If you’ve just returned to school after the summer and you’re dreaming of all the places you’d rather be, here’s our handy guide to the best fictional schools in the UK and USA.
1. Constance Billard School for Girls (Gossip Girl)
Constance Billard was the elite private school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan where Serena and Blair spent their days scheming, making (and breaking) friendships, and crushing on the boys over at St. Jude’s. This would have been a great school to attend, not only because everyone there looked like a supermodel, but also because it seemed great at getting kids into Ivy League Universities. Students got to visit the campus at Yale and attend mixers with top university professors, all while experiencing the bright lights and bustle of New York.
2. Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (Harry Potter)
Of course, we all wish we’d gotten that acceptance letter to Hogwarts. This school has everything; teachers that really care about their students, amazing scenery complete with creepy castle and sprawling forests, awesome common rooms and dorms, trolls in the dungeon – and the magic, that’s pretty cool too. The separate houses at Hogwarts also seem great for building friendships with like-minded people and for adding a little competition to those Quidditch games.
3. Riverdale High School (Riverdale)
If you can look past the grisly murders, the sinister villains and the gang wars, Riverdale High School could be quite appealing. This small-town school in the US has an active cheerleading squad, an in-school choir plus the band ‘Josie and the Pussy Cats’, a student newspaper, and a great variety of sports on offer like the football and wrestling teams. This school really has an extra-curricular activity on offer for everybody, so if you did manage to graduate, narrowly avoiding ‘The Black Hood’ and ‘The Candy Man’, you’d probably leave with a ‘killer’ college application.
4. Rydell High School (Grease)
Aside from the catchy tunes and those classic American bleachers, Rydell High School has the added charm of being set in The Golden State of California. Sandy and Danny spend summer at the beach and evenings at the drive-through movie theater. The Pink Ladies have a sleepover at a house in East Hollywood while the T-Birds prepare to race through glorious sunshine at the Los Angeles River. There’s milkshake dates, a school dance and a pep rally, so for anyone dreaming of that typical American High School experience, Rydell might tick quite a few boxes.
5. St Trinian’s School (St Trinian’s)
Whilst St Trinian’s School is the antithesis of the typical posh girls’ academy, it actually has a similar history to some of the most prestigious boarding schools in England. There are six films in total dating from 1954 to 2007, making St Trinian’s as old and well established as some of the most traditional schools in the country. Whilst mayhem is rife, and the teachers may gamble and drink, there’s nothing like a bit of history and school pride to pull everyone together. If you’re looking for school spirit (and fancy your chances on the lacrosse field!), then this could be the school for you.
6. William Mckinley High (Glee)
If teachers like Will Schuester, Sue Sylvester, and Sheldon Beiste aren’t enough to make you wish you attended William Mckinley High, then maybe you could be swayed by this school’s dedication to the arts. The Glee Club rehearses almost every day, competes all over the country, and gives every student their time to shine. We also notice many of its alumni have gone on to pretty big things: Lea Michelle (Rachel Berry) has released two studio albums, Chris Colfer (Kurt Hummel) has written a number of children’s novels, and Dianna Agron (Quinn Fabray) has starred in a music video for Sam Smith’s ‘I’m Not the Only One’.
7. Sunnydale High (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
This school might lose a few points for the demons and vampires, but it does have a teacher training one of your classmates to fight against them (so you may not even notice anything’s wrong). You might also need to consider that whilst set in sunny California, the high school additionally sits on top of a ‘Hellmouth’ or gateway to demon realms. It’s probably also worth noting that in one episode someone (or something) is harvesting organs from kids involved in a talent show… In fact, we might need to reconsider this one…
8. New Trier High School (The Breakfast Club)
Maybe this school uses an all-day Saturday detention as punishment, but it also leads a group of students to connect and realize that they’re facing similar problems. The friendship and camaraderie in The Breakfast Club is what makes this school great. These kids take the time to listen to one another as they learn to look past the stereotypes that many high school kids are branded with. At the end of this film, it’s pretty clear that New Trier High School might be on its way to changing for the better.
9. Roundview College (Skins)
At number nine is Roundview College from the hit series Skins which famously depicted British teens behaving badly. At Roundview College the students ruled the school in classic noughties neon and low-slung jeans. On the weekends they wreaked havoc across Bristol in the South West of England, getting dinner at the chip shop and staying out late enough to watch the sun come up. It might not have been the best school for learning or working hard, but surely those friendships are worth something too.
10. East High School (High School Musical)
Finally, East High School from the hit film ‘High School Musical’ – which we were interested to learn is an actual school of the same name in Salt Lake City, Utah. Whilst we can’t guarantee that its students will spontaneously burst into song or freestyle during basketball practice, this is one school we could actually attend. Students in Utah also have access to five national parks, a lively city, and a booming craft beer industry (though, unfortunately, not Zac Efron).