With 57 independent co-ed schools in London, it can be hard to work out which is the best school for your child. Although grade achievement at GCSE and A-Level can be a good starting point, you often don’t know much about a school without attending an open day. It’s unfeasible to visit tens of schools, so we’ve picked out the best co-ed schools in London for you.
Latymer Upper is a mainstream independent school with a linked prep school in Hammersmith.
Head David Goodhew has been at the helm since 2012 and parents agree he is a friendly, accessible character who has shown exemplary leadership, particularly throughout the pandemic. Goodhew is a local lad, educated at a West London comprehensive and then onto Oxford University (Classics). He is now back, and on a mission to broaden access to the school. He is also determined to increase bursary provision to up to 25% of pupils by 2024, making the school a genuine reflection of the local community.
Latymer Upper is a favourite with the North London media families who love the creative co-curricular on offer, meaning that in this school, sporty types don’t dominate as they can in others. Is there a Latymer Upper child? We don’t think so, but they do look for children who can get stuck into everything on offer.
In terms of admissions, all co-ed schools are incredibly popular in London at the moment and we hear of parents turning down offers from SPGS, SPS and Westminster to take up places at Latymer Upper. The exam has a notoriously hard Maths papers and we wonder, with a brand new, state of the art science block, is Latymer looking for the scientists and mathematicians of the future?
Academics are excellent, with 78% of GCSEs graded 9–8 and 70% of A-levels A*–A in 2019. 10% of pupils go on to Oxbridge.
Alleyn’s is a mainstream independent school with a linked prep school in Dulwich.
Jane Lunnon took over the headship of Alleyn’s in January 2021 from acting Head Andy Skinnard, a popular, old timer with deep roots at the school. After a glittering career at Wellington College and Wimbledon High School, Ms Lunnon arrived to great fanfare, but at a school working remotely from home. Ms Lunnon is known for her unflappability and has dived straight in with Zoom calls to meet the parents and explain her educational philosophies. The school seems to be carrying on in its happy, if not normal, state of affairs. Pupils here are well-rounded, enthusiastic and engaging children with can do attitudes.
Gaining a place is a tough gig, with 150 places on offer and 50 of these already reserved for the Junior School. The remaining 100 places are split equally between girls and boys. Historically the Alleyn’s English paper has been considered long and particularly demanding, but this year applicants were given a reprieve from the extensive comprehension and creative writing piece, as the school opted for the ISEB online test as the best option for socially distanced admissions tests.
Set in 26 acres and only a ten-minute walk to North Dulwich train station, Alleyn’s academic performance is top tier, with 43% of GCSEs grade 9, and 30% of A-levels A*. 14% go on to Oxbridge.
Head Adam Pettitt has been steering the Highgate ship since 2006 and is considered by parents to be a visionary. As part of his ambitious Chrysalis programme, Highgate works with over 60 state schools in London and beyond. During the pandemic, in May 2020 Mr Pettitt donned his spikes to run a marathon around the school’s playing fields – and he raised more than £60,000 to help provide laptops for Year 12 pupils at nearby state schools.
Foreign languages are a particular strength of the school, with French, Latin, Spanish, Mandarin, Russian, German and Greek on offer up to A-Level. Maths uptake is also particularly impressive, with three-quarters of sixth formers taking Maths at A-Level. English teaching is equally strong, with the department boasting three published writers, plus an author in residence.
The school’s academic attainment is reflected in their fantastic exam results. In 2020, 96% 9-7 at GCSE; 86% A*/A at A level/Pre-U. In 2019 (the last year when exams took place), 90% 9-7 at GCSE; 76 % A*/A at A level/Pre-U. The Oxbridge entry rate is 18%.
Emmanuel is a mainstream independent school in Battersea with no linked prep school, but a single form 10+ intake.
Robert Milne, previously deputy head at Kings College Wimbledon, took over the headship at Emanuel in 2017 and parents and staff alike have praised his tenure so far. Teaching standards are a focus for this committed teacher and as a result Emanuel have been rocketing through the league tables, becoming extremely popular as a result! No longer a second-choice school for local parents, the odds of getting an offer have been decreasing with each successive year. With Clapham Junction railway station only ten minutes’ walk away, this school can be accessed from all sides of the capital, making the pool of potential candidates large.
Emanuel prides itself on interviewing all candidates, but parents complain this feels like an assembly line on the day and a bit of a tick box exercise all round. Last year the examination day itself was complained about sorely on local forums, as children waited for 45 minutes in the cold and rain to be allowed in for the exam and were not properly supervised afterwards. This year, the school did not join the rest of the local independents in opting for the ISEB online exam, but instead opted to carry on with their usual in school exam process. When this became unfeasible, papers were sent home with zoom proctoring arranged, but alas Zoom failed and the exam process descended into chaos.
Exam results are impressive and getting more so each year. In 2020, 77% 9-7 at GCSE; 50% A*/A at A level (82% A*-B). In 2019 (the last year when exams took place), 71% 9-7 at GCSE: 47% A*/A at A level (82 per cent A*-B). Oxbridge entrance is occasional for Emanuel students.
Harrodian is a mainstream independent co-ed school in Barnes with a linked prep school.
The Harrodian used to be known as the school for glitzy celeb families in London, but not so much anymore. The Head, James Hook has largely dismantled this reputation, but the school remains known for cool, creative kids, especially actors and musicians. In terms of admissions, it’s a similar story to other popular co-ed schools’ entry: standards are rising, and it is getting harder to win a place. The school is looking for ‘all rounders’ and is slightly unpredictable, with prep school heads saying they find it difficult to guess which of their pupils will be offered places at the school.
In terms of academics, the school is not releasing 2020 results. In 2019 (the last year when there were exams), results were strong, with 71% achieving 9-7 at GCSE; 52% A*/A at A level (80 per cent A*-B). Oxbridge entrance is occasional.