Revealed: The best state schools according to Tatler

Just because you pay doesn’t automatically make you better

The Tatler ‘spies’ have been out in force again, and this time it’s for their annual ranking of Britain’s best state schools, in order to prove that receiving a free education doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll come out any worse from it.

The top four schools are all in the capital, with The Charter School beating last year’s winner The Grey Coat Hospital (which isn’t on the list at all) to the top spot. The focus is still mainly on extracurricular activities and pastoral care as well as how many A-Levels or GCSEs the students come out with at the end of it all.

See how your school measures up to these fine institutions, as Tatler declares: “Hooray for free education!”

The Charter School

According to Tatler, this school has high hopes for pupils “regardless of their starting points or circumstances”. Sport is “brill” and apparently Jo Brand nips in now and again for a cheeky quiz night, and even joined in to help staff and students row the length of the UK coastline.

Holland Park School

Another one in London, Tatler calls this “the gold standard for state education”, praising them for their range of extracurriculars, with D of E and Music being two of their strong points.

The Latymer

The state school cousin of Latymer Upper, this high achieving grammar could not not be more different from its family members. According to Tatler, the pastoral care here is great: “We’re told they’re particularly good at helping the new year sevens settle in, with hill-walking and caving at the school’s field centre in Snowdonia to ease the bonding process” – otherwise known as survival of the fittest. They’re also seemingly one of the few state schools left in the country to offer Latin (clearly a deal breaker for Tatler).

London Academy of Excellence

They’re known as the “Eton of the East End”, and for good reason it seems. With PE in the Olympic Park and “the labs some of the shiniest we’ve seen”, they’ve been given a glowing review.

Hillview School for Girls

Tatler praise the “sparky” students at Hillview, something shown by their status as a performing arts school, and their “sellout” performance of Cats earlier in the year. Other aspects of the school were described as “zinging”- can’t argue with that I suppose.

Gordon’s School

According to one of the spies, Gordon’s has a bit of a public school feel, unsurprising considering you do actually have to pay for it (but it’s still technically a state school). To be fair to them it does sound rather like public school, for a start it was started by Queen Victoria and named after the “eponymous general”, CCF is compulsory in Year 10, and they have a specific time every day for their extra activities. Not forgetting their pipes (by pipes I mean bagpipes) and drums band of course. Who could ever forget that?

Adams end of year Parade – don't they all look so prim and proper ??? #school #parade #bagpipes ??

A video posted by Yasmeen Domingo (@yazdomingo) on Jun 25, 2016 at 7:58am PDT

Holyport College

Another one on the list sponsored by Eton, a partnership that has been “visible, meaningful and impactful” according to Holyport, as they all row together down at Dorney Lake. The schools combine for choir and orchestra concerts and last year they put on a “stonking” production of Greece. Not bad for a school that’s only two years old. Also, the Queen went to the opening which is pretty cool.

Perins School 

It seems there is nothing that this school cannot do, a plethora of students playing sport at international level and a production of Phantom of the Opera that even Andrew Lloyd-Webber himself acknowledged makes this place sound all in all pretty bloody impressive.

Dr. Challoner’s Grammar School 

The only all boys school on the list, it’s got excellent exam results and “A-grade extracurriculars”, including a cricket trip to the Caribbean and over 50 clubs and societies. And judging by this Insta post they even let them work outside sometimes, sounds fun.


Dorothy Stringer School 

Tatler’s ‘spy by the sea’ in Brighton has scoped this out as the “best in town”, with great facilities and links to schools in places like Ghana and Cameroon. It’s also another one with its own activities centre in Snowdonia (this is now a thing).

South Wilts School for Girls

“As one parent says, when a school is this good ‘Why pay?'” The girls don’t even seem to mind the fact that they’re forced to wear kilts on a daily basis, in fact they’ve 100s of super keen 11-year-olds fighting for places every year.

Ashlawn School 

“Facilities are fabulous: there’s a smart new sixth form centre, the art department is a ‘complete wow’ and theres a popular astronomy club”, and the school was even used as a venue for BBC programme ‘Stargazing Live’ – so Brian Cox has been there, which is basically a selling point in itself.

Comberton Village College

Drawing from a rural community, Tatler praises the “innovative and inspiring teaching” and “calm and purposeful learning environment” and, despite its 1,500 students, apparently doesn’t feel that big.

The Castle School 

Tatler really go to lengths to praise the number of trips and extracurriculars this school has on offer. Mandarin students have been to China, Drama students are off to New York soon, there’s been an exchange trip to Zambia and Musicians have toured Europe. According to a parent “The education, care and opportunities provided at the school are excellent and far exceeded our expectations.”

Kingsbridge Community College

“People are queuing up to get their kids into Kingsbridge,” says Tatler, and that isn’t really a surprise. Just up the road from the beach, they’ve already got one student on the GB surfing team. Their school magazine has won many a prize at the school media awards, and their results aren’t too shabby.

Thomas Mills High School 

With outstanding sporting achievements, a “huge variety” of music on offer, a “fantastic” drama department and a “very approachable” head teacher, this school simply can do no wrong. Oh, and the fact they get the odd drop in performance from ex-pupil Ed Sheeran doesn’t sound too bad either.

I mean the Ed Sheeran thing is at least a conversation starter

Jordanhill School 

This school has the highest percentage of pupils  (75 per cent) moving on to higher education in Scotland, “they’re mustard at rugby, hockey and athletics” and situated in one of the most affluent areas of Glasgow, all while maintaining a community feel.

The Duchess’s Community High School  

Careful not to forget the North of England, Tatler have showered praise on this community high school. “Talented musicians are nurtured and drama…get the thumbs up from the local community”, as well as pastoral care in general being highly regarded.

St. Joseph’s College

Originally starting life as a boys boarding school way back in 1875, it’s now a co-ed comprehensive with “extraordinary” opportunities for travel and a wide curriculum.

Balcarras School 

With a headteacher “red hot on ‘child safety and happiness'”, this school came out the top of league tables in Gloucestershire with excellent facilities (including a recording studio?!) and a wide variety of trips to places such as Mongolia and Alaska. Sounds like they’ve got this education thing figured out, just wish I could figure out how to say the school’s name.