A large part of this website is dedicated to finding the best British independent preparatory school for your child, but in reality a fair share of internationals prefer their children to be educated in an international setting, particularly in a setting that nurtures entrepreneurship, groupwork and creativity rather than constant testing and test preparation. If this sounds like you, in order to provide useful information you, I also want to feature London’s top international schools here. I will start by discussing the top options that start at the Reception age/primary level, but I will also mention the top IB schools in London and what choices of primary schools might lead there.
Top international primary schools
Hill House International Junior School – discussed in detail here and here, Hill House is a family-run Swiss school that does follow the National Curriculum of Britain and does prepare children for the British 11+ and 13+ exams, so it is probably your most British international school. It does have 50% of children from international families and focus on arts and music as well as sports and games far more than your typical British school, and it also houses a campus in Switzerland that children attend for hiking trips and music courses in the Summer and skiing in Winter. This is a great choice for parents who like the international model but still want their children to have the option of continuing at British boarding schools or getting into the selective London day schools.
Southbank International School – this is a very popular school, with three campuses: Hampstead, Kensington and Westminster. Co-educational, it is very much committed to the International Baccalaureate’s philosophy and pedagogy. Over 90% of students come from international families (exact mix of nationalities is detailed here). Children may start studying the IB Primary Years Programme at nursery aged 3, and continue through the Middle Years Programme all the way through to the IB Diploma at 18. Diploma results are improving year on year and should be viewed in the context of Southbank being an academically non-selective school which accepts students who are not native English speakers.
International School of London – this is a very good co-educational international school for children from 3 – 18 that offers the IB as well. It is located in Chiswick but runs many school buses to different West London locations. They have long experience of integrating children relocating from abroad. The school publishes leavers’ destinations by IB points which is very helpful, and you will see that their top students have been placed to very competitive courses at Ivy League universities and Oxbridge in the past.
French Lycee – more than international, this school follows the French educational system but is extremely popular among internationals, even though only few manage to make their way in. Due to a good number of French citizens of Arab and African descent, and well as children from mixed couples, the student body is fairly international, which is reflected in a breadth of GCSE and A-Level language choices students can make, such as Russian and Arabic, that is not offered at most London secondaries. Pupils can choose to pursue British or French educational qualifications at age 14. It is notoriously hard to get in – to find out how to get in through the back door, read this post.
American School in London – another very popular school in St John’s Wood that is very hard for non-US citizens to get into – 80% of students have at least one parent with a US passport. The school takes children aged 4 all the way to 18 and provides “American education with a global outlook”. It has been rated “outstanding” across the board by Ofsted.
Top London IB schools
North London Collegiate – Average point score per pupil 40.0. Highest score in IB in Europe, just ahead of boarding school Sevenoaks, this girls’ school in Edware, Middlesex, accepts girls from Reception age onwards via assessment.
King’s College Wimbledon – Average point score per pupil 38.7. also one of the top performers in the IB, King’s College Wimbledon with its co-educational Sixth Form does have a junior school attached that admits boys at the 7+ level.
Godolphin & Latymer School – Average point score per pupil 37.2. Very popular girls day school in Hammersmith that also has stellar A-level results. All the top prep schools featured on this site, such as Glendower Prep, Falkner House and Kensington Prep send a large share of girls to this independent secondary school.
This compares with 33.0 scored by students at Southbank International School in 2011 and 31.0 scored by students of the International School in London. Keep in mind though that a) any exam would favour native speakers of English and b) not all girls at North London Collegiate and Godolphin do the IB, many take the A-Level instead, so the IB results only represent the results of those students chosen to take the demanding IB – the A-level results of these schools are stellar as well though. There is also a new international IB school in London called the Halcyon School in Marble Arch. You can read more about it on our blog.
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