Moving in on Britain’s top private schools

SETTING your child up as a day boy or girl can be the perfect compromise for parents who want to give their child a private education, but can’t bear the idea of letting them live away from home. While independent schools tend not to require you to live within a certain distance, parents determined not to be trekking across the country on the school run, will find themselves looking to move closer to a good school.

THINGS TO CONSIDER
There is a lot to consider if you have children approaching secondary school age. Firstly, the competition to get into the best schools is extremely tough and requires a lot of planning prior to enrollment. Particularly if you are keen to get your hands on financial help from a scholarship or bursary. Not to mention that you have to decide if it is feasible for you to live and commute into work from an area close to a good school.

So to get you thinking, we’ve featured the UK’s top five independent school below s within a reasonable commuting distance to London, considering the selection criteria, cost, commuting time and the area as a whole.

WYCOMBE ABBEY SCHOOL (GIRLS)
School: Wycombe Abbey School has been ranked the best independent school in the country by the Sunday Times Schools Guide this year. It scored 99.3 per cent A*-Bs for A-level and 99.3 per cent A*/A grades for GCSE.

Selection: Gaining admission to this school requires a lot of planning: applications for entry at age 11 must begin eighteen months prior to admission. The process requires the parents to send off an application. The child is then invited for interview and then, should an offer be made, to take the entrance exam. The final selection is made on the basis of the child’s results.

Fees: £7,310 per term

Scholarships and bursaries: Awards are means-tested and only made to children of sufficent merit. Scholarships, however, require the parent to fill in an application form six months before the admission date. Adequate candidates are then invited to take the scholarship exam.

Transport: The school is close to High Wycombe railway station. Trains reach London Marylebone in 37 mins.

Area: The town still has a town cryer and weighs its Mayor each year to check if he or she is profiting at the townspeople’s expense. With the average prices for a three bedroom house at £285,414, the area is tempting, but remember that there are some unsavoury parts outside the historical centre.

MAGDALEN COLLEGE SCHOOL (BOYS, CO-ED IN THE SIXTH FORM)
School: Magdalen College School has been ranked the third best independent school in the country by the Sunday Times Schools Guide this year. It scored 99.7 per cent A*-Bs for A-level and 97.3 per cent A*/A grades for GCSE.

Selection: While candidates do sit examination papers and undergo an interview for selection, the school prides itself on choosing candidates on the basis of potential, taking the child’s wider interests into consideration.

Fees: £4,209 per term.

Scholarships and bursaries: Awards are given for academic and extra curriculur excellance. All applicants hoping to enter the school at age 11 are considered for the awards.

Transport: Oxford station runs into London Paddington in 57 mins. The school is also close to the M40 offering the option to drive into central London in just under an hour and a half

Area: The area’s academic credentials make it a fantastic place to live if you are interested in visiting art galleries, churches, libraries or the theatre.

NORTH LONDON COLLEGIATE SCHOOL (GIRLS)
School: The North London Collegiate School has been ranked the best independent school in the country for the teaching of the International Baccalaureate and fifth best for A-levels and GCSEs by the Sunday Times Schools Guide this year. It scored 98.3 per cent A*-Bs for A-level and 96.6 per cent A*/A grades for GCSE.

Selection: Entry at 11 requires girls to sit two examinations in the January of the year of entry – one in English and one in Maths. On the basis of these results, girls are invited for interview.

Fees: £4,524 per term.
Scholarships and bursaries: Music and academic scholarships are available. Parents do not have to apply for the academic scholarship, they are chosen purely on the basis of entrance exam results. For a music scholarship, however, parents must fill in an application form and the child must perform two prepared pieces of music.

Transport: Stanmore, Edgware, Canons Park tube stations.

Area: Close to the centre of London, this area is affulent, leafy and surrounded by golf courses.

ST PAUL’S SCHOOL (BOYS) & ST PAUL’S GIRLS’ SCHOOL
School: St Paul's School has been ranked the second best independent school in the country by the Sunday Times Schools Guide this year. It scored 99.3 per cent A*-Bs for A-level and 98 per cent A*/A grades for GCSE.

Selection: Parents register interest in the school in September a year before the admission date. The entrance exam is sat in February.

Fees: £5,976 per term.

Scholarships and bursaries: Awards are allocated by means-testing, which requires the details of the child’s parents’ financial situation.

Transport: Both schools are in central London close to Hammersmith tube station. But Paul’s Boys’ is slightly closer to Barons Court and Turnham Green and St. Paul’s Girls’ is slightly closer to Kensington Olympia.
School: St Paul's Girls' School has been ranked the fourth best independent school in the country by the Sunday Times Schools Guide this year. It scored 98.2 per cent A*-Bs for A-level and 99.1 per cent A*/A grades for GCSE.

Selection: The school states that it looks for strong potential rather than girls who have been well-coached. For entry at 11, candidates are required to take an online cognitive test, submit a reference from their current school, undergo an interview and sit three entrance exams.

Fees: £5,434-£5,842 per term.

Scholarships and bursaries: There are means-tested awards for academic and musical ability.

Area: Running along the Thames, the area offers a number of good riverside pubs and beautiful views from Putney and Chiswick Bridge.

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