All Best secondary schools in UK( England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland)

Being on this page, you must be interested in finding out the best secondary schools in UK. There is a popular saying ” Only the educated are free”. This is quite true because in our modern world education has taken a major place.

Because of its importance, my mum did always wake me up to go to school but she didn’t know that my favourite place to sleep is on the last bench in the class.

Others say secondary schools look good on TV but that in reality, it is not. In fact, my secondary school was so tough, but it however built me.

But that’s not it, education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing worth knowing can be taught.

Check out:

I remember, I loved the first day of school better than the last day, because as they say; ” firsts are best because they are beginnings”. On the topic: Best secondary schools in the UK, we shall be covering the following:

Contents hide

Secondary education in the United Kingdom is known to normally start at age 11. Although not all that common, there are middle schools in some parts of the UK that run up to 12 or 13 years of age.

In secondary schools, from age 11 to 14, students are required to study a broad range of subjects which includes Mathematics, Science, English Language, etc.

Upon reaching the age of 14, students get into the first year of a process that lasts for two years which is known as GCSE. For those in Scotland, it is called the SCE. What are GCSEs?

They are a set of examinations that test your knowledge and you are likely to take the following subjects: English Language, Mathematics and Sciences.

Students are allowed to select additional 4 or 5 subjects and they can include subjects like French, German, Business Studies, Design and Technology and much more.

For state schools, students typically take 5 to 10 subjects in GCSE, depending on the student’s abilities and drive.

For independent schools, which are usually a lot more result-driven, students take as many as 12 subjects in the GCSE while focusing more on academic subjects compared to the arts.

GCSE marks the end of Compulsory education for students in the United Kingdom after which the student can decide to either leave school or further their education.

Before we move further to the Best secondary schools in the UK, you might want to be cleared on some terms.

What is Compulsory education for students in the UK?

Education in the UK is such that each of the countries that make up the United Kingdom has had separate systems under separate governments. These Governments include the:

The UK Government; in charge of England.
The Scottish Government; in charge of Scotland.
The Welsh Government; in charge of Wales.
The Northern Ireland Executive; in charge of Northern Ireland.

In each of those countries, there are five stages of education which include:

The early years.
The primary.
The secondary.
Further education and
The higher education.

The law has it that education is compulsory for all children who are between the ages of 5 and 16 years. The first three stages, make up compulsory education as further education is not compulsory.

In England, compulsory education has been extended to 18 years for individuals who were born around September 1, 1997.

However this full-time education might not necessarily be at school, parents can choose to have their children homeschooled.

In terms of examinations, students who sit for the GCSE usually take about 20 to 25 examinations, taking about 9 GCSEs.

Most students will take Maths, English Literature, English Language and double science which makes it 5 GCSEs. Then they normally take 4 more GCSEs in a variety of different subjects.

The process of sitting for these examinations cumulates the end of 11 years of mandatory education.

What is an independent school?

While considering the best secondary schools in the UK, it is very important to know what independent schools are.

An independent school is a school that is independent in its finances and governance. They are also known as private schools, non-state schools or privately funded schools.

Independent schools are schools that are endowed with trust, charity and foundation. They are usually not dependent on the national or local government to finance their financial endowments.

They have a board of directors who are elected and has a system of governance that ensures their independent operation.

What are state schools?

In England and Wales, they are called state schools but people from Scotland refer to them as Public schools.

They are schools that educate all children without charge otherwise called state-funded schools of which the best secondary schools in the UK are part.

State-funded schools are found not just in the UK but in almost every part of the world. In England and Wales, students between the ages of 13 and 18 have their fees taken care of.

What are some of the different types of schools in the UK?

There are five different types of schools and of course, the best secondary schools in the UK can fall into any of them. They include:

Faith Schools
Free schools
City Technology colleges
State boarding schools
Private Schools

What are faith schools?

Faith schools choose what they teach in religious studies but have to follow the national curriculum. They have different admissions and staffing policies.

