Best State Secondary Schools in the UK – Rankings & Tuition Fees

Looking for the top secondary schools in the UK? Our league table will make the research easy for you. We have compiled our league table of the top state secondary schools in the UK based on published data on GCSE grades and Attainment 8 scores. We have also compiled a league table of top schools in London and Bristol. Here’s our full guide on the top state schools in the UK.

Table of Contents

Top State Secondary Schools in England 2021 - League Table

Here is a comparison of the top 100 secondary schools in England based on their Attainment 8 scores. For more information about this league table, please see our section on Methodology.

RankSchoolType of SchoolAttainment 8
1The Henrietta Barnett SchoolAcademy85.2
2The Tiffin Girls' SchoolAcademy85.1
3Kendrick SchoolAcademy84.7
4Queen Elizabeth's School, BarnetAcademy84.6
5Reading SchoolAcademy83.9
6St Olave's and St Saviour's Grammar SchoolMaintained school83
7Wilson's SchoolAcademy82.9
8King Edward VI Camp Hill School for BoysAcademy82.8
9Brighton CollegeIndependent school82.6
10Colchester County High School for GirlsAcademy82.2
11King Edward VI Grammar School, ChelmsfordAcademy82
12Colyton Grammar SchoolAcademy81.7
13Pate's Grammar SchoolAcademy81.4
14Sutton Grammar SchoolAcademy81.2
15Nonsuch High School for GirlsAcademy80.7
16Newstead Wood SchoolAcademy80.2
17Chelmsford County High School for GirlsAcademy80.1
18King Edward VI Camp Hill School for GirlsAcademy79.9
19The Latymer SchoolMaintained school79.9
20Colchester Royal Grammar SchoolAcademy79.7
21Wallington High School for GirlsAcademy79.4
22Woodford County High SchoolMaintained school78.8
23Dr Challoner's High SchoolAcademy78.7
24King Edward VI SchoolAcademy78.7
25Altrincham Grammar School for GirlsAcademy78.6
26Stratford Girls' Grammar SchoolAcademy78.5
27The Blue Coat SchoolAcademy78.4
28Newport Girls' High School AcademyAcademy78.3
29Altrincham Grammar School for BoysAcademy78
30Tiffin SchoolAcademy77.7
31St Michael's Catholic Grammar SchoolMaintained school77.6
32Wallington County Grammar SchoolAcademy77.4
33Westcliff High School for Boys AcademyAcademy77.3
34Al-Burhan Grammar SchoolIndependent school76.9
35King Edward VI Five Ways SchoolAcademy76.9
36Bishop Vesey's Grammar SchoolAcademy76.4
37Queen Mary's Grammar SchoolAcademy76.4
38South Wilts Grammar SchoolAcademy76.3
39Tonbridge Grammar SchoolAcademy76.3
40Wycombe High SchoolAcademy76.3
41The Judd SchoolMaintained school76
42Westcliff High School for GirlsAcademy76
43Denmark Road High SchoolAcademy75.9
44Sutton Coldfield Grammar School for GirlsAcademy75.8
45Stroud High SchoolAcademy75.7
46Ilford County High SchoolMaintained school75.5
47Bishop Wordsworth's Church of England Grammar SchoolAcademy75.4
48Dartford Grammar School for GirlsAcademy75.3
49The Harrodian SchoolIndependent school75.3
50Beaconsfield High SchoolAcademy75.2
51Dr Challoner's Grammar SchoolAcademy75.2
52Lancaster Girls' Grammar SchoolAcademy75.2
53The Royal Grammar School, High WycombeAcademy75.2
54Aylesbury High SchoolAcademy75
55King Edward VI Handsworth SchoolAcademy75
56Sir Thomas Rich's SchoolAcademy75
57Clitheroe Royal Grammar SchoolAcademy74.9
58Royal Latin SchoolAcademy74.9
59Lawrence Sheriff SchoolAcademy74.7
60Dartford Grammar SchoolAcademy74.3
61Sir William Borlase's Grammar SchoolAcademy74.3
62Wolverhampton Girls' High SchoolAcademy74.3
63The Maynard SchoolIndependent school74.2
64Nottingham Girls' High SchoolIndependent school74.2
65Devonport High School for GirlsAcademy74.1
66St. Francis' CollegeIndependent school74.1
67Herschel Grammar SchoolAcademy74
68Aylesbury Grammar SchoolAcademy73.9
69Tunbridge Wells Girls' Grammar SchoolMaintained school73.8
70Chesham Grammar SchoolAcademy73.6
71Islamia School for Girls'Independent school73.6
72Langley Grammar SchoolAcademy73.5
73Alcester Grammar SchoolAcademy73.3
74Loreto Grammar SchoolAcademy73.3
75Manchester High School for GirlsIndependent school73.2
76Townley Grammar SchoolAcademy73.2
77Highworth Grammar SchoolAcademy73.1
78Southend High School for BoysAcademy73.1
79Torquay Girls Grammar SchoolAcademy73
80Caistor Grammar SchoolAcademy72.9
81The Crossley Heath SchoolAcademy72.9
82Heckmondwike Grammar SchoolAcademy72.9
83St Bernard's Catholic Grammar SchoolMaintained school72.7
84Rugby High SchoolAcademy72.6
85Southend High School for GirlsAcademy72.6
86Ripon Grammar SchoolMaintained school72.5
87Weald of Kent Grammar SchoolAcademy72.5
88Invicta Grammar SchoolAcademy72.2
89Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar SchoolAcademy72.1
90The Skinners' SchoolAcademy72.1
91The Swaminarayan SchoolIndependent school72.1
92Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar SchoolAcademy72
93Dame Alice Owen's SchoolAcademy72
94Poole Grammar SchoolAcademy72
95Sale Grammar SchoolAcademy72
96Sir Henry Floyd Grammar SchoolAcademy72
97Bournemouth SchoolAcademy71.9
98St Nicholas' SchoolIndependent school71.9
99Upton Court Grammar SchoolAcademy71.9
100Haberdashers' AdamsAcademy71.8
England - Average of all schools44.7

