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The Top 10 Boys’ Schools in London

With a 1400-year history of boys-only education, the UK is one of the finest places in the world to educate your son. To aid your school search, SLT’s team of school consultants are pleased to present our list of the best boys’ schools in London.

The UK is widely known for its rich tradition of independent boys-only education – a history which, by some counts, stretches back to the foundation of the King’s School, Canterbury in the sixth century.

London certainly has its share of outstanding boys’ schools, and families looking for a single-sex education for their son have long been drawn to the capital. (If you are undecided on whether co-educational or single-sex education is right for your child, our article on the subject may be useful.)

At their best, London boys’ schools achieve the much sought-after blend of a rigorous British education with a dynamic, forward-thinking outlook. On the academic front, it is common now for leading schools to teach robotics and AI; while huge advances have been made pastorally, with wellbeing a major focus.

But when confronted with dazzling brochures, glossy websites and persuasive registrars, it can be hard for prospective parents to identify the very best from among the roughly 60 boys’ schools in London. That’s before taking into account other vital considerations – like the school’s ethos, location and extra-curricular offering – which may be personal to each family.

All this means that there could be a different list of the best boys’ schools in London for every student. The schools in our list, however, are reliably excellent and the perfect place to start when planning for your son’s education.

One final note – if you are also looking for a girls’ school, prep school, or boarding school in London, you may find our guides to those useful.

SLT’s team of school consultants are delighted to present our list of the top 10 boys’ schools in London.

The Best Boys’ Schools in London

City of London

Boys, ages 10-18
The City, London

City of London School is an independent day school for boys aged 10 to 18. Founded in the fifteenth century, it currently has around 950 pupils. The Sunday Times Parent Power Guide chose it as London Independent Secondary School of the year in 2020. It has new, purpose-built redbrick buildings in the centre of the City and full use is made of the environment, getting the boys to explore the physical resources such as the Tate Gallery, just across the river, and by interacting with the outstanding individuals who live and work in the City. The school describes itself as “Unpretentious and welcoming”.

The school aims for excellence in academic results, with entry to the top universities around the world, combining this with pastoral care that promotes empathy and teaches each boy “to be kind to himself” so that alumni are sensitive to the needs of the world in the future and fully aware of their role in shaping it.

Dulwich College

Boys, ages 2-18
Dulwich, London

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.

Harrow

Boys, ages 13-18
Harrow, London

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.

King’s College School Wimbledon

Boys, 7-16; co-educational 16-18
Wimbledon, London

An ever-popular option for very bright students in southwest London, King’s (also known as KCS) is a large school (around 1200 pupils) set in spacious grounds in Wimbledon.

Founded in 1829 in affiliation with King’s College, London, today the school is mostly based in modern, well-equipped buildings. Facilities are excellent – for sports, music, and drama, as well as academic learning. Indeed, the school has a strong reputation for outstanding extra-curriculars alongside its excellent academic results. There are also ‘Co-Curricular Fridays’: every Friday afternoon, hundreds of students volunteer in a local state school. Combined Cadet Force is also very popular.

Entry at 7 Plus for boys is highly popular and competitive. There is also an intake of around 50 girls each year to the co-educational sixth form – once again, entry is highly competitive.

The school offers a choice between A Levels and the IB to sixth formers, and results are excellent (it is usually one of the best IB schools in the UK). Leavers head off to Oxbridge, the US and other leading universities in the UK and around the world.

Merchant Taylors’

Boys, ages 11-18
Moor Park, Hertfordshire

A senior boys’ school, Merchant Taylors’ is perhaps a slight cheat in our list of the top boys’ schools in London because it has at least one foot in the Hertfordshire countryside. The school describes itself as a London school in the country, and this epitomises its appeal for generations of parents. A diverse community of pupils from London and the Home Counties, with a dynamic city ethos, but the space (280 acres of grounds) of a country public school.

Founded in 1561, the school has a long pedigree, and is still considered a leading boys’ school today. It is academically solid but by no means a hothouse. It is a day-only school but has a nonetheless impressive range of extracurriculars on offer. One of the many benefits of its location and grounds are the sprawling sports pitches, and boys at Merchant Taylors’ are encouraged to get stuck into the sports on offer. The school state that the emphasis on sport and other activities ‘reflects our underlying belief that a young man’s education is about character’. Merchant Taylors’ aims to produce bright, well-rounded, courageous boys.

