The best boarding schools in the UK
The UK has a wide range of prestigious boarding schools which have been recognized worldwide for their academic excellence. International students are completely immersed in the British culture. What’s more, they mix with other international students which enriches their experience even more.
As well as receiving a high-quality education, boarding schools also offer amazing facilities including: sports centres, theatres, art studios, music centres, recording studios, podcast suites, golf courses, equestrian centres, kitchens, science departments, Design Technology, and ‘business centres’ to name a few. These facilities help the students develop their skills and talents.
With more than 600 boarding schools in the UK, and each one so varied in its academic offerings, variety of sports and different facilities, it is tricky to make a decision.
The key is to put the student at the centre of the search, get to know their talents, qualities and likes as well as the parents’ preferences. You also need to really know the sector well, as well as know each boarding school, because the reality is that there is a boarding school for every child.
Here at ninetonineworld, we have done our selection of the best boarding schools in the UK, classifying them by their academic level, sport, music and art. The search criteria are infinite and it is really important to thoroughly search and select schools as each student is unique.
Wycombe Abbey is one of the boarding schools that always appears at the top of the “Best boarding schools in the UK” lists. Located just one hour outside London and set in 167 hectares, this all-girls school prepares students for the future. The pupils can choose activities like car machinery, managing mock companies, and organizing social media accounts, among many others.
In 2019, 80% of the A-level exam results were A* and A. The majority of girls went to Oxbridge, Russell Group and US universities. The demand is such that you have to apply up to 3 or 4 years in advance.
Found in the centre of London and with Big Ben looming nearby, Westminster is one of the classically British schools with an impressive history. Among the school’s alumni are the famous actress Helena Bonham Carter and the composer Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Westminster is exclusively for boys until GCSES with girls being accepted from the Sixth Form (Baccalaureate).
Music plays a large part of school life with access to the iconic Westminster Abbey where many concerts and the Christmas Carol Service are held.
Approximately 42% of students receive offers from Oxbridge and 5% head to the best universities in the United States.
Eton College is without a doubt the most famous English boarding school in the world, with tails for their uniform! Eton has an impressive reputation thanks to its academic excellence as well as its past alumni, such as Prince William, George Orwell, David Cameron and Boris Johnson. 19 of the 54 Prime Ministers attended the school.
Academics are not the only thing that stands out at Eton, sports are also very important. The boarding school has around 40 rugby and football pitches and 50 tennis courts. Students can row in the Eton Dorney, the lake that was used during the London 2012 Olympics.
Although is a traditional school with a rich history, over the course of its 600 years Eton has become more modern and continues to adapt to the changing times.
In 2021, 69 pupils received Oxbridge offers and 18 went to university in the US, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Columbia.
Situated between the picturesque Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District National Park, pupils at Sedbergh Prep and Senior School have an outstanding playground for all their sporting endeavours.
Sedbergh boasts an impressive reputation for rugby, with matches played against much bigger schools like Millfield and Wellington and many students playing in international teams. “Cross country” is another important sport at Sedbergh. Students can train in the beautiful surrounding hills and prepare themselves for the well-known 10-mile run, the “Wilson Run”. This school is perfect for students who love the outdoors and trying a huge range of new activities.
A sport powerhouse, Millfield’s sports facilities are unbeatable with a 50m pool, stables, a polo pitch, a 9-hole golf course, tennis pitches and so much more. It is absolutely no surprise that many of its past students have taken part in the Olympics from 1956, or that 4 medals were won by alumni at the 2016 Rio Games.
Although Millfield is a sport-focussed school, its strategy and respect to education is innovative and is constantly developing, reflected by the “Brilliance Curriculum” introduced in Year 9, which aims to create an overlap between subjects. An example of this is that students will not learn about global warming in Geography until first studying heat capacity in Physics. This helps students to better understand how all subjects are interlinked and to learn in a more dynamic way.
Bedales is a boarding school renowned for its academic achievement, reputation for music and for being highly innovative.
The school was founded in 1893 as an alternative to the authoritarian single-sex independent schools at that time, with the aim to create a co-education for the “head, hand and heart”.
The school’s magnificent buildings help inspire creativity among students, particularly when it comes to art, design and music. Its buildings have won many design awards. Students are encouraged to ask many questions. This approach allows them to open their mind and stimulates them to think creatively and “outside of the box”.
Pilgrim’s is an outstanding all boys prep school found close to the famous Winchester Cathedral. Boys head off to the country’s top boarding schools, including Winchester College, Eton, Radley and Marlborough with many being awarded sport, music and academic scholarships!
Music at Pilgrim’s is second to none, with their 2 professional choirs and 4 school choirs. With 28 specialist music teachers, boys can choose to learn a wide range of instruments, including piano, organ, guitar, lute and singing. There are more music lessons during the week than there are students!
All boys are encouraged to add music to a part of their daily life whether it is through their weekly music lesson, creating new bands and music groups or attending the numerous concerts held throughout the year. The school encourages creativity and innovation – perfect for budding musicians.
This Prep and Senior school, located in London, is well-known for its creativity and innovation within the academic curriculum. The schools aim is to prepare students to be “passionate free learners”. The art department has a great team of teachers, among them sculptors, painters, graphic designers and more. Dulwich’s art curriculum mixes tradition with innovation and values the diversity that comes with each student’s creations.
This school is a fantastic option for students who want to explore art in a different way, with such a varied team of professionals, each contributing their own specific knowledge. There is no doubt that many students go on to be incredible artists.
This all-girls Senior School has an excellent reputation due to its academic results but is also renowned for its art department.
The Art School has specialist facilities for painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, textiles, digital photography and darkroom photography. Art making goes far beyond the curriculum, with the Art School being open during the afternoon and the weekends; there is always a wide range of activities on offer. Girls regularly design and create the sets for school productions and take part in major art competitions, including The Saatchi Gallery, Royal Academy, SpOke, YOUNG ARTS and The Sunday Telegraphy Art Prize for Schools with high success rates.