In comparison, Faith academies can decide not to teach the national curriculum and also can decide to have their admission processes.

What are free schools?

Free schools are schools that are funded by the government but are not run by the local authority.

You fine a lot of best secondary schools in UK falling into this category. They have control over how they want to do their things. Free

Though funded by the government, they can set their own pay and set the conditions for staff. They can change the length of school terms and school day.

What are the types of free schools?

Two examples of free schools include:

University Technical colleges
Studio schools

University Technical colleges

University Technical colleges are known for specializing in subjects like engineering and construction.

They teach subjects alongside business skills and using IT. That means students study academic subjects as well as practical subjects.

Studio schools

Studio schools are small schools that teach mainstream qualifications through project-based learning. This means they learn by working in realistic situations while they learn academic subjects as well.

During the period of their study, students work with local employers and a personal coach who follow the designed curriculum to give them the skills and qualifications they need in their future career and to take up further education as well.

What are Academies?

Academies that receive funding directly from the government are known to be run by an academy trust.

They have more control over how they do things compared to the other type of schools we’ve talked about.

Some schools choose to become academies. If a school funded by the local authority is judged as ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted, it must become an academy.

What are City Technology colleges?

City technology colleges and ‘the city college for the technology of the arts’ are independent schools found in the free urban areas.

They are funded by the central government although companies can also contribute.

They emphasize teaching science and technology. However, The city college of the technology of arts teaches technology in its application of performing and creative arts. Read on to find out the best secondary schools in UK.

What are State boarding schools?

State boarding schools provide free education, however, they charge fees for boarding. State boarding schools give priority to children who have a particular need to board while accessing children’s suitability for boarding.

What are private schools?

Private schools are known as independent schools and a lot of them equally fall into the best secondary schools in UK. They are schools that charge fees to attend. Pupils do not have to follow the national curriculum and above all, they are not funded by the government.

All private schools however register with the government and are regularly inspected.

On Best secondary schools in the UK, there are different categories which we will be considering. Go get a glass of water and be patient enough as I take you through this ride.

What is the tuition fees at private boarding schools in England?

In this category, it depend on the rating of the institution, their yearly results of the graduate examinations , the history of the school and the prestige. Therefore you can only get an estimate.

The estimated cost is between 14,000GBP to 25,000GBP yearly for pupils who are not living on campus. However pupils who plan to live on campus should expect anything between 30,000 GBP and 40,000 GBP.

See also: Overall performance at end of key stage 4 in 2019 – all pupils

Top 10 State Secondary Schools in England

If you are considering the best secondary schools in UK, then you must consider the following.

The Henrietta Barnett School

The Henrietta Barnett School is a grammar school and one of the best secondary schools in UK that has an academic status that is primarily for girls.

This school is found in Hampstead Garden Suburb in London. It is referred to as one of the academic state schools in the country.

The Henrietta Barnett School provides a gentle and inspiring education in a wonderful setting that is meant primarily for girls.

The school consistently ranks among the top state schools in educational league tables.

It is named among the “magnificent seven” in the year 2005 while being mentioned three times as ‘outstanding’ in Ofsted’s annual report.

Most recently they were deemed outstanding in all respects in the most recent Ofsted’s inspection in 2007 before it was converted to an academy.

The school is ranked by The Telegraph as the best performing state school in the country, with GCSE and A-Level combined.

The school is placed 1st according to GCSE results and 2nd for A-level results. The school was awarded Music Specialist status due to its outstanding music department.

The Tiffin Girls’ School

The Tiffin Girls’ School is one of the best secondary schools in UK and currently has about 1,200 pupils aged between 11 and 18. It is an all-girls grammar school located in Kingston upon the Thames, Southwest London.

Year after year, they are recognized as one of the best schools in England, winning numerous accolades in the past decade for their academic achievements. 96.3% grades 9-7 at the GCSEs.

Kendrick School

Kendrick is one of the Best secondary schools in UK that has an outstanding offsted rating and has a progress score that is well above the national average.

