Tatler reveals its 2021 Good Schools Guide

From Prince George and Princess Charlotte’s primary to a City of London secondary with a Bake Off finalist as a geography teacher, Tatler reveals its annual pick of the UK’s best prep and public schools – but they’ll set you back up to £14,782 a TERM

  • Tatler magazine has unveiled its list of the top prep and public schools in the UK
  • Includes a Kent secondary school where all girls leave with LinkedIn accounts
  • One Wessex Sussex prep school boasts a chef who worked at The Ritz London
  • Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s eldest children attend school listed in guide 

Tatler has unveiled its annual pick of the best prep and public schools in the UK.

The society bible’s Schools Guide 2021 is packed with world-class educational institutions for children aged four to 18 – and unsurprisingly, many come with eye-watering fees. 

Schools that offer yoga classes, eye-opening trips to orphanages in places such as Ghana and Cambodia, and lunchtime chefs hailing from The Ritz and Michelin-star restaurants all make the annual guide – as does one that boasts a Bake Off finalist as a geography teacher. 

And the prep school attended by Prince George and Princess Charlotte is praised for producing ‘kind, thoughtful and creative’ pupils who are ‘willing to stand up and be heard’.

Yet again south London’s Dulwich College tops the list when it comes to price – at £7,082 a term for day students and £14,782 for boarders. 

There are dozens of fee-paying primary and secondary schools in Tatler’s guide, available in the October edition of the magazine, but here FEMAIL shares a selection of the most awe-inspiring…

PUBLIC SCHOOLS 

City of London School (boys only)

Term fees: £6,313 

The riverfront City of London school boasts some pretty spectacular views, with the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral protruding from behind the building and The Shard visible from the pupils’ lunchtime balconies

With alumni including Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe, it may not be Hogwarts, but the City of London School boys are ‘unashamedly bright’, with nearly half its A-Level students (46 per cent) achieving A* grades.

Understandably 20 per cent of its students obtain a place at Oxbridge, but according to headteacher Alan Bird, the real selling point of the school is its ‘diverse pupil body’, which he puts down to its City location which sees boys commute from across London via public transport.

The riverfront school also boasts some pretty spectacular views, with the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral protruding from behind the building and The Shard visible from the pupils’ lunchtime balconies.

And the school’s bake sales are bound to be impressive, as Bake Off 2019 finalist Alice McFarlane is a geography teacher there.  

City of London School for Girls (girls only)

Term fees: £6,404

Despite its urban setting in the Barbican, girls at City of London School enjoy sports ranging from cricket and cross-country running to cheerleading

Renowned for its performing arts (Claudia Winkleman is among its alumni and almost every pupil learns an instrument) last year the school’s senior production of Wizard of Oz – performed with City boys – went down a storm.

During lockdown, the students also engaged in virtual concerts and photography challenges during its ‘Sourdough School’ initiative.

Despite its urban setting in the Barbican, girls at City enjoy sports ranging from cricket and cross-country running to cheerleading.

There are exchanges in the pipeline with school in Canada and New Zealand, and a number of its gifted pupils travel across the pond for university, attending the likes of Brown, NYU and McGill.      

Bedales School, Petersfield (mixed)

Term fees: day £9,745; boarding £12,400

Pupils at Bedales, Petersfield, Hampshire, pictured, call teachers by their first names. It offers a back to nature approach with its A Levels, providing an alternative Living with the Land course which teaches butchery, foraging and sustainable farming

Bedales, attended by the Earl of Snowdon, is well known for its hollistic approach – students call teachers by their first names – and excellence in the arts.

It also offers a back to nature approach with its A Levels, providing an alternative Living with the Land course which teaches butchery, foraging and sustainable farming.

Pupils even have technology-free days to escape the pressures of modern living. 

Benenden School, Kent (girls only) 

Term fees: boarding £13,124

Girls at Benenden are encouraged to go out and ‘seize every opportunity’ – and headteacher Samantha Price is determined they’re as prepared as they can be for the working world by ensuring they have Linkedin accounts and well honed CVs

It’s easy to see why Benenden was a good fit for its most prestigious alumni, Princess Anne. 

Its pupils parachute out of planes, trek to Annapurna base camp, play rugby, race self-built cars and team up with its partner school John Wallis Academy to build microlights. 

Girls are encouraged to go out and ‘seize every opportunity’ – and headteacher Samantha Price  is determined they’re as prepared as they can be for the working world by ensuring they have Linkedin accounts and well honed CVs. 

Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire (mixed) 

Term fees: boarding: £11,425; day: £7,140 

Berkhamsted’s six interconnected schools mean children can remain within the network from infancy to age 18

The pastoral care at Berkhamsted is such that it has introduced robots into classrooms to help children who are sick stay up to date – something that’s bound to be a big asset with the lingering coronavirus. 

