Rating The UK’s Best Independent Boys’ Schools

Frank, impartial & thorough assessment of Britain’s leading independent schools for boys

Ranking criteria (1 point per stipulation or criteria based scale – Total possible score is 40)

  • Based on the amount of A-levels (as a percentage) graded at A* or A in recent years with a weighting toward the most recent years (2017 & 2016). 1 point (from 0-8) per 10% of A* or A category grades at A-level on the weighted average over the recent past.
  • Oxbridge attainment rates are taken into consideration at the higher levels – that is, a 9 or 10 out of 10 requires both good grades & at least solid Oxbridge acceptance levels. Ivy League attainment rates (where known) can supplement Oxbridge rates on a roughly commensurate level – with a preference for the big three of Harvard, Yale & Princeton.
(1 point per criteria matched):
  • Sports facilities that are of high quality.
  • Sports opportunities that are varied.
  • Adequate links to professional and/or representative sports organisations.
  • Good standard of coaching, mentoring & athlete support.
  • Good standard of current and recent sports performance.
  • History of producing representative & international sportsmen.
  • 0 = Zero or close to zero.
  • 1 = Sporadic and/or token poor.
  • 2 = Reasonable but limited in scope/quality.
  • 3 = Good in either scope or quality but not both.
  • 4 = Good in both scope and quality.
  • 5 = Superb in both scope and quality.
  • 6 = World class and/or world renowned.
  • 0 = No intrinsic scope to better social circles.
  • 1 = Limited scope to better social circles.
  • 2 = Some basal scope to better social circles.
  • 3 = Reasonable scope to better social circles.
  • 4 = Good scope to better social circles.
  • 5 = Superb scope to better social circles.
  • 6 = World class scope to better social circles.
  • 0 = Only marginally better than saying they attended borstal.
  • 1 = The school has a very limited reputation and/or one that is poor.
  • 2 = The school is at least reasonably well known but not renowned.
  • 3 = The school is respected at least regionally & well regarded but not revered.
  • 4 = The school is respected at least nationally & revered if not celebrated.
  • 5 = The school is respected internationally & celebrated within British society.
  • 6 = The school is globally celebrated & synonymous with excellence.
  • 0 = Poor offering at a very high or high price.
  • 1 = Mediocre offering at a high price.
  • 2 = Average offering at an above average price.
  • 3 = Reasonable offering at a reasonable price.
  • 4 = Good offering at a reasonable price.
  • 5 = Excellent offering at a reasonable price or good offering at a superb price.
  • 6 = Superb offering at a superb price.

Britain’s 10 Best Schools for Boys

 