St Paul’s

Boys, ages 7-18
Barnes, London

 One of the most academic schools in London, St Paul’s was founded in 1509 by John Colet – humanist, scholar and Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral. This independent school continues to uphold his vision, offering education to gifted boys aged 7 to 18, providing bursaries where they are needed so that no suitable candidate is barred by financial or social constraints. It has a marvellous site, 45 acres of green space in a bend of the Thames at Barnes, London with a full range of artistic and sporting resources. Boys are admitted at a range of ages 7+, 8+, 11+, 13+ and 16+.

St Paul’s is mainly a day school but it has boarding facilities at School House for Year 9 and upwards. These boys can be full boarders or weekly boarders and even flexi-boarders. The flexi system allows day boys to board on a short, irregular basis which can be a great help to parents. School House has a Housemaster, Matron and a team of House tutors to look after the boys who board. These are additional to the normal academic tutors. Boarders have their own leisure facilities and they can use the main school resources such as the gym and the music department. Cultural and sporting trips are arranged for them at weekends.

Westminster

 Boys, ages 13-16; co-educational, ages 16-18
Westminster, London

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.

Wetherby Senior

Boys, ages 11-18
Marylebone, London

Wetherby Senior School is an independent day school for boys aged 11 to 18, situated in Marylebone. Like Wetherby Preparatory School, which provides about a quarter of its intake, it is run by the Alpha Plus Group. It was founded in 2015, starting with only 67 boys. Now there are over 400 with plans to increase to about 525 boys. Boys enter either Year 7 or Year 9 with a few places available for entry to the 6th form. Most of the boys go on to top universities in the UK, mostly in London, with others heading for higher education abroad. Places are sought after with 160 applicants for the 60 Year 7 places. Entry is by ISEB common pre-test followed by school reference and then interview.

The headmaster, Josiah Sylvester, has degrees in theology and religious studies and a good record of teaching in independent boys’ day schools. Class sizes are small with about 18 boys in each class and individual attention by teachers is excellent. When our school consultants visited, one boy was very happy because his teacher had given him enough specialised help for him to enjoy maths and physics, which he had found utterly unrewarding before this intervention. Overall, a traditional but nurturing school for bright boys.

Whitgift

Boys, ages 10-18
Croydon, London

Whitgift School is an independent day and boarding school, for boys aged 10-18. The school is located in Croydon, within attractive grounds. One noteworthy point is the peacocks wandering around the school grounds; there is also a menagerie with other birds including flamingos. There are around 1500 students with a small boarding contingent (around 70). All boarders in single modern boarding house in the centre of the school campus.

Whitgift is a fantastic sports school with many national trophies, and alumni going on to play professional and international sport, across football, hockey, and cricket. Sports facilities are excellent, including a gym, swimming pool and indoor sports centre, as well as outdoor ‘hybrid’ pitches. Indeed, the facilities in general are well equipped – the classrooms, labs, and library are all in excellent good condition.

Whitgift achieves excellent academic results by teaching ruthlessly to the exam, and generally comes across as a very ambitious school. Pupils comprise a wide range of nationalities and backgrounds. There is a £35m bursary programme annually, so a lot of students at Whitgift receive fee assistance, allowing them to make the most of the opportunities offered to them by attending the school.

University College School

Boys, ages 4-16; co-educational, ages 16-18
Hampstead, London

University College School (UCS) is a progressive North London school based in Hampstead focused on producing well-rounded pupils, but which nonetheless achieves strong academic results. While perhaps not quite at the same vertiginous heights of academic achievement as schools like Westminster or St Paul’s, UCS pupils perform very strongly at GCSE and A Level. There is a pre-prep and junior school for boys, while the senior school is boys-only up until sixth form, when there is a girls intake. In keeping with its progressive ethos, there is no uniform for sixth formers and a relaxed dress code.

UCS has a diverse student body that reflects the diversity of London. The school promotes the value of equity through its cultural awareness societies, faith-based societies and a gender politics society. There is also an Inclusion and Representation Committee composed of students and teachers, with an agenda informed and directed by the pupils themselves.

Music is especially strong at University College School, and sport is growing in importance. There are over 150 clubs, virtually all student-led, including Beekeeping club, physics breakfast, pyrotechnics club and gender politics.

How SLT can help find the best boys’ school for your son

  • At SLT, our school placement service is comprehensive and personal. We meet with you and your child, find out what makes them tick and what you’re looking for, and use our in-depth knowledge of independent schools throughout the UK to match them to the perfect school for them.
  • 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 the school you are considering requires your child to sit admissions tests, we work with entrance exam specialist tutors who know schools’ requirements inside-out and can make all the difference to a successful application. Please make an enquiry if you would like to book in a session with an entrance exam tutor.