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  1. Private Schools
February 21, 2024

The 25 best UK senior schools in 2024

As featured in the Spear's Schools Index 2024

By Spear's

From Eton and Harrow to Cheltenham Ladies’ College, Britain is home to some of the biggest names in international education. The 25 best UK senior schools have been awarded Top Flight status in the Spear’s Schools Index 2024, which recognises the world’s 100 leading private schools.

[See also: Introducing the Spear’s Schools Index 2024]

Traditionally focused on helping students achieve excellent exam results and entry to some of the world’s best universities, more recently the UK’s best schools have shifted towards a more holistic approach to education.

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Speaking to Spear’s, school leaders emphasised the importance of nurturing student individuality; of encouraging critical thinking; and of supporting them in having a positive impact on the world around them. (Although good grades are still important, of course). 

[See also: The most expensive schools in Britain: from Eton to Gordonstoun]

From the Scottish Highlands to the south coast of England, the best UK senior schools boast inspirational teachers, personalised pastoral care and a dazzling number of co-curricular activities. Read on to discover the complete list.

The UK’s best senior schools: names to know

This year, seven British schools were added to the Top Flight of the Spear’s Schools Index 2024: 

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Shrewsbury School 

Shrewsbury School, a leading British private school
Shrewsbury School

A mixed boarding school for children aged 13 to 18, Shrewsbury, in west Shropshire, offers a balance of academic rigour – and ‘serious fun’. There is a dedicated ‘Head of Adventure’ and headmaster Leo Winkley hopes each individual student flourishes in their own way.

Read the full profile on spears500.com

Highgate

Headmaster Adam Pettitt prioritises a positive environment where pupils are both driven and happy – and the results speak for themselves: more than 90 per cent of A-Level students achieve A or A* grades. This cluster of co-educational schools in north London (pre-prep, prep and senior) caters to about 1,800 pupils aged between 4 and 18.

Read the full profile on spears500.com

King’s College School Wimbledon

King’s College School Wimbledon is well known for its academic success: over the last seven years around one in four students has gone on to study at Oxbridge. The school is also practised in supporting students who want to study in the US. There is also a range of co-curricular activities and a focus on independent thinking – all under the guidance of headteacher Dr Anne Cotton. 

Read the full profile on spears500.com

Concord College 

A lesser-known name but no less outstanding, Concord College largely serves students from outside the UK, or whose parents live abroad. Principal Dr Michael Truss oversees a Shropshire school with small class sizes  — averaging 16 in lower school and 12 in sixth form — allowing students to receive individual attention. 

Read the full profile on spears500.com

Fettes College 

Situated just one mile from Edinburgh city centre, Fettes College occupies an imposing 19th-century Scots Baronial style building that has been described as one of the finest in the country. Under headteacher Helen Harrison, Fettes provides education to 750 pupils between the ages of 7 and 18. 

Read the full profile on spears500.com

Queen’s College London

Academic standards have risen over recent years under principal Richard Tillett and his predecessor Frances Ramsay so Queen’s College London now competes with other London day schools. It caters to 630 girls aged 11-18.

Read the full profile on spears500.com

Roedean School

In a beautiful coastal location just outside Brighton, 600 girls, more than 300 of whom are full boarders, are given an excellent education and room to explore and experiment. Sport, culture and the arts are all on show at Roedean School, which focuses on ‘nurturing trailblazers’. 

Read the full profile on spears500.com

Methodology

Eton, a leading British private school
Eton, pictured, has been a firm fixture in the Spear’s Schools Index/ Image: Shutterstock

Spear’s has worked closely with the expert team at Thuso to refine the methodology underpinning the index, and to convene an expert panel of leading international educationalists to contribute their knowledge and insight to the research and selection process.

[See also: Is this the end of the single-sex school?]

The Spear’s Research Unit collected data and information directly from candidate schools, using a combination of online forms and interviews. This was supplemented with additional research and by intelligence and insight from Thuso and the panel of expert educationalists.

The Spear’s Schools Index 2024 has also been underpinned by the following key principles:

  • While examination results and academic attainment is a key consideration, it is not the only thing that matters. Leading schools are not necessarily the most ‘academic’: A wide range of social, cultural, and pastoral factors have been weighed in finalising the index. In some cases, some schools with strong academics have been omitted where they fall short in relation to these wider considerations.
  • Families are increasingly ‘mobile’, with new ‘global cities’ emerging as key hubs: This is particularly the case for cities such as Dubai, as well as established regional hubs in Europe, Africa, Latin America, South-East Asia, and the Pacific.
  • Reputation and standing are not insignificant: The reputation and standing of a school shape and influence its character, the parents and pupils it attracts, and its position both regionally, and internationally.

Building on these principles, Spear’s, in collaboration with Thuso, brought together an Expert Advisory Panel, jointly chaired by Matthew Goldie-Scot, managing director at Thuso Group, and Ian Douglas, Spear’s head of research. Further information about the composition of the panel is available here.

[See also: Labour’s private schools VAT pledge is part of a bleak tax picture for HNW families]

The best senior schools in the UK: the complete list

Click on individual schools to read their full profiles on Spears500.com. All schools have been awarded Top Flight ranking. Schools are listed in alphabetical order.

As featured in the Spear's Schools Index 2024

Topics in this article :
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