Students are chosen based on their academic ability through admission tests at age 11. The school was among the top five grammar schools in the UK based on GCSE performance in the years 2018 and 2019.

In 2011, Kendrick School being one of the Best secondary schools in UK was identified as the fifth highest state school based on the number of higher education applicants accepted in Oxford and Cambridge Universities.

About 79.4% of their students were accepted by Sutton Trust 30 Universities over the previous three years.

Being a state-funded school, you do not have to pay any fees and interestingly it is over-subscribed.

Queen Elizabeth’s School, Barnet

Queen Elizabeth’s School, Barnet came first in the A-Level league table for state schools and the 12th in the GCSE league table for state schools. They are one of the best secondary schools in UK.

In the year 2008, Queen Elizabeth’s School, Barnet again topped the league table in A-level results and a record number of 37 pupils got admitted to Oxford universities.

Also in 2009, Queen Elizabeth’s School, Barnet topped the league table in A-level results for the third consecutive year.

In 2016, Queen Elizabeth’s School, Barnet came first in the A-Level league tables for selective state schools for the 5th year in a row.

They came 6th in the GCSE league tables for grammar schools, making it the eight year in a row in the past decade that the school has attained the top spot in the A-level league table.

Reading School

The Reading School was given the ” State School of the Year” award by the Sunday Times newspaper in the year 2010 and 2019.

In 2007, the school was identified as one of the only state schools among the 100 best secondary schools in UK responsible for the third admission to Oxford and Cambridge universities over the five preceding years.

In the year 2011, they were equally ranked as the third-highest state school and among the top 30 schools in the country for promotion of higher education applicants accepted at Cambridge and Oxford.

Other schools in the list of State Secondary Schools in England

Here are other best secondary schools in UK to consider. They make up the list of state secondary schools in England.

St Olave’s and St Saviour’s Grammar School
Wilson’s School
King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Boys
Brighton College
Colchester County High School for Girls

Best State Secondary Schools in London

Still, on the subject of Best secondary schools in UK, we will be listing the best state secondary schools in London. These schools made it to the top 100 schools in the UK, but are located somewhere in London.

The Henrietta Barnett School
The Latymer School
St Michael’s Catholic Grammar School
The Harrodian School
Islamia School for Girls
The Swaminarayan School

The Henrietta Barnett School

In the year 2012, The Times Newspaper ranked the school 1st and 2nd best-achieving state school according to GCSE and A-Level results respectively.

In the year 2014, The Telegraph wrote an article and identified it as being among the top ten schools for Russell group applications with about 75% of the pupils winning places.

The school has been equally at the seventh place among the schools with the highest successful applications to Oxbridge with almost 24% of their students winning places.

In 2015 and 2016, The Telegraph ranked the school as the best state school based on GCSE results.

The Latymer School

The Latymer School is one of the best secondary schools in UK that is very selective.

They are located in Edmonton, London, England. According to the league tables, it is one of the top state schools in the country.

The Good Schools Guide called it a top-notch academic grammar school that produces confident and mature pupils.

In 2009, 91.9% of their GCSE examinations achieved grades A and A*, and 76.4% of the entries gained A-grades at A-level, more than any other school. About forty pupils gained places at Oxford each year.

In 2019, they were listed as among the top co-educational state school in London, and fifth in the UK.

St Michael’s Catholic Grammar School

St Michael’s Catholic Grammar School is one of the best secondary schools in UK located in Finchley, Barnet, London.

The school was founded by Michael’s Convent in the year 1908. It used to be a small-fee paying school serving the parish and they have remained a grammar school to this day.

It became a voluntary aided grammar school in the year 1958 and the prime aim of the school has been the formation of responsible and committed catholic citizens.

The Harrodian School

The Harrodian School was founded by Lady Eliana and sir Alford Houstoun-Boswall. As of September 2010, the school has grown to 1500 pupils and about 120 members of staff.

Islamia School for Girls

Islamia School for Girls is one of the best secondary schools in UK that has a history of academic excellence. Almost every batch of their students has exceptional results in IGCSE, IAS and IAL.

