2023 matric results: Top-performing private schools in South Africa

 ·21 Jan 2024

Despite their costly tuition fees, private schools in South Africa are known for their prestige and excellent results year-on-year – but some are the cream of the crop.

The perception that private schools provide a superior education is why many parents opt to send their children to these schools in South Africa.

Private schools generally offer 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 2023 matric results, with the Department of Basic Education publishing the final National Senior Certificate results for the matric year showing a 2.8 percentage point increase in the pass rate to 82.9%.

Reaching above this, on Thursday (18 January), the IEB announced an overall pass rate of 98.46% for its 2023 National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations – a slight uptick from the 98.4% recorded in 2022.

The IEB and its board congratulated the matric class of 2023 and extended congratulations to their teachers, parents, guardians, and all those who supported the learners in their studies.

Interestingly, all the top 10 independent girls’ schools on this list achieved more distinctions per candidate than almost all the top boy’s schools – with the exception of St John’s College.

The same is true for most of the co-educational schools – with the top six achieving over 3 distinctions per candidate, on average.

St John’s College topped the all-boys schools, reporting an average of 4.13 distinctions per candidate – topping the list of all top-performing private schools in the country.

Hilton College followed this in second with 2.8 distinctions and St Benedict’s College in third with 2.25.

Comparatively, Roedean School for Girls and Kingsmead College tied as the top achievers among the all-girls schools – reporting an impressive 3.8 distinctions per candidate.

This was followed by St Andrew’s Senderwood (3.7) and St Mary’s Waverly (3.7), tied in second place and Durban Girls’ College (3.6), which make up the top five girls’ schools.

Co-educational schools also produced some notable results, with SAHETI and Redhill School topping the lot with an average of 4 distinctions per candidate. Crawford College Sandton is third with 3.7 distinctions, while Herzlia High School (3.50) and King David Linksfield (3.36) rounded out the top five.

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. St John’s College – all-boys
  2. SAHETI – co-educational
  3. Redhill School – co-educational
  4. Roedean – all-girls
  5. Kingsmead College – all-girls
  6. Crawford College Sandton – co-educational
  7. St Andrew’s Senderwood – all-girls
  8. St Mary’s Waverly – all-girls
  9. Durban Girls’ College – all-girls
  10. Herzlia High School – co-educational

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. Due to the large number of IEB schools across South Africa, well-known schools with some of the highest fees – with a yearly fee of over R130,000 – were considered. 

The top girls’ schools 

#SchoolLocationAverage distinctions
1=RoedeanJohannesburg, Gauteng3.80
1=Kingsmead CollegeJohannesburg, Gauteng3.80
2=St Andrew’s SenderwoodJohannesburg, Gauteng3.70
2=St Mary’s WaverlyJohannesburg, Gauteng3.70
5Durban Girls’ CollegeDurban, KwaZulu-Natal3.60
6St Stithians Girls CollegeJohannesburg, Gauteng3.28
7=Diocesan School for GirlsMakhanda, Eastern Cape3.20
7=St Cyprian’s SchoolCape Town, Western Cape3.20
9St Mary’s DSG KloofKloof, KwaZulu-Natal3.10
10St Anne’s Diocesan CollegePietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal2.95

The top boys’ schools

#SchoolLocationAverage distinctions
1St John’s CollegeJohannesburg, Gauteng4.13
2HiltonHilton, KwaZulu-Natal2.80
3St Benedict’s CollegeJohannesburg, Gauteng2.25
4St Stithians Boys CollegeJohannesburg, Gauteng2.13
5St David’s Marist InandaJohannesburg, Gauteng2.10
6St Alban’s CollegePretoria, Gauteng2.05
7MichaelHouseBalgowan, KwaZulu-Natal2.00
8Clifton SchoolDurban, KwaZulu-Natal1.89
9St Andrew’s CollegeMakhanda, Eastern Cape1.80

The top co-educational schools 

#SchoolLocationAverage distinctions
1=SAHETIJohannesburg, Gauteng4.00
1=Redhill SchoolJohannesburg, Gauteng4.00
3Crawford College SandtonJohannesburg, Gauteng3.70
4Herzlia High SchoolCape Town, Western Cape3.50
5King David LinksfieldJohannesburg, Gauteng3.36
6Deutsche Internationale SchuleJohannesburg, Gauteng3.35
7Crawford College La LuciaDurban, KwaZulu-Natal3.29
8Somerset CollegeStellenbosch, Western Cape3.20
9Reddam House WaterfallJohannesburg, Gauteng3.15
10Crawford College LonehillJohannesburg, Gauteng2.49
11Cornwall Hill CollegeCenturion, Gauteng2.40

[This article has been updated to include more schools]

Read: School fee warning for South Africa

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