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Best private schools in Exeter

Best private schools in Plymouth

Best private schools in North Devon

Best private schools in South Devon

Best private schools in East Devon

Exeter SchoolThere are around 30 independent schools to choose from in Devon, half of which are recommended and reviewed by the Good Schools Guide. In keeping with their geographical location, what particularly distinguishes many of these schools from others in the UK is their adventurous approach to extracurricular activities, however there are also many academic superstars and those considering moving to Devon are spoilt for choice. Only two of the independent schools class themselves as ‘selective’ and, refreshingly for the UK, very few have waiting lists.

Read our features on choosing schools for more details on how to choose and apply for private schools, or more information on the pre-prep and prep stages.

Private schools in Exeter

Prep schools in Exeter

There is only one standalone prep school in central Exeter. Co-ed and educating pupils to the end of year 8, Exeter Cathedral School is right in the centre of the city, encircling the cathedral grounds. It is a choir school and music is at the heart of everything. Exeter School, Blundell’s and Wellington are the top destinations from here.  If green space is one of your search criteria at prep stage, many Exeter families drive eight miles south of the city to the wonderful St Peter’s Prep in Exmouth, see more details in the Prep schools in East Devon section of this guide.

If you want an all-through route from pre-prep to A levels, there are two outstanding options in central Exeter. Firstly, the co-ed, academically outstanding Exeter Junior School - the on-site prep for Exeter School which, according to parents, offers ‘an inspirational education, supported and enhanced by a dazzling array of extracurricular activities and trips’. Secondly, the girls’ single sex Maynard School - a real ‘heart-stealer’ of a school according to our reviewer with a ‘very high standard of work on display’ and remarkable results, supported by a happy and carefree environment.

Secondary schools in Exeter

There are two fabulous private secondary options in Exeter, both are selective and very academic: the co-ed Exeter School or girls only The Maynard School. Exeter School is highly academic yet very modest, consistently offering an excellent education underpinned by an expansive array of extracurricular opportunities in an empathetic and inclusive environment. The Maynard School gains phenomenal academic results combined with a warm, supportive atmosphere. Our reviewer noted, ‘Relationships between students and staff are supportive, humorous yet entirely professional.’

Best state primary schools in Exeter

Best state secondary schools in Exeter

Best nurseries in Exeter

Private schools in Plymouth

Prep schools in Plymouth

There are only two private prep options in Plymouth. Plymouth College Prep is newly incorporated into the senior school site with an n impressive purpose-built accommodation encircled by well-designed playgrounds. This is a wonderful place to start your educational journey, a bouncy, happy and fresh-faced prep, poised to grow and develop into a pivotal deal breaker for the Plymouth re-locators and locals alike. Alternatively, King’s School and Nursery is an extremely popular, highly rated and over-subscribed delight in the heart of Plymouth.

Secondary schools in Plymouth

There is one independent superpower in Plymouth, Plymouth College, revered for its extracurricular offering and famed for its swimming training. Parents in this city renowned for its three single sex grammars, refer to it as the hidden gem because, instead of pressure, they offer a sense of belonging where pupils are accepted whatever their ability and talent, making them happy enough to fly academically.’

Best state primary schools in Plymouth

Best state secondary schools in Plymouth

Best nurseries in Plymouth

Private schools in North Devon

Prep schools in North Devon

North Devon dwellers can take full advantage of the prep departments in four of the county’s most celebrated all-through independent schools. Blundell’s Preparatory School in Tiverton prides itself on its ‘culture of aspiration tempered with warmth and kindness,’ and parents hugely praise its success at both. Kingsley Prep School in Bideford is, according to our reviewer, ‘A warm, inclusive and nurturing school that’s on the rise, thanks in no small part to its fantastic team of happy and dedicated staff.’

Shebbear College has an integrated prep school with another huge focus on outdoor learning across their 85-acre campus and emphasis placed on creating a positive learning environment. West Buckland School in Barnstaple has an on-site prep which is a joyous start to this ‘outdoorsy, inclusive and happy’ school. The new head summed it up with her first impressions, ‘Children charging about with shirts untucked, muddy knees, messy hair and glowing faces with a fantastic education thrown in for good measure.’

Secondary schools in North Devon

There are four wonderful private secondary schools in North Devon so locals are utterly spoilt for choice. Blundell’s School in Tiverton prides itself on being about much more than exams and results. As such, pastoral care and the development of character go hand in hand with academic life. Kingsley School in Bideford has a wonderful balance of a great campus, nurturing and inclusive atmosphere, a bespoke approach to the curriculum and inspiring teachers.

Shebbear College has a fine reputation for music and is a traditional, historic school set in the countryside and loved for its openness, space and family feel. West Buckland School in Barnstaple is an outdoorsy, inclusive and happy school that provides a genuinely holistic education in a wonderful setting.

Best state primary schools in North Devon

Best state secondary schools in North Devon

Best nurseries in North Devon

Private schools in South Devon

Exeter Cathedral SchoolPrep schools in South Devon

There are three fabulous prep schools in South Devon, all part of all-through schools. Mount Kelly Prep in Tavistock borders Dartmoor National Park is academically on the up and has an idyllic location fuelling its commitment to daily physical activities. Stover School in Newton Abbot is based in a manor house nestled between the sea and the moors and learning is based around adventure, giving a truly ‘holistic and healthy education.’ The small Trinity Preparatory School perches on a hill overlooking the sea in Teignmouth and according to our reviewer it ‘lives and breathes its ethos of being like a big family’.

Secondary schools in South Devon

Head out to the edge of Dartmoor and be seduced by the setting and sporting notoriety of Mount Kelly near Tavistock. Parents praise how the school has ‘upped the ante academically’ and this is borne out by commendable results. The setting means that outdoorsiness is in these kids’ DNA and sport, in particular swimming, is a Mount Kelly superpower. Stover School also nestles at the base of the moors and prides itself on its extended and broadened curriculum and using ‘the most appropriate environment to fuel the best learning’ so pupils are found out and about constantly across the vast rural site.

Trinity School in Teignmouth is a smaller school with a strong reputation for its pastoral care, it is a school known for ‘developing the whole child and giving them a great time along the way.’ Then there is Sands Schoolin Ashburton with its democratic approach, an alternative and unusual take on education that demands a deep questioning and honest look at the education your children would most want and benefit from. Our reviewer called it ‘a revelation’.

Best state primary schools in South Devon

Best state secondary schools in South Devon

Best nurseries in South Devon

Private schools in East Devon

Prep schools in East Devon

There is one stand-alone prep school in East Devon, St Peter’s Prep which sits just eight miles to the south of Exeter city centre and is your archetypal prep idyll. It pulls in pupils from the city and far and wide across the county. Incredibly strong pastorally, the school also excels academically with pupils hitting early GCSE standard in many subjects before they even leave. Exeter School is the most popular destination after here.

Secondary Schools in East Devon

Parents in East Devon are spoilt with the state non-selective and grammar options but somewhat limited on independent schools. Most families following this route head into Exeter or further across the county, but there is one private secondary of note in Sidmouth should you not want a drive.St John’s School sits overlooking the sea and is an international school that runs IGCSE programmes with strong results.

Best state primary schools in East Devon

Best state secondary schools in East Devon

Best nurseries in East Devon

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