British schools — and their overseas franchises — score A+

Harrow School, London (credit: Harrow School)

With centuries of history under their belts, an alumni network of the best and brightest, and spiffy uniforms to boot, it should comes as no surprise that the UK’s private boarding schools in high demand — but not just from the British. Posh boarding schools are increasingly coveted by the international rich.

Knight Frank reviewed data published by the UK’s Independent Schools Council in their latest Wealth Report and found that demand for British private schools has risen strongly over the past decade, with particular demand coming from China, Africa and Russia.

Exchange rates, quality of life and access to top universities are the main draws, said Ed Richardson, director of education at Keystone Tutors, a London-based private tutoring company.

“Ambitious families in Singapore have traditionally sent their children to schools in the US, not necessarily because they think they are better, but because of the cost,” Richardson told Knight Frank. “Now, they are telling me that the fall in the value of the pound is making the UK look much better value. That sentiment will be echoed in many other places.”

Although these days, international parents need not send their offspring too far away from home — as the schools are coming to them. A number of franchised versions of esteemed UK schools have opened up in Asia and the Middle East recently.

There’s Harrow Hong Kong, Marlborough College Malaysia, Repton School Abu Dhabi, Dulwich College Beijing, to name a few. But according to Richardson, British is still better.

“It’s not just about the teaching, it’s about quality of life and the extent of extra-curricular activities available. Certainly in China there is a feeling that if you’re going to spend money on Western luxuries it is better to buy them in the West. More credit will be given to Harrow itself than Harrow Beijing,” he says.