The best primary private schools in London
Excellent private primary schools in London certainly aren’t in short supply.
You may already have read our website article: ‘The Best Private Schools in London’. This mentions the options when choosing from a range of private primary schools. There’s the possibility of combining your child’s compulsory education by sending them to an all-through school. Alternatively, you can split it by sending them to a separate preparatory (age 4 up to 13) and secondary (from age 11 up to 18) school. With such a wide selection of independent schools within both age brackets in London, this second option is a popular one.
There’s another factor that’s interesting to note. Unlike many state schools, many of the private primary schools are not co-educational. This means that these private primary schools will be ‘girls only’ or ‘boys only.’
Here’s a selection of the best independent schools for your child’s primary education in London. We have listed schools in different London boroughs including a couple of private schools in Harrow borough.
Useful information about these private primary schools includes:
- Website links – which give access to the Admissions policy and process/fees and when school open days, tours, (virtual or in person) are available
- The school’s vision, mission and values
- Their commitment to academia, co-/extra-curricular life, and the community
- Their well-being and pastoral care programmes
1. St Philip’s School – Kensington
St Philip’s is a small Roman Catholic preparatory school for boys aged seven to thirteen. It was founded in 1934. It’s located on its foundation site in the heart of Kensington.
The school quotes that it is “well-known for creating an atmosphere that is warm, welcoming and supportive” The school’s holistic outlook allows it to personally nurture pupils in the classroom whilst also ensuring they feel a valued member of the school community.
There’s a broad curriculum. It balances academic, moral, and religious learning with creative and sporting opportunities. Educational trips to museums, galleries and historic buildings are organised on a regular basis.
The school enjoys links with a range of prestigious senior schools. On leaving, the aim is for boys to go to the school that best suits their individual needs.
2. Wandsworth Preparatory School – Wandsworth
This co-educational independent day school is for children aged four to eleven. It’s based in South West London near Wandsworth Common and not far from the River Thames.
A key aim is to “inspire and challenge children to love learning” The school has small class sizes. It also quotes an excellent ratio of staff to children. Pupils receive a high level of individual support. They quickly build strong literary and numeracy skills. A creative curriculum is employed. This is supported by a broad range of extra-curricular activities.
The school is keen that it has a fun and exciting learning environment. At the same time, preparing children for senior school entrance exams is foremost in the school’s mind. The school is “proud of its academic results with each child fulfilling their potential”. The school highlights that the pupils go on to the best secondary schools in the area.
3. Dallington School – Islington
This school in the heart of London describes itself as ‘a village school in the city’. It is family-owned and run. It quotes “We offer a child-centred, creative, holistic and ambitious experience, designed to develop the whole, unique child and to prepare them for their onward educational journey”
This is a creative co-educational North London private primary school for children aged three to eleven years old. It has been nurturing independent, curious, resilient learners for more than forty years. Children in different year groups share open plan spaces like in a modern working environment.
The school is determined to embrace new technologies, look for emerging opportunities and explore new horizons. This allows it to provide pupils with an outstanding and forward-thinking education. The school uses a ‘cross-curricular approach.’ Pupils get involved in project work across subjects. There is also an Outdoor Education Programme. Pupils will experience day and residential trips in London and beyond.
The school’s pupils have achieved places in a range of notable secondary schools.
4. James Allen’s Girls School – Dulwich
This school, or JAGS as it is known, has a 22-acre site in Dulwich, South London. It is one of the top independent schools and the oldest girls’ school in Greater London. It was founded in 1741. Its vision is “A passion for life and learning” and its mission “a dynamic school community, nurturing self-assured and considerate individuals who thrive.” The junior school highlights that, “it creates a sense of happiness, fun and warmth in which girls are motivated to work to the best of their abilities and learn through play.”
There’s a pre-prep school for four to seven year olds. The prep school for seven to eleven year olds offers a bold and inclusive curriculum. It wants its pupils to be courageous, show commitment and respond to a constantly changing world in whatever way feels right to them.
There are plenty of sports options including football, athletics, hockey, netball and cricket. Music, art and design technology are high on the agenda of co-curricular subjects. A wide spectrum of clubs is available like Cuisine Club. A programme of school trips to e.g. exhibitions and theatre performances are a regular feature.
There is a senior school for ages eleven to eighteen.
5. Highgate School – Highgate
The co-educational school is located adjacent to Hampstead Heath and a short distance from central London. This is one of the notable North London top independent schools. The school was winner of the Times Educational Supplement (TES) Independent School of the Year award in 2020. It is a registered charity. The school strives for “continual learning and improvement, particularly with regards to equality, inclusion, diversity and sustainability.”
The junior school built and opened a new state of the art building in 2016. The Principal quotes “We want all pupils to believe that there are no glass ceilings to their learning and we aim that all strive to reach their full potential” This school, like other private primary schools has a balanced curriculum covering core subjects. Pupils’ knowledge, curiosity and development are also encouraged across other areas. For example, pupils with a strong aptitude in literacy are offered writing workshops. Each term there’s a focus on different themes. These may include creativity, problem solving and kindness.
There are various co-curricular programmes including Ornithology club and Skateboarding Club! There are far-reaching sports facilities and a wide range of sports available to pupils.
