10 best private schools in London and where to live nearby

boy walking on the Millenium Bridge towards St Pauls Cathedral and the City of London School for Boys

Discover the 10 best private schools in London according to the 2021 League Tables for A-Levels results. With each school, we suggest family-friendly areas close by, and provide resident reviews of available homes there. Find the perfect school for your child and the ideal home for your family, all in one go!

London maintains one of the UK’s highest concentrations of the best private schools in the country. Our top 10 list below is based on the percentage of A or A* grades achieved at A-Level in 2021. You can view the full 2021 London Independent Schools league tables here.

As you can see from the list, the competitive standard among these top-ranking schools is incredibly high. Students at 2021’s top-achieving private school – St Paul’s Girls’ School – managed a remarkable 99.8% of A-Level grades at A or A*. Our list includes both day and boarding options, as well as girls’, boys’ and two co-ed schools. With this range of admissions options, and different London areas, you should be able to find the ideal school for your children.

Browse through the top 10 schools below. Attached to each ranking is a dedicated area guide for more information and new homes available nearby.

*Please note that in 2021, students did not sit public examinations due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Grades were awarded by teachers according to strictly controlled internal assessment criteria.

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Best private schools in London

1. St Paul’s Girls School

99.80% A-A*

The best private school in London for 2020 is St Paul’s Girls’ School in Brook Green, Hammersmith. The day school for girls achieved an impressive 99.8% A or A* for GCSEs in 2019.

St Paul’s was founded in 1904 as a complement to the boys’ school that dates back to the sixteenth century. Gustav Holst and Herbert Howells were former Directors of Music at the school. Famous alumni of the school include the former Acting Leader of the Labour Party Harriet Harman, comedian Jennifer Saunders and actors Rachel Weisz and Misha Barton.

Hammersmith

Hammersmith

Ideally located for parents of children at St Paul’s Girls School, Hammersmith combines all the benefits of convenient access to central London, the City and the M4 with a leafy, relaxed environment. Its residential side streets and high-end newer developments sit comfortably alongside its excellent shopping and leisure options.

Read more about Hammersmith ?>
4.51
Average Location Score

Excellent

64%

Very Good

20%

Average

16%

Disappointing

0%

Very Poor

0%

2. St Paul’s School

95.30% A-A*

The second best private school on our list is St Paul’s School in Barnes, South West London. The school posted a 95.30% rate of A or A* results in 2021. St Paul’s sits on a leafy 43-acre site beside the Thames.

Despite its location, the school is connected to St Paul’s Cathedral, having been founded by the Dean of the Cathedral in 1509. Notable former pupils (known as ‘Old Paulines’) include diarist Samuel Pepys, writer G.K. Chesterton and the former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne.

Richmond Upon Thames

Richmond Upon Thames
Consistently voted one of Britain’s happiest places to live, Richmond Upon Thames is an affluent residential district. And why wouldn’t its residents be smiling from ear to ear? This Zone 4 London borough connects to hotspots like Clapham Junction and Victoria. But, with its Read more about Richmond Upon Thames ?>
4.57
Average Location Score

Excellent

65%

Very Good

30%

Average

5%

Disappointing

0%

Very Poor

0%

3. James Allen’s Girls’ School

93.00% A-A*

James Allen’s Girls’ School (JAGS) takes the number 3 spot for 2021. It can be found in the rather charming area of East Dulwich Grove, South East London, comprising 22 acres of beautiful grounds.

JAGS has been educating its pupils for over 270 years, making it the oldest independent school in Greater London. Despite its long history, it’s a school that looks towards the future, embracing innovation and educational technology across its operations. This is a nod to its founder, the educational visionary, James Allen.

Southwark

Southwark
Southwark is nestled on the South Bank of the Thames, and among its luxury riverside apartments and ultra-modern offices, are some of London’s biggest icons. This area is rich in culture, architecture and entertainment, charming millions of visitors (and residents) each year. For the Read more about Southwark ?>
4.52
Average Location Score

Excellent

65%

Very Good

27%

Average

7%

Disappointing

1%

Very Poor

1%

4. (joint). Eltham College

92.00% A-A*

Eltham College is one of three schools in this top 10 list of 2021 to achieve a 92% A-A* rate. It sits in the Mottingham district of South East London.

