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The best public schools in London

Did you know that 92% of public-funded schools in London have been ranked good or outstanding by the government’s Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted)? All that’s left to do is choose one for your child. But where do you start? Our lists of the top public schools – primary and secondary – in London is as good a place as any.

The top public schools in London

Choosing a public school when moving to London with a family

Choosing an area to live, finding your ideal home, deciding which local pub whets your whistle: these are all big decisions when relocating to London. If you have children, however, there’s one decision that’s even more important: which school you’re going to send them to. Yes, you love your job and can’t wait to call London home; but if your child isn’t happy, the relocation won’t be a success – and choosing the right school is central to this.

 

Now before we dive into the lists, we are going to clarify something: we have assumed that you are looking for the best free schools in London, which, in many countries, are called “public schools” – in the UK, they are called “state schools”. And to confuse everyone even more, in the UK, public schools are actually a term for “private schools”, also called “independent schools”.
For the sake of this article, we are keeping the word “public” with the meaning that most parents around the world will associate with it, but be aware that most other publications referring to “public schools” would probably talk about private schools.”

 

Primary schools (age 4-12 years)

Top public schools in London certainly aren’t in short supply. With so many to choose from, you won’t struggle to find a primary school that scores top marks.

Here’s a list of ten of the very best:

School Borough
Fox Primary School Kensington and Chelsea
St Joseph’s RC Primary School Brent
Thomas Jones Primary School Kensington and Chelsea
Bousfield Primary School Kensington and Chelsea
The Cathedral School of St Saviour and St Mary Overie Southwark
The London Oratory School Hammersmith & Fulham
St Peter’s Catholic Primary School Greenwich
Sir William Burrough Primary School Tower Hamlets
St John and St James Primary School Hackney
Paxton Primary School Lambeth

 

  1. Fox Primary School
    This Ofsted-rated “outstanding” primary school in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea works to enable all children to reach their full potential through living its core values of respect, resilience, collaboration, curiosity and inclusion.
    https://www.fox.rbkc.sch.uk/
  2. St Joseph’s RC Primary School
    This Ofsted-rated “outstanding” primary school in Willesden, north London, has a real Catholic community of over 500 girls and boys, 70 staff and a flourishing nursery.
    https://www.stjosephsrc.co.uk/
  3. Thomas Jones Primary School
    This Ofsted-rated “outstanding” primary school in Notting Hill, west London, consistently ranks in the Sunday Times top 250 primary schools and falls within the top 1% of schools nationally.
    https://www.thomasjonesschool.org/
  4. Bousfield Primary School
    This Ofsted-rated “outstanding” primary school in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea balances high academic standards and creativity with well-behaved children, loyal and hardworking staff and governors, and supportive parents.
    https://www.bousfieldprimaryschool.co.uk/
  5. The Cathedral School of St Saviour and St Mary Overie
    This Ofsted-rated “outstanding” primary school in Southwark, south London, has qualified for two SSAT Educational Outcomes Awards by being in the top 20% of primary schools nationally for its pupils’ high attainment.
    https://www.cathedralprimaryschool.com/
  6. The London Oratory School
    This Ofsted-rated “outstanding” Catholic school for boys aged 7–18 and girls aged 16–18 in West Brompton, west London, opened the Junior House in 1996, offering a specialist music education to boys aged 7-10 with a focus on choral liturgical music. Pupils are selected based on musical aptitude.
    https://www.london-oratory.org/
  7. St Peter’s Catholic Primary School
    This Ofsted-rated “outstanding” primary school in Woolwich, south-east London, strives to provide a safe environment in which children can learn to make reasoned judgements, aspire to do and be their best, organise their time, and develop enquiring minds, self-confidence, initiative, and independence.
    https://www.stpeters.greenwich.sch.uk/
  8. Sir William Burrough Primary School
    This Ofsted-rated “outstanding” primary school in Tower Hamlets, east London, provides rich learning experiences through thematic topics designed to inspire, engage, and delight the children and provoke high levels of enquiry.
    https://www.sirwilliamburrough.info/
  9. St John and St James Primary School
    This Ofsted-rated “good” primary school in the London Borough of Hackney, east London, has been awarded several awards for its outstanding contribution to different elements of education: School Games Gold Award, Rights Respecting Gold Award, Eco-Schools Bronze Award, Mayor’s Gold Club Award, Healthy Schools London: Bronze and Silver Award, International School Award, Hackney Spanish Primary Award, and TFL Silver STARS Award.
    https://www.johnjames.hackney.sch.uk/
  10. Paxton Primary School
    This primary school in Lambeth, south London, strives for the highest standards by working to maintain a shared ethos of achievement, respectfulness and caring among its children, parents, and staff.
    https://www.paxtonprimary.co.uk/

Swat up on the best public primary schools in London by reading the following resources:

Secondary schools (age 12-16 years)

Thankfully, finding the best public schools in London isn’t like finding a needle in a haystack. With so many top public secondary schools to choose from, it’s more a case of being spoilt for choice.