There’s also a team of counsellors, chaplains and nurses and an Affective Social Tracking system to help identify potential challenges a pupil may face.

Its six interconnected schools mean children can remain within the network from infancy to age 18.

Francis Holland School Regents Park, London (girls only)

Term fees: £6,900

The teachers Francis Holland School Regents Park put on a pantomime every Christmas which always proves a big hit, and girls reportedly love the lasagne and fajitas

This London school’s Women of Influence lecture series introduced by headteacher Charles Fillingham has seen the Queen’s chaplain, the Right Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin give a talk.

As well as its impressive results – 2019’s GCSE grades were the best ever with 55.7 per cent at A* – there’s a friendly ethos at the school, attended by Tamara Ecclestone, Joan Collins and Emilia Fox.

The teachers put on a pantomime every Christmas which always proves a big hit, and girls reportedly love the lasagne and fajitas.

Magdalen College School, Oxfordshire (mixed) 

Term fees: £6,313

Music is at the heart of everything, with 16 student choristers singing in the Magdalen College choir every year

Academia is key at Magdalen, with an impressive 25 per cent Oxbridge admission record. It’s also embracing more ‘woke’ values, with the school embracing Veganury. 

Music is at the heart of everything, with 16 student choristers singing in the Magdalen College choir every year and a recent tour seeing them sing Mass in St Mark’s Basilica in Venice.

The school also has its own sport – Kingball – which has been played every day since 1871.

Dulwich College (boys only)

Term fees: day £7,082; boarding £14,782 

Dulwich College, in south London, pictured, is the most expensive public school in the Tatler guide with boarding fees costing : £14,782 a term – or £44,346 a year

The most expensive of the schools that made the Tatler guide, with boarders shelling out £44,346 a year, historic Dulwich College occupies 75 acres across south London 

The college takes pride in its ‘mentality of inclusivity’ and its dancer in residence has established an emerging dance company which showcases contemporary, ballet, hip hop and capoeira.

There’s also a focus on outdoor learning and an on-site support dog called Monty who is always on hand for cuddles. 

Wellington College, Berkshire (mixed)

Term fees: day £10,125; boarding: £13,860

Results are at their highest ever at Wellington College, and the school is working towards an exact balance of male and female pupils by 2025

Eagle-eyed fans of The Crown will have noticed Wellington stood in for Kensington Palace in the Netflix series.

At the moment, 10 per cent of its student receive financial assistance, and there’s also an excellent outreach programme helping 2,000 local students every year.

Results are at their highest ever, and the school is working towards an exact balance of male and female pupils by 2025.

Canford, Dorset (mixed)

Term fees: day £9,657; boarding: £12,686 

Sixth formers at Canford sit in on interviews with prospective new teachers – an initiative which one student claims helped him hone his own technique and get into Cambridge

Listed as Tatler’s 2019 Public School of the Year, Canford offers a Global Connection programme which sees lower sixth form students visit orphanages and partnered schools in Ghana, Cambodia, India and Argentina and teach younger pupils about their findings on their return.

Sixth formers also sit in on interviews with prospective new teachers – an initiative which one student claims helped him hone his own technique and get into Cambridge.

Emanuel School, London (mixed)

Term fees: £6,426

Based a stone’s throw from busy Clapham Junction station, Emanuel is reportedly going ‘from strength to strength’, with pupils apparently delighted with their smart new uniforms 

This co-educational school boasts a top notch team of chefs, with the food meriting its own Instagram account. 

Based a stone’s throw from busy Clapham Junction station, Emanuel is reportedly going ‘from strength to strength’, with pupils apparently delighted with their smart new uniforms.

Last year a student who rows for Great Britain brought home two gold medals, while the co-founder of Wikipedia and the CMO of Google gave talks there.

Cheltenham Ladies’ College (girls)

Term fees: day £8,580 boarding £12,780 

Pupils who are members of the Greenpower Car Club at Cheltenham Ladies’ school are currently working on building an electric car, while the Upcycled Fashion Show saw students showcase clothes crafted out of plastic bags

Clubs abound at Cheltenham Ladies’ – ranked one of the best achieving IB schools in the world.

There’s an Ethical Hacking club, a Model United Nations and a Bio-Tech club, while its Environmental Society was responsible for removing disposable plastic cups from the campus.

Pupils who are members of the Greenpower Car Club are currently working on building an electric car, while the Upcycled Fashion Show saw students showcase clothes crafted out of plastic bags.

The Perse School, Cambridge (mixed)

Term fees: £5,998

The Perse School encourages its students to participate in a wide variety of extracurricular activities

As well as its impressive academic results record, the Perse also encourages its students to participate in a wide variety of extracurricular activities. 

