Berkshire’s top 23 independent schools

PUBLISHED: 11:55 15 October 2019 | UPDATED: 14:36 15 October 2019

Cheam School

Cheam School


Your A-Z of 23 of the best independent schools across our county

Bradfield College

Bradfield aims to provide an all-round "education for life". Pupils reach excellent levels of achievement in learning and through the extensive range of co-curricular activities. The college also has a reputation for outstanding pastoral care.

- Address: Bradfield, Berkshire, RG7 6AU

- Contact: 0118 964 4516;;

- Head: Dr Chris Stevens

- Ages: 13-18

- Boys/girls/mixed: Mixed

- Term fees: £10,360 day; £12,950 boarding

Brockhurst and Marlston House Schools

Brockhurst (boys) and Marlston House (girls) are twin schools sharing the same estate in Hermitage, near Newbury. There's a family atmosphere with small single-sex classes and shared extra-curricular activities. Pupils can enjoy impressive sports facilities, such as a swimming pool and an equestrian centre, and they are prepared for entry to leading independent schools.

- Address: Hermitage, Newbury, RG18 9UL

- Contact: 01635 200293;;

- Head: Mr David Fleming

- Ages: 2½-13

- Boys/girls/mixed: Mixed

- Term fees: £3,550 pre-prep, £7,975 full-board

Cheam School

Cheam aims to provide a first-class all-round education in which the individual needs of the pupils are met in a strong and closely knit community. There exists a very positive and encouraging ethos where the children can develop their skills across a wide range of opportunities available to them. Cheam believes that every child can succeed and realise his or her potential and gain self-esteem.

- Address: Headley, Newbury, Berkshire, RG19 8LD

- Contact: 01635 268242;;

- Head: Mr Martin Harris, BSc, PGCE

- Ages: 3-13

- Boys/girls/mixed: Mixed

- Term fees: £4,120-£7,345

- Open days: Appointments booked with Registrar

- Famous alumni: HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, HRH The Prince of Wales

Downe House School

Downe House provides an environment that supports a girl's development in every way and celebrates her individuality - there is no such thing as a 'typical' Downe House girl. What girls do have in common, however, is that they are challenged academically and are given as many opportunities as possible to become the women that they want to be. Their aim is to take each girl on an adventure in education - an adventure that will leave your daughter feeling that there is nothing in life she cannot achieve.

- Address: Cold Ash, Thatcham, Berkshire, RG18 9JJ

- Contact: 01635 204701;;

- Head: Mrs Emma McKendrick

- Ages: 11-18

- Boys/girls/mixed: Girls

- Term fees: £9,705 day; full boarding £13,050

- Famous alumni: Dame Rosemary Murray, chemist and first female Vice Chancellor of Cambridge University; Sophie Conran, interior designer, cook and author; Charlotte Agnew, international event rider; Fru Hazlitt, MD of ITV Commerical and Online; Clare Balding, broadcaster, journalist and author; Harriot Pleydell-Bouverie, Founder of Mallow & Marsh; Miranda Hart, actress and comedian; Catherine Powell, President of the Disney Parks, Western Region

Eton College

This boys' boarding school is one of the leading independent schools in the UK. Near Windsor, and with a wealth of history, Eton provides a stimulating all-round education, coupled with academic excellence. Eton prides itself on being a modern, forward-thinking school that embraces new opportunities within teaching and learning.

- Address: Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 6DW

- Contact: 01753 370 100;;

- Head: Simon Henderson

- Ages: 13-18

- Boys/girls/mixed: Boys

- Term fees: £14,167

Heathfield School

Heathfield School was awarded 'Excellent' in all categories by the Independent Schools Inspectorate last year. The inspectors stated that "pupils grow into young people who make a difference to the world and live their lives boldly" and that "pupils consistently demonstrate positive attitudes to learning and achieving their best."

Heathfield, founded in 1899, was in the vanguard of educational establishments advocating the theory that happiness equated with academic success and has always placed high importance on pastoral care accordingly. A fulfilling and enriching programme of co-curricular activities and sport, music, drama and the arts ensures Heathfield girls have a holistic and inspiring education. The school has a wide curriculum for a small school but its strength lies in its size - every girl receives individual attention and is imbued with persistence, grit, confidence and the desire to achieve.

