The Independent Schools Council

ISC logo

The Independent Schools Council (ISC) works with its members to promote and preserve the quality, diversity and excellence of UK independent education both at home and abroad

What is the ISC?

The ISC brings together seven associations of independent schools, their heads, bursars and governors.

Through our member associations we represent more than 1,300 independent schools in the UK and overseas. These schools are ranked among the best in the world and educate more than half a million children each year.

ISC’s work is carried out by a small number of dedicated professionals in our offices in Central London. We are assisted by the contributions from expert advisory groups in specialist areas. Our priorities are set by the board of directors led by our Chairman, Barnaby Lenon. We are tasked by our members to protect and promote the sector in everything we do.

ISC schools

ISC schools are at the forefront of educational achievement in every way. They are the most academically successful schools and offer excellent teaching, extensive facilities and an astonishing breadth of co-curricular activities. There are schools to suit every need, whether you want a day or boarding school, single sex or co-education, a large or a small school, or schools offering specialisms, such as in the Arts.

Our schools are very diverse: some of our schools are selective and highly academic, offering a chance to stretch the bright child. Others have very strong drama or music departments full of creative opportunities in plays, orchestras and choirs. For children with special needs such as dyslexia or autism there are many outstanding independent schools that offer the best provision in the country.

And of course, our schools have very strong track records of high achievement at sport, offering superb facilities, excellent coaches and a full fixture list. Independent schools excel at the traditional sports like football and rugby, but also offer more unusual sports like rowing, fencing and even rock climbing.

There is also a wealth of co-curricular opportunity available. Whether your child is into debating, sailing, the Model United Nations or is interested in army training in the Combined Cadet Force, most schools offer numerous clubs and activities. It all adds up to an exciting, broad and stimulating all-round education.

Academic results

In 2017 47.9% of A-level subjects taken at independent schools were graded A*/A - this is almost double the national average of 26.3%. This year also saw nearly two thirds of independent school GCSE entries being awarded an A*/A or 9/8/7, three times the national average. This is especially impressive given many fee-charging schools are not academically selective. In 2017, there was an increase in Year 13 candidates taking Extended Project, Pre-U, and BTEC qualifications. The average points score for pupils taking the IB Diploma was 37, roughly equivalent to 4.5 As at A-level. In the International Baccalaureate, 3.7% of pupils obtained 45 points, the highest mark, which is only achieved by 0.1% of candidates worldwide.

Fee Assistance

ISC schools are sympathetic to the financial challenges facing many parents and the amount of bursaries and scholarships available has grown to reflect this. A third of pupils receive fee assistance, the value of this help totals over £900m.

ISC Associations

There are seven member associations of ISC each with its own distinctive ethos reflected in their entrance criteria and quality assurance:

Girls’ Schools Association (GSA)
Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC) 
Independent Association of Prep Schools (IAPS)
Independent Schools Association (ISA)
The Society of Heads
Association of Governing Bodies of Independent Schools (AGBIS)
Independent Schools’ Bursars Association (ISBA) –

Further organisations who are affiliated to ISC: Boarding Schools Association (BSA), Council of British International Schools (COBIS), Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS) and Welsh Independent Schools Council (WISC).

The Independent Schools Council can be contacted at:
First Floor,
27 Queen Anne’s Gate,
Telephone: 020 7766 7070
Fax: 020 7766 7071