Here’s a list of ten of the very best:

School Borough
Queen Elizabeth’s School Barnet
Wilson’s School Sutton
Henrietta Barnett School Barnet
Tiffin Girls’ School Kingston upon Thames
St Olave’s and St Saviour’s Grammar School Bromley
Tiffin School Kingston upon Thames
Sutton Grammar for Boys Sutton
Nonsuch High School for Girls Sutton
The Latymer School Enfield
Holland Park School Kensington and Chelsea
  1. Queen Elizabeth’s School
    This Ofsted-rated “outstanding” boys’ grammar school in Barnet, north London, has 449 years’ experience in producing confident, able and responsible young men.
    https://www.qebarnet.co.uk/
  2. Wilson’s School
    This Ofsted-rated “outstanding” boys’ grammar school with academy status in the London Borough of Sutton can proudly claim to be one of the country’s most successful state-funded selective boys’ schools.
    https://www.wilsons.school/
  3. Henrietta Barnett School
    This non-denominational grammar school for girls aged 11-18 in the Hampstead Garden Suburb, north London, was ranked the top girls’ state school in the country in The Sunday Times Parent Power magazine 2021.
    https://www.hbschool.org.uk/
  4. Tiffin Girls’ School
    This Ofsted-rated “outstanding” girls’ selective school with academy status in Kingston upon Thames, south-west London, has a clear vision: to provide ‘an intellectually stimulating and outward-facing school, enabling students to flourish and contribute to society.
    https://www.tiffingirls.org/
  5. St Olave’s and St Saviour’s Grammar School
    This Ofsted-rated “outstanding” boy’s selective secondary school in Orpington, south London, prides itself on welcoming pupils of all faiths and backgrounds, championing dignity and respect for all.
    https://www.saintolaves.net/
  6. Tiffin School
    This Ofsted-rated “outstanding” boys’ grammar school in Kingston upon Thames, south-west London, consistently achieves outstanding exam results, with an average over three years of approximately 85% of all GCSE grades at 9-7, and 90% of all A-Level grades at A*-B.
    https://www.tiffinschool.co.uk/home.html
  7. Sutton Grammar for Boys
    This Ofsted-rated “outstanding” selective state grammar school for boys aged 11-18 in Sutton, south London, not only produces excellent results, it nurtures confident, articulate young people.
    https://www.suttongrammar.sutton.sch.uk/
  8. Nonsuch High School for Girls
    This Ofsted-rated “good” girls’ grammar school with academy status in Cheam, south London, aims to empower its pupils and enrich their lives to ensure they aspire to take centre stage in the world.
    http://www.nonsuchschool.org/
  9. The Latymer School
    This Ofsted-rated “good” selective mixed grammar school in Edmonton, north London, consistently achieves top GCSE and A Level exam results that place it in the top 10% of co-educational schools nationally.
    https://www.latymer.co.uk/
  10. Holland Park School
    This coeducational secondary school and sixth form with academy status in Holland Park, west London, is one of the capital’s very first comprehensive schools. Since 1958, it has been helping pupils to thrive as individuals whilst contributing to communal aspirations: a balance of the person and the institution.
    https://www.hollandparkschool.co.uk/

 

Want to be fully prepared to find the best school and home in London? Buy and download our self-help guides!

Downloadable Guides

Guide to State Schools in London

All the information you need to find the right London State School for your child, and apply successfully: top state schools; when and how to apply; catchment areas; admission criteria; waiting lists; appeals; application websites for all London Boroughs.

Only £ 14.99

Guide to State and Private Schools in London

A practical guide to state and private schools in London: where the best schools are in London; school years and curriculum; applications process and timelines; application requirements; Special Education Needs, glossary of school terms.

Only £ 14.99

Guide to London Neighbourhoods

20 top London neighbourhoods covered, with, for each neighbourhood: history and character; average rent prices for 1, 2, 3 and 4 bedrooms; transport links; local highlights.

Only £ 14.99
Downloadable Guides
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