The UK’s most exclusive – and expensive – private schools, including the prime ministers’ playground, Eton College, Godolphin School for girls and the olde worlde Harrow School used in the Harry Potter movies
Education is a fundamental aspect of one’s life, how a child prepares to become a productive member of society. Millions of children around the world receive some form of public education that’s provided as a government service, investing tax money directly into a country’s young minds so they develop into functional adults. But if you’re among the elite few, destined for a life of prestige and power, a private (or paid-for) education is your likely method of schooling.
For centuries, boarding schools and elite private colleges have educated the UK’s most prestigious children. Spanning dukes, duchesses and titans of European industry, elite British schools have laid the foundation for future authors, actors and prime ministers.
These outrageous institutions exist only, of course, for families who can foot the bill for such an education. With annual tuition extending into tens of thousands of pounds, the cost of attendance at these “old boys’” and exclusive girls’ clubs is not for the faint of heart – or the empty wallet.
But students admitted into UK boarding schools don’t just receive a jacket and tie. Their top-shelf education often features stringent requirements that go beyond learning geography, maths or foreign languages.
Here are five over-the-top curriculums from some of England’s most elite schools:
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The UK’s poshest school has produced 20 British prime ministers, with Boris Johnson being the latest addition. But as old boy Christopher de Bellaigue learned when he went back, Eton is trying to reinvent itself as a meritocracy. To read his account, published in 2016, tap the link in our bio. Credit: @jamestarmcnaught #Eton #EtonCollege #BorisJohnson #education
Perhaps the most elite boarding school in all of the United Kingdom, Eton College counts David Cameron, Karl Marx, George Orwell and current Prime Minister Boris Johnson among its storied alumni. But even an annual tuition of over £42,000 (US$53,970) – not counting numerous extras – doesn’t guarantee its pupils will develop the skills necessary to be a kind and pleasant member of society.
Well, that may change in 2019 thanks to a new offering in Eton’s curriculum: a course on manners, teaching students how to write thank-you letters and carry out everyday acts of kindness. Considering the school charges a fee simply for being accepted, even saying please and thank you can cost a pretty penny.
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A warm welcome back to all students and staff as we look forward to all the exciting things we have planned this term! 🍂💙 . . #GOinspire #godogirls #welcomeback #school #schoolterm #startofterm #halfterm #backtoschool #mondaymotivation #boardingschool #uk #ukschool #independentschool #ukboardingschool #christmasterm #autumn #winter #exciting #lookingforward #plans #schoolyear
Founded in 1726, Godolphin School exclusively educates girls aged three to 18. Like any boarding school, the daily rigours of earning an education can become exhausting. It’s no wonder that students are offered specific training on relaxation, meditation and yoga to get them through the school year. After all, the best way to prepare one’s mind for the future may, in fact, be to prepare one’s mind. As long as you’re prepared for the price tag of £38,400 (US$49,350) per year.
The £38,000-a-year (US$48,830) Scottish boarding school attended by Prince Charles and Prince Philip promises “broader experience, broader minds”. To expand young horizons, the private university, founded in 1934, features a rigorous curriculum of out-of-the-classroom experiences, such as sailing and outdoor expeditions. While extracurricular activities may seem like a great way to gain life experience, not all students see the benefit, with many alumni believing a focus on experiences outside the classroom has a negative impact on one’s career.
One of the many backdrops of the Harry Potter films, Harrow School has educated powerful personalities including Benedict Cumberbatch and Winston Churchill. And while the school’s curriculum, with a price of £41,775 (US$53,670) per year, offers a world-class education in essential subjects, its electives go above and beyond in providing pupils with one-of-a-kind opportunities. Courses on crossword puzzles and witchcraft would tend to stick out in any course booklet, but Harrow’s Formula 1 program – which groups students together to construct and race their own F1 cars – does laps around your average recess activity.
How does one become the next Henry Cavill or Sir Richard Branson? Perhaps they study at Stowe School, the £33,000-a-year (US$42,400) British institution that encourages intellectual curiosity. To foster an environment of learning, Stowe has recently introduced its new Vanguard Programme, which promises to encourage pupils to “learn how to learn”. Whether a student who learns how to learn remains a student … we’ll need to learn more.
Note – This story was originally published on SCMP and has been republished on this website