United Kingdom / Greater London / Westminster / Portland Place School

Portland Place School Review

Portland Place School is a small independent day school for boys and girls aged 10 to 16 which also offers a unique mix of online and on-site learning.
At a glance
School type
Private
School phase
Secondary
Inspection rating
Good
Curricula taught
Availability 2021/22
No data
Availability 2022/23
No data
Annual fee average
GBP 23,500
Annual fees
GBP 23,535–23,535
Price band help
Premium
Status
Open
Opening year
1996
School year
Aug to Jul
Principal
Mr David Bradbury
Owner
Alpha Plus Group
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Portland Place School
School type
Private
School phase
Secondary
Inspection rating
Good
Curricula taught
Availability 2021/22
No data
Availability 2022/23
No data
Annual fee average
GBP 23,500
Annual fees
GBP 23,535–23,535
Price band help
Premium
Status
Open
Opening year
1996
School year
Aug to Jul
Principal
Mr David Bradbury
Owner
Alpha Plus Group
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Portland Place School is a small independent day school for boys and girls aged 10 to 16 which also offers a unique mix of online and on-site learning.

Portland Place School is an intentionally small school that is particularly proud to offer students an alternative to the many much larger and exam-focused independent day schools across London. It offers a modern and broad education to a community of just 220 students which is focused more on developing inquisitive, open-minded and creative learners than A grades in exam results.

As well as offering a full-time day school education, Portland Place has a unique hybrid school that offers a mix of online and on-site learning. For a lower annual fee of £12,000 (it costs just over £23,000 for day school here), students can learn from home and attend the school one day a week for practical lessons.

This non-selective co-ed senior school in well-heeled Marylebone (just a short walk away from Regent’s Park) is known for having a more relaxed learning environment than many independent day schools. It really champions holistic learning and individual pathways.

Portland Place offers students with a wide range of abilities and learning styles an excellent education – and offers the choice of a £24,000-a year-day school or a more 'affordable' private education in its unique hybrid school.

It’s also a strong believer in co-education and placing boys and girls in an environment where they can “learn skills which will enable them to build healthy and natural connections throughout their lives”.

Portland Place is unusual in offering Years 6-10 (ages 10 to 16) rather than the more typical Year 7 or Year 9 through to Year 13. One advantage of this – it means that students do not have the pressure of sitting SATS or 11+ to get a Year 7 place.

The school is owned by the UK-based Alpha Plus Group, which closed the Sixth Form here three years ago, choosing instead to focus on preparing students for GCSEs. It sends its students on to a sister school, DLD College London. The school also “fully supports” students moving onto any course and college – as well leading senior day schools in London, some leavers go on to arts colleges and apprenticeship programmes.

It’s a relatively new school; Portland Place was founded in 1996 by the head of science at St Paul’s Girls School, Richard Walker, to offer London families an alternative to the highly selective and much larger independent senior day schools in dominating the city. Today, it remains true to its founding principles and has found its niche as a small, nurturing London day school.

Headteacher David Bradbury was appointed in 2017; he was previously the Deputy Head Academic at the all-girls’ South Hampstead High School, and he has also worked at a British international school in Thailand.

Curriculum

An education at Portland Place is kept broad and balanced with English, mathematics, science, history, geography, drama, music, computer science, design technology, PE and one modern foreign language (Spanish or French) on the timetable. Students also take lessons in ceramics, cookery, debating, photography and other non-academic activities, and there are extra-curricular clubs for Arabic, Japanese, Mandarin and Russian.

Portland Place offers students much free choice than most UK schools for GCSEs, giving them the freedom to choose five subjects alongside a compulsory core of English language, maths and one science. GCSE options also include economics, media studies and business studies, so there is a plenty of opportunity for students to choose the subjects that they like or are good at – or to keep their options open.

Teaching is in small class sizes of up to 16 students, so you can expect your child to receive more individualized attention and have more interaction with their teachers.

