12 Best Private Schools in Devon 2023 – Elite Education

Devon, a picturesque county in England’s southwest, is renowned for its stunning coastline, lush countryside, and the quality of its educational institutions.  Among these, the private schools stand out for their tradition of excellence, offering world-class curricular and extracurricular programs.

If you’re considering giving your child a top-notch education in Devon, this list will guide you through 13 of the best private schools the county has to offer.

1. Exeter School, Exeter

Founded in the 17th century, Exeter School holds a longstanding reputation for academic excellence. Its rich history seamlessly blends with modern teaching methodologies, making it a sought-after choice for many parents.

This establishment’s expansive grounds house state-of-the-art facilities, including science labs, a music school, and extensive sports fields. Moreover, with a commitment to nurturing holistic development, Exeter School encourages students to partake in a diverse range of extracurricular activities.

Alumni frequently attest to the rigorous academic training and the life skills they’ve acquired, making it clear that the school is dedicated to producing well-rounded individuals prepared for global challenges.

2. Blundell’s School, Tiverton

Blundell’s, founded in 1604, is one of the country’s oldest institutions, and it prides itself on balancing tradition with a forward-thinking approach to education. Their belief in ‘A Tradition of Innovation’ resonates in every aspect of school life.

The academic curriculum at Blundell’s is robust, but there is an equal emphasis on character building, with students being encouraged to engage in community service, sports, and the arts.

Their boarding facilities are top-notch, giving students from diverse backgrounds a home away from home, fostering a true sense of community and lifelong friendships.

3. Maynard School, Exeter

Maynard School, one of the leading independent girls’ schools in the UK, boasts an impressive record of academic achievement. It’s a place where young women are empowered to excel academically, socially, and personally.

Emphasizing smaller class sizes, Maynard ensures individual attention, tailoring teaching to suit each student’s needs. Moreover, their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) program is exemplary, encouraging more girls to venture into these traditionally male-dominated fields.

Beyond the classroom, the school has a vibrant performing arts scene, sports programs, and a myriad of clubs, ensuring that every student finds her passion and pursues it wholeheartedly.

4. Mount Kelly, Tavistock

Mount Kelly, set against the backdrop of Dartmoor National Park, is not just known for its scenic location but also its commitment to providing a holistic education. The school serves both day pupils and boarders.

With its strong emphasis on leadership and personal development, Mount Kelly instills confidence and resilience in its students. They’re encouraged to take on challenges, whether that’s in the classroom, on the sports field, or during outdoor expeditions.

Their swimming program deserves special mention. With Olympic-standard facilities and coaching, many students have gone on to compete at national and international levels.

5. St Peter’s Preparatory School, Lympstone

A top preparatory school, St Peter’s provides an idyllic setting for younger children to flourish. With a nurturing environment, this establishment ensures the formative years of education are filled with joy and wonder.

The curriculum is meticulously designed to foster curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking. Their forest school, in particular, allows children to engage with nature, learning through hands-on experiences.

Emphasizing the ‘St Peter’s Journey,’ the school nurtures not just academic prowess but also personal values, ensuring children grow into compassionate, confident, and articulate individuals.

6. Shebbear College, Beaworthy

Tucked away in the beautiful North Devon countryside, Shebbear College is a gem of a school that provides both day and boarding facilities. It’s a place where tradition meets modernity.

Their academic programs are commendable, but what truly sets them apart is the emphasis on character development. Students are taught the importance of integrity, empathy, and service to the community.

With an extensive range of extracurricular activities, from drama to debating, sports to music, every student finds an avenue to showcase their talents and hone their skills.

7. Plymouth College, Plymouth

A leading co-educational day and boarding school, Plymouth College has been at the forefront of education in Devon for over a century. They’re dedicated to nurturing well-rounded individuals.

Their academic achievements are laudable, but it’s the holistic education that stands out. With a robust pastoral care system, students’ well-being is always a priority. An added feather in their cap is the school’s exceptional sports program.

From athletics to swimming, many Plymouth students have represented the school at national and even Olympic levels.

