Founded in 1923, Benenden school in Kent began life as one of many all-girls boarding schools. But as other similar schools gradually introduced day pupils, Benenden stuck to its guns, and is now the only all-boarding girls’ school in the country. It argues that the boarding ethos means that it can ‘treat education as a seven-day experience’, allowing girls to learn both inside and outside the classroom. As well as achieving consistent exam results, with 61 per cent of this year’s A-levels awarded an A* or A, Benenden offers a wide range of extracurricular activities, ranging from EPQ to lacrosse, a chamber choir and a model UN. In October the school will also launch its own CCF (combined cadet force) unit — only the third girls’ school in the country to do so. If you’re after an all-round education for your daughter — particularly if you live overseas – Benenden should be on your list.
Colyton Grammar School
Kent is famous for its grammar schools, but Devon has Colyton Grammar, a good bet for anyone looking for a mixed state school that delivers good grades and a well-rounded education. Having spent 465 years as a grammar school, since 2011 it has been an academy. In 2014 it was the second-highest placed state school in the Telegraph’s A-level league tables, and came in fourth place overall. This year, 84.5 per cent of their results were A*, A or B. But as well as good exam results, the schools also boasts excellent facilities including an arts centre, a sports centre and an eco-woodland reserve. Not only that, but its location in the village of Colyford, in East Devon — a ten-minute drive from Lyme Regis — means that the school also offers all the benefits of a rural education.
North Berwick High School
Edinburgh may boast some of Scotland’s most prestigious private schools including Fettes and St George’s, but just down the road from the capital lies one of the country’s top state schools. Founded in 1893, North Berwick High School is a mixed state senior school set in the heart of East Lothian. The school regularly ranks in the top 20 of Scotland’s best state schools when it comes to academic excellence and this year new government statistics show it was the best in the county for numbers of Highers achieved per pupil. Sat between an extinct volcano and the sea, the picturesque school also boasts facilities to rival the capital’s private schools, with playing fields, an all–weather artificial pitch and an expansive music department. What’s more pupils have the chance to play against their Edinburgh peers in the school sports leagues.
Many all-boys prep schools have given in and started taking girls — but Papplewick isn’t one of them. Set in 15 acres of land just opposite Ascot racecourse, this independent school for boys aged six to 13, which offers day, weekly and full-boarding options, has the benefit of being just close enough to London without being in London. Unsurprisingly for a school full of little boys, the main focus is on keeping them occupied and busy (or as they put it, ‘working off their energy’). As well as all the normal sports (their rugby, football and cricket teams are all top notch) they also offer scuba diving, polo, real tennis, clay pigeon shooting, golf… For the less sporty, there is photography, cookery, chess, and the ever-popular snake club (see above), The academics are excellent too; this year pupils have won scholarships to Eton, Winchester, Harrow and Wellington. But the most-coveted award — the Knatchbull-Hugessen prize — goes to the boy who has shown the ‘greatest enthusiasm for life, contribution to the community, and above all kindness to others’.