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.

The 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 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 and encourage them to be self-disciplined, ambitious and curious. There are independent 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, while 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 some of the best provision in the country.

Many schools have very strong track records of high achievement at sport, offering a wide range of facilities and excellent coaches. 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 201847% of A-level subjects taken at independent schools were graded A*/A - this is almost double the national average of 26.4%. This year also saw nearly two thirds of independent school GCSE entries being awarded an A/7 or higher, three times the national average. This is especially impressive given the fact a third of ISC schools offering GCSEs are not academically selective. In 2018, figures demonstrated more students are following different pathways post-GCSE. There was an increase in candidates taking the Extended Project Qualification, Pre-U and BTEC qualifications compared to 2017. The average points score for pupils taking the IB Diploma was 36, roughly equivalent to 4.5 As at A-level. In the International Baccalaureate, 2% of pupils obtained 45 points, the highest mark, which is only achieved by 0.3% of candidates worldwide.

Fee Assistance

Independent schools are very mindful that hard working families can find it difficult to pay school fees. Affordability is of course a concern for schools and they work hard to remain competitive whilst facing pressures on salaries, pensions and maintenance and utility costs. Schools are strongly committed to widening access and have made strenuous efforts to increase the amount they can offer in bursaries. This year almost £400m was provided in means-tested fee assistance for pupils at ISC schools. Currently a third of pupils at our schools benefit from reduced fees.

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).

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