North London Collegiate School

Canons, Canons Drive, Edgware, Middlesex HA8 7RJ

Profile: North London Collegiate School is an independent girls’ school located in Edgware, Middlesex in the North of London. It is one of the top secondary schools in London (in fact, it is one of the best schools in the UK) and also one of the top IB schools world wide,  just ahead of Sevenoaks school and King’s College Wimbledon. I am including it on the site for two reasons: it is one of the top independent girls’ schools in the UK, and it operates a coach service to North London neighbourhoods such as St. John’s Wood, Golder’s Green, Hampstead and Finchley, so it is a very popular choice for North London parents seeking a top academic education for their daughters.

NLCS is unusual in that it has a Junior School that admits girls at Reception age who then continue on to the Senior School and Sixth Form (assuming they keep up with the academic pace). NLCS is therefore not a preparatory school in the strict sense (see this blog post for the distinction between independent schools and prep schools), girls who gain admission to the school at the 4+ stage are lucky to be able to continue up to the Sixth Form level. 40 girls join at 4+, up to 10 more join at 7+ (as class sizes increase from 20 to 25), and then another big group joins at 11+.

NLCS has a long list of illustrious alumnae called Old North Londoners that include actress Rachel Weisz, the editor of the American Vogue Anna Wintour, Olympic diver Lindsey Fraser and many more. It goes to show how much more there is to the school than mere top academics. All extra-curriculars including music, drama and sports are carried out with passion and excellence, although unusually, most clubs and languages tend to start from Year 3 only.

The school is very serious about academic achievement, and parental involvement is highly welcomed. “They take their education very seriously here”, says one parent of a girl in Reception, who was surprised how many parents’ evenings he had to attend in the first term of Reception. Another parent describes being an NLCS parent as a full-time job, as his daughter attends gymnastics competitions and chess tournaments almost every weekend. But some parents in the junior school comment it is less academically demanding than they expected, and worry that girls are not pushed as much as they might be at a prep that has to show 11+ success.

Not surprisingly, the latest ISI inspection has rated the school as “excellent” in all areas.

Admissions: NLCS admits 40 girls to their Reception class each year via the 4+ assessment. Registrations are taken between May and November in the year prior to entry.

Our assessment process is in two stages and takes place in January. We are looking for what the girls can do and not what they cannot. We do not expect a candidate to be able to read or write. The assessment comprises:

Part 1 – “Play” activities lasting about an hour in groups of about 10 children.

Part 2 – A smaller group of girls are recalled for the second round which includes a one-to-one assessment of each girl.

Siblings are viewed favourably, as are daughters of Old North Londoners, but there is no guarantee. For those who have missed the 4+ assessment, there are further intakes at 7+ and 11+. Only 8-12 places tend to be available at 7+ each year, so it is possibly the most competitive 7+ exam of all for girls.

Exit Results: NLCS is not a preparatory school and girls are expected to continue at NLCS until the A-Level/IB stage. So there are no exit results as such. You can assume that most girls continue to the Senior School of NLCS, which is one of the top private secondary schools in the UK, sending a whopping 40% of girls to Oxbridge, which makes their “exit results” excellent in comparison. But there is no guarantee and there are certainly cases when the Junior School advises parents around Year 4 or Year 5 that they might want to look at alternative senior school options for their daughter. From the junior school, a couple of girls tend to switch to St Paul’s Girls’ School at 11+ each year, and some leave to the grammar Henrietta Barnett School.

Further resources:

10 thoughts on “North London Collegiate School”

  1. Hi,

    My daughter has been offered a place at Radlett Prep School. Is this a top highly rated prep school ? Would you rate it as one of the best prep schools in North London / Hertfordshire ? Would the outstanding junior schools (7+) look upon Radlett Prep favourably when applying ? Please do advise !

  2. Hi,I live in Bedfordshire.i have a a clever son aged 10,currently in yr5,studying in a local state primary school.he got A star in GCSE Maths in last June.he is really bright.i am looking for a good independent school for him.I am not afford to pay.can any prep school give him scholarship or bursary?we are ready to move wherever he gets place.Thanks.

    1. Dear Sana, almost all independent schools offer Sixth Form scholarships/bursaries for pupils with excellent GCSE results. You would just need to contact your local private schools and ask them about it.

  3. Hi, I am in the process of moving to london in the next three months and I have heard how tough it is to get admission to prep schools. I have a daughter who is 4+ and am really anxious to find her a good state sponsored school. Finding a place to stay would come later once i find a good school for her. Could you please guide me as there is so much content out in the internet and came across your link which seems to be simple and understandable. I do not plan to live in the centre of the city. So where in area 2/3.

    1. HI Anub – it’s tough because most top schools are full, but you could check in Muswell Hill (Haringey council) and Richmond where there are many excellent state primary schools. You cannot find a a school and then a place to live, because in order to get a school place you already need to have an address. So the only way to do it is to find out where a place would be available, move there and then hope to secure the place. But there is no guarantee. I hope that helps. Best to call up respective educational authorities in the areas you would think of moving.

  4. Good morning,
    I have a 2 year old who will start nursery soon. we currently live in north London and NLCS is our first choice.we’re hoping she gets a place for 4+. however we have been thinking of moving to South London i.e. Wimbledon, Kingston Upon Thames, Worcester Park and the nearby areas. our first priority is to find a good school for my daughter. I’d appreciate if I can have your opinion on the private girl schools in comparison in the areas I mentioned. would we have a good choice similar to NLCS?

  5. I would like to get some information on Head mistresses of NLCS. I was a pupil during WW2.
    In 1980??? there was a meeting in Israel with the then Head Mistress of NLCS at MISHKENOT Shaananim the Arts Centre in Jerusalem I need to know the name of that headmistress as I have notes of that meeting which are part of my memoirs.
    Do you have a site with former head misstresses??
    Thank you

    1. Dear Zelda,

      wikipedia tends to list previous headmistresses of the top schools. You can find previous headmistresses of NLCS here:

      In 1980, according to this website, the headmistress must have been Madeline McLauchlan. Does that ring a bell? I wish you good luck with your memoirs!

    2. I was there in the late 70s and early 80s. Miss McLauchlan was headmistress at the time. The school’s website doesn’t have an in-depth history of all the headmistresses, but if you contact the alumnae office (email address below) they will probably be very happy to provide any information. The school has its own archive and there may be material on the Jerusalem meeting there.

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