Three UK schools offering a well-rounded education and excellent university pathways

Roedean School
Source: Roedean School

Students must do far more than hit the books to succeed in life. Many schools in the UK are starting to agree. The best UK schools offer a holistic education beyond the classroom, providing students with countless opportunities to discover their talents and passions. Under the guidance of experienced teachers and dedicated support staff, these young learners flourish in a crucial phase of their lives.

Beyond academics, facilities like performing arts spaces, science labs, and athletic fields cater to diverse interests and learning styles. In this dynamic environment, students will find their strengths, discover hidden talents, and hone their skills.

Living on campus cultivates a deeper connection to the school community, opening doors to diverse clubs and vibrant events. This, coupled with an international student body, fosters critical thinking, effective communication, and creative problem-solving – skills that will equip them for tomorrow’s world.

If you’re seeking a school that prioritises a well-rounded education leading to excellent university pathways, consider these UK schools below:

Roedean School

Nestled in the seaside city of Brighton, just half an hour from Gatwick Airport and a mere hour from London, Roedean School is an independent day and boarding school for girls aged 11 to 18. Offering a holistic education is not just about achieving top grades, exceptional achievements, and placements in top institutions. It is also about girls eagerly thinking, learning, exploring, and developing intellectually, socially, and emotionally. This philosophy manifests in a dynamic curriculum, where STEM subjects thrive alongside the arts and humanities and more than 150 co-curricular activities from which the students can choose.

Roedean achieves these accomplishments through a robust pastoral care structure that aims to provide comprehensive support for every student. Complemented by a diverse sports program, a variety of charitable projects, and a vibrant visual and performing arts curriculum, the school also fosters social consciousness, creativity, and a healthy lifestyle.

What truly sets Roedean apart is its commitment to “putting girls first.” From a tailored curriculum to dedicated faculties and a supportive “sisterhood,” everything at Roedean is designed to empower its students to reach their full potential. To this day, Roedean’s academic results rival other top schools in the country and offer students endless opportunities. The Roedean journey to excellence starts early. Key Stage 3 (Age 11 – 13) lays a solid foundation with a curriculum that caters to individual talents, from arts and humanities to sports and STEM. The “Head, Heart, Hands” programme provides practical activities, and “Wild Fridays” connect girls with nature. GCSE (Age 14 – 16) is balanced and provides a comprehensive education, with as many as 28 subjects offered. The Sixth Form (Age 17-18) is the final springboard to success for entry into university and beyond, with programmes providing mentorship and pathways to Oxbridge. It is a stimulating environment that balances academics, career guidance, personal development opportunities, and leadership training.

Discover the many other ways Roedean provides girls with the best opportunities to fulfil their potential.

Roedean School

In 80 years, Gordonstoun School has evolved, blending historic structures with modern amenities, including a Sports Centre and Performing Arts department with a studio theatre and dance studios. Source: Gordonstoun School/Facebook

Gordonstoun School

For over 80 years, the Gordonstoun School has been preparing students for life.

Here, they indulge their curiosity. Collaborate and innovate. Develop intellectually, emotionally, physically and spiritually. The school’s location on the Moray Coast in the North of Scotland provides a peaceful and safe campus experience that allows them to do all the above and more.

At this school, described as “Outstanding” and “Sector leading” by HM Inspectors in 2019, pupils — including three generations of the British royal family — follow the English GCSE and A Level curricula. They do so in small classes, with a student-to-teacher ratio of 7:1, allowing space and time for extended learning and in-depth exploration of subject matter.

Learning continues outside the classroom through an extensive array of athletic, artistic, and extracurricular opportunities, which include distinctive offerings such as sailing, expedition and community service. Plus, as the only school in the UK to have its own Fire Engine, students get to work with rescue service personnel on real emergencies too.

Another key feature? It’s big on pastoral care. HM Inspectors judged it to be “a model of best practice” and “outstanding”. Activities like the School Pipe Band allow older children to guide and lead younger children and help them feel that they’re part of the GS family. After Gordonstoun, students move on to university — including Oxford, Cambridge, Central Saint Martins, MIT and the Northern School of Music — and into the world with confidence. 

It’s no surprise, then, that Gordonstoun won the Independent Boarding School of the Year Award at the Independent Schools of the Year Awards 2021.

Roedean School

Bedford is primarily a boarding school, fostering a robust boarding ethos that benefits both boarders and day boys.Source: Bedford School/Facebook

Bedford School

Founded in 1552 with the ethos “That they be good men,” Bedford School is a nurturing ground for well-rounded individuals. Here, boys aged seven to 18 are empowered to excel academically while simultaneously developing empathy, awareness, and humility — qualities our world desperately needs.

Bedford’s commitment to intellectual curiosity is evident in its engaging teaching methods and subject offerings. The school balances rigorous academics (leading to GCSE, IGCSE, A-Level, or IB exams) and nurturing individual talents. Special educational needs are catered to in both the Prep and Upper Schools, ensuring every boy has the opportunity to thrive. 

That’s not all. Well-resourced classrooms, regular lecture series, visiting speakers, and lunchtime/after-school academic clinics keep the learning flame bright. Technology, including ICT and mobile devices, enhances learning, while literacy and numeracy remain fundamental pillars.

The Sixth Form experience at Bedford is exceptional. Small classes, a choice between A Levels or the International Baccalaureate, passionate teachers, and excellent facilities provide the perfect environment for academic excellence. Enrichment opportunities abound, with superb university destinations and award-winning careers support guiding boys towards a bright future. In fact, two-thirds of boys have attended Russell Group universities, including Oxford and Cambridge.

As the school champions a holistic approach, boys here embrace the arts, sports, and extracurricular activities, like baking, drama, rugby, rowing, and more. Each year group leads and takes part in drama productions, musical groups, and the various sports clubs that cater to various tastes.

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International