Britain’s 10 Best Schools for Boys: The Top Order

1st Place – Westminster School 34Westminster SchoolLittle Dean’s Yard London, SW1P 3PF United Kingdom Fees: £8,710.00 per term. Staffing: 105 staff to 747 students. In terms of pure academic performance & horsepower, including consistently stratospheric Oxbridge acceptance rates, Westminster School is perhaps the leading school in the UK of the last decade. Notable past pupils include: John Locke; Sir Christopher Wren; John Russell; Edgar Adrian; Sir Andrew Huxley; Sir Peter Ustinov; Tony Benn; Nigel Lawson; Andrew Lloyd Webber; Gavin Rossdale; Helena Bonham Carter; Nick Clegg; Louis Theroux & Dido. 87.1% of A Level passes in 2017 were in the A*/A category which is literally double the rate of several schools that cost more on this list – remarkable academic pedigree to put it mildly.
St. Paul's Cathedral
St. Paul’s Cathedral – designed by Westminster Schoolboy Sir Christopher Wren.
Ranking:
  • Academic 10
  • Sporting 3
  • Cultural 5
  • Networking opportunities 6
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 5.5
  • Value for money 4.5
2nd Place – Harrow School 33.5Harrow SchoolHarrow-on-the-Hill   Middlesex HA1 3HP Fees: £12,850.00 per term. 821 students. Founded in 1572 by John Lyon under a Royal Charter of Elizabeth I, and is one of the original seven public schools that were regulated by the Public Schools Act 1868. The school has produced seven Prime Ministers: Stanley Baldwin, Sir Winston Churchill, George Hamilton-Gordon, Sir Robert Peel, Spencer Perceval, Frederick John Robinson & Henry John Temple. Harrow has produced winners of the Victorian Cross at each of the Crimean War; the Second Opium War; the Zulu War; the Sudan Campaign; the South African War; the Third Somaliland Expedition; the First World War & the Second World War. In recent years the school has run an aggressive sporting scholarship program – thus far yielding Gary Ballance; Nick Compton; Maro Itoje & Billy Vunipola. The school’s sporting heritage is rich and indelibly intertwined with many of Britain’s greatest sporting traditions: C. W. Alcock, creator of the FA Cup; Spencer Gore, the first Wimbledon champion; Damian Hopley, Chief Executive of the Professional Rugby Players’ Association; A. N. Hornby, one of only two men to have captained England at cricket and rugby & Charles Morice who played for England as a forward in the first ever international football match against Scotland are all old boys. Academic performance, whilst undoubtedly remaining very respectable, marginally lags the likes of Eton & Westminster School but the marginally superior emphasis on sporting opportunities sees Harrow nip her eternal rival Eton College on my listing.
Sir Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill (left) pictured at the age of 17 at Harrow School.
Ranking:
  • Academic 8.5
  • Sporting 5
  • Cultural 5
  • Networking opportunities 6
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 6
  • Value for money 3
3rd Place – Eton College 33 Eton College Windsor Berkshire SL4 6DW £12,910.00. 1,320 students. Eton has produced nineteen British Prime Ministers, including Sir Robert Walpole, William Pitt the Elder, the first Duke of Wellington, William Ewart Gladstone, the fifth Lord Rosebery, Arthur James Balfour, Anthony Eden, Harold Macmillan, Alec Douglas-Home, and David Cameron. Other notable old boys include (just briefly): Aldous Huxley; John Maynard Keynes; Boris Johnson; Prince William; Prince Harry; Antony Armstrong-Jones; Prince William of Gloucester & Charles Spencer. Academically performance in recent years has been stellar – 12th in the country in 2016 with 57.5% of students achieving AAB or better at A level.
The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money
John Maynard Keynes was an economist whose ideas fundamentally changed the theory and practice of macroeconomics and the economic policies of governments.
Ranking:
  • Academic 9
  • Sporting 4
  • Cultural 5
  • Networking opportunities 6
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 6
  • Value for money 3
4th Place – The Manchester Grammar School 32 Manchester Grammar SchoolManchester Lancashire M13 0XT £4,090.00. A*/A A-level passes consistently around the 70% mark along with a strong sporting culture & a relatively ultra-low cost make MGS the best value all around mainstream option in the UK bar none. Strong academically, strong sportingly & at a relative pittance – a very difficult proposition to best. Former pupils include Michael Atherton; Thomas De Quincey; Ben Kingsley; 1986 Nobel Prize Winner for Chemistry John Polanyi & Fields Medal winner Michael Atiyah.
