SLT’s Top 10 Boarding Schools near London
SLT’s team of senior school consultants are pleased to present their list of the best boarding schools near London.
Boarding schools have been an integral part of the British education system for centuries. With their unrivalled opportunities for an enriching learning experience, extra-curricular engagement and personal development, places at English boarding schools continue to be highly sought after, widely over-subscribed, and intensely competitive.
London is certainly not lacking in choice when it comes to excellent independent schools – but the vast majority of these are day-only. While there are around 800 boarding schools in the UK, there are only a couple of dozen in London. For parents based in the capital, who want their child to access the benefits of a boarding education without disappearing hundreds of miles into the countryside, the choice can seem very difficult.
At Simply Learning Tuition, our team of education consultants know the British independent sector better than anyone. Every year, we help hundreds of families find the right school and secure a place at it. To aid your search, we are pleased to present our list of the best boarding schools near London.
Co-educational, ages 13-18
Founded in 1611, Charterhouse is located in Godalming, Surrey, under an hour from London. With 940 pupils, almost all boarders, the school boasts excellent facilities for music, art, and the theatre. It is extensively equipped for sports, including an athletics stadium, sports centre, 24 tennis courts, and a 9-hole golf course. Football was first developed at the school (alongside Westminster), and this legacy is proudly displayed in their 15 football pitches. Charterhouse champions values of kindness and philanthropy, with the motto of Deo Dante Dedi, or ‘God having given, I gave’. Charterhouse is academically rigorous school with an emphasis on independent learning. For pupils entering at 13+ and 16+, there are a limited number of bursaries. In the Sixth Form, students can study either A-Level courses, or the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme.
Co-educational, ages 0-7; Boys only, ages 7-18
Dulwich College takes pupils all the way from 6 months up to their A Levels. The school’s nursery and pre-prep, known as Ducks, is co-educational and runs to age 7. The Junior and Senior schools are boys-only from 7-18, with boarding being introduced from age 11. As such, Dulwich’s student body is very large (around 2000-strong), though most are day pupils, with 1 in 6 senior boys boarding. Founded in 1619, the school was re-established on Dulwich common in 1869. Today, the school has impressive grounds for a London school, with the buildings an admirable blend of old and new – the grand, high-ceilinged main school building sits alongside the large new science labs and classrooms. Academically strong, Dulwich’s approach is founded on the principle of ‘free learning’ – the idea that a truly enriching academic education is limited neither to the classroom nor the exam board. Pupils are encouraged to pursue their interests in independent study, debate, and by pushing their teachers to go beyond the syllabus. As such, Dulwich leavers are typically clever, confident, and excellent independent learners – great candidates for the world’s leading universities.
Boys, ages 13-18
Eton is the largest boarding school in England and is known for having educated 20 British Prime Ministers, as well as Princes William and Harry. Eton has around 1300 pupils, all boys aged 13-18, and all full-time boarders. Eton aims to foster independent thought and the pursuit of excellence. It is rich in resources, providing a wide range of outlets for each boy’s individual interests. There are scores of playing fields and several indoor sports centres, three theatres, several libraries, dozens of music rooms, and an on-site natural history museum. There are about 1,000 staff, 250 teaching staff and 750 support staff. It provides an exciting, stimulating and caring environment designed to bring out the best in each boy, including those with disabilities or special educational needs. A place at Eton is highly prized; only one in five applicants is successful. If you are considering Eton for your son, you may find our detailed guide to the Eton College Entrance Exams helpful.
Co-educational, ages 11-18
Haileybury is a co-educational day and boarding school for pupils aged 11-18. Founded in 1862, the school moved into buildings that had formerly housed training colleges for the East India Company. It is set in an attractive 500-acre campus, featuring sports pitches, gardens and woodland, only 20 miles north of London. Two thirds of the school board, including a sizeable contingent of international pupils. Haileybury gets good results academically but is not quite at the highest end of academic attainment. The pastoral care is excellent and underpins the school’s friendly atmosphere and strong sense of community. Haileybury’s aim is to produce well-rounded students who leave equipped personally and academically for successful and fulfilling lives.
Boys, ages 13-18
Harrow School is an all-boys full boarding school for pupils aged 13-18. It was founded in 1572, under a Royal Charter granted by Elizabeth I. Harrow states that it aims ‘to prepare boys with diverse backgrounds and interests for a life of learning, leadership, service and personal fulfilment’. Old Harrovians include figures as diverse as Benedict Cumberbatch, Winston Churchill, and Lord Byron. The school is set across 324 acres in north-west London, and the site includes a working farm, an observatory, and a registered park. Among Harrow’s sports facilities are 16 winter-sports pitches, 12 tennis courts, nine cricket pitches, two all-weather synthetic pitches, a nine-hole golf course, a fishing lake, a swimming pool, a sports centre and more. The performing arts are also a notable feature of the school; the Ryan Theatre seats approximately 300 people, and is equipped to industry standards. The school is academically strong: Harrovian leavers in the past year have progressed to six of the world’s top ten universities including Oxford, Cambridge, Stanford and Chicago. You can read more here about Harrow’s rigorous admissions process, including the notorious Harrow test.
