Based in south east London Eltham College has a well-rounded approach to education that values not only academic excellence but also sports and the arts. Its broad range of academic programmes and extra-curricular activities ensure that this academically selective day school offers a balanced curriculum that fosters excellence across multiple subjects.
Established in 1842 as a School for the Sons of Missionaries, Eltham College has evolved over the years, adapting to the changing times. It has a rich history of developments, including the establishment of a separate Junior School, the admission of girls into the Sixth Form, and the creation of new state-of-the-art facilities like a swimming pool, performing arts centre, sports hall, library, music school, and art gallery.
Eltham College is in the process of becoming fully co-educational across its whole age range (seven to 18) by September 2025, although girls have been in the Sixth Form for more than 40 years. This is a significant change for the school, and it reflects the trend among many educational institutions towards greater inclusivity and diversity. This move towards full co-education is an exciting development for Eltham College, with the promise of new opportunities for both current and future students.
The College’s 70-acre site is impressive, especially considering its urban London location (while its address is within south east London, it is very close to the Kent border though). You may not expect to find such a large campus here, and it's one of the unique aspects of the school (as well as its very grand Georgian manor).
Eltham College fosters an environment that values inclusivity and diversity. For example, it has implemented an award-winning initiative called Every Name Matters, prioritising the correct pronunciation of every student's name. Students are certainly made to feel seen, heard, and valued, not least through the school’s Wellbeing Curriculum, which centres around the '5Rs' framework: Resilience, Respect, Relationships, Responsibility, and Readiness.
There’s also a School Congress of 70 elected student members who represent and makes decisions in the interests of the school community. And the house system encourages a healthy competitive spirit among students in a year-round program of academic, athletic, and artistic events.
The school is popular with families from the local area, mainly Bromley, Chislehurst, Blackheath, Greenwich and Dulwich There’s a strong Christian ethos here, but the school is non-denominational and welcome students of all faiths.
The school teaches a broad UK curriculum, providing students with a well-rounded education that covers a range of subjects and topics. The curriculum is designed to prepare students for success in further education and in their future careers, providing them with a strong foundation in core subjects such as English, maths, science, and social studies, as well as exposure to a range of other subjects such as foreign languages, art, music, and physical education.
The school is committed to providing a high-quality education that is both challenging and engaging, and that promotes critical thinking, creativity, and a lifelong love of learning. Through its focus on academic rigor, character development, and personalised learning, the school aims to help each student reach their full potential and become a well-rounded and successful individual.
Located on the same site as the Senior School, the Junior School provides an exceptional and supportive education to more than 250 boys and girls from Years 3 to 6. As well as having access to resources that are specifically designed for needs of younger children, Junior students benefit from the specialist teachers and facilities in the Senior school. This supports the delivery of a broad curriculum that includes English, Mathematics, Science, Geography, History, Religious Studies, French, Mandarin, Music, Drama, Art, Design Technology, Computing, Wellbeing, Physical Education, Swimming and Games. As well as offering students a well-rounded education, they are well-prepared for the challenges of GCSEs and A Levels in Senior school.
Eltham’s Sixth Form programme offers students the flexibility to choose between studying three or four A Levels, along with an Extended Project Qualification. In addition to these core A Level choices, the school also provides an extended curriculum and a comprehensive Oxbridge Programme to help students prepare for the most competitive universities. This programme is an excellent opportunity for students who are interested in pursuing further education and who want to challenge themselves academically.
All students must choose either, an accelerated Further Maths fourth A Level on a reduced timetable; the Extended Project Qualification; or demonstrate significant co-curricular commitments outside of school, such as playing county level sport, playing for a number of regional music ensembles, LAMDA etc.
This 'Plus' side of academic life at Eltham College is that students are given the tools and resources they need to succeed, not just in their A Level exams, but also in their university studies and careers.
Eltham College has a clear vision for its sports programme – to be the leading co-ed school for sport in South East London. It’s committed to giving students the best possible sporting experiences, which is not only important for physical health and well-being but also promotes key life skills such as sportsmanship and teamwork.
The sports facilities are seriously impressive. As well as rugby and cricket pitches and nets, there are two fully floodlit hockey and football Astroturf pitches, tennis courts and, in the summer, a grass athletics circuit. The Eric Liddell Sports Centre, which is also open to the local community, has a sprung floor dance studio, a sports hall with indoor hockey flooring and four indoor cricket nets, an indoor climbing wall, fitness suite and swimming pool. Eltham also has links with Old Elthamians Rugby, Cricket and Hockey as well as Telstars Netball, and offers a High Performance Athlete Programme to the elite young athletes which includes extra coaching, guidance and training.
The main sports offered in the curriculum and co-curriculum are rugby, hockey (it’s so popular that the school built a second hockey pitch), cricket, tennis, athletics, swimming and water polo. There’s also golf, fencing and skiing. As girls’ cricket is growing in popularity nationwide, it’s encouraging to see a school like Eltham offer more opportunities for girls to get involved at grassroots level.
The school also boasts an excellent arts department, with a 230-seat theatre, six practice rooms and studios, green room, workshop, and prop and costume store. There’s the space, facilities, expertise and genuine enthusiasm from teachers for a love of music, art and drama. Over 70% of students learn a musical instrument, there are 30 orchestras and choirs (with performances ranging from recitals in the music foyer to concerts at prestigious London venues such as the Royal Albert Hall. The school's jazz band is also well-known for its regular performances at Ronnie Scott’s.
While Eltham achieves well academically, it places a strong emphasis on providing a well-rounded education rather than just focusing on exam results. By acknowledging that, “We are no exam factory”, the school recognises that its goal is not just to produce students who are good at taking tests – it wants to prepare boys (and now girls) for success in all aspects of life. On the stage, on the sports field, in the community and in the great outdoors.
There are many opportunities for students to take on leadership roles, such as Prefects, House Captains, or through the College’s own Community Service program or the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. There is also an extremely diverse list of clubs and societies.
2022 A Levels: 44% of grades were A*, while 74% were either A*/ A. Nearly 90% of A Level grades were A*-B.
In one of the most competitive years for university places, 96% of Eltham College students secured a place at their chosen university or college, conservatoires and specialist colleges and in a wide range of degree courses from the Arts to STEM subjects and many others. These include Engineering, English, Drama, Music, Medicine, and Sports Science.
2022 GCSE results: 37% of GCSE grades were 9s (the highest grade) and nearly two-thirds of results were 9/8 grades and 85% of all grades were 9/8/7.
The majority of students join at one of the key entry points (7+, 11+, or 16+). It’s an academically selective school where all students must sit an entrance exam as part of the admissions process.
Annual fees are £18,276 for Junior School, and £22.230 for both Senior School and Sixth Form.
Good for: This academically selective day school in south east London has a well-rounded approach to education that values not only academic excellence but also sports and the arts – so it’s an excellent choice for the all-rounder. Whether your child thrives in all aspects of the curriculum or is a go-getter who enjoys trying everything, Eltham College’s
broad range of academic programmes and extra-curricular activities offers the diverse opportunities you may be looking for.
The school is also very successful in preparing its students for further education and careers, proven by the number of students who go on to attend prestigious universities and conservatories in the UK and abroad.
Not for: As a school that emphasises all-round development, it may not be the best fit for students who prioritise academic excellence above everything else. While Eltham College still deliver a solid academic curriculum, its focus on other areas such as sports and the arts can mean that it does not provide the same level of academic rigour as a school that is more focused on results and academic achievement.
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