The Sunday Times has published its Parent Power 2021 schools guide, which uses 10 years of examination results to rank the highest-achieving institutions in the UK.
The guide named Brighton College the ‘Independent Secondary School of the Decade’. It was commended for “sustained improvement” in successive Times guides, climbing from 147th in 2006 to 3rd in 2020.
The school won plaudits for its contribution to social mobility after it helped found the London Academy of Excellence Stratford, which helps young people from disadvantaged backgrounds into leading universities. Aside from excellent exam results, the Sunday Times praised the school, and its headmaster Richard Cairns, for a succession of progressive initiatives.
George Heriot’s School, in Edinburgh, received the title of ‘Scottish Independent Secondary School of the Decade’. Last year, the school achieved the best exam results in the country but also requires its students to complete voluntary work to help improve their local community.
The guide also identified 10 regional independent secondary schools of the decade:
- East Anglia: Stephen Perse Foundation, Cambridge
- East Midlands: Nottingham High School
- London: Highgate School
- Yorkshire and the Humber: The Grammar School at Leeds
- North east: Royal Grammar School, Newcastle
- North west: Withington Girls’ School, Manchester
- South east: Guildford High School
- South west: Cheltenham Ladies’ College
- Wales: St Michael’s School, Llanelli
- West Midlands: King Edward’s School, Birmingham
Pipping Brighton College to first and second place on the rankings in independent secondary schools respectively were St Paul’s Girls’ School and the Godolphin and Latymer School, both girls schools. King’s College School, Wimbledon (4th) and St Paul’s School (9th) were the highest achieving boys’ schools. The rankings make use of the most recent pre-pandemic public exam results from 2019.
Ursuline Preparatory School, in Warley, Essex, was named the best preparatory school in the UK. The school nearly closed in the early 1990s but Pauline Wilson, who’s daughter attended the school, stepped in with three other parents to save it.
She later became headmistress and has been in charge of the Ursuline Preparatory School ever since. Since taking over, Wilson has made the Catholic independent school co-educational.