- Address: London Road, Ascot, Berkshire, SL5 8BQ

- Contact: 01344 898342;;

- Head: Mrs Marina Gardiner Legge MA (Oxon), PGCSE (Hong Kong)

- Ages: 11-18

- Boys/girls/mixed: Girls

- Term fees: Forms I-II day, £7,690, and boarding, £12,400. Forms III-UVI day, £7,900, and boarding, £12,700

- Famous alumni: Rosie Stancer (née Clayton), polar adventurer; Alice Orr-Ewing, actress; HRH Princess Alexandra; The Honourable Lady Ogilvy, cousin of The Queen; Tamara Mellon, CEO of Jimmy Choo; Sienna Miller, actress; Tiggy Legge-Bourke, nanny to Princes William and Harry; Amber Le Bon, daughter of Duran Duran's Simon Le Bon and supermodel Yasmin Le Bon; Hon Daphne Guinness; Isabella Blow, fashion editor; Harriet Bridgeman, Viscountess Bridgeman, founder of Bridgeman Art Library; Nina Campbell, interior designer; Eileen Agar, surrealist artist; Alexandra, Queen Consort of Yugoslavia; Isabella Anstruther-Gough-Calthorpe, model and socialite

Highfield Prep

This leading Independent girls' school in Maidenhead provides both Pre-Prep (Nursery-Year 2) and Prep (Years 3-6) education; through a team of skilled, motivated and dedicated teachers. Small class sizes enable the team to be responsive to the needs of the individual girl, ensuring continuity and progression for all. Girls are motivated to work and play to the best of their abilities, they flourish academically because they are encouraged to think for themselves and trust their own judgement. Highfield Preparatory School is a very happy and vibrant community where there is an absolute commitment to providing the girls with first-class pastoral care.

- Address: 2 West Road, Maidenhead, SL6 1PD

- Contact: 01628 624918;;

- Head: Joanna Leach

- Ages: 3-11

- Boys/girls/mixed:Girls

- Term fees: £3,465-£4,225

Holme Grange School

Holme Grange School is a thriving co-educational school set in 21 acres of Wokingham countryside. Each pupil can develop in an environment offering a wide variety of opportunities in the classroom, on the stage or sports field and in the woodland outdoor learning areas. In a friendly and warm environment, children become confident individuals who are ready to take on life's challenges.

- Address: Heathlands Road, Wokingham, RG40 3AL

- Contact: 0118 978 1566;;

- Head: Mrs Claire Robinson

- Ages: 3-16

- Boys/girls/mixed: Mixed

- Term fees: £3,720-£5,175

Horris Hill

In the top rank of preparatory schools, Horris Hill is a boarding and day school for boys aged 4-13 years, set in 75 acres of grounds near Newbury. If you want your son to succeed academically, for him to enjoy a 'second-home' environment and for him to move on to a top senior school, explore Horris Hill.

- Address: Newtown, Newbury, RG20 9DJ

- Contact: 01635 40594;;

- Head: Mr G F Tollit

- Ages: 7-13

- Boys/girls/mixed: Boys

- Term fees: £3,800-£6,800

Leighton Park School

Leighton Park exists to form young people of real character and confidence, with a determined desire to change the world, reflecting the school's Quaker values and forward-looking approach. It is a school that inspires achievement with values, character and community, and academic excellence is the consequence of their approach. The UK Government's latest 16-18 league tables place Leighton Park in the top 3% of English schools. The school provides a holistic education for each individual, distinguished by excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths, Music and Ethical Enterprise.

- Address: Shinfield Road, Reading, RG2 7ED

- Contact: 0118 987 9608;;

- Head: Matthew Judd

- Ages: 11-18

- Boys/girls/mixed: Mixed

- Term fees: From £6,255 day, and from £9,985 full boarding

- Famous alumni: Jim Broadbent, Oscar-winning actor; Sir John Adye, Former Director of the GCHQ; Eliza Bennett, actress; Laura Marling, singer and award-winning songwriter; Steven Tsui, consultant surgeon, Clinical Director of Transplant Services at Papworth Hospital; Prof Dan Reinstein, Pioneer of Laser Eye Surgery; Michael Binyon, Journalist (The Times); Simon Clemison, News Reporter (BBC); Piers Sheppard, Creative Director of London 2012 Opening and Closing Ceremonies at Olympics and Paralympics; Nathan Crowley, Oscar-nominated Art Director in the film industry; Sir Tony Baldry; MP Richard G Wilkinson, Social Epidemiologist, advocate and author of The Spirit Level; Michael Foot, former Labour Party Leader

LVS Ascot

LVS Ascot is a school that takes pupils of all abilities and adds value to help them exceed their expectations and achieve more than they thought possible. In 2017, LVS Ascot was in the top 15% of schools in the country for student progress between the end of key stage 4 and the end of their A-level studies. The school believes every student can succeed, and make it happen.