There’s an interesting range of North London private schools. Highgate School junior and senior school is one of them.
6. North London Collegiate School – Edgware
Founded in Camden in 1850 and now in Edgware, this girls’ school has a junior and senior school. It is one of several private schools in Harrow borough. It is ranked as one of the top independent schools in the UK. It states that it offers an “ambitious academic education”. It also states that it provides a “carefully judged blend of support and challenge, a friendly and warm atmosphere, glorious facilities and extensive extra-curricular activities.”
The school encourages pupils to gain excellent knowledge of a subject by not just understanding basic concepts but also from their ability to learn through experience. This is particularly key in the school’s STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) education. For instance, pupils were tasked with building a flying machine as part of their Design and Technology studies!
The school’s Well Being and Pastoral Care programme supports every pupil individually. It’s also designed to develop the pupils’ resilience and help them deal with challenges and build their confidence.
There’s an extensive programme of performing arts, music, sport available. Sports include badminton, cricket, netball, gymnastics and much more. There is a dedicated multi-facility Sports Centre in the grounds. There are day trips to places like the British Museum, House of Parliament, also camping expeditions, and trips abroad. There are after school clubs and visiting music/acting groups.
NCLS also has a global presence with schools in various countries like Dubai and Singapore.
7. Kings College – Wimbledon
King George IV founded the school in 1829. It was the junior department of Kings College, London. It moved from central London to Wimbledon in 1897. A separate junior school was set up in 1912.
This prestigious top academic school sits right on the edge of leafy Wimbledon Common. The junior school has around 300 boys aged 7 – 11 and the senior school has about 1,200 pupils aged 11 -18 and around 100 girls in the Sixth Form. The junior school head teacher states “Education is not just about academic subjects and extra-curricular activities. It’s about values” He writes about wanting the boys to be kind, thoughtful, courteous, tolerant and sympathetic to the needs of others”.
Having fun is an important part of the school’s ethos. It wants pupils to have a stimulating and exciting time both in the classroom and outside. Alongside the academic subjects, there’s sport, music, drama, art, design and engineering. There’s various clubs and activities on offer. It has it’s own boathouse on the River Thames at Putney. The school quotes that there’s “a strong emphasis on pastoral care and an exceptional co-curricular programme”.
Kings is on the list of top independent schools and has international connections. Pupils who move to the senior school and progress to the sixth form can study either A levels or the International Baccalaureate.
8. Orley Farm School – Harrow
Ranked one of the best independent schools in Harrow,
Orley Farm describes itself as “a co-educational, vibrant, day school that specialises in preparing children for their own journey through life”.
As one of the private schools in Harrow school states that it prides itself on educating pupils beyond entrance exams. It quotes “Our curriculum is designed to offer breadth in order that we are not simply another London Day School that crams a child to clear the bar. OFS pupils are three dimensional, with curiosity for learning and the skills to fuel that thirst; a moral compass that offers values for life and a co-curricular programme that embeds a desire to always look for new interests”.
It’s one of the private primary schools that wants to ensure that its pupils lead fulfilling lives, whatever route they choose to take. The school describes this as ‘The Orley Farm Way.’ To assist with this, the school has developed a unique innovative in-house programme, called ‘The Edge’. The programme is designed to provide pupils with a “wide range of activities, presenting them with opportunities to learn and experience many different aspects of life” It’s split into sections and covers Life and work place skills, Service, The World around us, 13 Things to do before 13.
The academic curriculum teaches a broad range of subjects including English, maths, French, History, classics, technology and sports.
Pastoral care includes having digital ambassadors, a school council, and a Junior Leadership team. Spiritual, moral, social and cultural development for pupils is integrated into the learning process. The school has, amongst many other activities, trips to museums, a charity, healthy eating plans, overseas trips and theatre productions. There’s a wide range of clubs and hobbies to choose from. Whether it’s board games, Lego, Bollywood dancing, film club alongside all the major sports, there’s lots to choose from!
There are a range of private schools in Harrow and this is one to consider.
You can find out more on the best private primary schools in London by reading the following resources:
Compare the performance of schools across England against a variety of criteria: click here https://www.compare-school-performance.service.gov.uk
You can find more information on how to apply for private primary schools in London here. https://simplylondonrelocation.com/knowledge-base/learn-how-and-when-to-apply-for-a-london-school/
Location and budget
- The exceptional quality of private primary schools (and secondary schools) in London makes them highly attractive, and because they appeal to local and global parents alike, there are always more applicants than places for the best independent schools in London.
- Being in the vicinity of the school doesn’t mean an automatic place for your child.
- Consider the location and your budget: remember that school fees tend to increase year on year.
Register interest early and keep following up
If you want your child to attend one of the best independent schools for primary education in London, plan the route early because, as mentioned, the schools are in high demand. You may need to register your child’s name at birth to have a chance of gaining a place. Build a good connection with the Admissions Office and keep in touch: the transient nature of London means places may become available when families relocate.
- If you are thinking of moving to London, schools may offer a ‘virtual’ tour if visiting in person isn’t possible.
- When deciding on schools, establish a strong connection with the relevant Schools Admissions Office. Build on that connection.
- And it’s worth bearing in mind….when choosing a school, have one ambitious goal, a realistic one and a back up.