Top-performing private schools in South Africa – and how much they cost to attend

 ·21 May 2023

Private schools in South Africa are known for their prestige and excellent results year-on-year but also for their costly fees attached.

The allure of sending your child to a private school in South Africa is rooted in the perception that these institutions provide a superior education.

This is partly due to private schools offering smaller class sizes, more individual attention, and access to highly qualified teachers due to having more funding than their public counterparts.

These differences seemed to reflect in their 2022 matric results, with the IEB confirming a 98.42% pass rate, a slight uptick from 98.39% recorded in 2021.

In contrast, The Department of Basic Education published the final National Senior Certificate results for the 2022 matric year showing a 3.7 percentage point increase in the pass rate to 80.1%.

It might be a surprise to know that the top seven independent girls’ schools on this list achieved more distinctions per candidate than the top boy’s school.

Roedean School for Girls was the top achiever among the all-girls schools – reporting an impressive 4.64 distinctions per candidate. This was followed by St Cyprian’s School (3.9), Durban Girls’ College (3.7), St Mary’s Waverly (3.58), and St Andrew’s Senderwood  (3.26), which make up the top five girls’ schools.

Comparatively, St John’s College topped the all-boys schools, reporting an average of 3.1 distinctions per candidate. Hilton College followed this in second with 2.43 distinctions and St Benedict’s College in third with 2.41.

Co-educational schools also produced some notable results, with King David Linksfield and Somerset College topping the lot with an average of 3.8 distinctions per candidate. Herzlia High School is second with 3.7 distinctions, while SAHETI scored third and achieved 3.6 distinctions.

Combining these subcategories to list the top 10 best-performing private schools, the ranking comprises all-girls and co-educational schools, without any top all-boys schools.

The top 10 overall best-performing schools are:

  1. Roedean – all-girls
  2. St Cyprian’s School – all-girls
  3. King David Linksfield – co-educational
  4. Somerset College – co-educational
  5. Durban Girls’ College – all-girls
  6. Herzlia High School – co-educational
  7. SAHETI – co-educational
  8. St Mary’s Waverly – all-girls
  9. Crawford College Sandton – co-educational
  10. Redhill School – co-educational

While all these schools achieved impressive results, it comes at a costly expense as most of these school charge over R150,000 per year for each child to attend. Others like Roedean and St John’s College charge close to R200,000, which is just for day schooling.

For boarding, both Roedean and St John’s College charge well over R300,000 per year, while the likes of Hilton and MichaelHouse charge R369,920 and R347,680, respectively – equating to around R1 million over a child’s high school career.

The tables below rank the top girls, boys, and co-educational schools based on their average distinctions per candidate and how much they cost per year in school fees.

Note: we looked at the most expensive schools in South Africa and how they compared academically. Schools with a yearly fee of over R100,000 were considered. 

The top girls’ schools 

# School Location Average distinctions 2023 fees
1 Roedean Johannesburg, Gauteng 4.64 R191 181
2 St Cyprian’s School Cape Town, Western Cape 3.90 R148 900
3 Durban Girls’ College Durban, KwaZulu-Natal 3.70 R140 800
4 St Mary’s Waverly Johannesburg, Gauteng 3.58 R176 640
5 St Andrew’s Senderwood Johannesburg, Gauteng 3.26 R161 095
6 Kingsmead College Johannesburg, Gauteng 3.23 R170 365
7 Brescia House Johannesburg, Gauteng 3.20 R148 105
8 St Mary’s DSG Kloof Kloof, KwaZulu-Natal 3.03 R146 820
9 St Stithians Girls College Johannesburg, Gauteng 3.03 R161 480
10 St Anne’s Diocesan College Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal 3.02 R147 060

The top boys’ schools

# School Location Average distinctions 2023 fees
1 St John’s College Johannesburg, Gauteng 3.10 R194 148
2 Hilton Hilton, KwaZulu-Natal 2.43 R369 920*
3 St Benedict’s College Johannesburg, Gauteng 2.41 R150 670
4 MichaelHouse Balgowan, KwaZulu-Natal 2.30 R347 680*
5 St David’s Marist Inanda Johannesburg, Gauteng 2.13 R160 230
6 Kearsney Botha’s Hill, KwaZulu-Natal 2.00 R224 620
7 St Alban’s College Johannesburg, Gauteng 1.85 R174 750
8 Clifton School Durban, KwaZulu-Natal 1.80 R179 119
9 St Stithians Boys College Johannesburg, Gauteng 1.70 R161 480
10 Andrew’s College Makhanda, Eastern Cape 1.50 R152 364

* These schools are boarding schools, which reflects higher fees than those that offer day schooling. 

The top co-educational schools 

# School Location Average distinctions 2023 fees
1= King David Linksfield Johannesburg, Gauteng 3.80 R174 360
1= Somerset College Stellenbosch, Western Cape 3.80 R141 300
3 Herzlia High School Cape Town, Western Cape 3.70 R148 800
4 SAHETI Johannesburg, Gauteng 3.60 R159 115
5 Crawford College Sandton Johannesburg, Gauteng 3.48 R178 000
6 Redhill School Johannesburg, Gauteng 3.40 R162 500
7 Crawford College La Lucia Durban, KwaZulu-Natal 3.02 R165 000
8 De La Salle Holy Cross College Johannesburg, Gauteng 2.80 R111 540
9 Oakhill School Garden Route, Western Cape 2.51 R128 065
10 Crawford College Lonehill Johannesburg, Gauteng 2.46 R162 000

[The article has been updated to include more schools]

Read: School fee warning for South Africa

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