Students enrolled in the hybrid school attend live, online, timetabled lessons, which follows the same broad curriculum as above. They also spend one day per week at Portland Place School to work on science experiments, use art and design facilities, and complete other practical activities that may be difficult to replicate at home. Students who are unable to attend the school in person can attend online school, five days a week.

The school encourages digital learning across the curriculum; all students, in both the day and online schools, are supplied with iPads.

Sport and the arts

The school does not let the limitations of its city-based campus precent it from having a a very active sports progamme. As well as having PE lessons one to five times a week (depending on the year group), students can join one of the many after-school clubs representing a wide cross-section of sports.

The school doesn’t have a vast campus with sports facilities and pitches, but it does have Regent’s Park within walking distance; it also uses facilities at the nearby Seymour Centre, Paddington Recreation Ground and Oasis Sports Centre. It also has London’s wide choice of sporting facilities on its doorstep, meaning it can offer sports as varied as horse riding, fencing, yoga, football, basketball, badminton, self-defence, archery and ultimate frisbee. 

Students can aexplore plenty of arts-based activities as part of the curriculum, up to GCSE level, and during weekly enrichment sessions. Facilities include a dance studio and music tech rooms, and the school makes great use of the theatres and museums in London; it also uses RADA studios as a venue for its many school performances. As well as visiting galleries and staging shows, students can sign up for activities are as varied as Creative Writing, Jewellery Making, Photography, Theatre in the Community, Rock Band and Stand Up Comedy. 

There’s also a focus on STEAM, with clubs such as Anatomy and Dissection, ECO Club, PPS Enterprise, App Design and Guerilla Gardening that can spark students’ interest.

Academic results

Results are good for an academically non-selective school. 

2022 GCSE results: 18% of grades were 9-8, 33% were 9-7, and 86% were 9-4. There was a 100% pass rate.

Many students go on to DLD College, where they study A Levels alongside the DLD Diploma. This involves a written component such as the EPQ or a Research Project, plus courses such as ABRSM music exams, Bank of England Challenge, Model UN, sport, theatre, and life drawing.

Other leavers’ destinations include St Pauls, Highgate, Wetherby Senior, South Hampstead High School and Mill Hill., as well as arts colleges including Fine Art College, The BRIT School, London Screen Academy, and Fashion Retail Academy.

Campus and facilities

Like many city schools, Portland Place has the advantage of an excellent location. It’s located in one of London's most prestigious neighbourhoods, Marylebone and within walking distance of Regent’s Park and Oxford Circus.

Students attend lessons in two Grade II listed houses in Portland Place which have been refurbished to include specialist; there’s also a newly refurbished Art, Science and Drama building featuring an impressive four-metre-high mural to mark the school’s 25th anniversary in 2022.

Admission and fees

Portland Place is non-selective but students still sit a baseline assessment exam in maths and English and attend an interview with the Head as part of the admissions process.

Annual tuition fees are £23,535 for day school students, and £12,000 for the hybrid school.

The school offers four types of scholarship; Music, Drama, Art and Sport. Scholarships can be worth up to 10% of the school fees.

Our view

Good for: Portland Places will certainly appeal to families who don’t want their children to study in a hothouse, exam factory environment. Also, its small size, co-ed education and non-selective admissions criteria certainly offers London families an alternative the more exam-focused and selective schools in the city.

It's a school that focuses on pastoral care and creating a happy, relaxed learning environment that can really help to settle your child and support them through the broad and varied curriculum taught here. The online schooling option will also appeal to parents looking for a more flexible (and cost-effective) private education for their child.

Not for: If you are searching for a very academically-focused school, there are many other options across London; and the fact that it only runs until Year 11 is not ideal if you would prefer your child to study GCSEs and A Levels at the same school. Also, this is a city day school that cannot offer the acres of space of a country school or the holistic benefits of a boarding education.

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