Ben Kingsley
Ben Kingsley is best known for his starring role as Mohandas Gandhi in the 1982 film Gandhi, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor.
Ranking:
  • Academic 9
  • Sporting 5
  • Cultural 4
  • Networking opportunities 4
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 4
  • Value for money 6
5th Place – Dulwich College 31 Dulwich CollegeLondon SE21 7LD £6,554.00. Former pupils include P. G. Wodehouse; Nigel Farage; Eoin Morgan; Bob Monkhouse (who was expelled); Ed Simons of the Chemical Brothers; Wing Commander Frank Arthur Brock OBE inventor of the smoke-screen & Sir Ernest Shackleton.
Ernest Shackleton
Ernest Shackleton is one of Dulwich’s more illustrious sons.
Ranking:
  • Academic 7
  • Sporting 6
  • Cultural 4
  • Networking opportunities 5
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 4.5
  • Value for money 4.5
6th Place – Merchant Taylors’ School 30.5 Merchant Taylors' SchoolNorthwood HA6 2HT £6,666.00. Former students include Michael McIntyre; Alfred Marshall – one of the founders of neoclassical economics; John Walter, founder of The Times newspaper; John J. Wild – part of the first group to use ultrasound for body imaging, most notably for diagnosing cancer; Sir Frederick Treves, 1st Baronet, renowned for his surgical treatment of appendicitis, and credited with saving the life of King Edward VII in 1902 & a wide and varied selection of academic, religious, business & cultural leaders within British society past & present.
Alfred Marshall
Alfred Marshall was one of the most influential economists of his time. His book, Principles of Economics, was the dominant economic textbook in England for many years.
Ranking:
  • Academic 8
  • Sporting 4
  • Cultural 4
  • Networking opportunities 5
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 5
  • Value for money 4.5
7th Place – Hampton School 30 Hampton SchoolHampton Middlesex TW12 3HD £6,390.00. Former pupils include Brian May of Queen; golfer Paul Casey; Matt Brittin, CEO of Google UK; Air Marshal Sir Peter Wykeham & Iain Morris who co-wrote The Inbetweeners.
Brian May
Brian May (right) of Queen.
Ranking:
  • Academic 9
  • Sporting 3
  • Cultural 5
  • Networking opportunities 4
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 4
  • Value for money 5
8th Place – Wellington College 29.5Wellington College Crowthorne Berkshire RG45 7PU £9,310.00. For a school founded as relatively recently as 1859 (in the context of this listing) Wellington has produced a remarkable amount of prominent old boys including: George Orwell (who transferred to Eton); racing driver James Hunt; Sir Hugh Beaver (the founder of the Guinness Book of Records); Rory Bremner; Nikolai Tolstoy & Peter Snow whilst Fifteen Old Wellingtonians have won the Victoria Cross, again remarkably, in the Zulu War; the Boer War; the Third Ashanti Expedition; the Second Somaliland Expedition; the First World War & the Second World War. Ranking:
  • Academic 6
  • Sporting 6
  • Cultural 4
  • Networking opportunities 5
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 5
  • Value for money 3.5
9th Place – Bristol Grammar School 29Bristol Grammar School Bristol BS8 1SR £4,740.00. Former students include the notorious Shrien Dewani; William Gregor, discoverer of titanium; Sir Douglas Veale, former Registrar of the University of Oxford (1930–1958); Nobel Laureate Sir John Pople & Michelle Goodman, the first woman to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross. Ranking:
  • Academic 8
  • Sporting 3
  • Cultural 4
  • Networking opportunities 4
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 4
  • Value for money 5
10th Place – Tonbridge School 28.5Tonbridge School Tonbridge Kent TN9 1JP £9,743.00. Past pupils include Sir Colin Cowdrey; Norman Heatley, the man who turned penicillin into a usable medicine; Tim Waterstone, the founder of Waterstones; World War 1 flying ace John Everard Gurdon & Nobel Laureate Sir Derek Harold Richard Barton. Ranking:
  • Academic 7
  • Sporting 4
  • Cultural 4
  • Networking opportunities 5
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 5
  • Value for money 3.5