Top UK State Secondary Schools - Methodology

best state secondary schools in the uk

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, a number of major examinations in 2020-2021 were cancelled and assessments were made using teachers’ grades. As a result, the UK government declared that it will not publish any performance data of schools in 2020.

We have based our league table on published Attainment 8 scores. The Attainment 8 is a score given to a school based on its pupils’ performance in 8 subjects – this includes English, Maths, three English Baccalaureate subjects, and three other eligible subjects.

Our league table includes different types of schools in the UK as specified below:

  • Academy – Government funded, run by an academy trust
  • Independent school – privately funded schools
  • Maintained school – Government funded, run by a local authority

UK Secondary School Application Process

There are three major steps in the application process to UK secondary schools. Contact Britannia StudyLink for assistance in the application process today – our services are free.

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Top 10 State Secondary Schools in England

10. Colchester County High School for Girls

Located in Essex, the Colchester County High School for Girls is a grammar school that has academy status. The highly selective school has earned its number 10 spot on our list as it has consistently produced top results in the GCSEs.

9. Brighton College

The famed Brighton College ranked as the 9th-best in England and it is the best-performing independent school on our league table. The co-educational school managed to achieve 96% A*/A at the GCSEs in 2020. Our guide on Brighton College goes into more detail about the exclusive independent school.

8. King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Boys

The King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Boys is a grammar school located in Birmingham. Established in 1883, it has been widely regarded as one of the top schools in the country with high acceptance rates at Oxbridge and other prestigious universities.

7. Wilson's School

Wilson’s School was named as The Times’ London State Secondary School of the Decade in 2020. The school has a total of 1250 pupils and admits 180 pupils every year through a rigorous, two-stage entrance examination.

6. St Olave's and St Saviour's Grammar School

Founded in 1571, St Olave’s Grammar School is a boys’ grammar school located in Greater London. St Olave’s was once named as the State Secondary School of the Year on Sunday Times in 2008, one of the most prestigious awards for schools in the country.

5. Reading School

The Reading School is one of the oldest schools in the country and it was refounded by King Henry VII in 1486. Reading School gained its reputation as one of the best schools in the country as its graduates have a high admission rate into Oxbridge, according to a Sutton Trust study. Reading School has been awarded State School of the Year twice by The Sunday Times.

4. Queen Elizabeth's School, Barnet

The Queen Elizabeth’s School, Barnet, has been consistently ranked among the top schools in the UK. Queen Elizabeth’s School topped the A Level league tables for five years in a row and it is consistently ranked among the top 5 schools in the UK.

3. Kendrick School

The Kendrick School is a girls’ grammar school located in Reading. A number of reports have found that Kendrick School graduates have a high acceptance rate at Oxbridge, with around 15% of students being accepted at Oxbridge. The school is highly selective, receiving around ten applications per place every year.

2. The Tiffin Girls' School

The Tiffin Girls’ School admits approximately 1200 students, including 300 or so students in the Sixth Form. In 2020, the school achieved 96.3% Grades 9-7 at the GCSEs. The school has won numerous accolades in the past decade for outstanding academic achievements.

1. The Henrietta Barnett School

Dubbed as one of the “magnificent seven”, the school was founded by Dame Henrietta Barnett in 1911 to improve girls’ education. It has since been recognised year after year as one of the best schools in the country, with high acceptance rates at Oxbridge and top achievements at GCSEs and A-Levels.

Best State Secondary Schools in London

This league table is a shortlist of the top 100 schools in the UK located in the London area.

RankSchoolType of SchoolAttainment 8
1The Henrietta Barnett SchoolAcademy85.2
19The Latymer SchoolMaintained school79.9
31St Michael's Catholic Grammar SchoolMaintained school77.6
49The Harrodian SchoolIndependent school75.3
71Islamia School for Girls'Independent school73.6
91The Swaminarayan SchoolIndependent school72.1

Best State Secondary Schools in Bristol

Here is a quick list of secondary schools in Bristol, ranked according to its Attainment 8 scores. The rankings are based on its performance in England-wide league tables.

RankSchoolType of SchoolAttainment 8
150-200Colston's SchoolIndependent school64.1
250-300Redland Green SchoolAcademy60.8
400-450St Bede's Catholic SchoolAcademy57.5
400-450OneSchool Global UK Bristol CampusIndependent school57
450-500Colston's Girls' SchoolAcademy56.7
450-500Bristol Cathedral Choir SchoolAcademy56.4

Frequently Asked Questions

The number one state secondary school in England is the Henrietta Barnett School located in London.

The top state school in London is the Henrietta Barnett School, followed by the Latymer School and St Michael’s Catholic Grammar School in second and third place respectively.

The top three state schools in Bristol are Colston’s School, Redland Green School, and St Bede’s Catholic School.

First, you will have to submit application forms and other relevant documents. Depending on the school of choice, you may have to take entrance exams. The school will make its decision based on its admissions criteria.

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