These include climbing, canoeing and even bushcraft skills. Meanwhile recent school trips include skiing in Italy, studying Classics in Greece and a cricket tour to Sri Lanka.

Its prep school students recently penned thank you poems to the NHS and its design and technology department provided PPE for nearby hospitals.

Harrow, London (boys only)

Term fees: boarding £13,925

Sport and performing arts are key parts of the curriculum at Harrow; last year the boys performed Twelfth Night at William Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

With Sir Winston Churchill and Lord Byron among its alumni, Harrovians are taught with a blend of tradition and modernity.

Every year 10 boys sail two 22m yachts around the Channel Islands with youngsters from Harrow Youth Offenders and Young Carers in its Tall Ships Challenge, now in its fourth year.

Sport and performing arts are key parts of the curriculum; last year the boys performed Twelfth Night at William Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.  

Glenalmond College, Perth

Term fees: day £8,000 boarding £12,500

Glenalmond College recently boldly banned mobile phones, meaning pupils now have plenty of time to spend on tracking wildlife across the estate

Set on a lush 320 acres of land, students here are regularly immersed in nature, while sports are a big part of the curriculum – skiing, kayaking and golf in its new indoor hub to name but a few.

The school recently boldly banned mobile phones, meaning pupils now have plenty of time to spend on tracking wildlife across the estate.

They also created a calendar which was sold in aid of the Scottish Wildlife Trust. Glenalmond is currently looking to establish an on-site gallery in its grounds. 

Westminster, London (mixed)

Term fees: day £10,497; boarding: £13,869

Westminster school assemblies are held in Westminster Abbey, while the sports hall is in the old art deco Royal Horticultural Hall

Pupils at this inspirational school in the shadow of Big Ben on a Unesco World Heritage site achieved an outstanding 80 Oxbridge offers. 

Assembly is held in Westminster Abbey, while the sports hall is in the old art deco Royal Horticultural Hall. 

Up to 200 students also volunteer to help the local homeless community by delivering food parcels and essential supplies on Saturday evenings.

…and the very best prep schools 

Thomas’ Battersea, London (mixed)

Term fees: £7,262

Attended by 581 pupils, Thomas’ Battersea is improving in netball and hockey and Year 3 pupils took part in Turner Prize winner Steve McQueen’s London-wide photography project, exhibited at the Tate Britain. There’s also a Mini Coders, chess and pottery club

Attended by Prince George and Princess Charlotte, Thomas’ Battersea produces ‘kind, thoughtful and creative’ pupils who are ‘willing to stand up and be heard’.

Attended by 581 pupils, the school is improving in netball and hockey and Year 3 pupils took part in Turner Prize winner Steve McQueen’s London-wide photography project, exhibited at the Tate Britain. There’s also a Mini Coders, chess and pottery club.

The lunches are exceptional – with Katsu curry and macaroni cheese a favourite among students and staff.

Pembridge Hall School, London (girls only)

Term fees: £7,590 

Pembridge Hall’s ‘caring’ headteacher Henry Keighley-Elstub is keen for the institution to prove it’s possible to be ‘academically ambitious without being selective’

Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, Pembridge has launched a fundraising campaign to increase the allocation of full-fee bursaries.

Its ‘caring’ headteacher Henry Keighley-Elstub is keen for the institution to prove it’s possible to be ‘academically ambitious without being selective’.

Extracurricular activities are encouraged, with the school offering an excellent LAMDA course designed to help the girls hone their communication skills. 

Handcross Park School, West Sussex (mixed)

Term fees: day £6,680 boarding £8,540

Handcross Park School’s catering manager Frederic Lottin previously worked at The Ritz in London and the three Michelin-starred Pavillon Ledoyen in Paris, and students enjoy his hearty fare and meat-free Mondays

Pupils here are taught Mandarin and Spanish from a young age, while 120 clubs are on offer ranging from yoga to gardening.

Its catering manager Frederic Lottin previously worked at The Ritz in London and the three Michelin-starred Pavillon Ledoyen in Paris, and students enjoy his hearty fare and meat-free Mondays.  

The Elms, Worcestershire (mixed)

Term fees: day £6,665 boarding: £8,535

With just 155 pupils, The Elms ensures each child receives individual attention and helps them find their ‘niche’.

There is a working farm on site where students can watch piglets being born, grow vegetables and even bring their own pony to school.

Cundall Manor, York (mixed)

Term fees: day £5,412 boarding £7,120

Children enjoy lessons in the Wild Wood, annual go-kart races and a homemade trebucher catapult competition at Cundall Manor

Describing itself as ‘proof the world of Enid Blyton can be at one with the 21st century’, Cundall Manor offers ‘abundant charm and eccentricity’ with an endless stream of activities on offer.

Children enjoy lessons in the Wild Wood, annual go-kart races and a homemade trebucher catapult competition.

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