sunday Times’ analysis shows that of the Top 500 schools, 275 were in London and the South. Furthermore, 9 out of the top 20 state schools were in the capital.

Boys’ grammar Queen Elizabeth’s School, Barnet tops the list followed by girls’ grammar The Henrietta Barnett School in Hampstead Garden Suburb with Wilson’s School Wallington in Sutton in the third spot. (All three schools occupied the same league table place as last year.)

Regionally, areas with grammar schools fare better in the league tables too. For example, Northern Ireland where there are grammars has double the number of schools in the Top 500 than Wales where there aren’t grammars. This is despite Northern Ireland only having half of Wales’ population.

2022 best schools league tables

Outside of London and the South East, the best-performing state selective grammar schools in England were Pate’s Grammar School (ranked 7) and Altrincham Grammar School for Girls (ranked 11). In Northern Ireland, the highest ranked school is St Dominic’s Grammar School for Girls (ranked 23).

Top UK Independent schools

Perhaps not surprisingly, 10 of the 20 highest achieving independent schools in the UK were in London.

Indeed the top three all remain unchanged from last year.

  • St Paul’s Girls’ School in Hammersmith is in number one spot
  • City of London School for Girls in the Barbican
  • King’s College School in Wimbledon.

Top independent schools outside of the capital include

  • Wycombe Abbey School in High Wycombe (number 4),
  • Magdalen College School in Oxford (6) and
  • Brighton College (7).

Have a look here at the the Hampton school league table.

Best UK school league tables

While obviously, these league tables are only part of the picture, inevitably they are bound to put even more pressure on certain, ‘high performing’ schools. Many of these, it seems, are the selective state schools.

In the 2020 independent school league tables, 2,400 children sat the entrance test for Queen Elizabeth’s School in Barnet which tops the Sunday Times list.

More than 860 achieved the minimum academic standard but only 180 places were available. Tougher still was Henrietta Barnett which has 2000 applicants for 100 places.

Getting into these schools is only set to get tougher in 2019 as parents look at how well they are performing in the league tables. With the gap between selective schools and the independent sector narrowing in terms of performance, good selective state schools look set to remain the most competitive in the UK.

top independent schools in the UK

Top Secondary Schools of the Decade

East Anglia: Stephen Perse Foundation, Cambridge

East Midlands: Nottingham High School

London: Highgate School

North: The Grammar School at Leeds

Northeast: Royal Grammar School, Newcastle

Northwest: Withington Girls’ School, Manchester

Southeast: Guildford High School

Southwest: Cheltenham Ladies’ College

Wales: St Michael’s School, Llanelli

West Midlands:  King Edward’s School, Birmingham

Best London independent schools 2022

1 St Paul’s Girls’ School, Hammersmith
2 King’s College School, Wimbledon
3 St Paul’s School, Barnes
4 Westminster School
5 City of London School for Girls, Barbican
6 The Godolphin and Latymer School, Hammersmith
7 North London Collegiate School, Edgeware
8 Lady Eleanor Holles, Hampton
9 Hampton School
10 Wimbledon High School GDST
11 Putney High School GDST
12 James Allen’s Girls’ School, Dulwich
13 Latymer Upper School, Hammersmith
14 South Hampstead High School GDST
15 Alleyn’s School, Dulwich
16 University College School, Hampstead

17 City of London School

18 Highgate School
19 Merchant Taylors’ School, Northwood
20 Eltham College, Mottingham
21 Trinity School, Croydon
22 Notting Hill and Ealing High School GDST
23 Bancroft’s School, Woodford Green
24 Channing School, Highgate
25 Dulwich College
26 Whitgift School, South Croydon
27 Kingston Grammar School
28 Surbiton High School, Kingston upon Thames
29 Old Palace of John Whitgift School, Croydon
30 Ibstock Place School, Roehampton

Our other top private schools features include:

league tables for independent school; league tables independent schools;

independent schools league tables; and independent schools uk league tables.