For many parents in London, the pressures of an increasing cost of living, coupled with steadily rising school fees, are making state education a top consideration. In line with this, we wanted to do a feature on some of the excellent state schools London has to offer. The city is fortunate to boast many fantastic state schools that can offer a wide variety of specialisms and resources that rival the independent sector.
The Oratory School, West Brompton
The Oratory School owes its origins to Saint John Henry Newman who sent priests to open schools ‘where poor, immigrant catholic children could get a rudimental education’ (The Oratory School website). Whilst the school has evolved and expanded in its 150-year history, those fundamental principles continue to guide the Oratory’s mission. The school is an extensive supporter of charities and community service projects, which it uses to mould its pupils into caring and engaged citizens.
The school has an ‘outstanding’ OFSTED report and is considered ‘a school where pupils thrive’ (OFTSED. 2022). The Oratory is a predominantly boys-only school but has a coeducational sixth form.
Admission is centred on a catchment zone criterion but with preferential treatment being awarded to Catholics and those with musical ability. The school takes particular pride in its music department and aims to nurture those skills as pupils move up the school. The Oratory admits an average of 160 boys per year to its year 7 intake.
Camden School for Girls (CSG), Camden
The Camden School for Girls is a comprehensive school for girls, with a co-educational sixth form. The school was founded by Frances Mary Buss, a 19th-century pioneer for the educational rights of women and girls. With this proud tradition, the school places a significant focus on equal opportunities and gender-based socio-political education.
Another ‘outstanding’ OFSTED-rated school, the CSG provides a fantastic education for its pupil body. The school’s new headteacher’s focus is on creating an ambitious, yet nurturing learning environment. The school places innovation and creativity at its core, with the encouragement of ‘out of the box’ thinking and boundary-pushing to achieve educational excellence. CSG also excels in its networking; it has strong partnerships with universities, the independent school sector, the commercial sector and its parent and alumni lattice, all of which it uses to embolden a well-resourced and well-connected pupil body.
Each year the school admits 120 girls to year 7. The application process involves a ‘non-competitive assessment session’ at the school. These will determine which ‘band’ pupils are placed within; the school takes 30 applicants per band. Further details can be found here.
Each year the school admits 140 external students into its sixth form. Though, the actual number can vary slightly depending on the number of internal students who choose to continue their studies at CSG. The school will also place 30 applicants on a waiting list. Further details can be found here.
Fox Primary School, Kensington
Fox primary is a coeducational, ‘outstanding’ OFSTED -rated school in the heart of London. Located between Kensington High Street and Notting Hill, the school is easily accessible from a range of central London locations.
The school is a non-selective community primary school which prides itself on being highly inclusive; the school has a highly proportioned SEN, EAL and (P)LAC intake.
The school’s headteacher has centred its ethos around five key values: respect, resilience, collaboration, curiosity, and inclusion. Under these principles, the school pushes a well-resourced curriculum that reflects the broad range of cultures and backgrounds of its pupils.
In 2022, 27 children were admitted out of 63 applications from families living within the catchment area. So, given its popularity, there is often only a 40% chance of admission.
Grey Coat Hospital School, Westminster
The Grey Coat Hospital school is an excellent state school, located in Westminster. It has an ‘outstanding’ OFSTED report and takes pupils from the age of 11 through until 18. Whilst the school is predominantly for girls, they do admit boys for years 12 and 13, becoming coeducational for sixth-form pupils.
The school is of significant historical value – dating all the way back to 1698! The main structure is a beautiful early 18th century listed building (pictured), that will no doubt charm any who are lucky enough to learn in this historic site.
Grey Coat Hospital School is closely linked with Westminster Abbey. With this relationship, comes a strong tradition of Christian (Church of England) ethos being embedded throughout pupils’ learning.
Faith is preferential but not essential to admission. The school bases admission around a banded system that places a much greater degree of admission likelihood to be correlated with family church attendance. The varied boundary admission criteria can be found here.
St. Anselm’s Catholic Primary School, Harrow
St. Anselm’s Catholic Primary is a highly-praised school which excels on many levels. Their mission statement: ‘Learning and growing together through prayer, belief and love’ highlights their approach to a blended focus of high academic attainment with ethical and moral teachings through their connection to the church. The school excels academically, consistently achieving way above the national and local authority averages.
Unlike most state primaries, St Anselm’s Catholic school has specialist modern foreign language and music teachers. Despite standards being very high, the school has a reputation amongst parents as an extremely caring school, where every child feels valued. The school has an ‘outstanding’ OFSTED report, and this is reflected in the reviews found online.
The school admits 60 pupils per year into its reception classes. Demand usually outstrips supply; therefore, family faith can help with the admission process. The school welcomes the opportunity to show potential parents around the school at a mutually convenient time
If you are torn between the state and independent sectors, our blog on whether private schools are worth the money may be of interest to you. You can also read our guide on Moving house and choosing schools | Lumos Education and on Mixing State and Private Education in London | Lumos Education should you wish to combine both state and private education.
For supported applications to top London state and independent schools, please do contact us.