United Kingdom / Greater London / Westminster / American School in London

American School in London Review

One of London’s most expensive day schools, can this US-centric all-through school in Westminster justify its worth by boasting some of the capital’s most impressive facilities for students and a high-achieving college-preparatory programme?
At a glance
School type
Private
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Outstanding
Availability 2020/21
No data
Availability 2021/22
No data
Annual fee average
GBP 30,500
Annual fees
GBP 28,200 - 32,650
Price band help
Premium
Status
Open
Opening year
1951
School year
Sep to Jul
Principal
Mrs Robin Appleby
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American School in London
School type
Private
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Outstanding
Availability 2020/21
No data
Availability 2021/22
No data
Annual fee average
GBP 30,500
Annual fees
GBP 28,200 - 32,650
Price band help
Premium
Status
Open
Opening year
1951
School year
Sep to Jul
Principal
Mrs Robin Appleby
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One of London’s most expensive day schools, can this US-centric all-through school in Westminster justify its worth by boasting some of the capital’s most impressive facilities for students and a high-achieving college-preparatory programme?

The American School in London (ASL) is an all-through day school offering an education that’s rooted in American standards to students in the capital. It’s one of only a few schools in London to follow the US curriculum, and its High School has an enviable reputation for sending students to Ivy League colleges.

ASL enrols students from Kindergarten through to Grade 12. It was founded in 1951 by Stephen L. Eckard, an American journalist and teacher, who opened the school with just 13 students in his Knightsbridge flat. Today, Head of School Robin Appleby says that ASL continues Eckard’s aspirations by offering “engaging learning experiences in a supportive and involved community”.

ASL has 1,400 students representing 70 different countries; while approximately 70% of students hold US citizenship, ASL has a global outlook. It’s a school with students who are “well-travelled” and, as such, its community can be transient. ASL is a popular (and obvious) choice for parents with ambitions for their children to attend a prestigious college or university in the US.

All international schools with US permits must be accredited by one of four US-based approved agencies, in recognition of the quality of education provided and of the High School Diploma being issued. ASL is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and the National Association of Independent Schools; it is also a member of the Council of International Schools and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.

Head of School Robin Appleby has spent more than 20 years working in independent American and international schools in the US, Europe and the Middle East. She holds a BA in English Literature from Dartmouth College, an MA from SUNY at Buffalo, and a MS in organization development and analysis from Case Western Reserve University Weatherhead School of Management. She sits on the Board of Trustees of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and served as a trustee of the Council of International Schools (CIS) from 2012 to 2016.

ASL was rated Outstanding in its 2018 Ofsted inspection across all areas.

The curriculum

In line with US schools, ASL operates on a semester calendar and block schedule, making it ideal for anyone moving to or from a school in the US. The academic year runs from September to July.

Learning in the early years follows the principles of Reggio Emilia, which focus on the educational importance of community and free inquiry (which often means learning through playing and activities).

Teaching and learning throughout the lower, middle and high schools is based on the challenging American Education Reaches Out (AERO) standards, Common Core and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), all US frameworks for curriculum consistency in Kindergarten through to Grade 12. By following a curriculum that’s based on the AERO and Common Core frameworks, you can expect a strong focus on the arts, language, maths, science, PE, and social studies here.

Students’ progress is tracked by US-led Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessments twice a year in maths and reading; Grades 3 and above are also assessed in science. This means that an ASL education is consistent with American stateside schools.

In high school (Grades 9-12), students work towards their SATs and an American high school diploma. The school’s most able students have a wide choice of more than 20 Advanced Placement courses offered by ASL’s ten departments including courses in Art History, Biology, Calculus AB and BC, Chemistry, Chinese Language, Computer Science A, Environmental Science, European History, French Language, Human Geography, Macro- and Microeconomics, Music Theory, Physics 1, 2 and C, Psychology, Spanish Language, Spanish Literature, Statistics, Studio Art, and US History.

Most students take four years each of English, maths, science, social studies and a world language (Arabic, Chinese, French or Spanish), and pursue advanced studies in academic and elective areas. There’s a 1:1 laptop programme in the High School to help facilitate the many different pathways that students can follow here.

Students move on to a wide variety of international universities, with the majority headed to the US. UK destinations include UCL, Imperial, Goldsmith’s College, King’s College London, SOAS, St Andrews, Edinburgh, Exeter, Oxford and Cambridge, among others.

There are specialist teachers in technology, music, art, PE, Spanish and the library for students of all ages. Students participate in a broad PE and Games programme offered at each stage of the curriculum; the school brings athletics to the fore with a broad pathway throughout the middle and high schools that includes several popular American sports such as softball, baseball, field hockey and basketball.

Beyond the classroom

During the past 70 years, ASL has expanded considerably and taken full advantage of its city centre location to offer students a wealth of extra learning opportunities. These include an environmental education programme at ASL's Canons Park playing fields; the school’s own WorkX programme that provides Grade 10–12 students with summer internships in companies throughout London and beyond; and an annual cultural experience or a concert tour with off-campus travel throughout Europe for every student in Grade 9-12.

There are many opportunities to play instruments, learn art, perform on stage and compete in competitive sport. The school also takes full advantage of London as its classroom, by offering many field trips to the capital’s historical, artistic and cultural venues.

Campus and facilities

Located in the prestigious and affluent St John’s Wood district in central London, ASL has a state-of-the-art campus that is close the Lord’s Cricket Ground. The campus includes a modern arts building (opened in January 2016), an underground Aquatic & Fitness Centre with a six-lane, 25m swimming pool, fitness centre, and a well-equipped design lab.

Admission and fees

Tuition fees here are among the highest of any London day school (currently £28,200 annually for Lower School, rising to £32,650 for High School).

 

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