Britain’s Top School for Boys: The Best of The Rest

Britain’s Top School for Boys: The Middle Order

11th Place: King Edward’s School, Birmingham 28King Edward's School, Birmingham Edgbaston Park Road, Birmingham B15 2UA Fees: £4,245 per term. With a history dating back to 1552 King Edward’s School is a serious academic powerhouse at a reasonable asking price. 82.46% of A levels were in the A* or A category in 2017 which makes KES among the strongest academic schools in the nation. James Quincey, president and CEO of the Coca-Cola Company; Tony Miles, the first British-born chess Grandmaster; Tony Hall, Director-General of the BBC & formerly Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House; Maurice Wilkins, 1962 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine & Sir John Vane, 1982 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine are all former pupils. Ranking:
  • Academic 9
  • Sporting 2
  • Cultural 4.5
  • Networking opportunities 3.5
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 3.5
  • Value for money 5.5
12th Place – Brighton College 27.5Brighton College Brighton East Sussex BN2 0AL £7,930.00. A good all around option which is academically excellent (second only to Westminster of all the schools on this listing in recent years) and sportingly strong (#7 in the country as of 5/12/17 in Rugby having finished 9th in 2016/2017; 31st in 2015/2016; 37th in 2014/2015 & 35th in 2013/2014). Ranking:
  • Academic 8.5
  • Sporting 5
  • Cultural 4
  • Networking opportunities 3.5
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 3.5
  • Value for money 4
13th Place – Winchester College 27 Winchester CollegeWinchester Hampshire SO23 9NA £12,700.00. 673 students. Oldest of the original seven English public schools defined by the Clarendon Commission and regulated by the Public Schools Act 1868. Solid recently in terms of academic performance – roughly on a par with Eton College. Ranking:
  • Academic 8.5
  • Sporting 3
  • Cultural 3.5
  • Networking opportunities 5
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 5
  • Value for money 2
14th Place – Shrewsbury School 26.5 Shrewsbury SchoolShrewsbury Shropshire SY3 7BA £8,130.00. Former students include Dare Wilson, the SAS officer who introduced attack helicopters to the British military; J. C. Thring, who co-published the Cambridge rules which formed the basis of Association football; Willie Rushton, founder of Private Eye & Michael Palin. Ranking:
  • Academic 6
  • Sporting 5
  • Cultural 4
  • Networking opportunities 4
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 4
  • Value for money 3.5
15th Place – Whitgift School 26 Whitgift SchoolSouth Croydon Surrey CR2 6YT £6,454.00. Ranking:
  • Academic 7
  • Sporting 5
  • Cultural 3
  • Networking opportunities 4
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 3.5
  • Value for money 3.5
16th Place – Radley College 25 Radley CollegeAbingdon Oxfordshire OX14 2HR £12,300.00. 670 students. Founded in 1847 by William Sewell and Robert Corbet Singleton. The newest of the four boys only, boarding only independent schools but a leading educational option. Old boys include Andrew Strauss; Ted Dexter and of course the ever so jovial Jamie Laing of Made In Chelsea fame. Ranking:
  • Academic 7
  • Sporting 3
  • Cultural 4
  • Networking opportunities 5
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 5
  • Value for money 1
17th Place – Sedbergh School 24.5 Sedbergh SchoolSedbergh Cumbria LA10 5RY £8,010.00. A strong shout for the leading sports school in all of England. #2 in the country (behind Wellington College, who they’ve already beaten but played two fewer games than) as of 5/12/17 in Rugby having finished 2nd in 2016/2017; 5th in 2015/2016; 2nd in 2014/2015 & 2nd in 2013/2014 whilst in Cricket the school consistently places and wins in leading national competitions and produces England Under-19 cricketers including current captain Harry Brooks & England Under 19 rugby star Nathan Redpath. Academic results have been poor in recent times considering the price tag perhaps even very poor. Ranking:
  • Academic 3
  • Sporting 6
  • Cultural 4
  • Networking opportunities 4
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 5
  • Value for money 2.5
18th Place – Uppingham School 24 Uppingham School Oakham Rutland LE15 9QE £8,435.00. 48.8% of A Level passes were in the A*/A category in 2017 & 44.53% did so a year prior which is firmly mid-table academically. Rowan Atkinson headlines a surprisingly threadbare cast of notable former pupils – if you discount the wider significance of Busted (boy band) member Charlie Simpson & exclude Stephen Fry on the basis that he was expelled from the school in 1972 or as he recalls “I went to places where you weren’t allowed to go, and I shoplifted, which was the final straw. I was not a good example as a modern schoolboy. I was kicked out of Uppingham and of another school. I was a terrible teenager. No school could mould me.” Ranking:
  • Academic 5
  • Sporting 3.5
  • Cultural 4.5
  • Networking opportunities 4.5
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 5
  • Value for money 1.5

Joint 19th Place - Charterhouse 23

CharterhouseGodalming Surrey GU7 2DX £10,483.00. The most expensive of the non-boarding only options. 100 full-time staff service a student population which hovers around the 800 level. The school has produced an interesting cross section of British society including Jonathan & David Dimbleby; Peter Gabriel (and band mate Mike Rutherford); Jeremy Hunt; Harry Oppenheimer & Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant. Ranking:
  • Academic 6
  • Sporting 2
  • Cultural 4.5
  • Networking opportunities 5
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 4.5
  • Value for money 1

Joint 19th Place - Repton School 23

Repton School Derby Derbyshire DE65 6FH £8,582.00. 57.8% of A Level passes were in the A*/A category in 2017. Ranking:
  • Academic 6
  • Sporting 4
  • Cultural 4
  • Networking opportunities 4
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 3
  • Value for money 2

