Best Independent Day Schools In The UK (2024)

Independent day schools in the UK are known for their quality education standards, exceptional teaching staff, and world-class teaching facilities. It’s no surprise that many of these schools hold the top positions in the latest A Level league table rankings. In this guide, we look at the top independent day schools and what makes them stand out.

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What Is An Independent Day School?

An independent school is a private educational institution that operates independently of government funding and oversight. The main difference is school fees are charged, and the school has the autonomy to set their own curriculum, admissions policies, and teaching methods.”Day school” implies that there are no boarding facilities, and families are responsible for the student’s own accommodation and daily commute to school.

Independent day schools in the UK vary widely in terms of size (usually smaller than government funded schools), ethos, and academic focus, but they generally aim to provide high-quality education and often have a strong tradition of academic achievement and student development.

Why Send Your Child To An Independent Day School?

Aside from high academic standards, experienced faculty staff, smaller classes, and more personalised attention, students benefit from a variety of world-class school facilities such as astro turfs, labs, libraries, gymnasiums, student lounges, and more. Typically, independent schools also offer a wider range of extracurricular activities for students in sports, arts, music, drama, and more allowing for a fun and engaging education experience.

Top Independent Day Schools In The UK

Here are the top 10 independent day schools in the UK, based on the latest A Level results in our A Levels League Table.

1) The Cathedral School Llandaff

A Levels Result: 86.4% A*-A

The top-ranked independent day school, Cathedral School Llandaff, Cardiff is a well-regarded independent day school affiliated with Llandaff Cathedral. Founded in 1880, the school combines a rich historical tradition with a modern educational approach. It offers co-educational learning from nursery through to sixth form, with a deep focus on academic excellence, pastoral care, and a wide range of extracurricular activities.

2) Highgate School

A Levels Result: 86.1% A*-A

Coming in close at second place is Highgate School. Located in London, the school has won numerous accolades over the years, including the London Independent Secondary School Of The Decade award by Sunday Times and TES’s Independent School Of The Year award. The school is one of the most popular academic-focused day schools, fielding almost 200 candidates in the 2023 examinations.

3) Guildford High School

A Levels Result: 84.9% A*-A

At number 3 we have Guildford High School, an academically-selective religious girls day school located in Surrey. Founded in 1888, the school emphasises inclusivity, with the aim of providing a safe environment for students to grow academically regardless of background. In 2023, School Sports Magazine described them as “The Most Successful Sporting Girls’ School In The Country”, highlighting the schools ability to produce not just academic excellence, but also sporting excellence.

4) City of London School For Girls

A Levels Result: 83.1% A*-A

City of London School For Girls is a modern, centrally located day school, nestled in the heart of the Barbican. The Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) has described the school as “a place where pupils are inspired to find their space to pioneer by being given the freedom in almost all lessons to explore, discover and create tasks for themselves, while being encouraged to do so by supportive, but highly challenging teaching.” Evidently, it seems to be true based on the stellar results produced by the recent A Levels cohort.

5) James Allen's Girls' School

A Levels Result: 82.5% A*-A

James Allen’s Girls’ School is the second oldest girls’ school in the UK and is the sister school of Dulwich College and Alleyn’s. The school has an impressive array of accolades, including the prestigious ‘Independent School Of The Year London’ award bestowed by The Sunday Times in 2024. The school’s primary focus is to foster an environment for girls to flourish and achieve their goals. If you ask us, clearly they have achieved that.

6) King's College School (KCS)

A Levels Result: 82.3% A*-A

King’s College School (KCS) certainly needs no introduction. Steeped in prestige, the school is well known for its academic prowess, as seen by its high acceptance rate among its students who applied to Oxbridge. The school also offers the International Baccalaureate programme and was recently voted the top IB school in the UK. In spite of its great academic achievements, student mental health is also prioritised. In its review, the Telegraph UK has stated that King’s “takes pride in having led the way in promoting good mental health in the independent sector”.

7) Magdalen College School

A Levels Result: 82.1% A*-A

Magdalen College School offers courses to boys from the age of 7 and all genders for Sixth Form. The school is known for providing a good balance between academics and student development. As a result, many students have received offers at top universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, St Andrews and Bath. Based on public reviews, the school has built an excellent reputation for itself, especially in the area of pastoral care and parent-staff communication.

=8) King Edward VI High School for Girls

A Levels Result: 77.7% A*-A

Located in Wimbledon, King Edward VI High School for Girls, or KEHS has everything you need in a recipe for a great school. KEHS was recently voted the top West Midland’s school for the third consecutive year according to the Sunday Times Parent Power Guide. Studies aside, the school boasts extensive facilities for sports, arts, and music, setting a new standard for what should be the baseline for a great independent school experience in UK.

=8) The Perse School

A Levels Result: 77.7% A*-A

Tied with KEHS is The Perse School. Established in 1615 by Dr. Stephen Perse, the institution has a storied history of providing educational opportunities to individuals from diverse backgrounds. The Cambridge-based school emphasises character development and academic prowess for pupils, making it a point to cultivate within each student a passion for learning and a profound sense of empathy. Perse School Oxbridge entry statistics are amongst the best in the country, which also means academic standards (and level of competition) are really high among students at Perse.

10) Alleyn's School

A Levels Result: 77.4% A*-A

To top off our list we have Alleyn’s School, another London-based co-educational day school with robust academic standards. The HMC independent school has a successful track record of producing well-rounded, academically-strong graduates who make it into the best universities. The school also has one of the largest Combined Cadet Forces in the country, where students can choose between joining the Royal Navy Section, Army Section or RAF Section.


We hope you enjoyed our Top 10 list of the Best Independent Day Schools in the UK. If you are interested in applying for any of these schools, kindly contact our educational consultants. We provide free consultations, school selection and advice on studying at a school in the UK.

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