The Good Schools Guide said last year: "We like the university campus style, modern layout and the fact that non-selectivity is seen as the starting point for success rather than a justification of its absence. The strong results prove it works."

The refreshing view of school fees is another unique selling point, including lunch for day pupils, all meals for weekly and full boarders, curriculum books, exam entrance charges, sports fixture travel, the majority of after-school activities and activities for boarding pupils.

School motto: The Queen is the patron and the motto on the coat of arms is Fidelis Ad Finem (Faithful to the end). Their mission is also a fitting motto: "Inspiring Independence."

Any interesting changes taking place in the education system?

LVS Ascot is an all-ability school that opposes entrance exams and putting unnecessary pressure on children too early. More independent prep schools are realising that ethos is correct, and are moving away from Common Entrance exams. This gives children the time and space to develop their own learning and become more resilient.

LVS Ascot focuses on character education as well as academic. This is becoming recognised in wider education too and more normal across the country - a positive step. Developments in IT and interactive learning are exciting in that the learning experience for children is becoming more fast-paced and individualised.

Stars of the future attending

Alexandra Skachko, 16, is an outstanding soprano who is part of the Royal Academy of Music's Junior Academy, with a number of other young musicians also having earned places in national music groups.

Tom Gregory, also 16, heads a number of future sporting stars who have already competed for their country - he is a future (and present) golfing star who was 3rd in the Under 21 Portuguese Junior Open Golf Championship at just 13 years old.

However, pupils develop skills at different ages and some may be yet to discover the talent that propels them to being a future star.

Surprising story about the school

Licensed Victuallers' School was opened by the Society of Licensed Victuallers in 1803 with just 20 pupils. It was in the heart of London and operated to provide an education for the children of publicans. Today it still offers scholarships and bursaries to children of those who work in the drinks trade, but is open now to children of all abilities and all backgrounds, and occupies a spacious, leafy 25-acre site in the Berkshire countryside.

- Address: London Road, Ascot, SL5 8DR

- Contact: 01344 882770;;

- Head: Christine Cunniffe

- Ages: 4-18

- Boys/girls/mixed: Mixed

- Term fees: Junior day, £4,144, and boarding, £8,854; Sixth Form day, £6,202, and boarding, £10,897

- Famous alumni: Simon Cowell, Tracey Ullman and former MP and cabinet member Lord Moore of Lower Marsh. Fine examples of entrepreneurs the school produces include Holly Tucker, founder of Not On The High Street, and William Brake, founder of food wholesalers Brake Bros

Ludgrove School

Ludgrove is a thriving full boarding school for 190 boys aged 8-13, which sits in 130 acres of spectacular grounds in Berkshire countryside. It is a magical place to spend five years of childhood, where outstanding pastoral care lies at the heart of everything. The boys are full of purpose and enjoy a wealth of opportunities: a stimulating curriculum delivered by enthusiastic and dynamic teachers, exceptional facilities including majestic playing fields, a 350-seat theatre, an Astroturf, 20m indoor swimming pool, nine-hole golf course, and a vibrant extra-curricular programme with exposure to music, drama, the creative arts and many sports. An exciting addition for the 2020 academic year will be the opening of a £2.5million, state-of-the-art Exploration Centre providing one of the finest prep school scientific and creative learning environments in the country.

Unashamedly ambitious for every boy, Ludgrove is proud of their strong academic record, particularly as they remain non-selective in year four. Each year around 70% of the top year go on to Eton, Harrow, Radley and Winchester, and the rest to other distinguished public schools.

