10 Most Expensive Private Schools in South Africa

South Africa is home to many expensive schools like Hilton College, St John’s College, and St Mary School – to mention a few. Some of the world’s most expensive private educational institutions are also the best. As such, most parents believe that an expensive school has more to offer. 

The minimum amount of fees for students in one of the top 10 expensive private schools in South Africa is R259,000, and the maximum is R343,155. All the schools that make up our list of expensive South African private schools strive to ensure that parents and their wards get value for every dime they spend on education with them.

Expensive Private Schools In South Africa

The most expensive private schools in South Africa are also some of the oldest schools in the country. Most of these schools are affiliated with Christianity and were founded by clergymen and women. They are also mainly boarding single-sex schools. Most of these schools use the Independent Examinations Board (IEB) curriculum and are some of the best schools in their region and South Africa.

Education is expensive, but how expensive can it be in South Africa? Here are the top 10 most expensive private schools in South Africa and what you should know about their structure and history.

1. Hilton College

  • Year Founded: January 29, 1872
  • Founder: Gould Arthur Lucas and Reverend William Orde Newnham
  • Location: KwaZulu-Natal Midlands
  • Type: Boarding
  • Gender: Male
  • Curriculum: Bespoke and semesterized
  • Age Range: 14 to 19

Hilton College was founded in 1872 by Gould Arthur Lucas and Reverend William Orde Newnham and has remained top on the list of the most expensive private schools in South Africa with an annual tuition fee of R343,155. This fee covers boarding facility, food, tuition, games, library, minor medical attention, use of sanatorium, and laundry.

Aside from the annual tuition fee, Hilton College charges a consolidated fee of R450 every term. This fee covers payment for laundry bags, minor duplicating costs, sunscreen, newspapers, and limited equipment maintenance. However, if your child is selected for a competition or tour, this fee doesn’t cover it.

Hilton College is an only boys boarding school with over 500 students and five different years or forms of study referred to as ‘Form 1 to Form 5’. Form 1 is the entry-level class and is equivalent to Grade 8. Boys in this class are usually about 14 years old. While form 5 is regarded as the matric class, boys in this class are usually between the age of 17 to 19.

The curriculum of Hilton College is bespoke and semesterized. The curriculum structure uses the educational best practices within South Africa and across the world. Over the years, Hilton College has proven that the cost of being a student at Hilton is worth it, seeing that they have produced more than 20 Rhodes scholars and about two Elsie Ballot scholars.

After their matriculation, some of their students make it to study at some of the most renowned universities in the world, like Havard and Princeton University. Some of the notable men that attended Hilton College include Paul Maritz, the former Vice president of Microsoft and CEO of VMware, and Robert-Falcon Ouellette, a Canadian politician.

2. MichaelHouse

  • Year Founded: 1896
  • Founder: James Cameron Todd
  • Location: Balgowan, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
  • Type: Boarding
  • Gender: Male
  • Curriculum: IEB Curriculum
  • Age Range: 13 to 18

Michaelhouse is very similar to Hilton College as they are the only two remaining ‘only boys’ private boarding schools in the country and have been in a friendly rivalry since 1904. This private boarding school for boys was established in 1896 by James Cameron Todd, an Anglican Canon. Michaelhouse started with just fifteen boys in two small houses on Loop Street.

From the onset of Michaelhouse, its co-founder James Cameron Todd had a clear vision of what he wanted the school to be. He believed that a man’s moral, intellectual and spiritual tone has much to do with his school life. As such, he worked towards creating a school whose core values include: Integrity, service to community and country, humility, courage, and compassion.

The annual tuition fee of Michaelhouse is R328,000. However, parents who pay in advance will get a 3% discount and will only have to pay R316,520. It is noteworthy to add that this fee does not include charges for books, stationeries, and personal purchases.

The different years or forms in Michaelhouse are referred to as blocks E to A. Block E is equivalent to grade 8. The boys in this block are usually between the age of 13 to 14. On the other hand, Block A is equivalent to grade 12; the boys in this block are generally between the age of 17 to 18.

Each grade has about 5 classes, and each class has about 22 students. About 70% of the teachers in this school are men. Michaelhouse has produced more than 30 Rhodes scholars and 10 Elsie Ballot scholars. Some of the notable alumni of Michaelhouse include Rennie Airth (a novelist), Sir Rupert Bromley, 10th Bt. (Businessman and Rhodes Scholar), and David H.M.Brooks (philosopher and author).

