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【The Standard】Best of boys’ schools

School Guide

WHEN JANUARY COMES, my inbox fills with questions from parents who are seeking to narrow down UK boarding school choices for their children.


An increasing number of inquiries relate to all-boys schools – unsurprising given that there are now very few of them in a boarding sector where co-education reigns supreme.


Around a quarter of schools listed in the first edition of the Good Schools Guide in 1986 admitted boys but the decline in the number of independent senior boys’ schools reflects a changing world and parents’ wishes for mixed classrooms.


Girls’ schools have also fallen in popularity, but boys’ schools seem to have been less resistant to abolishing their single-sex status. Wellington College and Stowe, for example, later opted for mixed-sex education.


Some basically single-sex schools may admit students of the opposite sex in the nursery years or during the sixth form.


Economic pressures are central to these trends, though it is at least pleasing to know that the UK’s most prestigious all-boys schools have not had to close down. Many have had to roll with the punches and admitted girls in order to compete.


The following schools have held their own, withstanding external and economic pressures to remain all-boys schools:


1. Sherborne Boys is an interesting model in that it upholds a prospering partnership with Sherborne Girls. This means that boys and girls socialize and study with each other, but still reap the rewards of a single-sex education.

2. Bedford School has everything – a mix of modern and historic, a countryside atmosphere in the center of a busy town and open green playing fields. The Preparatory School and Upper School operate independently on the same campus. Strengths lie in music, sport and the arts.

3. Eton College provides a full boarding education for around 1,300 boys aged 13 to 18. Eton has an exhaustive list of famous alumni – including Princes William and Harry, Matthew Pinsent and David Cameron, the current British prime minister.

4. Harrow School was founded in 1572 under a royal charter granted by Elizabeth I. Among former Harrovians are no fewer than seven British prime ministers, as well as the first prime minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru. Harrow’s 105-hectare estate, situated in one of North London’s leafiest suburbs, contains 12 large boarding houses.


Samuel Chan is a director at Britannia StudyLink


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