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 approximately 1,400 independent schools in the UK and overseas, which educate more than half a million children. 

The ISC’s work is carried out by a small team of dedicated professionals in central London. We are assisted by contributions from expert advisory groups in specialist areas. Our priorities are set by the board of directors led by our chairman, Barnaby Lenon.

ISC schools

Schools in membership of the ISC’s constituent associations offer a high quality, rounded education. Whilst our schools are very academically successful, their strength also lies in the extra-curricular activities offered, helping to nurture pupils’ soft skills. There are independent schools to suit every need, whether you want a day or boarding school, singlesex or co-education, a large or a small school, or schools offering specialisms, such as in the arts.

Our schools are very diverse: some are selective and highly academic, while others have very strong drama or music departments full of creative opportunities. For children with special needs there are many outstanding independent schools that offer some of the best provision in the country.

Many schools have high levels of achievement in sport, offering a wide range of facilities and excellent coaches. Independent schools excel at traditional sports like football and rugby, but also offer more unusual sports like rowing and fencing.

There is also a wealth of co-curricular opportunities available. Whether your child is into debating, sailing, or the Model United Nations, most schools offer numerous clubs and activities.

Fee assistance

Schools take affordability very seriously and are acutely aware of the sacrifices families make when choosing an independent education. Schools work hard to remain competitive whilst facing pressures on salaries, pensions and maintenance and utility costs. They are strongly committed to widening access and many schools have extended their bursary provision – this year, the amount of means-tested fee assistance has risen to a total of £494m. Over 180,000 pupils currently benefit from reduced fees, representing over a third of pupils at our schools.

School partnerships

Independent and state schools have been engaged in partnership activity for many years, with the majority of ISC schools currently involved in important cross-sector initiatives. These collaborations involve the sharing of expertise, best practice and facilities, and unlock exciting new opportunities for all involved. To learn more about these valuable partnerships, visit the Schools Together website:

ISC Associations

There are seven member associations of the ISC, each with a distinctive ethos in their respective 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 the ISC: Boarding Schools Association (BSA), Council of British International Schools (COBIS), Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS) and Welsh Independent Schools Council (WISC).

Contact details:

First Floor,
27 Queen Anne’s Gate,

Telephone: 020 7766 7070