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  1. Private Schools
February 16, 2024

The most expensive private schools in the European Union

These schools offer a world-class education, but such quality comes at a price

By Spear's

For HNW families who want the very best education that money can buy, look no further: this is the ranking of the five most expensive schools in the European Union, as per the Spear’s Schools Index 2024.

The reason for this unusual designation is that the list of the most expensive private schools in Europe is significantly skewed by the inclusion of Switzerland, which has a number of schools that charge six-figure sums. This index therefore focuses on the most expensive schools in the European Union, and separates the most expensive Swiss schools into a separate list. (All of which are more expensive).

[See also: Are high-end private tutors worth the money?]

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This ranking, which includes schools in France, Belgium, Germany and Monaco, is based on fees for day pupils as this data was available for all schools in the Spear’s Schools Index 2024.

If the rankings were based on boarding fees, the title of most expensive private school in the European Union would go to Schule Schloss Salem (currently fifth), which has boarding fees of between $53,600 – $58,900. King’s College, The British School of Madrid has boarding fees of $34,300 – $41,200 but its day fees are not enough to make the top five. The same is true of St Edward’s College, Malta, which has boarding fees of $18,800-$29,000, but whose day pupils don’t even pay in the double figures.

Where are the most expensive private schools in the EU?

British School of Brussels: $20,300 – $46,000 per year

The British School of Brussels is winner of the Spear's Awards 2023 School of the Year
The British School of Brussels beat out brilliant competition to be crowned School of the Year at the Spear’s Awards 2023

Situated on a green and spacious campus about 20 minutes drive from the centre of Brussels, the British School of Brussels (BSB) has established itself as a leading international school, offering a world-class education to students from around the globe since it was opened by the late Duke of Edinburgh in 1970. 

The British School of Brussels was awarded The School of the Year award at the Spear’s Awards 2023, presented in association with Thuso, in recognition of its excellence. 

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The judges said what set BSB apart is its ‘values-driven’ approach to education, with students selected based on their attitude to learning rather than academic achievement. The British School of Brussels does not put academic attainment at the centre of its application process. Instead, the admissions team is open to hearing from pupils who will benefit from the ‘education and range of opportunities’ provided, and who will ‘thrive under, and embrace, the BSB values. 

The school welcomed more than 50 Ukrainian students after they were forced to flee the Russian invasion in 2022.

[See also: School of the Year: the British School of Brussels wins at the Spear’s Awards 2023]

The school curriculum is adapted from the UK national curriculum, providing students with a rigorous and comprehensive educational experience that prepares them for the most prestigious universities worldwide. 

From early years to sixth form, BSB offers a wide range of subjects and qualifications, including the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme. The BSB aims to ‘develop confident, caring and courageous people who engage actively, ethically and purposefully with the world’.

The school’s world-class facilities include dance and drama studios, a university standard music suite as well as 11 science laboratories, four art studios and seven technology workshops. The 240-seat Brel Theatre hosts several productions a year, including student-directed performances. 

Along with a multi-purpose sports hall, gymnasium, and fitness suite, the BSB is the only international school in Belgium to have its own competition standard swimming pool. It also has the largest free-standing bouldering wall in any school in Europe.

And if that wasn’t enough, students can choose from 200 different clubs and activities, from tennis to tag rugby and choir to creative writing.

British School of Paris: $21 000 – $34,200 per year

The British School of Paris wants children to be ‘happy and successful – in that order’

Established in 1954, the British School of Paris is the only accredited British international school in France inspected by British Schools Overseas. 

The school follows the England and Wales curriculum and students study GCSEs and A-levels, as well as the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme.

The school’s motto Validus Corpore Animoque, meaning ‘strength in body and mind’, captures the school’s ethos and is a mission it strives to carry into the daily lives of its students. 

[See also: How to get your child into private school in the UK: the expert guide]

Teaching is in English, but French is compulsory up to the age of 16. The school provides support for pupils whose first language is not English in the form of EAL (English as an Additional Language) and has a programme of Intensive English.

While children are encouraged to aim high, the school wants children to be ‘happy and successful – in that order’. The school has a strong focus on pastoral care which underpins the BSP’s approach to teaching and learning. 

The curriculum is rich and diverse, and children are given the opportunity to develop skills, knowledge and enjoyment across a wide range of extracurricular activities. 

The International School of Monaco: $27,000 – $34,000 per year

Monaco’s international population is reflected in the diversity of the bilingual International School of Monaco (ISM)’s student body. 

The school’s curriculum is taught in French and English and is designed to challenge students academically as well as cultivate intellectual curiosity to prepare them for success in higher education and beyond. 

ISM continues to strive for excellence and has worked in close collaboration with King’s College School Wimbledon since 2020 as part of its drive to be among the best schools in Europe.

ISM received an outstanding CIS re-accreditation report in December 2023, meeting every international standard, surpassing 66 per cent of standards, and garnering 84 commendations. 

While academic success is a cornerstone of the school, students’ wellbeing is at the heart of the school’s ethos. ISM’s mission is to create a positive and inclusive school culture that promotes academic success, personal development, and overall student happiness. The school offers an extensive enrichment programme as well as numerous outreach opportunities via philanthropy clubs, Student Council initiatives and the PTA.

The campus will move to a more spacious and modern facility in the Larvotto region of eastern Monaco in the summer of 2024, with improved STEM and sports facilities.

St Julian’s, Lisbon: $14,700 – $28,700 per year

St Julian’s, Lisbon
St Julian’s, Lisbon promotes intercultural learning which values knowledge and respect for different cultures

Portugal is an increasingly attractive destination for international HNW families and St Julian’s is one of the top choices for highly mobile families. 

St. Julian’s, Libson has offered a bilingual curriculum since 1935, promoting both fluency in English and the knowledge of Portuguese language, history and culture. 

The school’s mission is to create a happy and stimulating environment where students can achieve their full potential – a highlight of many students’ day is the headmaster’s dog which makes a daily appearance on the school grounds. 

Alongside strong academic results, the school promotes intercultural learning which values knowledge and respect for different cultures. 

St Julian’s follows the British national curriculum at secondary level and, in 1986, it was the first school in Portugal to offer the IB Diploma Programme and there are now more than eighty students in each year of the two-year programme.

The school has much to offer in terms of extracurricular activities, with after-school clubs ranging from rock climbing on the nearby sea cliffs to basketball and rugby.

Schule Schloss Salem: $25,500 – $27,300 per year

Schule Schloss Salem
Schule Schloss Salem sits on the picturesque Lake Constance

Schule Schloss Salem, often referred to simply as Salem, is a prestigious boarding school in Germany renowned for its high academic standards and holistic approach to education.

Set on the picturesque Lake Constance, Schule Schloss Salem was founded in 1920 by pioneering educator Kurt Hahn, widely considered to be one of the founding fathers of modern experiential education.

Hahn believed in the importance of holistic education that emphasised intellectual, physical, and emotional development. 

[See also: The Spear’s Schools Index: Our rankings of the world’s best schools]

This tradition endures to this day, with Schule Schloss Salem placing equal emphasis on character development, leadership skills, and personal growth as it does on academic achievements. 

Students are encouraged to engage in extracurricular activities, community service, and outdoor education programmes that foster creativity, resilience, and a sense of social responsibility.

But Schule Schloss Salem is no slouch academically, with a challenging curriculum that puts problem-solving, and intellectual curiosity, communication, teamwork, and decision-making at the forefront. Students work towards the German Abitur qualification or the IB diploma; they are taught in English and German, and academic results are strong.

The school’s alumni community provides valuable connections, mentorship, and support to current students and graduates.

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