Founded in 1842 as the School for Sons of Missionaries, Eltham College is one of the leading UK independent schools. Originally sited in Blackheath, the school moved to its current home in the 18th-century mansion Fairy Hall in Mottingham, which used to be in the same parish as nearby Eltham, hence the name.

Famous ‘Old Elthamians’ include philosopher Piers Benn, LBC radio broadcaster Nick Ferrari, and Eric Liddell, an Olympic athlete, after whom the sports hall at Eltham College is named.

Bromley

Bromley

Just to the north west of Hampstead, the lively suburb of Colindale has been making waves with savvy home-seekers for years. Many are lured by its proximity to central London and affordable new housing options. Berkeley Homes’ Beaufort Park is one excellent new development in the area, alongside Colindale Gardens by developer Redrow.

Read more about Bromley ?>
4.69
Average Location Score

Excellent

72%

Very Good

22%

Average

6%

Disappointing

0%

Very Poor

0%

4. (joint). Putney High School

92.00% A-A*

Also achieving 92% A-A* in 2021, Putney High School is an independent day school for girls that was established in 1893. It is a member of the Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST), a leading network of independent girls’ schools designed to unlock the full potential of all its students. As the name suggests, it is located in Putney, South London.

Putney High School was also named among the Top 5 UK schools for sport for 2020-2021. Among its long list of successful alumnae are the actor Sophie Simnett, double Oscar-winning costume designer Jenny Beavan, and Dr Sophy Antrobus, a former RAF Wing Commander.

Putney

Putney
Putney is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Those who’ve never set foot here will probably know it as the starting point for the annual Cambridge and Oxford boat race. It’s home to a number of rowing clubs, along with a selection of groups dedicated Read more about Putney ?>
4.40
Average Location Score

Excellent

54%

Very Good

34%

Average

11%

Disappointing

0%

Very Poor

1%

4. (joint). Alleyn’s School

92.00% A-A*

In joint 4th-6th place with Eltham College and Putney High School, Alleyn’s School students also achieved a 92% A-A* results rate. Also located in Dulwich, South East London, it’s a co-educational independent day school with around 1,300 pupils.

The school is named after Edward Alleyn, a famous Elizabethan actor and contemporary of Shakespeare and Marlowe. It aims to “nurture holistic excellence for all”. Famous Old Boys and Old Girls of Alleyn’s School include the actors Julian Glover and Simon Ward, Florence Welch (vocalist of Florence and the Machine) and electronic music duo The Chemical Brothers.

Southwark

Southwark
Southwark is nestled on the South Bank of the Thames, and among its luxury riverside apartments and ultra-modern offices, are some of London’s biggest icons. This area is rich in culture, architecture and entertainment, charming millions of visitors (and residents) each year. For the Read more about Southwark ?>
4.52
Average Location Score

Excellent

65%

Very Good

27%

Average

7%

Disappointing

1%

Very Poor

1%

7. (joint). Channing School

91.00% A-A*

Located in the leafy residential area of Highgate, North London, Channing School is another top-performing girls’ school of the Unitarian tradition. It was founded in 1885 to promote the principles of ‘scholarship, integrity, altruism and independence’.

Its strapline of ‘Girls Enjoying Success’ encapsulates an educational philosophy of inspiring students to become empowered, engaged and fearless free thinkers. Its alumnae include Elsie Chamberlain, the first woman minister in the RAF, and Princess Sarvath al-Hassan of Jordan.

Islington

Islington
Islington is a borough of many faces. Its mish-mash of neighbourhoods each have their own distinct personality, from the urban bars and pubs of Angel to the chintzy antique stores of Camden Passage. Its properties have many guises, too – there are in-the-thick-of-it luxury Read more about Islington ?>
4.56
Average Location Score

Excellent

63%

Very Good

29%

Average

7%

Disappointing

1%

Very Poor

1%

7. (joint). Highgate School

91.00% A-A*

In joint 7-8th place with results of 91.00% A-A* at A-Level for 2021, Highgate School is a co-educational day school with a history dating back to 1565.