Co-educational, ages 11-18
Founded in 1432, Sevenoaks has occupied its present site for almost all of its long history. The school’s 100-acre campus overlooks a neighbouring deer park, and is a mix of attractive, well-equipped modern buildings and grander historical ones – the oldest being the appropriately-named ‘Old School’, built in 1732. Academically very strong, Sevenoaks was one of the earliest adopters of the International Baccalaureate in the UK. The IB’s emphasis on independent learning and academic enquiry forms a key part of the school’s ethos today. A large school, with around 1200 pupils (a third boarders), the pastoral care at Sevenoaks is a particular point of pride, as is the diversity of the student body. As well as its high academic standards, the school’s sports teams also perform strongly in national competitions.
St George’s, Ascot is an independent day and boarding school for girls aged 11-18. Compared to many leading British boarding schools, St George’s is small, with only 270 girls in attendance, of whom around 100 board. However, the school endeavours to make a virtue of this, with small class sizes a key component of its academic offering. Results are good, but not remarkable, though creative subjects are a particular strength. More important to the school’s ethos is cultivating a kind and inclusive community which enables girls to develop into well-rounded young women. SEN provision is particularly good – the school’s partnership with the Helen Arkell Dyslexia Centre enables girls to receive 1-1 support where needed. Overall, a nurturing, happy school, much loved by pupils, parents and old girls alike.
Boys, ages 13-16; co-educational, ages 16-18
Westminster is a leading English public school which can trace its origins back to a papal edict issued in 1179. Even today, pupils attend morning services in neighbouring Westminster Abbey twice a week. It is boys-only from ages 13-16 but has a co-educational sixth form. (For parents with younger boys, Westminster Under is the school’s sister prep.) Westminster is highly academically competitive (you can read more about the infamous ‘Westminster Challenge’ admissions process here) and pupils receive some of the strongest results in the country. However, the school’s teaching focuses on the benefits of academic enquiry and debate to produce learners who can think beyond the confines of a curriculum or exam board. Located right in the centre of London, Westminster has long had a reputation for being more liberal and progressive than more traditional (perhaps even stuffier) public schools in the country. It is unusual among central London schools in having boarding facilities – around 200 of the 750 pupils board. Outside of the classroom, music and theatre are particular strengths.
Co-educational, ages 11-18
Crawley, West Sussex
Worth is a Catholic co-educational day and boarding school for pupils aged 11-18. There are 650 boys and girls in attendance, of whom roughly half are boarders. Worth is perhaps most notable for the community of Benedictine monks at Worth Abbey who share the school’s beautiful 500-acre site in the West Sussex countryside. This lends Worth an atmosphere of reflection and tranquillity, perfectly suited to its aim of endowing students with ‘personal strength, success and contentment on their educational journeys’. Its ethos is certainly informed by its Catholicism, but Worth is welcoming to pupils of all faiths and none. It is not academically elite but certainly solid, with attention paid to the development of each individual pupil. A unique school characterised by kindness and quiet industry, under an hour from London.
Girls, ages 11-18
High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire
Wycombe Abbey is an all-girls school for pupils aged 11-18. It has the atmosphere of a traditional English girls’ boarding school, reinforced by the centuries-old buildings, the 170 acres of parkland, and the fact that of the 650 girls who attend, almost all are boarders. The ‘abbey’ in question was originally a 17th century manor house, converted into a school building in the 1890s. Nowadays, the school is one of the leading girls’ senior schools – academically competitive, it receives some of the best public exam results in the country. The academic strength is complemented by the impressive range of extra-curriculars on offer. With its approach to personal development underpinned by the school’s unintrusive but definite Christian ethos, Wycombe Abbey produces impressive young women who leave every year for some of the world’s leading universities.
Find the best boarding school for your child
- At SLT, our school placement service is comprehensive and personal. We meet with you and your child, learn about you and what you’re looking for, and use our in-depth knowledge of boarding schools throughout the UK to find the perfect school for you.
- No ‘best-of’ list or school search tool, no matter how comprehensive, can get to know you and your child. If you would like personal advice on which school is right for your child, please contact our expert team of school admissions consultants.
- If you are applying for a place at boarding school, we work with entrance exam specialist tutors who know schools’ requirements inside-out and can make all the difference to a successful application. Make an enquiry if you would like to book in a session with an entrance exam tutor.