3. St Andrew’s College

  • Year Founded: 1855
  • Founder: The Rt. Rev. John Armstrong, Bishop of Grahamstown
  • Location: Somerset Street, Makhanda, Eastern Cape, South Africa
  • Type: Semi-boarding
  • Gender: Male
  • Curriculum: IEB Curriculum
  • Age Range: 14 to 18

St Andrew’s College is a Christian semi-boarding school located in Eastern Cape, South Africa. The school was founded in 1855 and was incorporated by an act of Cape Parliament in September 1887. According to this act, the school’s internal economy and discipline is entrusted to the principal, who must be a clergyman.

The boarding house comprises six houses: Upper, Espin, Armstrong, Merriman, Graham, and Mullins. Some students whose parents do not want their children in the boarding facility are day students. Grade 8-12 Boys in St Andrew’s College who are boarders pay an annual tuition fee of 320,064 while day students pay an annual tuition fee of 143,064.

The school offers three different payment methods, which include: annual, termly, or monthly payments. Parents are expected to discuss their preferred payment method with the school head. Aside from the stipulated tuition fee, parents may also be required to pay extra levies as the school demands.

St Andrew’s College uses the IEB curriculum, which is used by most private schools in South Africa. However, in 2019 the school adopted Cambridge Assessment International Education.

Some notable alumni of the school include Sir Michael Edwardes (business executive), Myles Ruck (CEO of Liberty Life), Jacko Maree (Former CEO of Standard Bank), and Antony Ball (Founder Brait Capital Partners), among others.

4. Roedean School for Girls

  • Year Founded: 1903
  • Founder: Theresa Lawrence
  • Location: Princess of Wales Terrance, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
  • Type: Boarding
  • Gender: Female
  • Curriculum: IEB Curriculum
  • Age Range: 5 to 18

Roedean School for Girls was founded in 1903 by Theresa Lawrence with the assistance of her partner, Katherine Margaret. The two ladies were graduates of the University of Cambridge. The aim of starting the school was to provide young girls with a quality education capable of being a rival to that which the boys received.

Today, Roedean School has grown to be a pioneer of education in the country. Roedean School was founded as a sister school to Roedean School in Brighton, England, founded by Theresa Lawrence’s elder sister. This school boasts of one of the country’s brightest mathematics students, Neo Leseilane, who attained a top award in the National South African Mathematical Foundation’s Olympiad.

Roedean School takes students from grade zero to grade 12. Students between grades 8 to 9 pay an annual tuition fee of R160,082, while students between grades 10 to 12 pay R176,204. The tuition fee for students between grades zero to seven ranges from R91,947 to R142,320. The tuition fee increases as the child move to a higher grade. Boarding students pay a yearly boarding fee of R134,790 and other levies for development and insurance.

Parents with outstanding children who cannot afford the school fees can apply for scholarships. This scholarship is offered by the school to students in Roedean Junior School and other schools. To be eligible for this scholarship, the student and at least one of the parents must be a citizen of South Africa, and the child must show outstanding capabilities in sport, culture, or academics.

Some notable alumni of the school include Camilla Waldman (actress), Lauren Beukes (author), and Sarah Calburn (architect).

5. St Mary’s School, Waverley

  • Year Founded: 1888
  • Founder: Rev. John T. Darragh
  • Location: 55 Athol Street, Waverley Johannesburg, Gauteng 2090, South Africa
  • Type: Boarding
  • Gender: Female
  • Curriculum: IEB Curriculum
  • Age Range: 3 to 18

St Mary’s School is the oldest in Johannesburg. It has existed for over 134 years and accepts female students from Grade 0 to grade 12. They accept both male and female students into preschool, i.e, grade 00 and grade 0. The school has an Anglican affiliation and prides itself in its ability to offer modern world-standard education.

The school’s leadership and Anglican tradition help the school remain relevant within the South African context while imbibing modern learning methods. It is noteworthy that some of the current staff at St Mary’s were former students of the school who have become highly trained educators.

Girls in this school are taught to inculcate strong values and look beyond themselves to contribute positively to any society or community they find themselves in. As of 2021, students in this school have been reported to have 100% passes and 98% Bachelor’s Degree Pass. 36% of the students pass with an average of 80%.

St Mary’s School is fully equipped with modern facilities like a computer laboratory, digital library, and science laboratory, to mention but a few. All the benefits of being a student of St Mary’s School come at the cost of R75,950, R88,900, R106,500, R120,450, and R131,250 for tuition for grades 000 to Grades 5, 6, and 7, respectively.

