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. Also check our overview of French schools in London.
ACS International Schools is a group of schools known for its excellent facilities with campuses around London in Cobham, Egham and Hillingdon. The schools offer a choice of American programmes and the IB programme. About a third of students here are North American, 15% British and the rest from all around the world. ACS Cobham is the largest with 1,500 students, including boarding houses for high school students. It is served by school buses from South Kensington, Richmond and surrounding towns in Surrey. ACS Hillingdon is the closest to London and is served by school buses from Kensington, Notting Hill, Chiswick, Gerrard’s Cross, among others. Both ACS Cobham and Hillingdon offer an American programme in the early years, with a choice of AP courses and IB Diploma for the final years, whereas ACS Egham offers the IB programme all the way through.
American School in London – another very popular American school in St John’s Wood – 76% of students have at least one parent with a US passport, but the school’s admissions policy stresses that the school tries to admit a diverse student body, and 41% of pupils have at least one other passport. It is very much an American school though! The school takes children aged 4 all the way to 18 and provides “American education with a global perspective”. The kindergarten classes are inspired by the Reggio Emilia method. The school has been rated “outstanding” across the board by Ofsted. The high school has a great track record for Ivy League placements.
Dwight School London is an inclusive international school offering the IB programme for children from 3 – 18 years. School buses cover most North London neighbourhoods and the school attracts many local children as well as expat children from around the world. The school has strong links to its partner schools in New York, Seoul and Vancouver – and Shanghai . Average score in the IB for 2014 was 31 with a pass rate of 79%. The school offers generous merit-based scholarships and bursaries from age 10 – 18.
Ecole Internationale Franco-Anglaise – founded in 2012 and located on Portland Place in Marylebone, this is a small bilingual private school teaching the French curriculum in English and French. There are 160 children across eight year groups. It is “homologues” and AEFE accredited. The school is due to open a secondary school in September 2015. Also check our overview of French schools in London.
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.
Halcyon School – a newly founded non-for-profit international school in Marble Arch for students aged 10 -18. The school has recently gained IB accreditation and offers the MYP and the IB programme. Its first set of IB diploma students are set to graduate in summer 2017. The school is very modern and informal, placing heavy emphasis on technology in the classroom and skills for the future, such as Spanish and Mandarin language skills and programming languages. The school is in walking distance to Hyde Park, which the students use for sports in the summer.
Hill House International Junior School – discussed in detail here and here, Hill House is a family-run Swiss school that follows the National Curriculum of Britain and prepares 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.
International Community School (ICS) – a long established IB international school for children aged 3 – 18 across three sites in Marylebone and Paddington. A truly inclusive international school with children from all over the world, it emphasises small class sizes, individual learning and international understanding. Students scored an average of 35 points on the IB diploma last year.
International School of London – this is a 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. Said to be popular with Italian families, amongst many others from around the world. Average point score in the IB Diploma for 2014 was 33.6.
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. Students scored 35.5 average in the IB Diploma in 2014. The school has recently launched an IB Diploma Scholarship that covers 100% of tuition fees over two years.
Top London IB schools
North London Collegiate – Average point score per pupil 41.9. 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.
Godolphin & Latymer School – Average point score per pupil 40.9. 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.
King’s College Wimbledon – Average point score per pupil 40.0. 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.
This compares with 35.5 scored by students at Southbank International School in 2014 and 33.6 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.