Best High Schools in Cape Town 2023 (and their Achievements)

This guideline offers a comprehensive analysis based on rigorous findings to assist you get the best high school in Cape Town for your teen, daughter, son etc.

Basking in the emphatic euphoria of being South Africa’s third wealthiest province, Cape Town is undoubtedly endowed with breathtaking landscapes, vibrant culture, rich western culture and diverse community. The province also has excellent educational institutions globally recognized for their strong academic exploit. 

Our comprehensive assessment of the best high schools in Cape Town will take into account various factors that contribute to an exceptional learning environment. Academic excellence is a top priority, and this article analyses schools’ performance in national examinations and recognition by educational authorities.

Having combined a meticulous evaluation of several factors to highlight unique strengths and offerings, the best high schools in Cape Town are:

5. Wynberg Boys’ High School

Badge of Wynberg Boys High School

One of the top 20 performers at the 2021 matric exams, Wynberg Boys’ High, a public English-medium boys high school located in the suburb of Wynberg, is the 5th best high school in Cape Town.

Established by John McNaughton in 1841, Wynberg boys high school is reputed to be one of the oldest and this makes to maintain its long-standing tradition of providing quality education.

Wynberg Boys High boasts one of the country’s most competitive sporting traditions, engaging in sporting competitions not only with schools in the Western Cape but also with other schools from different parts of South Africa and international institutions.

With excellent sporting facilities, including an astroturf area, a swimming pool, tennis and squash courts, four rugby fields, and the renowned Jacques Kallis Oval (formerly known as the WBHS cricket field), the high school provides ample opportunities for students to excel in various sports.

Students of Wynberg Boys High School pose in different school uniforms

Notably, the high school counts Jacques Kallis, one of the world’s greatest cricketers of all time, among its alumni. The renaming of the cricket field in his honour reflects the school’s pride in its accomplished graduates and their impact on the world.

The presence of the very rare bagpipe band adds a unique cultural dimension to the Wynberg Boys High’s sporting identity and validates it as one of Cape Town’s best high schools. 

While being a public school, Wynberg Boys’ High stands out as one of the most expensive schools in South Africa, with the annual tuition fees of R55,100 posing a financial challenge for some families.

The high school embraces technology in education by utilising the interactive Google Apps for Education (GAFE) platform for teaching and learning. This integration, characteristic of one of the best high schools in Cape Town, provides students with valuable digital skills and enhances their educational experience, equipping them for the modern world.

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4. Bishops Diocesan College

Badge of Bishops Diocesan College

One of four schools to annually offer an annual Rhodes Scholarship to an alumnus to attend the University of Oxford, Bishops Diocesan College, located in Rondebosch, is a prestigious private all-boys boarding and day high school that has established itself as the fourth-best high school in Cape Town.

The school actively encourages its students to participate in various academic competitions and programmes, such as the UCT Mathematics Competition, the South African Mathematics Olympiad, and the Eskom Science Expo

By engaging in these competitions, Bishops’ students have the opportunity to showcase their talents and potentially qualify for provincial or national teams. The school’s participation in these events demonstrates its dedication to fostering excellence in STEM subjects and providing opportunities for intellectual growth beyond the standard curriculum.

Being one of the best high schools in Cape Town, Bishops Diocesan College has been recognised for its outstanding academic performance.

In 2022, the school achieved excellence in academic results, securing the third position among schools in the Western Cape with an NSC enrollment of 80 or more candidates, an accomplishment testament to the school’s commitment to maintaining high academic standards and providing a conducive learning environment for its students.

As one of Cape Town’s best high schools, Bishops was announced as the overall top-performing school in the 2021 South African Mathematics Olympiad (SAMO).

That same year, two of its students, Gabriel Dyssell-Hofinger and Gus Farara, were among an exclusive list of provincial students honoured at the Western Cape Education Department National Senior Certificate Awards based on marks they obtained in their best six subjects. Furthermore, student John Smith won first place at the prestigious international Yamaha Scholarship music programme.