8. West Buckland School, Barnstaple

West Buckland School, set on a sprawling 90-acre campus, offers a world of opportunities for its students. The school, established in the 19th century, has been a bastion of academic excellence.

Apart from the regular curriculum, the school offers the prestigious Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, instilling leadership qualities and resilience in its participants. The Arts are highly celebrated here, with students regularly showcasing their talents in drama, music, and art exhibitions, making West Buckland a hub of creativity.

9. Trinity School, Teignmouth

Overlooking the Teign Estuary, Trinity School is a co-educational day and boarding school that holds a rich legacy of education since its establishment in the 19th century. Offering both GCSE and A-Level programs, Trinity ensures academic excellence.

Their small class sizes ensure that every student gets personalized attention. Extracurricular activities are manifold, from sports to performing arts. The school’s commitment to nurturing all-round development ensures that every student leaves with not just academic knowledge but also invaluable life skills.

10. Stover School, Newton Abbot

Situated amidst the serene Devon countryside, Stover School offers a perfect blend of academic rigor and pastoral care. Their mission is to produce individuals who are academically curious and socially responsible.

The school’s rich curriculum is complemented by a range of extracurriculars. Be it the arts, sports, or community service, Stover ensures that its students get a holistic education. What truly sets Stover apart is its commitment to environmental sustainability, fostering a deep respect for nature among its pupils.

11. South Devon Steiner School, Totnes

Breaking away from the conventional, South Devon Steiner School offers a unique pedagogy based on the principles of Rudolf Steiner. It’s a place where education is seen as an art. The curriculum here is designed to nurture the head, heart, and hands.

Subjects are taught in an interdisciplinary manner, weaving connections between different areas of knowledge. The school environment, with its emphasis on creativity, ensures that students develop a love for learning, growing into free-thinking individuals ready to take on the world.

12. Kingsley School, Bideford

Kingsley School, with its motto “Achievement for All,” truly lives up to its words. Situated in Bideford, it provides a nurturing environment for both day and boarding students. The school boasts a strong academic program, but it’s the individual attention that truly makes a difference.

Every student is seen as unique, and the teaching is tailored to suit their needs. Their co-curricular activities are varied, from chess clubs to choirs, ensuring that every student finds their niche and thrives.


Why is Devon considered a hub for private education?

Devon offers a unique blend of serene natural landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and a tradition of educational excellence.

This environment provides students with an enriching backdrop for both academic pursuits and holistic personal development, making the county a prime location for prestigious private schools.

Are scholarships and bursaries available at these private schools?

Yes, many private schools in Devon offer scholarships and bursaries based on academic excellence, sporting prowess, and other talents.  It’s advisable to check directly with each establishment’s admissions office for specific details and eligibility criteria.

How do private schools in Devon compare with those in other parts of the UK?

They are renowned for maintaining high standards of education, similar to other top schools throughout the UK.  What sets them apart is their idyllic locations, often near scenic spots like Dartmoor National Park or the Devon coastline, offering students a unique environment for learning and personal growth.

Are international students common in Devon’s private schools?

Yes, given the reputation of private schools in Devon, they attract students not only from across the UK but also from around the world.  This international diversity enhances the cultural richness of the community, offering students global perspectives.

How do these schools promote personal growth outside of academics?

Beyond their robust academic curriculum, private schools in Devon emphasize character-building, leadership, and community service.  Extracurricular activities ranging from the arts, sports, and outdoor expeditions to clubs and societies ensure that students develop varied interests and skills.

Is boarding a popular option in these schools?

Many private schools in Devon offer boarding facilities, and it is a popular option for both UK-based and international students.  Boarding provides students with a sense of community, fostering deeper friendships and promoting independence and resilience.

Final Words

Devon, with its rich array of private schools, offers diverse options for parents seeking quality education for their children.  Each school, with its unique ethos and pedagogy, ensures that students get the best of both worlds – academic excellence and personal growth.

When it comes to providing a solid foundation for your child’s future, Devon’s private schools are second to none. We’ve also recently written about Hampshire and whether or not it is a good place to live, so make sure to check it out.