Choosing a place to settle is a big decision – especially if you have children to consider. One of the most pressing issues parents face is ensuring the new home will fall within the catchment area of a good school. However, with applications for the best schools in South West London and beyond far higher than the number of places, location is paramount. Luckily, we have created a useful round-up of schools and neighbourhoods to help with your search.
London has a great hit rate when it comes to Ofsted ratings and performance data, both for state and private education. Today, we’ll take a closer look at state schools lying within the South West London postcode. We have ranked the Top 10 based on The Sunday Times Parent Power 2024 league tables. The data uses the average A-level, GCSE, IB, Pre-U, Advanced Higher, Higher and National 5 moderated exam performance from 2023.
Every excellent institution on the list has a handy area guide attached, so you can see at a glance if the neighbourhood also meets your family’s needs. Ready to discover the best schools in South West London? Let’s get stuck in!
10 best schools in South West London
Here are the 10 best schools in South West London according to The Sunday Times Parent Power 2024 League tables. Please note that this list covers the top-performing schools from all the South West London postcodes. It also covers the full range of private/independent and state secondary schools, both mixed and single-gender.
1: St Paul’s School
National Rank: 3
96.6% A-level A*- B
96% GSCE A*/A/9/8/7
Ranked 3rd nationally, St Paul’s School in Barnes SW13 is the top-ranked school for South West London in 2024. It’s a boys school with boarding and day pupil options. Fees range from between £7,910 to almost £15,000 for boarders. Not only does the school post outstanding academic achievements consistently each year, it’s also determined to unlock the full potential of its students while broadening their interests through 100 societies, clubs and activities.
2: The Tiffin Girls’ School
National Rank: 7
88.5% A-level A*- B
94.4% GSCE A*/A/9/8/7
The second best school in South West London for 2024 is The Tiffin Girls’ School in Kingston Upon Thames. By focusing on creating a community where girls can take centre stage, its pupils have achieved 94.4% A*/A/9/8/7 at GCSE level. Not only is it among the top-performing schools in South West London, it’s also ranked 7th nationally. As a selective school, parents from across the country (and internationally) are keen for their children to come here.
Founded in 1880, the school’s ethos centres around ‘inclusivity, challenge, independence, questioning stereotypes and creativity’, which feeds into its wider cultural environment. In addition, pupils benefit from an active pastoral system. Admission is by a selective process based on 44 catchment postcodes and two-stage testing in English and maths. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds have a higher priority when the school is oversubscribed.
3: Westminster School
National Rank: 9
95.6% A-level A*- B
96.3% GSCE A*/A/9/8/7
Taking third place, and situated in an ever-desirable part of the London, the Westminster School is a fee-paying boys school with exceptional academic results paired with a liberal tradition which nurtures each pupil’s development and keeps them grounded in the “real world” beyond academia. In its most recent Ofsted report, it was said that: “Pupils display extremely high levels of political awareness and understanding for their age and debate contemporary issues with high levels of articulacy”.
4: Tiffin School
National Rank: 17
86.7% A-level A*- B
81.5% GSCE A*/A/9/8/7
Fortunately, there’s also a Tiffin school for boys, and it’s our fourth-highest-rated school for the area. Also located in Kingston Upon Thames, Tiffin School is just a stone’s throw from Hampton Court Park and Kingston University. Although founded in 1880, Tiffin School‘s origins date back to the 17th Century. Its long history of academic excellence is evidenced in its A-level and GCSE scores too.
The school is particularly proud of its broad curriculum, which supports specialist subjects such as performing arts, languages, and sports. Admission is partly based on students sitting a two-stage test in English and maths.
5: Kingston Grammar School
National Rank: 37
89.7% A-level A*- B
90.5% GSCE A*/A/9/8/7
Another Kingston upon Thames top-performer, Kingston Grammar School is an independent mixed school with annual fees of £7,820. Ofsted congratulates it for creating an environment in which all involved work together to encourage the highest academic aspiration and promote independent thought. As you would expect from a school of this calibre, it offers an extensive range of sports and extra-curricular clubs, while promoting a strong sense of community through bonding activities and wilderness trips.
