The 15 most expensive private schools in the UK and the famous names who attended them

The 15 most expensive private schools in the UK and the famous names who attended them

Families have no doubt spent the last few weeks (at least) preparing for the start of a new academic year. Attention will have turned to getting the best school shoes, making sure your child has all the right school uniform and perhaps trying out some new lunchbox ideas.

But for some parents, the start of a new school year also means paying private school fees and making sure their children have everything they need to stay in school for the duration.

As we celebrate Back to School Month at Goodto, we’re taking a look at the most expensive private schools in the country and finding out if they have any famous alumni.

1. Brighton College – £64,920 per year

The most expensive private school in the UK is located in Brighton & Hove. Brighton College was awarded School of the Decade by The Sunday Times in November 2020 and it’s not hard to see why. Boasting that the most common A Level grade achieved by its students in 2023 was an A*, Brighton College is also home to impressive facilities including 18 science labs, a 25m swimming pool, music school and a recital hall. But all of this comes with a hefty price tag of almost £65,000 a year for a full boarding experience.

Notable alumni

  • Stanley Baldwin (former Prime Minister)

  • Archibald Primrose, Earl of Rosebery (former Prime Minister)

exterior of Brighton College, the most expensive private school in the UK

2. Concord College – £53,400 per year

For just over £53,000 a year, your child can attend Concord College in Shropshire, on a campus that spans 73 acres in a rural setting. Concord College boasts an international mix of students and a focus on academic excellence.

Notable alumni

  • BBC Glow Up winner and rising global makeup star Ophelia Liu

  • Sharmeen Khan, Pakistani cricketer

  • West Ham United FC manager David Moyes used to coach Concord College football team

exterior of Concord College, one of the most expensive private schools in the UK

3. Hurtwood House – £52,227 per year

Known for its performing arts program, it’s no wonder Hurtwood House boasts a number of famous names on its roster. It also boasts the tagline “England’s most exciting school.” It claims to be less formal and less institutional than more traditional private schools, but it still focuses on academic excellence while fostering a passion for creativity.

Notable alumni

  • Hans Zimmer (film score composer)

  • Emily Blunt (actress; The Jungle Cruise, Mary Poppins Returns, The Devil Wears Prada)

  • Vanessa Kirby (actress; Pieces of a Woman, Mission: Impossible: Fallout, Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw)

  • Nikki Amuka-Bird (actress; Doctor whofrom Netflix Persuasion, Citadel)

Actress Emily Blunt looking out the window of a train, scene from the film The Girl on the Train

4. Cheltenham Ladies’ College – £50,700 per year

At the forefront of girls’ education for over 170 years, Cheltenham Ladies’ College cultivates academic excellence and has consistently won awards, including the South West Independent Secondary School of the Decade award. The Sunday Times.

Notable alumni

  • Kristen Scott Thomas (actress; Four Weddings and a Funeral, The English Patient, The Horse Whisperer)

  • Cherry Healey (TV presenter; 10 years younger and a series of BBC documentaries)

  • Talulah Riley (actress, Pride and Prejudice, St Trinian’s, Inception, The Boat That Rocked)

  • Amanda Wakeley (fashion designer)

Entrance to Cheltenham Ladies’ College, one of the most expensive private schools in the UK

5. Harrow School – £50,500 per year

Founded in the 16th century under a Royal Charter granted by Queen Elizabeth I, Harrow School is an independent boys’ school located in northwest London on a leafy 300-acre estate.

Offering day and boarding education, as well as a range of amenities, the institution delivers academic and sporting excellence.

Notable alumni

  • Winston Churchill (former Prime Minister)

  • Benedict Cumberbatch (actor; Sherlock, Dr. Strange, The Imitation Game, The Grinch)

  • James Blunt (musician, composer)

  • Richard Curtis (screenwriter; Love Actually, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Notting Hill)

Exterior of Harrow School, one of the most expensive private schools in the UK

6. Eton College – £49,998 per year

Undoubtedly one of the most famous private schools in the UK. Thanks to the famous faces that have attended, Eton College encourages all of its students to achieve academic excellence, and many of them have gone on to notable careers in politics, literature and the arts.

Notable alumni

  • Prince William

  • Prince Harry

  • Boris Johnson (former Prime Minister)

  • David Cameron (former Prime Minister)

  • Hugh Laurie (actor; Jeeves & Wooster, Home, Friends)

  • Ian Fleming (author, James Bond series)

  • Tom Hiddleston (actor; Loki, Thor, The Night Manager, Kong: Skull Island)

  • Eddie Redmayne (actor; Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, The Theory of Everything, The Danish Girl)

exterior of Eton College, one of the most famous and expensive private schools in the UK

7. Tonbridge School – £49,944 per year

For just under £50,000 a year, your child can attend Tonbridge School, an independent boarding and day school in Kent. But if your child wants to take music lessons, you’ll have to pay an extra £1,170 (per instrument) – it’s not included in the annual fee.

