The Most Prestigious UK Public Schools


School league tables are often more reflective of tough entrance criteria than quality of teaching or school prestige.

It may well be that many generations of a particular family have attended the same public school and that great-grandson Charlie was accepted into a particular public school because he’s one of a long line even though his IQ is not quite at the same level as past family members. Thus bringing down the school’s overall performance.

While, against the backdrop of a meritocratic Britain, the acceptance of the sons and daughters of novi homines into public schools is to be lauded, the reality is that in the pubs on the King’s Road, the board rooms of major companies and around the world there are certain UK Public schools which stand head and shoulders above others based on their history and prestige alone.

So, here is a list of the Top 12 most prestigious Boys’ Public schools and the Top 12 most prestigious Girls’ Public schools, based on a series of conversations with aristocrats and members of the higher echelons of British society conducted over the course of a year. These are the schools – results withstanding – which give you a golden ticket for life.

Whilst not condoning class, let’s face it class exists. (Note that many of these schools are now co-educational. The basis for prestige was the frequency of the schools getting nominated by interviewees as a top boys’ or girls’ school).


Girls’ Top 10 Most Prestigious Public Schools

  1. Roedean
  2. St Paul’s
  3. Benenden
  4. Cheltenham Ladies
  5. Wycombe Abbey
  6. Bedales
  7. St Mary’s Ascot
  8. Woldingham
  9. Downe House
  10. Malvern (St James)

Boys’ Top 10 Most Prestigious Public Schools

  1. Eton
  2. Harrow
  3. Winchester
  4. Marlborough
  5. Stowe
  6. Westminster
  7. Ampleforth
  8. Repton
  9. Wellington
  10. Charterhouse

4 thoughts on “The Most Prestigious UK Public Schools

  1. Where’s Radley? Admittedly the list is only 10 long but I’d have thought Tonbridge and Bradfield might feature also. Badminton too for the girls.

  2. The schools which have remained single sex are the best. Sad but true. Less distraction. More cohesion.

  3. I’m surprised not to see Shrewsbury or Rugby on this list. You have a good point here, Harriet. After the worry of getting A Level grades is over, where one goes to school is essentially a question of prestige whether society likes it or not. If you’re going to pay through the nose for your child’s schooling and want long term value, then you’re better off buying a Rolls Royce than a Golf GTI.

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