- Address: Wokingham, Berkshire, RG40 3AB

- Contact: 01189 789 881;;

- Head: Mr Simon Barber

- Age range: 8-13

- Boys/girls/mixed:190 boys

- Term fees: £9,240

Our Lady's Preparatory School

An independent Preparatory School and Day Nursery in Crowthorne. Each child is recognised as an individual, so their distinct strengths and talents are celebrated. The school has a vision to ensure that each pupil is inspired to be the best that they can be. The schools offers a high quality but affordable education.

- Address: The Avenue, Crowthorne, RG45 6PB

- Contact: 01344 773394;;

- Head: Helene Robinson

- Ages: 3 months-11 years

- Boys/girls/mixed: Mixed

- Term fees: £610 per calendar month for 12 months

Pangbourne College

A vibrant boarding and day school with a strong sense of community, outstanding pupil welfare and a focus on the individual. The Flag Values of kindness, selflessness, moral courage, initiative, industry, resilience and integrity underpin every aspect of college life. The college is set in 230 acres of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with excellent transport links and within 45 minutes of central London. High-quality boarding facilities, including a diverse activities programme, help to equip Pangbournians with the strongest possible foundation for their future.

- Address: Pangbourne, Reading, Berkshire, RG8 8LA

- Contact: 0118 984 2101;;

- Head: Mr Thomas Garnier

- Ages: 11-18

- Boys/girls/mixed: Mixed

- Term fees: From £6,000 day; from £8,620 full boarding 


Papplewick is a boys' day, weekly and full boarding preparatory school with an excellent record for academic achievement, feeding many of the UK's top independent senior schools. Papplewick aims to provide boys with the confidence and security they need to fulfil their potential, striving to promote enthusiasm for life, contribution to the community and kindness to others amongst all its pupils.

- Address: Windsor Road, Ascot, SL5 7LH

- Contact: 01344 621488;;

- Head: Tom Bunbury

- Ages: 6-13

- Boys/girls/mixed: Boys

- Term fees: Day fees from £5,705-£7,920; boarding fees £10,310

- Open days: Termly Famous alumni: Richard Curtis and James Haskell

Queen Anne's School

Renowned for academic success and a rich programme of extra-curricular opportunities alongside outstanding pastoral care and an award-winning Sixth Form centre, students excel here. Queen Anne's is also known for its excellence in the arts, drama, music and sport.

- Address: Henley Road, Caversham, RG4 6DX

- Contact: 0118 918 7333;;

- Head: Julia Harrington

- Ages: 11-18

- Boys/girls/mixed:Girls

- Term fees: £8,205; full boarding £12,690

Upton House School

Upton House is a well-regarded and highly popular Nursery, Pre-Prep and Prep school educating boys and girls from aged 2-11 years. Located in the heart of Windsor, Upton boasts excellent academic standards, high-calibre staff, and a warm and nurturing environment where children blossom and are prepared with confidence for the very best senior schools. Individual talent is developed and a progressive curriculum offers a balanced education where children are equipped with vital life skills for the future.

Little Upton Nursery is a very special environment where children begin their Upton journey from as young as age 2. It is now open a flexible 48 weeks a year should parents require, and benefits from being in a beautiful whole-school setting. This has been beneficial for working parents as well as enjoyable for the children.

Staff are highly qualified, experienced practitioners and engage the children in stimulating, challenging and exciting activities that enable them to develop their love of learning within the Early Years Foundation Stage.

Children enjoy breakfast club from 7.45am, healthy meals prepared on site and a range of after-school extra-curricular activities until 6pm.

Upton House are delighted that boys will now be educated along with the girls to age 11. Boys and girls will benefit from a progressive co-educational curriculum providing excellent education and preparation for the very best senior schools.

Interesting tradition

Each year, Upton House children are delighted to wave to the Queen on The Long Walk as she travels to Royal Ascot.

Sports day ethos

Sport is highly valued at Upton House. Three separate sports days are held for Pre-Nursery, Nursery and the main school. In the Early Years the children enjoy a range of sporting races and activities. Confidence and participation are encouraged at this young age. Children are supported by friendly Form 6 pupils and applauded by parents as they take part and race for their team.

The main school sports day is held at Thames Valley Athletic Centre on a superb 800m track with specialist provision for javelin, long jump, discus and shot put. Pupils compete in their Houses for the highly contested Sports Day cup. Teamwork, determination, resilience and empathy are all encouraged and rewarded.

Best school dinner

The popular Wednesday roast served with all the trimmings. Freshly prepared nutritious hot meals are served daily and all dietary requirements are catered for.