Students of Bishops Diocesan College interacting with toddlers

Citing its “commitment to all-round education,” Bishops was in 2022 “recommended” as one of South Africa’s best high schools by London-based Spear’s Magazine.

Beyond academic achievements, Bishops is known for its commitment to extracurricular activities and holistic development, having produced more international rugby players than any other South African school.

Despite being one of the best high schools in Cape Town, Bishops in 2019 faced a scandal involving a history teacher and water polo coach, Fiona Viotti, who resigned following allegations of sexual relationships with multiple students.

While the case was closed by the SA Council for Educators due to the victims’ refusal to testify, this incident raised serious concerns about safeguarding and the school’s ability to provide a safe environment for its students.

Additionally, like many elite institutions in South Africa, Bishops Diocesan College has faced accusations of racism which culminated in matriculating students presenting a list of demands in 2020 intended to resolve racial concerns within the institution .

Regarding the cost of education at Bishops, it is important to note that the high school is one of the most expensive educational institutions in South Africa. With fees beginning at 170,520 ZAR for day students and 289,700 ZAR for boarders, Bishops predominantly serve families with substantial financial resources.

The high cost of education may limit access to those from less privileged backgrounds, potentially impacting the socioeconomic diversity of the student body.

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3. Rustenburg Girls High School

Rustenburg Girls High School badge

With a 100% pass rate in all but one of the 17 years since 2006, Rustenburg Girls High School, an all-girls day and boarding public school located in the suburb of Rondebosch, is the 3rd best high school in Cape Town. Established in 1894, the school has achieved a 97%+ bachelor’s pass rate every year since 2006, in a remarkable show of commitment to producing well-rounded graduates.

Placing third in the Western Cape Education Department‘s top schools list in 2010 and sixth in 2009 demonstrates the school’s consistent high performance and affirms its academic prowess.

In addition, being listed among the top 25 schools in the country by Fairlady magazine in 2013 and qualifying for inclusion in the official Western Cape Education Department’s top 20 schools list in 2014 and 2015 further solidified the school’s reputation as the best girls high school in Cape Town. In 2018, a student of the school, Justine Crook-Mansour, was the highest-scoring matriculant nationwide.

Of all schools with an NSC enrollment of 80 or more candidates, the high school was the second-top school in the Western Cape, behind Herschel Girls, to have achieved excellence in academic results in 2022.

The recent achievement of Kelly Grace Prowse, a student from the high school, as the country’s top candidate overall and in maths in 2023 highlights the school’s ability to nurture exceptional talent and provide a conducive learning environment.

Students of Rustenburg Girls High School pose for a photoshoot

In 2018, Rustenburg Girls High was honoured as the top school in South Africa at the Annual DBE Awards, held in Pretoria, and was also named Samoa’s top-performing school in the Quintile 5 category in 2021.

In addition to its strong curriculum, Rustenburg Girls High School boasts excellent facilities that enhance the overall educational experience.

The presence of nine tennis and netball courts, a swimming pool, two hockey and cricket fields, and a floodlit astroturf playing field facilitates a variety of sporting activities and contributes to the school’s positive, vibrant atmosphere.

As one of the best high schools in Cape Town, Rustenburg Girls High has reflected its engagement with the arts by imprinting its legacy on the South African film industry, with scenes from Spud 2: The Madness Continues and Spud 3: Learning to Fly being shot on campus.

Despite being one of Cape Town’s best high schools, Rustenburg Girls High has faced accusations of racism by past students for failing to implement inclusive policies, promote diversity, and foster an environment of equality.

2. Rondebosch Boys’ High School

Rondebosch Boys High School badge

The only school in the Western Cape to have produced a Nobel laureate, Rondebosch Boys’ High, an all-boys public English-medium high school situated in the suburb of Rondebosch, is the 2nd-best high school in Cape Town.

The high school has consistently performed well in the UCT Mathematics Competition, winning twelve times out of the nineteen years since 1998, a testament to the dedication and quality of the school’s mathematics programme as well as the capabilities of its students and teachers.

