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Royal Russell School
Royal Russell School
Royal Russell School
Royal Russell School
top 200
Royal Russell School Croydon, London Visit
Royal Russell School
876 pupils, ages 11-18
Day and Boarding

Royal Russell School

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Our View

This school is a real oasis, not just for its surprisingly spacious campus that makes it hard to believe that Croydon is a stone’s throw away, but for the wonderful culture of acceptance that allows pupils’ confidence to soar. Individuality is celebrated and, in the words of one sixth former, there’s ‘something here for everyone, scholar or beginner’. Diverse and inclusive, with top-notch facilities, it’s a place where pupils can really grow and find their passions.

Where is Royal Russell School?

It’s hard to believe that the school’s 110 acres of parkland are just a speedy 25-minute journey from London Victoria – hop off at East Croydon and a tram will drop you right at the gates. For those arriving from abroad, Royal Russell is just under an hour from London's Gatwick and Heathrow airports.

There’s an overarching sense of space on the university-style campus, with an impressive mix of 19th-/20th-century and contemporary architecture, and masses of woodland that is home to friendly families of deer. Leafy surroundings like these undoubtedly have a hugely positive impact on pupils’ learning experience – and, most importantly, students' mental health.

Headmaster at Royal Russell

Chris Hutchinson has been here for over a decade. Easy-going, incredibly warm and a great leader (he calls himself ‘the Optimist in Chief’), he is, according to one parent, ‘one of the loveliest people I’ve met’. He has a wonderfully easy manner with pupils and is humble about his role in their lives, telling us, ‘It is a privilege to know pupils from so young an age and amazing to be part of their road map.’ A very visible head around campus, he’s almost always trailed by his beautifully behaved cocker spaniel, Scrumpy. His impressive CV includes stints at Clifton College as head of physics, several years as a housemaster at Wellington and a headship at Newcastle School for Boys. His wife, Alex, is head of James Allen’s Girls’ School in Dulwich and president elect of the GSA.

What is the admissions process like?

It’s wise getting in early: Royal Russell Junior School pupils move seamlessly up to the senior school in Year 7 (there’s no assessment for them), but places for externals are heavily oversubscribed, with around eight applicants for every place. Entrance for newbies into Year 7 and Year 9 is via the school’s own exam, and there are more places available in the sixth form subject to achieving at least 36 points at GCSE. All applicants are interviewed, either in person or online. Academic, music, drama, art and sport scholarships are up for grabs at all entrance points, as are bursaries.

Academics and destinations

Academics are serious business here, and the curriculum is nicely broad in order to suit a wide range of abilities and interests. German and Japanese are on offer at GCSE; maths is the most popular A-level subject; pupils can pick BTECs in sport, media and business; and there’s a very well-resourced art and photography centre. Science is also exemplary with impressive science labs and a termly science magazine written and published by the pupils.

There’s plenty of extra support available for those who need it (we chatted to one dyslexic pupil who waxed lyrical about the one-on-one guidance she was getting outside of normal lesson times) and opportunities for the most gifted pupils to be really stretched. Most pupils take 10 GCSEs and results are impressive, as are A-level results, but Mr Hutchinson is not grade-driven. For him, it’s all about the journey and experience. Leavers last year went on to study a range of disciplines, from architecture and actuarial science to law, mechanical engineering and psychology. A small number also joined apprenticeship schemes.

Co-curricular activities at Royal Russell School

Sport takes place two afternoons per week, with fixtures against local schools on Saturdays. Facilities are ace: an indoor pool, plenty of pitches and tennis courts and a smart Astro for hockey – all available for use by the local community too. Boys’ football is huge – there’s an academy and the U18s are currently ISFA national champions and the first team ever to win a treble. Five pupils have gone on to sign professional contracts in the last two years, and over 10 pupils have obtained football scholarships to study in America over the past three years. Thanks to a new head of girls’ football, girls are on track for similar successes too (take note: there’s no rugby).

Art is strong too, with pupils free to choose their medium, be it sculpture, painting, ceramics or photography. At A-level, classes of four or five mean each pupil receives individualised attention and many go on to art school. The music room is well equipped with Apple Macs for composition work, a recording studio and practice rooms for private lessons, and as well as a chamber orchestra and rock band, there is a glee choir, swing band and acapella group for pupils to get involved in (the orchestra is lined up to play live for the school musical Legally Blonde in January). Drama is a popular GCSE choice and an auditorium with retractable seats is a great space for productions.

Day pupils often stay on for supper (which is included in the fees) to take part in the huge roster of evening clubs, societies and music ensembles: Model UN, Duke of Edinburgh and CCF are all very popular and an important part of school life. Royal Russell even has its very own young drivers’ club, where sixth formers can prep for their theory and practical driving tests at a reduced cost.

Parents are encouraged to join in too – there’s a thriving choir made up of pupils, parents and staff, including Mr Hutchinson.

Boarding at Royal Russell

Mr Hutchinson describes Royal Russell as ‘a day school with boarders’, who make up roughly 20 per cent of the pupil population. That said, boarding certainly isn't just an afterthought here – the school's most recent Independent Schools Inspectorate review found the boarding provision to be 'excellent', noting the real lack of divide between the day and boarding communities. 

The fully-international boarding houses are packed to capacity, with boarders hailing from everywhere from China to Bulgaria and Nigeria. Weekends are filled with activities designed to help pupils get to know the UK better, including trips on the London Eye and boat rides down the Thames. We had a look around two boarding houses – both were brand new, with huge terraces overlooking awesome views of the leafy campus.

