Location: St. John’s Wood, London
Students: 1,350 girls and boys
Tuition: K1–Grade 4:£20,200; Grades 5–12: £23,550; need-based financial aid is available
More About the School
The American School in London (ASL) was founded by American journalist and teacher Stephen L. Eckard in 1951 in his Knightsbridge flat. Eckard went on to serve as headmaster for 20 years. Starting with only 13 students, the school grew rapidly and had over 20 different addresses. In the early years, students played sports in Regent’s Park and on the lawn of Winfield House, the home of the American ambassador. In 1964, the Board of Trustees decided to raise money for a new building to house the entire school, and the new building opened in 1971 in St. John’s Wood in a ceremony presided over by Margaret Thatcher, the future British Prime Minister who was then Secretary of State for Education and Science. In 2000, the school opened a new 24,000-square-foot high school, which features a new gym, art studios, a renovated library, and computer labs.
Numerous dignitaries and celebrities have visited the school throughout the years, including Sir Elton John, who performed at a concert in 1974 (coincidentally, future actress Emma Thompson attend the show at age 14). U.S. Presidents Truman, Reagan, Clinton, and Obama have also visited the school over the years.
The school’s mission, in its own words, “is to develop the intellect and character of each student by providing an outstanding American education with a global perspective.” The curriculum in the Lower School emphasizes diversity, and the second grade students learn about comparative religion. Students in the Lower School gather together a portfolio, and student-led portfolio conferences are part of the curriculum. A psychologist, learning specialist, speech-language specialist, and other professionals are on board to help Lower School students. The students also receive regular visits from published authors. The Middle School program, which comprises grades 5-8, focuses on increasing students’ independence and organization in a close-knit, nurturing environment.
Students in the High School are encouraged to develop their intellect and character in a community that appreciates and respects individual and cultural differences. Support services include English as an Additional Language and Specific Learning Difficulties programs to assist students with learning disabilities . Students venture into London for a number of field trips. Students also participate in the Alternatives program, a four-day traveling experience that in recent years has featured options such as Yoga in the Cotswolds, Rock Climbing in Spain, Community Service in the Dominican Republic and South Africa, and Community Interaction in London. Students also carry out internships or community service projects in London, the U.S., and in foreign countries. The school has a visual and performing arts program, and its athletics program includes both traditionally American and British sports (such as basketball, baseball, and rugby). Recently, the school completed a new arts center that includes a 450-seat theatre and a performing and teaching space.
Though many of the students are American, the student body is international in nature, and 55% of the students in a recent class held two passports. Many students have lived in another country, and about 40% of recent graduates use or hear another language at home. Students receive intensive college counseling that prepares them to attend a college in the U.K., the United States, Canada, or another country. Representatives of colleges in the U.S., the U.K., and Canada visit the school to speak to students. Recent graduates have attended U.S. colleges such as Georgetown, the University of Southern California, and New York University; Canadian colleges such as the University of British Columbia and McGill; and international universities such as Sophia University in Japan.