Schools and education

Devon is home to some of the top-performing state schools in the country. Many people choose to live here because of the amount of choice they have for their children’s education.

Outstanding Ofsted-rated primary schools and high-ranking secondaries can be found in most areas of the county. Devon is also one of the counties in the UK which supports the grammar school system. Grammar schools are state secondary schools that select their pupils by means of an examination taken by children at age 11, known as the 11-plus. Further education is also a strong point, with plenty of colleges and three universities.

Devon also has more than thirty independent schools spread across the county, offering an alternative to state-funded education. If you’re coming from overseas, it can be confusing to discover that these are also known in the UK as private schools and public schools! Some are day schools, others provide boarding facilities.

Primary schools in Devon

Primary schools in Devon

Devon currently has 430 primary schools.

The latest Government data shows that 8.76 per cent of pupils strongly pass in reading, writing and maths. The average in England is 10.21 per cent.

There are more than 30 primary schools in Devon with an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted rating. Find out more.

To apply for a school place you need to visit the school admissions website for Devon County Council.

Find out more

Secondary schools in Devon

Secondary schools in Devon

Devon currently has 141 secondary schools.

The latest Government figures show 23.74 per cent of pupils who achieved grade 5 or above in English and maths GCSEs, which is higher than England's average of 25.23 per cent. (

Some of the top-performing secondary schools include the grammar schools, such as Colyton Grammar School, Torquay Girls’ Grammar School, Torquay Boys’ Grammar School, Devonport High School for Boys, Devonport High School for Boys.

Okehampton College and Kingsbridge Academy also do consistently well with exam results.

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Independent schools in Exeter

Exeter has six other independent schools, all co-educational: 

  • Exeter School is the largest with more than 900 pupils aged 7-18 years. It has excellent sporting facilities, including an indoor pool, and stands in impressive grounds in the sought-after St. Leonards neighbourhood.
  • Nearby Magdalen Court School, also a day school, takes pupils from Nursery through to Sixth Form (3 - 18 years).
  • Exeter Cathedral School, in the heart of the city, is a flourishing day and boarding Prep School for almost 300 boys and girls aged 3 - 13 years. Founded in the 12th century as a choir school, it continues to educate the Choristers of Exeter Cathedral.
  • Exeter Tutorial College in popular Magdalen Road is a co-educational day school for students aged 16+.
  • St Wilfrid’s in the St. David’s Hill area, close to Exeter’s mainline railway station, is a small day school for pupils from 5 - 16 years.
  • The New School on the edge of the city, in the village of Exminster, is a small day school for younger pupils of both sexes (3 - 7 years).

Within a half-hour drive of Exeter, are St. Peter’s (Lympstone), Stover School (Newton Abbot) and Trinity School (Teignmouth), all of which are co-educational day and boarding schools.

For information, advice and news about independent schools and independent education in Devon, visit:

Independent schools in Barnstaple

The closest independent schools to Barnstaple are Kingsley School in Bideford, West Buckland and Shebbear College at Beaworthy, all co-educational day and boarding schools from Nursery through to Sixth Form (3 - 18 years).

Blundells’s in Tiverton, midway between Exeter and Barnstaple, offers a day school for younger pupils (3 - 11 years) and a boarding and day school for older students (11 - 18 years).

There’s a good choice of independent schools in the south of the county, in and around the major conurbations of Plymouth and Torquay, including South Devon Steiner School in Totnes. Further independent schools are scattered across Devon including Mount Kelly at Tavistock in West Devon and St John’s School at Sidmouth in the east of the county.

For information, advice and news about independent schools and independent education in Devon, visit:

Specialist schools

If your child has special needs, Devon has a number of specialist non-maintained schools, managed by charitable organisations, including InFocus College. The 14-acre campus on the edge of Exeter has adapted facilities to support residential and day students up to the age of 25 with a vision impairment and other complex needs. To find the best school for your child, visit: Special needs schools in the South-West

Further education

There is a good choice of colleges in Devon, offering a wide range of options, including A-levels, vocational courses and higher education.

Examples include Bicton College in East Devon, a specialist land-based college, which runs courses in agriculture, animal management, arboriculture and more.

Petroc College of Further and Higher Education has three campuses across North and Mid Devon. 

Exeter College is Devon's only Ofsted Outstanding further education college. 

The two main universities in Devon are the University of Exeter and the University of Plymouth. There is also Plymouth Marjon University (the trading name of the University of St Mark and St John) which has a focus on education and sports courses. South Devon College has a University Centre.

Last updated: May 04, 2023.