Choosing a place to settle is a big decision – especially if you have children to consider. One of the most pressing issues parents face is ensuring the new home will fall within the catchment area of a good school. However, with applications for the best schools in South West London and beyond far higher than the number of places, location is paramount. Luckily, we have created a useful round-up of schools and neighbourhoods to help with your search.
London has a great hit rate when it comes to Ofsted ratings and performance data, both for state and private education. Today, we’ll take a closer look at state schools lying within the South West London postcode. We have ranked the Top 10 based on The Sunday Times Parent Power 2022 league tables. The data uses the average A-level, GCSE, IB, Pre-U, Advanced Higher, Higher and National 5 moderated exam performance from 2017–19. This avoids factoring in any potential inflation in grades due to the internal assessment used during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Every excellent institution on the list has a handy area guide attached, so you can see at a glance if the neighbourhood also meets your family’s needs. Ready to discover the best schools in South West London? Let’s get stuck in!
*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.
10 best schools in South West London
1. The Tiffin Girls’ School
92.1% A-level A*- B
The best school in South West London for 2022 is The Tiffin Girls’ School in Kingston Upon Thames. By focusing on creating a community where girls can take centre stage, its pupils have achieved 93.8% A*/A/9/8/7 at GCSE level.
Founded in 1880, the school’s ethos centres around ‘inclusivity, challenge, independence, questioning stereotypes and creativity’, which feeds into its wider cultural environment. In addition, pupils benefit from an active pastoral system. Admission is by a selective process based on 44 catchment postcodes and two-stage testing in English and maths. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds have a higher priority when the school is oversubscribed.
2. Tiffin School
85.7% A-level A*- B
Our second-highest-rated school is also in Kingston Upon Thames, just a stone’s throw from Hampton Court Park and Kingston University. Although founded in 1880, Tiffin School‘s origins date back to the 17th Century. Its long history of academic excellence is evidenced in its GCSE scores too: 78.1% A*/A/9/8/7.
The school is particularly proud of its broad curriculum, which supports specialist subjects such as performing arts, languages, and sports. Admission is partly based on students sitting a two-stage test in English and maths.
3. Sutton Grammar School
80.8% A-level A*- B
Sutton Grammar School swoops into third position with 78.8% A*/A/9/8/7 at GCSE level. This state-funded selective school accepts male students up to Year 12, with female students welcome to join Sixth Form. Located in the centre of Sutton, the school is close to bus and rail routes.
135 boys can join Year 7 each year, with 30 extra students allowed in from year 12. This smaller size means staff can focus on the students’ academic success and welfare. Most pupils take at least four A-Levels and have to pass a two-stage eligibility test to join the school.
4. The London Oratory School
73% A-level A*- B
Still comfortably in the Top 5, The London Oratory School in Fulham achieves 47.6% A*/A/9/8/7 at GCSE level. While a comprehensive school, baptised catholic students have priority for admission. Founded by priests sent by Oratorian Saint John Henry Newman over 150 years ago as part of an initiative to educate immigrant Catholic children, the school focuses on serving its pupils’ spiritual and educational needs.
The school comprises three houses – the Junior House, the Senior School and the Sixth Form. Male pupils aged 7 to 11 can join the Junior House to study ‘a specialist instrumental and choral education’. However, most students join the Senior School between the ages of 11 and 16. Girls are welcome to join the Sixth Form.
5. Lady Margaret School
67.3% A-level A*- B
Lady Margaret School in Parsons Green sits midway in our list of the best schools in South West London. It is a Church of England Academy for girls aged 11-18 in Hammersmith and Fulham. Established in 1917, the school currently has 750 girls on the roll, including 155 in the Sixth Form and 90 teaching and support staff.
Children who regularly attend a C of E church have priority access to places, with all pupils sitting an ability banding test in English and maths to ensure year 7 intake reflects ability range. The broad education on offer here contributes to 52.2% of its pupils gaining A*/A/9/8/7 at GCSE level.
6. The Grey Coat Hospital
65.7% A-level A*- B
Catering to girls aged 11–18 and offering a mixed Sixth Form, The Grey Coat Hospital in Westminster prioritises students who regularly attend C of E and other churches. The school also asks year 7 applicants to sit a language aptitude test and an ability banding test in literacy and non-verbal reasoning. Recently, 43% of pupils have gone on to achieve A*/A/9/8/7 grade GCSE results.
7. Coloma Convent Girls’ School
63.3% A-level A*- B
In seventh place, Coloma Covent Girls’ School in Croydon sits in extensive grounds on the edge of the Addington Hills. Baptised Catholic children are welcome to apply for places at the school, which was founded in 1869 by The Ladies of Mary. It was awarded the World Class Schools Quality Mark in 2016 and currently, 40.5% of pupils here gain A*/A/9/8/7 grades in their GCSE examinations.
8. Graveney School
60.2% A-level A*- B
Alongside strong scores at A-Level, Graveney School in Tooting has a 44.3% A*/A/9/8/7 success rate at GCSE level. This mixed school admits students on a partly selective basis, with 25% awarded places based on the Wandsworth year 6 test in verbal and non-verbal reasoning. The setting is also particularly noteworthy. Dating back to the 17th Century, the school is spread over a campus-style site that has won awards for its architecture. There’s even an observatory for astronomy students.
9. Ursuline High School, Wimbledon
57.7% A-level A*- B
Ursuline High School in Wimbledon is our penultimate contender as one of the best schools in South West London. A comprehensive girls’ school, it nevertheless gives priority to baptised Catholic children. Part of a global network of Ursuline schools, its ethos is based around ‘academic excellence, service in the spirit of St. Angela Merici, outstanding pastoral care and a focus on developing young people as leaders’. Pupils attain 39.3% A*/A/9/8/7 GCSE results.
Close to Wandsworth, Tooting, Mitcham, Sutton, and Kingston Upon Thames, Wimbledon is well known for its attractions. These include Merton’s retail centre, the New Wimbledon Theatre, and of course, world-famous tennis championships. Residents also benefit from access to Wimbledon Common – one of the largest areas of green space in London. Here’s our area guide to nearby Wandsworth:
10. Glenthorne High School
49.4% A-level A*- B
Almost 30% of students at Glenthorne High School in Sutton attain top GCSE grades. Admission is partly selective, with 10% of places given to students showing aptitude in drama, dance, or music. Prospective year 7 pupils are also asked to sit an ability banding test in English and maths. The school recently reported that several of its year 13 students were invited to attend interviews at Oxford and Cambridge.
People also ask:
Are schools in London better?
If you’re thinking of moving to the City, it’s worth asking if schools in London are better than in other regions. Since the 1990s, London’s schools have dramatically improved their overall performance scores and reputation. This is partly due to long-term schemes such as The London Challenge, Teaching Schools, the Academies programme and Teach First. These days, educational institutions in the Capital regularly top the league tables in terms of exam grades and Ofsted ratings.
Which area in London has the best schools?
So, we know London has some of the best schools in the country, but which areas top the tables? According to the CBRE Hot 100, 58% of Kensington & Chelsea’s schools boast an Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ rating. Lambeth also has a high proportion of top-rated primary and secondary schools, as does Richmond upon Thames.
Which boroughs in London have the best schools?
If we look at the London boroughs with the best schools, we can see that the following areas have the largest quantity of Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ secondary schools. Redbridge and Southwark take joint first place, while Barnet and Hounslow came joint third. Westminster, Newham, and Bromley also tied in fifth. With each claiming seven ‘Outstanding’ secondaries, Lambeth, Croydon, Harrow, and Tower Hamlets complete the top 10.
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Featured image credit: A P Monblat