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  1. Private Schools
February 21, 2024

The 15 best UK prep schools in 2024

As featured in the Spear's Schools Index 2024

By Spear's

The right prep school will instil in a child a lifetime love of learning and a bedrock of skills, qualities, and values that will take them through to secondary school and beyond. The 15 best UK prep schools are recognised in the Spear’s Schools Index 2024 – the definitive guide to the world’s 100 leading private schools.

These schools offer challenging and well-rounded programmes where students are encouraged to excel academically while seeking out co-curricular activities such as sports, arts, music and drama.

[See also: These are the 25 best senior schools in the UK]

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The rigorous academic programmes at prep schools in the Spear’s Schools Index 2024, such as at Dulwich Prep London and St Paul’s Juniors, prepare students not only for success in secondary schools but also for future careers and for life.

From London to Scotland, the best UK prep schools create supportive learning communities placing character development, independent thinking and social responsibility alongside academic success. 

Best UK prep schools: names to know

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

Belhaven Hill School  

Belhaven Hill School in East Lothian is one of only a few boarding prep schools in Scotland. It offers a traditional but caring environment for children from five to 13. Leavers go on to the top schools in the UK including Eton, Shrewsbury, Stowe and Winchester.

Read the full profile on spears500.com

Cothill House School 

Situated in the heart of the Oxfordshire countryside, Cothill House is a prep school for boys aged between 8 and 13. For 150 years Cothill House was solely for boarders, but under the leadership of new headmaster, George May, the school opened the door to day pupils for the very first time in September 2023.

Read the full profile on spears500.com

Hill House School 

This London prep caters to an international mix of pupils and has strong connections with its sister school in Switzerland. Hill House champions a ‘broad-based curriculum’ to encourage a ‘lifelong love of learning’ in its pupils. Notable former alumni include King Charles III and pop star Lily Allen.

Read the full profile on spears500.com

Broomfield House School

Broomfield House School offers a nurturing and supportive environment where students are encouraged to thrive academically, socially, and emotionally. Established in 1876 Broomfield is the oldest private school in Kew but despite its history reflected in the grand Victoria buildings, the school is forward-thinking, successfully mixing modern with the traditional. 

Read the full profile on spears500.com

Dulwich Prep London

Dulwich Prep London styles itself as the ‘launchpad for life’ and takes pride in inspiring excellence, underpinned by its eight values (Love, Courage, Gratitude, Humility, Justice, Service, Self-Discipline and Honesty) that run throughout the curricular and co-curricular opportunities. Dulwich Prep London is a fast-paced academic school, with 95 per cent of Year 8 boys going on to their first-choice secondary schools, including Dulwich College, Eton College, Harrow School, Tonbridge School and Whitgift School.

Read the full profile on spears500.com

St Paul’s Juniors 

St Paul’s Juniors seeks to enable pupils to be the best they can be in a lively, stimulating and rewarding environment. The younger sibling of St Paul’s gives pupils the opportunity to expand their horizons intellectually and explore their co-curricular interests while instilling in them a love of learning that will take them through to the senior school and beyond.  

Read the full profile on spears500.com

Westminster Under School

Built on liberal tradition, where curiosity and resourcefulness are encouraged, as well as a sense of community Westminster Under School describes itself as a ‘happy, high-achieving prep school for boys aged 7 to 13’.  Most boys do go through to Westminster, either by the day or boarding, but others peel off to Eton or Winchester College

Read the full profile on spears500.com

Methodology

Students at Thomas’s Battersea, which remains one of the best prep schools in the UK / Image: Thomas’s Battersea

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.

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.

Best UK prep schools: 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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  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
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