Joint 19th Place - Millfield 23

Millfield SchoolSchool Street Somerset BA16 0YD £8,270.00. 30.8% of A Level passes were in the A*/A category in 2017. Ranking:
  • Academic 5
  • Sporting 5
  • Cultural 3
  • Networking opportunities 4
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 3.5
  • Value for money 2.5

Joint 19th Place - Oakham School 23

  Oakham SchoolOakham Rutland LE15 6DT £6,675.00. Ranking:
  • Academic 5
  • Sporting 4
  • Cultural 3.5
  • Networking opportunities 4.5
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 3
  • Value for money 3

Joint 19th Place - Rugby School 23

Rugby SchoolRugby Warwickshire CV22 5EH £7,268.00. Ranking:
  • Academic 5.5
  • Sporting 4
  • Cultural 3.5
  • Networking opportunities 3.5
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 4
  • Value for money 2.5

Joint 19th Place - Abingdon School 23

Abingdon SchoolAbingdon Oxfordshire OX14 1DE £6,425.00. Ranking:
  • Academic 6
  • Sporting 3
  • Cultural 3
  • Networking opportunities 4
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 4
  • Value for money 3

Joint 19th Place: Bedford School 23

Bedford Bedfordshire MK40 2TU £6,159.00. Ranking:
  • Academic 5
  • Sporting 4.5
  • Cultural 3.5
  • Networking opportunities 3
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 3
  • Value for money 4

Joint 19th Place: Caterham School 23

Caterham Surrey CR3 6YA £6,060.00. Ranking:
  • Academic 6
  • Sporting 3
  • Cultural 4
  • Networking opportunities 3
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 3
  • Value for money 4
Joint 19th Place: Merchant Taylors' Boys' School 23 Liverpool Merseyside L23 0QP £3,723.00. Ranking:
  • Academic 5
  • Sporting 4
  • Cultural 3
  • Networking opportunities 3
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 4
  • Value for money 4

Joint 19th Place: The Portsmouth Grammar School 23 Portsmouth Hampshire PO1 2LN £5,112.00.

Ranking:
  • Academic 7
  • Sporting 3
  • Cultural 3
  • Networking opportunities 3
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 3
  • Value for money 4

Joint 19th Place - Gordonstoun School 23

GordonstounMoray IV30 5RF Scotland £9,113.00. 44.9% of students achieved at least one A* or A grade which places it in the low-mid range in purely academic terms among schools on this list. Sport's facilities are good but the general thrust is on participation rather than excellence. Culturally Gordonstoun is perhaps the finest school on this list. The price point appears ambitious if you consider Sedbergh are over £1,000 less & many of the North West's top independent schools come in the £4,000 to £6,000 range. The school is run in accordance with the philosophy of German educator Kurt Hahn - 600 students are taught by over 100 teachers. Ranking:
  • Academic 5
  • Sporting 2
  • Cultural 6
  • Networking opportunities 3
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 5
  • Value for money 2

30th Place: Warwick School 22.5

Warwick Warwickshire CV34 6PP £4,229.00. Ranking:
  • Academic 5
  • Sporting 3
  • Cultural 3
  • Networking opportunities 4
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 3.5
  • Value for money 4

Joint 31st Place: Clifton College 22Clifton College

Clifton Bristol BS8 3JH £8,285.00. Ranking:
  • Academic 5
  • Sporting 4
  • Cultural 4
  • Networking opportunities 4
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 3
  • Value for money 2
 

Joint 31st Place: Sherborne School 22Sherborne School

Sherborne Dorset DT9 3AP £9,780.00. Five Old Shirburnians have been awarded the Victoria Cross whilst other past pupils include Coldplay's Chris Martin; Jeremy Irons & Alan Turing, the instrumental figure at Bletchley Park during World War 2 & father of the first modern computer. Ranking:
  • Academic 6
  • Sporting 3
  • Cultural 4
  • Networking opportunities 4
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 4
  • Value for money 1
 

Joint 31st Place: Culford School 22

Bury St Edmunds Suffolk IP28 6TX £6,330.00. Ranking:
  • Academic 6.5
  • Sporting 3
  • Cultural 4
  • Networking opportunities 3
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 2.5
  • Value for money 3

