Westminster School Profile

“Where history shapes inquisitive minds. Where inquisitive minds shape history”

westminster school profile london

As one of the leading academic schools in the UK, Westminster School is steeped in history, academic rigor and liberal values.

In this school profile, we shine the spotlight on their exceptional examination results and unparalleled entrance figures into the top universities.


Founded in the 14th Century, and ‘refounded’ by Elizabeth I in 1560, Westminster the only ancient school in  London to still occupy its original location….  and what a location it is!

Situated in the middle of a UNESCO World Heritage Site and nestled between Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament, it is hard to see how students could fail to be inspired with the awe of it all.

The School features stunning buildings and grounds,  the College Garden (believed to be the oldest garden in England) and the College Hall (one of the oldest and finest examples of a medieval factory in existence) to mention just two.

The School has its quirks, from naming its year groups Shell and Removes for Year 9 and Year 10, to the ‘Greaze’ a Shrove Tuesday tradition since 1753. This involves students fighting to win the largest piece of a horsehair-reinforced pancake!

The School also has its own pronunciation of Latin known as ‘Westminster Latin’ and every Wednesday there is an assembly known as ‘Latin Prayers’.

With a long tradition of liberal values, it is known not only for its exceptional academic results but also for nurturing and developing inquisitive minds that are able to challenge and think critically. These qualities are abundantly apparent in their very illustrious alumni from across the centuries ranging from Ben Jonson to AA Milne and Tony Benn to Helena Bonham-Carter.

The Head, Patrick Derham, formerly Head of Rugby School, is passionate about education as a transformative experience.  He has brought with him the tradition of giving back and has ensured that Westminster has been integrally involved with the recently started Westminster Academy located nearby.

Thinking of applying to Westminster?  Talk to one of our expert consultants to find out if it is the right school for your child.

School Ethos

The School prides itself on a culture where intellectual risk is encouraged and where students are always challenged. Both students and staff are encouraged to think and go way beyond the exam boundaries instilling a real thirst and love of learning that threads through the whole community.  The aim is to produce confident young men and women who are ready to contribute to society.

“We are a place that embraces learning, encourages deep thinking and takes great pleasure in the pursuit of knowledge and understanding; but, most importantly, we want to encourage our boys and girls to use their skills and intelligence to benefit society

Patrick Derham, Headteacher

Entrance Information

There are two schools on the site. Westminster School which accepts boys at 13+ and girls at 16+, and the Under School which accepts boys between the age of 7 and 13.

The School is predominantly a day school but around 25% board and full boarding is only available in the Sixth form. The boarding houses are run by House Parents and the atmosphere is relaxed with some evening activities but not the full schedule you would find in a 24/7 boarding environment.

Unsurprisingly, entrance is highly selective, rigorous and very competitive. They are looking for ‘freshness and spontaneity’ amongst prospective pupils and are good at spotting the ’Westminster child’ from the over tutored field.

The Under School has entrance points at ages 7, 8 and 11 and assessments include an internal exam and interview.

At age 13 boys can enter the Lower School, via Common Entrance (taken in June) or the internal exams for scholarship called Challenge (taken in May). All must also sit an interview. To take the assessment boys must be registered by the end of Year 5.

For about 120 places at 13+, there are about 550 applicants.

Sixth Form entry requires all applicants to sit subject-specific exams and then be interviewed. Offers will usually be conditional on GCSE results. To enter at this point you need to register no later than the previous October.

Want to know more about entry to the top British public schools? Get in touch with one of our expert advisors today.

Academic Success

The numbers speak for themselves when it comes to the academic success of the school.

A Levels results in 2017 were once again exceptional, with 57.2% A*, 86.1% A*-A and 96.3% A*-B. More than half of grade were an A* or Pre-U equivalent.

GCSE results are no different, with 98.3% achieving new 9-7 grades (equivalent of A*-A in the old format).

Westminster School has the highest average Oxbridge acceptance rate with, annually, around half going to Oxbridge (78 students in 2017). The rest either go to other leading Universities in the UK or to America.


There are almost an overwhelming range of extracurricular opportunities and the focus is firmly placed on pupil choice and learning to balance the academics alongside the other choices.

No sport is compulsory and pupils rather participate in a ‘station’. Football, rowing (or ‘Water’) and cricket are traditional sports but you can choose whichever sport you wish.

Football is the school’s largest sport and interestingly holds a historic joint claim to the development of the modern offside rule.

The School houses three Eton Fives courts and they own or hire other sporting facilities nearby.

Westminster School Boat Club is one of the oldest clubs in the world and the Boathouse in Putney is used as the Oxford base during the Oxford-Cambridge annual boat race.

Music and Drama and Art play a very important part of the School.  Pupils perform at near professional standard in their own theatre and music centre and parents always comment that the student art displays are superb.

What makes the school special?

  • Consistent, outstanding academic results and Oxbridge entry success rates
  • Tolerant and civilised atmosphere which is accepting and welcoming of eccentricities
  • A belief instilled amongst students that anything is possible
  • Culture of challenge and independent thinking and going beyond exam boundaries
  • A rich history and iconic location in the heart of central London


For 2017/18, the fees per term for studying at Westminster School are:

  • Boarding – £12,580
  • Day – £8,710
  • Day (Sixth Form) – £9,522

For more information visit the Westminster School website.

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