Islamia School for Girls has secured various positions in the annual Think Science Competition.

The Swaminarayan School

This is equally one of the best secondary schools in UK that in the year 2010 was ranked 23rd in the United Kindom for best GCSE level results by BBC.

Also in 2010, the Daily Telegraph ranked this school as the second in the country in terms of the league tables of independent schools.

Best State Secondary Schools in Bristol

In this category, the schools listed below are based on their Attainment 8 scores.

  1. Colston’s School
  2. Redland Green School
  3. St Bede’s Catholic School
  4. OneSchool Global UK Bristol Campus
  5. Colston’s Girls’ School
  6. Bristol Cathedral Choir School

10 best secondary schools in UK by GCSE

Below is a list of the best secondary schools in UK by GCSE, you can see the full list here.

Secondary School% of students with A* -A
St Paul’s Girls’ School 99.60
Westminster School98.61
Abbey School
Guildford High
School for Girls
St Paul’s School96.66
North London
Collegiate School
& Latymer School
King’s College
School – Wimbledon
St Mary’s
School – Ascot
City of London School for Boys94.62
best secondary schools in UK

Top 10 Independent Secondary Schools in UK

Here is a list of the best secondary schools in UK in terms of independent schools with Eton College coming 11th in the ranking.

Secondary school Rank
St Paul’s Girls’ School1
The Godolphin
and Latymer School
Brighton College3
King’s College School,
Wycombe Abbey
Magdalen College
Guildford High School7
St Mary’s School Ascot8
St Paul’s School9
King Edward VI High
School for Girls
best secondary schools in UK

10 Best secondary schools in England, UK for international students

Abbey DLD College LondonBoarding School
Co-educational school
In 2020 – 84%
of A Level students
achieved A* – B
CATS College CanterburyRanked 3rd
in the UK top 6th Form Colleges 
D’Overbroeck’s CollegeIn 2018 – 53.37% A Level students
achieved A/A*
CATS College Cambridge47% of A-level students
achieved A*/A
Westbourne School Private boarding schoolIn 2019 – 40% of GCSE students
achieved A*
Oxford International CollegeIn 2018 – 83.5% of A Level scores
made up A- A*
Cardiff Sixth Form College WalesIn 2019 – 89.88%
of A Level students achieved A – A*
 Sevenoaks SchoolIn 2018 – 92% of GCSE students
achieved A* – A.
Bishopstrow College UKIn 2019 – 96% of GCSE students
achieved A* – C.
Queen Ethelburga’s College Boarding school82.5% of A Level students
A* – A results among
top UK schools in 2020
best secondary schools in UK

30 Best Boarding Schools in the United Kingdom

The UK boarding school are split into three different levels. At a boarding school, pupils live with their fellow pupils in a boarding house.

Girls stay in a separate accommodation from the boys and there is usually at least a house parent who lives on campus to look after pupils.

Young boarders most times share bedroom while older boarder usually have their private rooms.