Senior students in form I and Form II pay 150, 150 while 600 Forms III, IV, and V pay tuition of R163,550. Students must also pay an annual boarding fee of R129 500 and a development levy of R7,500. Parents can pay up these charges annually, termly, or monthly. Some notable Alumni of St Mary’s include Cindy Brown (field hockey player), Natalie Grainger (professional female squash player), and Lize-Mari Retief (record-holding swimmer).

6. Bishops College

  • Year Founded: 1849
  • Founder: The Rt Revd Robert Gray, Bishop of Cape Town
  • Location: Camp Ground Road, Rondebosch Cape Town, Western Cape 7700, South Africa
  • Type: Boarding
  • Gender: Male
  • Curriculum: IEB Curriculum
  • Age Range: 3 to 18

Bishop Diocesan College or Diocesan College is popularly known as Bishops College across South Africa and was founded in 1849 by Rt. Rev. Robert Gray, the first Bishop of Cape Town. The school is made of three schools which include college (grades 8–12), preparatory school (grade 3-7), and pre-preparatory (grade N-2).

The college is made up of eight houses, and each house comprises 70 to 100 students. Each house is fully equipped with a common room, study room, dining room, kitchen, quad, matric room, and offices for the house head and directors. Each house is further broken into a tutor group comprising 15 to 20 boys, consisting of three or four boys from each grade.

Students from this school compete in some of the highly recognized academic competitions in the country, like the South African Mathematics Olympiad and UCT Mathematics Competition. They also participate in Eskom Science Expo and National Science Olympiads. Boys from this school take credit for some of the Top 10 results at the National Science Olympiads.

Bishop College is currently one of the top-ranked schools for matric in South Africa and one of the best schools in the Western Cape. The school offers its ex-students scholarship to study at the University of Oxford. Grade 8 to 12 students pay an annual tuition and boarding fee of about R289,700. This fee can be paid annually, termly or monthly.

It is noteworthy that this school has been plagued with some controversies regarding student and teacher misconduct. However, its good academic record has continued to speak for it. Some notable Alumni of the Bishops’ College include Tim Noakes (scientist and professor) and Gavin Relly (former Anglo-American director).

7. St Andrew’s School for Girls, Senderwood

  • Year Founded: 1902
  • Founder: Jean Fletcher and Jessie Johnson
  • Location: Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
  • Type: Boarding and day
  • Gender: Girls
  • Curriculum: IEB Curriculum
  • Age Range: 3 to 18

St Andrew’s School for Girls is a Christian-only girls’ day boarding school founded in 1902 by two Scottish women named Jean Fletcher and Jessie Johnson. The school’s motto is ‘Per Angusta Ad Augusta,’ which means ‘Through trials and tribulations to glory.’

Girls from this school take part in Independent Examinations Board examinations and have a record for having excellent results. Most students of the school continue their education in tertiary institutions within South Africa and abroad.

St Andrew’s School for Girls is made up of three schools: Preschool, Junior school, and senior school. The value proposition of this school is to provide quality education for girls and build students, staff, and facilities that can compete with some of the best in the world.

Students between grades 8 to 12 pay an annual tuition and boarding fee between R269,115 and R282,075 per year. While junior school students pay between R95,011 to R137,746.

This school prides itself as a girl’s school, stating that there are many advantages to it. The school believes that as an all-girls school, girls take center stage and are at the helm of leadership. St Andrew’s is fully equipped with sporting facilities for the following sports: tennis, squash, swimming, golf, athletes, diving, netball, rowing, equestrian, and hockey.

In 2006, St Andrew’s School for Girls joined Eco-Schools in South Africa and is currently a green flag and platinum certificate holder. Some of the notable alumni of this school include Nthati Moshesh (actress), Cathy O’Dowd (author and motivational speaker), and Sheila Kohler (author).

8. St John’s College

  • Year Founded: August 1, 1898
  • Founder: Revd John Darragh
  • Location: St David Rd, Houghton Estate Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
  • Type: Boarding
  • Gender: Male
  • Curriculum: IEB Curriculum
  • Age Range: 3 to 18

St John’s College is an Anglican day and boarding school founded in 1898 by Rev. John T. Darragh, the same clergyman who founded St Mary’s School. This school comprises five school blocks: College, preparatory, pre-preparatory, co-educational Sixth Form, and The Bridge Nursery.

This school accepts only male students from Grade 0 to 12 into Pre-Preparatory, Preparatory, and the College, then accepts both boys and girls into The Bridge Nursery School and Sixth Form. It is essential for parents to know that St John College has religious affiliation to the Anglican church and is rich in Anglican culture and practices.

