State schools

The best public secondary schools in the country have been revealed and the top 5 schools are all in London

Finding the right secondary school can sometimes be a challenge, as parents seek the right balance of proximity, location, educational standards, and community. Not everyone can afford to pay thousands of pounds to splurge on their child’s education and may feel like some of the best schooling options are closed behind a paywall.

Parents in London might be relieved to learn that there is no shortage of top-notch state schools in the capital, in fact, quite the opposite. Recent school rankings from global education consultancy Britannia Studylink place London at the very top of the UK state secondary pile.

In its most recent list of 2022, schools in London made up the top 5 of the top 10 schools in the UK. The ranking is based on Parent Power’s ranking of all public secondary schools in the UK. Rankings are determined by the schools’ average performance in public examinations, which include A-levels, GCSEs, International Baccalaureate, Pre-U, Advanced, Upper and National 5s.

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Queen Elizabeth’s School in Barnet is the best public school in the UK

All of London’s top 5 schools are selective, with two traditionally girls’ schools and three boys’ schools. The best school in the UK is Queen Elizabeth’s School in Barnet, North London, which is a selective grammar school for boys founded in 1573 by Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester, and others, on behalf of Queen Elizabeth I.

The second-ranked Henrietta Barnett School is another single-sex high school in north London. Founded in 1911, it has consistently been rated as one of the best public schools in the UK over the past decades and was “outstanding” in every way in its latest Ofsted report in 2007.

The clock tower of the former St Olave's Grammar School building reveals just how historic it is
The clock tower of the former St Olave’s Grammar School building reveals just how historic it is

Wilson’s School in Sutton was originally in Camberwell when it was founded in 1615 before being moved in 1975. Another single-sex public school on Wilson’s list has some famous old boys, including actor Michael Caine who said he didn’t like his time at the historical school.

The Tiffin Girls’ School is fourth on the list of top UK schools. It’s the only one in this top four that hasn’t started or is currently operating as a high school, but it’s still selective. Located in Kingston Upon Thames, the school prioritizes the admission of students from the catchment area.

St Olave’s High School is a highly selective all-boys grammar school that requires its students to pass not only initial entrance exams but also sixth form exams. The school has a long and prestigious history, having been established in 1571.

The list of the top ten British state secondary schools
  1. Queen Elizabeth School, Barnet
  2. The Henrietta Barnett School, North West London
  3. Wilson School, Wallington
  4. The Tiffin Girls’ School, Kingston upon Thames
  5. St Olave’s High School, Orpington
  6. Pate’s Grammar School, Cheltenham
  7. reading school, reading
  8. Altrincham Girls’ High School, Altrincham
  9. Colchester Royal High School, Colchester
  10. King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Boys, Birmingham
The best public schools in London
  • Queen Elizabeth School – Barnet
  • Henrietta Barnett School – London
  • Wilson School – Wallington
  • The Tiffin Girls’ School – Kingston upon Thames
  • St Olave’s High School – Orpington
  • The Latymer School – Edmonton
  • RC St Michael’s High School -Finchley
  • Tiffin School – Kingston on the Thames
  • Nonsuch High School for Girls – Cheam
  • Sutton High School – Sutton

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