Founded by Sir Roger Cholmeley, a favourite of Queen Elizabeth the First, Highgate School has grown from educating 40 male scholars to 1,400 boys and girls today. It’s also closely connected to Tottenham Hotspur FC, the school’s principal business sponsor.

Its former pupils call themselves Cholmeleians or Old Cholmeleians (OCs), after Sir Roger Cholmeley. They include Poet Laureates Sir John Betjeman and Nicholas Rowe, composer Simon Bainbridge and film director Adrian Lyne.

Islington

Islington
Islington is a borough of many faces. Its mish-mash of neighbourhoods each have their own distinct personality, from the urban bars and pubs of Angel to the chintzy antique stores of Camden Passage. Its properties have many guises, too – there are in-the-thick-of-it luxury Read more about Islington ?>
4.56
Average Location Score

Excellent

63%

Very Good

29%

Average

7%

Disappointing

1%

Very Poor

1%

9. Godolphin & Latymer School

90.30% A-A*

Godolphin & Latymer School takes the ninth spot in our list with 90.30% A-A* GCSE grades in 2021. The school is located in Hammersmith, West London and was given the title of Independent Secondary School of the Year for 2020 by The Sunday Times.

The school’s history dates back to 1707, but the school moved to its current site on Iffley Road in 1862. Notable former students include actress Kate Beckinsale, singer Sophie Ellis-Bexter and journalist and broadcaster Nigella Lawson.

Hammersmith

Hammersmith
As a place to live, Hammersmith W6 combines all the benefits of convenient access to central London, the City and the M4, with a leafy, relaxed environment. Its residential side streets and high-end newer developments sit comfortably with excellent shopping and leisure options. These Read more about Hammersmith

10. University College School

87.70% A-A*

The final listing on our top 10 best schools for London for 2021 is University College School (UCS). It was founded in Gower Street in 1830 as part of University College, but moved to its current location in Hampstead in 1907.

UCS has a highly active alumni community of ‘Old Gowers’, numbering more than 7,000 former pupils. These include comedian Hugh Dennis, and Roger Bannister, the first man to run the ‘4-minute mile’.

Barnet

Barnet
London is a city of contrasts, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the boroughs. The borough of Barnet has a suburban feel with its leafy streets lined with houses and gardens. You’ll find many parks and green spaces in the area, along Read more about Barnet

FAQs on London Schools

Which part of London has best schools overall?

If you’re talking about all London schools’ aggregated scores as awarded by Ofsted, then Harrow is the top-performing London borough. 38% of schools in Harrow have an ‘outstanding’ rating.

Which London borough has most grammar schools?

Bexley is the London borough with the most grammar schools, boasting no fewer than four. All of them have an exemplary reputation, making Bexley a hub for grammar school excellence.

Is London a good city for university education?

London is one of the best cities in the world for providing a university education. It has 18 universities in total. Many of them rank within the top 100 universities in the world. Two of them rank within the top 10! These are at Imperial College London number 7 globally, and University College London (UCL) in joint 8th.

Where are the best universities in London?

If you’re seriously thinking beyond secondary school and into higher education, you may want to know where to look for the best universities in London.

Like many of the best private schools London offers, many of the best London universities are located centrally. Imperial College is located in South Kensington, while UCL’s main campus is in the Bloomsbury area. LSE (London School of Economics) is located in the borough of Camden and Westminster. City University’s main campus is in Islington.

However, you can find many of them spread a little further out. For example, you’ll find King’s College in Southwark. Also, many of the top London universities maintain key buildings outside of central London.

Read more


HomeViews provides verified resident reviews of the UK’s housing developments. We’re working with developers, landlords and the Government to recognise high performersHomeViews provides verified resident reviews of the UK’s housing developments. We’re working with developers, house builders, operators, housing associations and the Government to recognise high performers and help improve standards in the built environment and help to improve standards in the built environment.

written by

Jan Moys

A residential property expert with over 15 years’ experience creating content... Read all

A residential property expert with ov... Read all