Notable alumni

  • EM Forster (author; A Room with a View, Howards End, A Passage to India)

  • Norman Heatley OBE (biologist who turned penicillin into a mass-usable drug)

  • Dan Stevens (actor; Downton Abbey, Beauty and the Beast, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga)

  • Tom Chaplin, lead singer of Keane

abroad or Tonbridge School, one of the most expensive private schools in the UK

8. Winchester College – £49,152

Founded in 1382, Winchester College in Hampshire is known for its academic rigor and was a boys’ school for over 600 years, but began allowing both boys and girls to attend day school in September 2022. There are 94 listed buildings on its grounds, as well as 11 acres of formal gardens.

Notable alumni

  • Joss Whedon (American screenwriter, known for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Marvel The Avengers It is Avengers: Age of Ultron)

  • Hugh Dancy (actor; Hannibal, Downton Abbey: A New Age, Confessions of a Shopaholic, Ella Enchanted)

  • Tom Sturridge (actor; The Boat Rocked Himfrom Netflix The Sandman)

exterior of Winchester College

9. Wellington College – £48,930

Located in Berkshire, Wellington College is named after the first Duke of Wellington and has been open since 1859. Originally a boys’ school, it became fully co-educational in 2005.

It has been voted the most avant-garde school in the UK and has also been awarded the award for best school for seniors in Britain by Tatler.

Notable alumni

  • Thom Evans (rugby player)

  • James Haskell (rugby player)

  • Ellie Bamber (actress; Red, White and Royal Blue, Les Miserables, The Nutcracker and The Four Realms)

  • Rory Bremner (impressionist)

  • George Orwell (author; Animal Farm, 1984)

  • Will Young (singer, songwriter)

exterior of Wellington College, one of the most expensive private schools in the UK

10. Malvern College – £47,985 per year

Founded in 1865, Malvern College is located in the Malvern Hills in Worcestershire and is a co-educational school with around 650 students. To attend and stay, you’ll need to shell out a whopping £47,985 per year.

Notable alumni

  • Monty Don (British horticulturist and TV presenter) Gardener’s World)

  • CS Lewis (author; known for the Narnia book series)

  • Jeremy Paxman (presenter, News night, University Challenge)

exterior of Malvern College

11. Roedean School – £47,775 per year

Roedean School is a girls’ school in East Sussex, founded in 1885, and is widely regarded as the Eton College for girls. In 2022, the school achieved its best results ever, with 71% of all A-Level grades being A*-A.

Notable alumni

  • Rebecca Hall (actress; Vicky Christina Barcelona, ​​Iron Man 3, Christine)

  • Rhona Mitra (actress; Sweet Home Alabama, Hollow Man, The Life of David Gale)

  • Verity Lambert OBE (television producer, known for being the original producer of Doctor who)

exterior of Roedean School

12. Wycombe Abbey – £47,700

Founded over 125 years ago, Wycombe Abbey in Buckinghamshire is an all-girls school, considered one of the best all-girls schools in the country.

Notable alumni

  • Eve Best (actress; Nurse Jackie)

  • Sally Phillips (actress; Bridget Jones’s Diary, Smack the Pony, Miranda)

exterior of Wycombe Abbey, one of the most expensive private schools in the UK

13. Charterhouse School – £47,535 per year

Located in Godalming in Surrey, Charterhouse School was founded in 1611 on the site of a former monastery. You may have also seen some of Charterhouse School’s buildings on screen – it was used as a location in Netflix’s The crownfrom BBC Escortand the Mila Kunis movie Jupiter Ascending. It has a long list of notable alumni, including politicians, parliamentarians, judges, lawyers and academics.

Notable alumni

  • David and Jonathan Dimbleby (TV presenters)

  • Peter Yates (Academy Award nominated film director)

  • Peter Gabriel (singer, songwriter)

  • Ben Adams (singer of 2000s boyband A1)

Boys playing cricket in the grounds of Charterhouse School

14. Benenden School – £47,400

Benenden School is an independent girls’ school in Kent. It has over 550 pupils aged between 11 and 18. It was founded in 1923 and is so popular that parents tend to register their children years in advance to secure a place.

Notable alumni

  • Princess Anne

  • Lady Victoria Hervey (socialite)

  • Ellie Kendrick (actress; The Game of Thrones)

  • Sue Ryder, Founder of the Sue Ryder Foundation

  • Rachel Weisz (actress; Black Widow, The Mummy, The Bourne Legacy)

black and white photo of the exterior of Benenden School, one of the most expensive private schools in the UK

15. Marlborough College – £46,995 per year

Founded in 1843, Marlborough College in Wiltshire was originally a boys’ school but is now co-educational, with over 900 students. It has a long list of notable alumni, including royalty.

Notable alumni

  • Kate Middleton

  • Pippa Middleton

  • Princess Eugenie

  • Siegfried Sassoon (poet)

  • Jack Whitehall (comedian and actor)

  • Dick King Smith (author, best known for The Pig Sheepwhich was adapted into a film Dear).

aerial photograph of Marlborough College

If you’re intrigued by the real faces who attend private schools, here it is Why are Princess Charlotte’s school fees lower than Prince George’s?and the fun classes offered at Prince Louis’ school. Also worth noting when to apply for primary schooljust like these first day of school traditions to start your child’s academic journey in the best possible way.