The best way of making one’s children hold on to one’s fortune is to educate them well so that they can manage their responsibilities. David Turner looks at 10 highly regarded schools
Cathedral & John Connon School | India
This large co-ed day institution—it has 1,960 pupils—is modelled, in some ways, on English public schools. Its system of four “houses”—tribal groupings which compete with each other in sport and are supposed to inculcate a strong sense of loyalty—is based on the English public school system.
“School first, house next, self last”, goes the school song, as the institution proudly notes. However, the curriculum is a combination of international and Indian rather than English, with pupils able to study for the international baccalaureate, international GCSEs and Indian qualifications. Academic standards are high—the school is generally judged among the best in India. The school’s Latin motto means Studies Maketh Famous—seemingly appropriate, given the number of distinguished alumni.Fees INR 90,000 ($1,314) per year Former alumni Tata, Godrej and Bajaj families Contact cathedral-school.com
Choate Rosemary Hall | US
Ivanka Trump, daughter of US president-elect Donald Trump, lamented that boarding at Choate Rosemary School was like being in a “prison”, while her friends in New York were “having fun”. This complaint might just easily be seen by wealthy families as a ringing endorsement, given the temptations available to a next-generation pupil with a combination of youth and money.
The bulk of pupils still board, though there are day pupils. The Choate Rosemary method is certainly successful, given its strong record in elite US college admissions—but, as with other elite American and British private schools, this has a lot to do with the quality of the student body, given that the school accepts under one-fifth of applicants.
The school’s success in securing donations from alumni is reflected both in its needs-blind admissions policy, as with Phillips Andover, and in its top-class facilities. In 2012, it began work on a $17 million facility for applied maths, computer science, and robotics. Like Phillips Andover, this is a very sporty school, and to a high standard; for example, four recent women’s ice hockey Team USA Olympians went here. Students study for US qualifications.
Fees Boarding $54,980, day pupils $42,330 Former alumni President John F Kennedy, the Mellon family, Ivanka Trump Contact choate.edu
Collège Alpin International Beau Soleil | Switzerland
This co-educational boarding school, based in an Alpine ski resort, is a much cosier institution than most rivals, with only 230 pupils. There is considerable focus on the great outdoors, for example, every year some students climb Mt Kilimanjaro in Africa, and in 2009 the entire school embarked on a 12-day Mediterranean cruise to celebrate 100 years of Beau Soleil. There is also a strong focus on instilling a caring attitude: the school owns orphanages around the world, and visits these as part of humanitarian expeditions. Beau Soleil has an international flavour—its pupils are from 45 different countries—but with some influences from British boarding education. Illustrating this, the latest head has been principal of two Chinese schools, but began his teaching career at Winchester College, Britain’s oldest public school. Pupils finish at the college with qualifications either in the French or the international baccalaureate.
Fees CHF98,500 ($97,259) Former alumni Hermès family, Luxembourg royal family, Princess Marie of Denmark Contact site.beausoleil.ch
Eton College | England
Arguably the most famous school in the world, Eton is one of a handful of single-sex boys’ boarding schools left in the UK. It has remained slightly grander even than the many other great British public schools (the rather confusing British term for private schools) since it was founded by King Henry VI in 1440.
Eton produces people at the top of an extremely wide variety of professions, including politics, business, the Church (the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is an Old Etonian), and acting. However, one of Eton’s strengths is also one of its hurdles, for ultra-high net worth (UHNW) individuals. From the 1970s the college became academically selective, ending its policy whereby the sons of Old Etonians could get in almost automatically. For this reason, even wealthy families who select this school just outside London as their preferred choice also have to consider other options.
Standard alternatives for parents preferring English boarding education with children of other wealthy families are the boys’ boarding schools Radley College (though this is also hard to get into) and Harrow School, with Stowe School, which has a strong record in educating entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson and a member of the Murdoch family, as a fall back option that educates an extremely wide range of abilities. As well as being rather grander, Eton’s pupil base is also different from the typical British boarding school in another way: it has a relatively smaller number of foreign pupils than most. However, many overseas parents see this as an advantage, as it forces their children to integrate fully into the school, rather than sticking to a particular national clique. Most pupils study for two types of English qualification: the A-Level and the pre-U.
Fees £37,062 ($46,069) per year Former alumni David Cameron, Boris Johnson, Prince William, Bruno Schroder, the Cazenoves, the Earls of Shaftesbury Contact etoncollege.com
Francis Holland School | England
This is in fact two girls’ day schools, governed by the Francis Holland Schools Trust, both conveniently situated close to the homes of many wealthy families: Francis Holland, Regent’s Park, and Francis Holland, Chelsea. Academic results are good, rather than excellent—the Regent’s Park school came 87th in the Daily Telegraph’s 2016 league table of British private schools, for example—so UNHW families with very scholarly children may wish to consider two highly academic, but also highly selective schools: St Paul’s Girls’ and Wycombe Abbey. The facilities are also not as good as in some schools educating girls far outside London, such as Millfield. However, the schools educate the daughters of a large chunk of the London elite.
Arts provision is of an excellent standard: Britain’s Good Schools Guide has remarked on the “outstandingly high quality” of its arts, history and modern foreign languages departments. Pupils study for A-Levels, the main English qualification for school leavers.