The school has up to 1350 students and has an annual budget of R44 million. Between 2002 to 2015, no student of St John’s College failed the IEB test. It is noteworthy that St John’s College was ranked number 11 out of 100 best schools in Africa by Africa Almanac in 2003. Students from grades 8 to 12 pay an annual tuition fee of 179,933 and a boarding fee of 102,030, which is over R281,000.

Students will also have to pay extra levies for security, bus service, development, morning tea, lunch, etc. Parents of new wards into St John’s College will have to sign a Parent Contract. This will help the school understand the parents’ and students’ uniqueness.

9. St Alban’s College

  • Year Founded: February 1, 1963
  • Founder: Anton Murray
  • Location: 110 Clearwater Road, Lynnwood Glen Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa
  • Type: Day and Boarding
  • Gender: Male
  • Curriculum: IEB Curriculum
  • Age Range: 14 to 18

St Alban’s College was founded on February 1, 1963, by Anton Murray, a South African cricketer. The school started with just 37 boys and three teachers. Today, it has a population of up to 580 and 43 teachers and staff support. The school uses the IEB curriculum because they believe it is essential for developing learners.

Through the IEB test, they can build students who are problem solvers, ethical reasoners, critical users of information, creative, reflective, and lifelong learners. Boarding students in St Alban’s College pay an annual tuition and boarding fee of R272,850, while day students pay R155,100.

The school is in a friendly rivalry with Pretoria Boys High School, St Benedict’s College, Bedfordview, and St Stithians College. St Alban’s College offers students sports training, including cricket, swimming, archery, rowing, golf, soccer, squash, and tennis. It is noteworthy that St Alban’s chapel choir participated in World Choir Games for the first time in 2008.

The choir completed a tour around the United States in 2010. They have performed in places like Washington National Cathedral in Washington DC. St Alban’s has produced notable individuals, some of which include Roger Goode (Radio DJ), John Smith (rowing Olympics gold medalist for rowing), Jabulani Tsambo (South African hip hop artist), and Abongile Nonkontwana (professional Rugby player).

10. Kearsney College

  • Year Founded: 1921
  • Founder: Sir Liege Hulett
  • Location: 25 Old Main Rd, Bothas Hill, Outer West Durban, 3660, South Africa
  • Type: Boarding
  • Gender: Male
  • Curriculum: IEB Curriculum
  • Age Range: 14 to 18

Kearsney College was named after Kearsney, a village in Kent, England, after being founded in 1921 by Sir Liege Hulett. His aim for starting the school was to provide quality education for Methodist ministers and their sons and families in churches. The school’s motto is ‘Carpe Diem,’ which means ‘Seize the Day’ in English. The motto was inspired by a Roman Poet named Horace.

Students from grades 10 to 12 in Kearsney college choose from the following subjects: Life Sciences (Biology), Music,  Science, Mandarin, Visual Arts, Life Orientation, Accounting, Business Studies, Dramatic Art  English, Afrikaans or isiZulu, Mathematics or Mathematical Literacy, Engineering Graphics and Design, Geography, History, and Information Technology.

As of 2020, students in this school have a 100% pass rate and a 100% bachelor’s degree pass rate; you can agree that they are genuinely seizing the day. The school provides opportunities for its students to meet and interact with students from reputable schools in other countries through exchange programs. Some of such schools include Catholic University School in Ireland, Rossall School in Rossall, and Canberra Grammar School in Australia.

Boarding students of Kearsney College pay an annual tuition fee of about R259,000. Parents will have to pay an application fee of R820 to apply for their ward to become a student of the school, and the application can be made online. You can request details about all the fees and levies students must pay via the school’s official website.

Some notable alumni of Kearsney college include Professor David Hall (UN advisor, Leader in alternative energy), Henry Markram (Founder and Director of the Blue Brain Project), and Tony Leon (founder of South Africa’s Democratic Alliance), among others.

Other Notable Expensive Private Schools in South Africa

Here are some expensive private schools in South Africa that did not make it to our list of top 10 but are worth mentioning:

  • Diocesan School for Girls
  • St Stithians
  • Kingswood College
  • St Cyprian’s
  • St David’s Marist Inanda
  • St Anne’s Diocesan College
  • Bridge House
  • Somerset College
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Romeo Ndlovu
Romeo's secret talent is taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary content. At work, he is thinking about how best to provide the most unique, original content that provides utmost satisfaction to the user. Away from work, he is a football addict who loves to catch up on his favorite pastimes

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