- Address: 115 St Leonard's Road, Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 3DF

- Contact: 01753 862610;;

- Head: Mrs Rhian Thornton BA (Hons) NPQH LLE PGCE

- Ages: 2-11

- Boys/girls/mixed: Mixed

- Term fees: Main school from £3,066

- Famous alumni: Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice of York

- Academic results:30% of all boys and girls in the past 3 years have received scholarships to their chosen senior school. In 2019, 8 scholarships were received in a class of 16 pupils. LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art) pass rate: 100%, 64% with distinction. MUSIC:78% of children in forms 2-6 have individual music lessons. 42% of children received distinction in 2018-19.

St Gabriel's

A small school for the individual, St Gabriel's in Newbury offers an innovative and inspiring education. Pupils move on from here with a belief in their ability, and the pastoral care is second to none.

- Address: Sandleford Priory, Newbury, Berkshire, RG20 9BD

- Contact: 01635 555680;;

- Head: Ricki Smith

- Ages: Boys 6 months to 11 years, girls 6 months to 18 years

- Girls/boys/mixed: Mixed

- Term fees: £3,661-£5,977

St George's Ascot

St George's Ascot is a vibrant boarding and day school for girls aged 11-18, providing an excellent academic education in a supportive and caring environment. The school is set in 30 acres of stunning grounds, only 30 minutes from central London and just off the High Street in Ascot. Examination results are excellent with St George's aiming to help the girls achieve 1-1.5 grades higher at GCSE and A level. A friendly atmosphere, small classes, strong pastoral care and opportunities for individual development makes St George's stand out from the crowd.

- Address: Wells Lane, Ascot, SL5 7DZ

- Contact: 01344 629900;;

- Head: Mrs Liz Hewer

- Ages: 11-18

- Boys/girls/mixed: Girls

- Term fees: Day fees £7,830, boarding fees £12,175

- Famous alumni: Victoria Smurfit; Princess Beatrice of York; Winston Churchill, Kirsty Gallacher

St John's Beaumont

This school combines the rich tradition of Jesuit education with the best that modern teaching techniques and technology can offer. Boys leave St John's to go to some of the country's finest senior schools, but more importantly, do so as confident, aspirational and resilient young men, aware of their own potential and ability to leave a positive impression on the lives of others.

- Address: Priest Hill, Old Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 2JN

- Contact: 01784432428;;

- Head: Mr Giles Delaney

- Ages: 3-13 years

- Boys/girls/mixed: Boys

- Term fees: Day from £3,264, boarding from £7,580

- Famous alumni: Oliver and Jamie Cook, who were both part of the winning Oxford crew in the 2017 Boat Race and have also both rowed for Great Britain.

St Mary's School, Ascot

This immensely popular leading Roman Catholic boarding school is set in 55 acres of beautiful grounds and offers a friendly, stable and caring community. The school - and girls - are proud of their academic results and extra-curricular activities.

- Address: St Mary's Road, Ascot, SL5 9JF

- Contact: 01344 296614;;

- Head: Mrs Danuta Staunton

- Ages: 11-18

- Boys/girls/mixed: Girls

- Term fees: Day £9,210; boarding £12,930

The Marist School

A thriving Catholic day school in Sunninghill "producing girls that are a credit to society". All religions/non-religions are welcome. High standards and achievements are maintained, and school facilities are good, with the school's new £2.5m Sports Hall having been opened by HRH The Duke of York last year. Plans are also underway to create a new recording studio.

- Address: Kings Road, Sunninghill, Ascot, SL5 7PS

- Contact: 01344 624291;;

- Head: Mrs Smith

- Ages: 3-18

- Boys/girls/mixed: Girls

- Term fees: £3,400-£5,280 

Wellington College

One of the world's top coeducational independent day and boarding schools situated in Crowthorne, Wellington College produces happy, ambitious and focussed children. Academic results are impressive, as are the list of co-curricular activities. All students are expected to serve and care for others, which the College believes brings the highest rewards in life.

- Address: Duke's Ride, Crowthorne, RG45 7PU

- Contact: 01344 444 013;;

- Head: James Dahl

- Boys/girls/mixed: Mixed

- Term fees: Day £10,125; day pupil in boarding house £11,630; boarding £13,860


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