Joint 34th Place: Lime House School 21

Carlisle Cumbria CA5 7BX £3,850.00. Ranking:
  • Academic 8
  • Sporting 1
  • Cultural 3
  • Networking opportunities 2
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 2
  • Value for money 5

Joint 34th Place: Cheltenham College 21Cheltenham College

Cheltenham Gloucestershire GL53 7LD £9,245.00. 56.92% of A Level passes were in the A*/A category in 2017. Ranking:
  • Academic 5
  • Sporting 3
  • Cultural 4
  • Networking opportunities 4
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 3
  • Value for money 2
 

Joint 34th Place: Loughborough Grammar School 21 

Loughborough Leicestershire LE11 2DU £4,042.00. 56.83% of A Level passes were in the A*/A category in 2017. Ranking:
  • Academic 4.5
  • Sporting 3
  • Cultural 3.5
  • Networking opportunities 3
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 3
  • Value for money 4

Britain’s Top Boys Schools – The Tailenders

Joint 37th Place: Marlborough College 20Marlborough College

Marlborough Wiltshire SN8 1PA £10,350.00. Marlborough became fully co-educational in 1989 & has an almost even split of boys to girls among its 900 pupils. Interestingly both Samantha Cameron & Frances Osborne are former pupils as are Kate Middleton &  Princess Eugenie. Academically the school has consistently under-performed considering its lofty status as the second most expensive non-boarding only option available. 48% of A Level passes were in the A*/A category in 2017 which trails the ilk of Eton but, more disconcertingly, far cheaper options in Loughborough Grammar School's 56.83% or Bristol Grammar School's 61.8%. Ranking:
  • Academic 3
  • Sporting 2
  • Cultural 4
  • Networking opportunities 6
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 4
  • Value for money 1

Joint 37th Place: The Leys School 20The Leys School

Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB2 7AD £7,130.00. Ranking:
  • Academic 6
  • Sporting 3
  • Cultural 3
  • Networking opportunities 3
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 2
  • Value for money 3

Joint 37th Place: Austin Friars 20

Carlisle Cumbria CA3 9PB £4,815.00. Ranking:
  • Academic 5
  • Sporting 3
  • Cultural 3
  • Networking opportunities 3
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 3
  • Value for money 3

Joint 37th Place: Exeter School 20

Exeter Devon EX2 4NS £4,259.00. Ranking:
  • Academic 5
  • Sporting 3
  • Cultural 3
  • Networking opportunities 3
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 3
  • Value for money 3

Joint 41st Place: Bede's Senior School 19

Hailsham East Sussex BN27 3QH £7,150.00. Ranking:
  • Academic 5
  • Sporting 3
  • Cultural 3
  • Networking opportunities 3
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 3
  • Value for money 2

Joint 41st Place: Taunton School 19

Taunton Somerset TA2 6AD £6,275.00. Ranking:
  • Academic 6
  • Sporting 2
  • Cultural 3
  • Networking opportunities 3
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 3
  • Value for money 2

Joint 43rd Place: Cranleigh School 18Cranleigh School

Cranleigh Surrey GU6 8QQ £9,995.00. 40 per cent of A Level passes were in the A*/A category in 2017 which, considering the price tag, has to be seen as poor considering Lime House School (one of the cheapest options on the list) achieved 50% more such passes & costs £6,145 a term less to attend. You will though admittedly be tripling your child's chances of appearing on Love Island - Olivia Attwood being one of a surprisingly threadbare list of notable past pupils of the school. Ranking:
  • Academic 4
  • Sporting 4
  • Cultural 3
  • Networking opportunities 3
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 3
  • Value for money 1

Joint 43rd Place: Forest School 18

London E17 3PY £5,992.00. Ranking:
  • Academic 4
  • Sporting 3.5
  • Cultural 3
  • Networking opportunities 3
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 2
  • Value for money 2.5

Joint 43rd Place: Worksop College 18

Worksop Nottinghamshire S80 3AP £5,955.00. Ranking:
  • Academic 4
  • Sporting 4.5
  • Cultural 2.5
  • Networking opportunities 2
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 3
  • Value for money 2

Joint 43rd Place: Windermere School 18

Windermere Cumbria LA23 1NW £5,750.00. Ranking:
  • Academic 6
  • Sporting 1
  • Cultural 4
  • Networking opportunities 2
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 2
  • Value for money 3