6: Sutton Grammar School
National Rank: 43
80.4% A-level A*- B
76.4% GSCE A*/A/9/8/7
Sutton Grammar School is a state-funded selective school accepts male students up to Year 12, with female students welcome to join Sixth Form. Located in the centre of Sutton, the school is close to bus and rail routes. 135 boys can join Year 7 each year, with 30 extra students allowed in from year 12. This smaller size means staff can focus on the students’ academic success and welfare. Most pupils take at least four A-Levels and have to pass a two-stage eligibility test to join the school.
7: Putney High School
National Rank: 44
87.8% A-level A*- B
90.6% GSCE A*/A/9/8/7
Putney High School is a fee-paying school (£7,718 per year) for girls that aims to equip its students with “intellectual agility and curiosity so that they are down to earth, ambitious and unafraid to embrace challenges.” With consistently excellent grades, outstanding facilities and a beautiful campus in Putney, the school is a regular feature in the Times’ lists, and it moved up 19 places from last year’s results.
8: Lady Margaret School
National Rank: 82
79.5% A-level A*- B
53.6% GSCE A*/A/9/8/7
Lady Margaret School in Parsons Green sits in eighth position in our list of the best schools in South West London. It is a Church of England Academy for girls aged 11-18 in Hammersmith and Fulham. Established in 1917, the school currently has 750 girls on the roll, including 155 in the Sixth Form and 90 teaching and support staff.
Children who regularly attend a C of E church have priority access to places, with all pupils sitting an ability banding test in English and maths to ensure year 7 intake reflects ability range. The broad education on offer here contributes to 53.6% of its pupils gaining A*/A/9/8/7 at GCSE level.
9: The London Oratory School
National Rank: 143
72.2% A-level A*- B
49.3% GSCE A*/A/9/8/7
While The London Oratory School is a comprehensive school, baptised catholic students have priority for admission. Founded by priests sent by Oratorian Saint John Henry Newman over 150 years ago as part of an initiative to educate immigrant Catholic children, the school focuses on serving its pupils’ spiritual as well as their educational needs.
The school comprises three houses – the Junior House, the Senior School and the Sixth Form. Male pupils aged 7 to 11 can join the Junior House to study ‘a specialist instrumental and choral education’. However, most students join the Senior School between the ages of 11 and 16. Girls are welcome to join the Sixth Form.
10: The Grey Coat Hospital
National Rank: 146
68.5% A-level A*- B
54% GSCE A*/A/9/8/7
Coming in very close to London Oratory School (just 3 places behind it nationally) and catering to girls aged 11–18 while offering a mixed Sixth Form, The Grey Coat Hospital in Westminster prioritises students who regularly attend C of E and other churches. The school also asks year 7 applicants to sit a language aptitude test and an ability banding test in literacy and non-verbal reasoning.
People also ask:
Are schools in London better?
If you’re thinking of moving to the City, it’s worth asking if schools in London are better than in other regions. Since the 1990s, London’s schools have dramatically improved their overall performance scores and reputation. This is partly due to long-term schemes such as The London Challenge, Teaching Schools, the Academies programme and Teach First. These days, educational institutions in the Capital regularly top the league tables in terms of exam grades and Ofsted ratings.
Which area in London has the best schools?
So, we know London has some of the best schools in the country, but which areas top the tables? According to the CBRE Hot 100, 58% of Kensington & Chelsea’s schools boast an Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ rating. Lambeth also has a high proportion of top-rated primary and secondary schools, as does Richmond upon Thames.
Which boroughs in London have the best schools?
The best schools in London are spread out across the capital, but there are some boroughs that do excel even in this highly competitive city. Richmond-upon Thames, Kingston-upon-Thames, Barnet, Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster and Redbridge are all top performers, with certain boroughs holding an edge in particular kinds of schools. Grammar, private, mixed/single gender and faith-based schools are all different areas where different boroughs can excel.
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Featured image credit: A P Monblat