Schools Tuition for Day
Tuition for Boarding
Queen’s College // EnglandFrom £1,830 – £5,280
From £3,930 – £8,650
CATS Cambridge // CambridgeFrom £29,985  – £24,990
From £34,770  – £39,975
CATS Canterbury // CanterburyFrom £20,985 – £24,990
From £30,975-39,480
Wycliffe School // EnglandFrom £5,350 to £5,850
From £9,080 to £10,395
Oakham School // EnglandFrom £5,205-£5,875 per term
From £7,985 -£9,785 per term
Sevenoaks School // England£20,763
Bilton Grange // England£2,970 – £5,730 per term
£7,180 per term
CATS London // London£17,880 – £29,760
£27,150 – £48,660
Woldingham School // England£5,925 – £6,455 per term
£9,470 – £10,315 per term
MPW London // London£21,750 – £32,400
£35,150 – £52,280
Marymount International School // London£17,520 – £20,020
£29,810 – £33,790
Woodcote House School // England£5,000 per term
£6,650 per term
Windlesham School // England£1,170 – £2,750 per term
Ratcliffe College // England£8,781 – £14,286 per annum
£24,852 per annum
St Peter’s School // England£8,781 – £14,286 per annum
£6480 – £8395 per term
Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools // WalesFrom £3220 -£4591 per term
From £6057 – £8820 per term
Strathallan School // ScotlandFrom £ 4,165-£ 6,348 per term
From £ 6,673 – £ 9,355 per term
Dulwich // EnglandArts, Music and Sports
Scholarships available
Bedford School // England£3,799 – £5,862 per term
£6,761 – £9,915 per term
Abingdon // England£5290
Full – £11,180 / Weekly – £9340
King William’s College // the Isle of Man£19,746 per annum
£28,746 per annum
Eton College // England£11,478 per term
Badminton School // England£15,750 – £16,185 per year
£31,500 – £36,660 per year
Uppingham School // England£7,366 per term
£10,523 per term
Roedean // England£14649
Downe House // England£23,040
Harrow School // England£12,050 per term
Stowe School // England£22,500
Burgess Hill Girls // Southern England£4,850 – £6,400 per term
£9,350 – £11,400 a term
best secondary schools in UK

Three best secondary schools in Wales

While we talk about the best secondary schools in UK, here are three of the best secondary schools in Wales.

St Brigid’s, Denbigh

At St Brigid’s, Denbigh, 61.3% of their A-level students achieved an A*-B which makes the school rank at 211 in terms of A-level result across the UK.

This school has 475 pupils and is know to give priority to catholic childre.

Ysgol Eirias, Colwyn Bay

Ysgol Eirias, Colwyn Bay finished 10th on the list of the best state secondary schools Wales and and 280th in the whole of UK, therefore it can be classified as one of the best of schools in UK.

The school is ranked 191 for it’s A-level results with 63.1% if A-level students achieving an A*-B grade. Ysgol Eirias, Colwyn Bay has about 1,362 pupils.

Ruthin School

Ruthin School came second in the list of the top independent secondary schools in Wales. They rank 45th across the UK.

In terms of A-Level results, the school is ranked 2nd with 98% of their A-Level students achieving the A*-B grade.

10 Top State Secondary schools in Wales

Here are the 10 top secondary schools in Wales to consider while considering the best secondary schools in UK:

1. Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Glantaf, Cardiff

2. Ysgol Y Preseli, Crymych

3. Cowbridge Comprehensive School

4. Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Bro Myrddin, Carmarthen

5. Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Plasmawr, Cardiff

6. Olchfa School, Swansea

7= St Brigid’s School, Denbigh

7= Ysgol Calun Cymru*, Builth Wells

9. Penglais School, Aberystwyth

10. Ysgol Eirias, Colwyn Bay

10 Top independent secondary schools in Wales

Here are 10 Top independent schools in Wales to consider while considering the best secondary schools in UK.

1. Cardiff Sixth Form College

2. Ruthin School

3. St Michael’s School, Llanelli

4. St John’s College, Cardiff

5. Westbourne School, Penarth

6. Howell’s School Llandaff GDST, Cardiff

7. The Cathedral School Llandaff, Cardiff

8. Rougemont School, Newport

9. Monmouth School for Girls

10. Monmouth School for Boys

best secondary schools in UK FAQ’s

3 UK schools with the best GCE result:

Bedford School
Stowe School
Wycliffe School

3 UK boarding schools with the best Oxbridge passing rate

Stowe school
Wycliffe School
Strathallan School

3 UK Schools with the best teacher to student ratio

Stowe School
Wycliffe school
Strathallan School

UK schools with the lowest average size of class

Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools
Woldingham School
Uppingham School

UK boarding schools that offer football

Wycliffe School
Monmouth Schools 


Education is a powerful weapon with which we can change the world, explore these secondary schools in UK and ensure to choose the right one for yourself. Best regards!!!

Related Contents

One comment

Was This Article Helpful? Tell Us What You Think.