Joint 47th Place: St Bede's College 17

Manchester Lancashire M16 8HX £3,665.00. Ranking:
  • Academic 3
  • Sporting 3
  • Cultural 3
  • Networking opportunities 2
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 3
  • Value for money 3

Joint 47th Place: Canford School 17Canford School

Wimborne Dorset BH21 3AD £8,822.00. Ranking:
  • Academic 5
  • Sporting 3
  • Cultural 3
  • Networking opportunities 2
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 3
  • Value for money 1
49th Place: Bedales School 15 Petersfield Hampshire GU32 2DG £9,272.00. 33% of A Level passes were in the A*/A category in 2017. Ranking:
  • Academic 3
  • Sporting 2
  • Cultural 3
  • Networking opportunities 3
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 3
  • Value for money 1
50th Place: Newcastle School for Boys 14 Newcastle-upon-Tyne Tyne and Wear NE3 4ES £4,440.00. Ranking:
  • Academic 4
  • Sporting 2
  • Cultural 2
  • Networking opportunities 2
  • Badge esteem/pedigree 2
  • Value for money 2

This listing includes all schools that boys are able to attend and not merely ‘boys only’ schools due to the widespread modern popularity of allowing girls into formerly monastic schools. Fees are given at the highest rate for a day scholar/boy on a per term basis. Eton, Harrow, Radley & Winchester are of course boarding only which catapults their cost into a league of their own.

Reviews are based on knowable facts about the various schools. To preface my observations I’d like to make it clear that every school on this list is, broadly speaking, a good school – I am merely seeking to decipher good value offerings from lesser value offerings open to parents considering the substantial investment inherent in sending their sons to one of the nation’s leading independent schools. In short, we know what we’re paying but what – in terms of academic, sporting, social links & intangible benefits are we receiving in return at each of these institutions? And on this basis – that is, what represents good value & what represents the proverbial rip off?

In the wake of the not so distant memory of the independent school fee fixing scandal of 2005 I believe these are fair questions for parents & prospective parents to be asking. I add new schools regularly as I review their academic, sporting, cultural, social & critically value for money offerings. For the purposes of full disclosure I am entirely unaligned to any of the schools listed in any way, shape or form – having myself been educated in South Africa. This endeavour stemmed from a desire to find the best option for my unborn son (due 2 April, 2018).

In terms of pure brand name equity I have utilized the simple yet telling metric of average number of Google searches per month over the last 2 years globally to rate the various options & they come out as follows:

The 7 Original Public Schools as set out in the Public Schools Act 1868:

  1. Eton College 49,500
  2. Westminster School 33,100
  3. Harrow School 27,100
  4. Rugby School 27,100
  5. Winchester College 9,900
  6. Charterhouse School 9,900
  7. Shrewsbury School 8,100

Prime Ministers Produced By School

19 Eton College – Robert Walpole; John Stuart Earl of Bute; George Grenville; William Pitt the Elder Earl of Chatham; Frederick North; William Grenville Lord Grenville; George Canning; Arthur Wellesley Duke of Wellington; Charles Grey Earl Grey; William Lamb Viscount Melbourne; Edward Smith-Stanley Earl of Derby; William Ewart Gladstone; Robert Gascoyne-Cecil Marquess of Salisbury; Archibald Primrose Earl of Rosebery; Arthur Balfour; Anthony Eden; Harold Macmillan; Alec Douglas-Home Earl of Home; David Cameron.

7 Harrow School – Spencer Perceval; Frederick J. Robinson Viscount Goderich; Robert Peel; George Hamilton-Gordon Earl of Aberdeen; Henry John Temple Viscount Palmerston; Stanley Baldwin; Winston Churchill.

6 Westminster School – Henry Pelham; Thomas Pelham-Holles Duke of Newcastle; Charles Watson-Wentworth Marquess of Rockingham; Augustus FitzRoy Duke of Grafton; William Cavendish-Bentinck Duke of Portland; John Russell Earl Russell.

1 Winchester College – Henry Addington.

1 Charterhouse School – Robert Jenkinson Earl of Liverpool.

1 Rugby School – Neville Chamberlain.

Shrewsbury School is thus the only original Public School as defined by the Public Schools Act 1868 which has yet to produce a single British Prime Minister.