Rondebosch Boys’ High’s academic excellence is further highlighted by the achievements of its students in national examinations. In 2019, Timothy Murphy topped the nation’s matriculation examinations in mathematics, while Gary Allen finished in second place overall.

Students of Rondebosch Boys High School walking in their school uniform

The following year, Veren Naidoo was recognised as the second-best maths learner in the country at the National Top Achievers Matric Awards, while Ziyaad Banderker was named the country’s top maths student in 2021.

The success of Rondebosch Boys’ High School extends beyond academics, with the school being very likely to have alumni represent turn out as international cricketers for four different nations.

Despite ranking as one of the best high schools in Cape Town, it is important to acknowledge the issue of systemic racism that has been raised concerning Rondebosch Boys’ High. As of 2022, only 10% of the student body is black, and the school has been accused of lacking diversity and inclusivity.

In terms of fees, Rondebosch Boys’ High has an annual tuition fee of R60,000, making it the second most expensive public school in South Africa. 

1. Westerford High School

Westerford High School badge

Producing one-third of the South African representatives at the 57th International Mathematical Olympiad in Hong Kong,

Westerford High, a renowned public and boarding English-medium co-educational high school situated in the suburbs of Rondebosch and Newlands, has a rich history that has consistently helped it maintain a position as the best high school in Cape Town.

Academic excellence is a hallmark of Westerford High, with the institution’s achievements having been recognized by various institutions and publications. In 2009, the Sunday Times newspaper ranked Westerford High as the top state school in South Africa, highlighting its commitment to academic excellence.

In a comprehensive study conducted by the Department of Basic Education in 2019, the high school was ranked as the 9th best in the country based on the number of matriculants who achieved distinctions in their final examinations.

These academic achievements have garnered recognition and accolades over the years, with the school receiving a book voucher award in the 2005 Senior Certificate Awards.

Being the best high school in Cape Town, Westerford High has consistently produced exceptional results in matriculation exams, with a 100% pass rate for three consecutive years between 2005 and 2007, as well as in 2017, 2020, and 2021.

Male and female students of Westerford High School pose for the cameras

Furthermore, in 2017 an impressive 99.9% of the high school’s matriculants received bachelor’s entry passes, indicating a high level of preparation and academic rigour.

One of the outstanding aspects of Westerford High is its prominent position within the local community, which has provided the school with the privilege of hosting esteemed figures within South Africa, including the then President Nelson Mandela and the popular singer Craig David, who visited the high school in 2010. Such visits speak volumes about the repute and esteem that Westerford High commands in the country, validating its status as the best high school in Cape Town.

Sean Wentzel, a pupil at the high school, is the first student to produce perfect scores in the UCT Mathematics Competition each year starting in Grade 8. In 2018 and 2022, the school received the coveted title of the country’s top performer in Quintile 5 at the National Education Excellence Awards, affirming its dedication to educational excellence.

In 2018, one of its students, Liam Edward Gurney, demonstrated outstanding mathematical prowess by securing the 3rd position nationwide in mathematics.

The high school has shown a commitment to holistic education that extends beyond academics and sports. In 2022, it demonstrated its dedication to inclusivity and gender diversity by offering students the premium option to wear a badge with their preferred pronouns.

Furthermore, the progressive uniform policy implemented in 2016, allowing boys to have the same rules as girls regarding hairstyles and accessories, demonstrates Westerford High School’s commitment to gender equality and embracing individuality.

While Westerford High has experienced some controversies, such as the 2018 incident involving an employee who allegedly stole money from the school, it is important to recognise that isolated incidents must not overshadow the overall excellence of the institution, as the school’s swift action in addressing the issue demonstrates its commitment to transparency and accountability.

Westerford High’s success in various academic competitions, such as the UCT Mathematics Competition and the English Olympiad, reflects the exceptional calibre of its students, the effectiveness of its teaching staff, and the indisputable stance of its standing as the best high school in Cape Town.

However, the affordability of Westerford High may be a consideration for most families, as the annual tuition fee of approximately 44,991 ZAR places it among South Africa’s most expensive government schools.

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