Fees Sloane Square £19,170 ($23,835), Regent’s Park £18,390 ($22,865), both per year Former alumni Ecclestone family, Jemima Khan (née Goldsmith) Contact fhs-sw1.org.uk
Geelong Grammar School | Australia
Australia has a thriving system of private schools, taking a large number of overseas pupils from throughout Asia as well as children from the home country, which are, like the grandest Indian schools, largely modelled on England’s institutions. The most popular of these is probably Geelong Grammar, which has long recruited its heads from within the English public school system: John Lewis, head from 1980 to 1994, left to become headmaster of Eton, and the current head, Stephen Meek, was previously head of Hurstpierpoint College in Sussex. The school, located in the town of Geelong in Victoria, offers the international baccalaureate. Great stress is placed on self-reliance: Prince Charles attended the Timbertop campus, a rural outpost where students have to take care of themselves by chopping wood for the furnace, as well as engaging in outdoor pursuits including hiking, canoeing, and rafting. These days, students camp at Timbertop for about 50 nights a year.
Fees AUD$32,000 per year ($23,849) Former alumni Charles, Prince of Wales, Rupert Murdoch, Kerry Packer, Sultan of Terengganu Contact ggs.vic.edu.au
Harrow School | England
Situated in an inner London suburb, this boys-only boarding school educates a mixture of the British aristocracy, the children of British business people and bankers, and overseas pupils, including a particularly large number from China and a smattering of royal families.
Under a highly effective head, Barnaby Lenon, who retired in 2011 after a 12-year stint, the school recovered from a decline in prestige and performance, particularly relative to the many excellent London schools educating day pupils.
Academically, the ability level of the average entrant is much lower than that of its rival, Eton, but the school performs well in UK exam league tables, suggesting a high quality of education. The school has historically kept a close eye on pupils to ensure that despite the large proportion of foreign pupils, it remains a completely English-speaking school, rather than a collection of isolated groups of boys speaking Mandarin, Russian, and so on. In common with many British public schools, Harrow has set up international schools, including Harrow International School Hong Kong, which has overtaken long-established schools to become the most sought after school for wealthy local families. Pupils study for A-Levels, the main English qualification for school leavers.
Fees £37,350 ($46,439) per year Former alumni Winston Churchill, 6th Duke of Westminster, Oppenheimer family, various children of wealthy Chinese families, such as Bo Xilai Contact harrowschool.org.uk
Institut Le Rosey | Switzerland
This co-educational boarding school, educating 400 children from eight to 18 in Rolle, northeast of Geneva, has educated many royals from around the world. However, it is far from a playground for princes and princesses. All students must pass academic tests, including an entrance exam, and file a record of achievement at their previous school, which leads to the rejection of the vast bulk of applicants.
This is most of all a school for wealthy European families—the continent accounts for 60% of pupils—but there are children of 68 nationalities from all over the world studying at present. Facilities include a private equestrian centre housing 30 horses, an indoor riding school, a dressage area, and a sailing centre. The winter term is spent in Gstaad, so that children can ski in the afternoon. This is not the best school for families who want their children to mix with a socially diverse range of pupils, given the fees and the dearth of a large number of pupils from ordinary backgrounds on generous scholarships, as at Eton or Harrow, for example.
However, the school does not insulate its pupils too much from the outside world—students helped at a refugee camp in Greece. Pupils finish school with qualifications either in the French or the international baccalaureate, and can choose whether to take individual subjects in French or English. Up to 30% win entry to top US or UK universities, with the latest crop of school leavers going on to universities such as Princeton, Yale, and Cambridge.
Fees CHF114,614 ($113,000) per year Former alumni Rothschilds, Princess Zahra Aga Khan, Khashoggi family Contact rosey.ch
Keio Shonan-Fujisawa High School | Japan
This co-educational day school, commonly known as Keio SFC, is a highly academic institution linked to Keio University, one of Japan’s most prestigious universities. It has a strong record of producing future top company executives, bankers, and entrepreneurs. Students who have won entry to Keio SFC are entitled to pass automatically to the university, with 99% choosing to do so.
In fact, students who have passed the exam to get into the elementary school, which begins at the age of seven, are generally allowed into the junior high school at the age of 12. For families keen on maximising the chances of entry into the university, this means enrolling their children at crammers, known as juku, at the age of five or earlier, so that they can prepare for the elementary school exam. This phenomenon, found elsewhere in Japan, is known as the “escalator school” system. Keio SFC is, more than almost any other Japanese school, appropriate for the children of families who have returned from abroad, though the syllabus is Japanese rather than international. Such children can find it hard to re-enter Japan’s high school system, which is generally rather inflexible and conformist, but about a quarter of Keio SFC pupils have lived overseas.
Ultra-wealthy parents interested in maximising the chances of a child entering Japanese politics or upper-class society might consider the less academically selective Gakushuin School, which educates the royal family, members of the court, and scions of political families such as former prime minister Taro Aso.
Fees JPY895,120 ($7,917) per year Former alumni Toyoda family (founders of Toyota Motor Corporation) Contact keio.ac.jp/en/academics/affiliated-schools
Phillips Andover Academy | US
Phillips Andover Academy, founded in 1778, two years after the American Declaration of Independence, is a pillar of the American establishment. It is steeped in history in a way that few American schools are: its oldest remaining building, a dormitory, dates back to 1789, and it has educated many of history’s great Americans, as well as the children of many well-known dynasties, including wealthy political families such as the Bushes and Kennedys.
However, it is far from just being a rich kids’ school: like the great English public schools, it has an endowment that enables it to take a large number of talented children from lower-income families, many of whom go on to hold positions within America’s elite. It also has an ethnically diverse mix. The co-educational institution pursues, in fact, a policy of needs-blind admissions—it is able to accept pupils on the basis of ability regardless of income.
Phillips Andover is a highly successful feeder school for the top US Ivy League universities, as one might expect of a highly selective academy. In 2013 it received 3,029 applications and accepted 13%. The school takes its sports extremely seriously, with a strong rowing team, for example. Pupils study for US qualifications.
Fees Boarding $52,100, day $40,500 Former alumni the Bushes, the Kennedys, Prince Rahim Aga Khan, Humphrey Bogart Contact andover.edu