Royal Russell school community

A perpendicular house system is the beating heart of the school, and every (day and boarding) pupil from Year 7 and up is assigned a physical house to check into each morning. Housemasters and housemistresses work closely alongside a team of tutors responsible for keeping an eye on their pupils, challenging and supporting them. We got the overwhelming impression that every pupil here really is known individually by staff – and sensed a refreshing lack of teenage ‘coolness’ or cockiness. When we visited, sixth-formers were in the throes of a bespoke ‘bridge to life’ programme, dealing with issues around mental health, university life and gender equality.

This is a school for families looking for an inclusive and diverse community – and the pupil body reflects the melting pot of life in Greater London. Lots hail from south London, including Balham and Clapham, but the catchment area spreads out all the way to Oxted, West Wickham, Caterham and Kingswood. 

And finally....

From the fantastic head, to the dedicated staff to the engaging pupils, this school feels like a very cohesive community where pupils get a superlatively good holistic education. As one pupil told us, ‘If it wasn’t for this school, I wouldn’t be the person I am today’.

Gallery See All

Boy and girl in white shirts and black aprons painting
Boy and girl working together in class
Boys in navy playing football with a white ball
pupils in maroon blazers playing musical instruments
pupils in maroon blazers and blue ties walking together
girls playing hockey in front of Royal Russell school
girls in maroon tshirts singing into microphones
girl in a navy blazer sitting at a table with mini flags on it
boy in maroon and navy playing tennis on a green court
  • Academic results

    GCSE results
    A level results
    Download results as PDF
  • University destinations

    53% of leavers went on to a Russell Group university.
    4% of leavers went on to an American university.
    6% of leavers went on to an overseas university.
  • Subjects offered


    Art & Design
    Business Studies
    Computer Science
    Design and Technology
    Drama and Theatre Studies
    English Language
    English Literature
    Food Technology
    Media Studies
    Physical Education
    Religious Studies

    A Level

    Art & Design
    Business Studies
    Computer Science
    Design and Technology
    Drama and Theatre Studies
    English Language
    English Literature
    Further Mathematics
    Government and Politics
    Media Studies
    Physical Education
    Religious Studies
  • Fees and bursaries

    Day fees per term

    Year 7£7,971
    Year 8 £7,971
    Year 9 £7,971
    Year 10£7,971
    Year 11£7,971
    Year 12£7,971
    Year 13£7,971
    Boarding fees per term

    Year 7£15,756
    Year 8 £15,756
    Year 9 £15,756
    Year 10 £15,756
    Year 11£15,756
    Year 12£15,756
    Year 13£15,756

    Bursary contact:
    PA to the Director of Operations Mrs Donna Moon
  • SEND

    This school currently supports the following kinds of learning needs, health needs and physical disabilities:
    The Learning Enrichment Department aims to assist those students who require additional support in order to reach their maximum potential. They also support parents and subject teachers with additional guidance and strategies when required.

    This school currently delivers the following interventions to pupils in class and outside class to support their learning, health and/or physical needs:
    Learning Enrichment is offered to students who are referred to the team by parents or staff, or who have been identified by screening tests on admission. Students are taught for a period a week and the support is targeted towards a pupil’s specific needs. Progress is evaluated on a termly basis. The team have a number of designated rooms, with the use of computer facilities and up-to-date assessment and intervention materials. Students are encouraged to attend Typing Club, which takes place at lunch time and helps students to improve their touch typing skills.

    This school currently provides the following support for pupils' mental health needs
    The School Counsellors
    The School Counsellors are based in the same building as the Health and Wellbeing Centre. Pupils should initially speak with a teacher or nurse to be referred to the service.

    Co-ordinator: Ms Kate Tanswell
  • Transport links

    School Transport
    School daily bus network

    Public Transport
    Nearest mainline train station: East Croydon
    Nearest London Overground station: West Croydon
    Journey time to London by train: 20 minutes
    Nearest international airport: Gatwick Airport (20 miles)

  • FAQs

    Is Her Majesty The Queen associated with Royal Russell school?  
    Yes – Royal Russell is proud to have enjoyed Royal Patronage from its foundation. Queen Elizabeth visited the school on four occasions, opening new buildings and celebrating the school’s 125 year anniversary in 1979. 

    How many boarding houses are there are Royal Russell in Croydon?  
    There are five boarding houses at Royal Russell: Cambridge, Oxford, Queen’s, Holldenden and Latessa. As mentioned above, boarding houses are not strictly for boarders, and day students are assigned a boarding house too, eliminating any distinction between those that sleep at the school and those that don’t.

School Updates

  • Royal Russell International Model United Nations Celebrates its 40th Anniversary

    Royal Russell International Model United Nations Celebrates its 40th Anniversary
  • WATCH: Royal Russell Boarding

    WATCH: Royal Russell Boarding
  • WATCH: Royal Russell Virtual Tour

    WATCH: Royal Russell Virtual Tour
  • See Royal Russell School in our London Senior Schools Guide.

    See Royal Russell School in our London Senior Schools Guide.
  • See Royal Russell School in our All-through Schools Guide.

    See Royal Russell School in our All-through Schools Guide.
  • See Royal Russell in our Senior Boarding Schools Guide

    See Royal Russell in our Senior Boarding Schools Guide

Royal Russell School is
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Coombe Lane, Croydon, London CR9 5BX

020 8657 4433


ISI Report


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