A picture of a selection of books featuring fictional schools on a light pink background with blue stars and spots

Image: Alicia Fernandes/Penguin

Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches in The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy (1974)

Before Hogwarts, there was Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches. It’s also a British boarding school for magical folk but it’s girls only. Based on author Jill Murphy’s own experience at Ursuline Convent in South London, Miss Cackle’s is dark and gloomy with lots of strict rules and traditions young witches must follow. But despite all the rules and regulations, you get to fly on broomsticks, learn how to cast all sorts of spells, and have your own cat familiar! The Worst Witch series centres on young witch Mildred Hubble and her time at the academy – but try as she might, Mildred always seems to find herself in trouble...

Recommended reading age: 7-10 years old

Harding-Pencroft Academy in Daughter of the Deep by Rick Riordan (2021)

If you’ve been harbouring dreams of a career that involves the ocean, Harding-Pencroft Academy in Southern California is the school for you. All the best marine scientists, naval warriors, navigators, and underwater explorers in the world graduate from here. Like most of our favourite boarding schools, it has four houses that you’re sorted into based on how you score on your aptitude test. You also get to learn martial arts, go cliff-diving and make friends with dolphins! HP is freshman Ana Dakkar’s only home since her parents went missing on a scientific expedition. But a catastrophic event turns her and her classmates’ world upside down.

Recommended reading age: 9-11 years old

Deepdean School for Girls in Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens (2014)

Another boarding school, Deepdean School is quintessentially English, prestigious, and known for boarding girls from only the wealthiest of families. However, that doesn’t stop it from having a somewhat macabre history – including being the location of several murders, ghost stories, and housing a student rumoured to be a vampire. But that’s exactly why we want to join the Wells & Wong Detective Society so we can get to the bottom of these mysteries! In the first book of the series, following the grisly discovery of their science mistress’ body, student detectives Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are determined to get to the bottom of the crime.

Recommended reading age: 9-12 years old

Crunchem Hall Primary School in Matilda by Roald Dahl (1988)

Ruled by the infamous Miss Trunchbull, Crunchem Hall is probably not at the top of the list of fictional schools you’d want to attend. Children were, after all, thrown across the playground by their pigtails, force-fed chocolate cake, and locked in the Chokey from time to time. But then there were teachers like the wonderful Miss Honey who would do all she could to encourage students to believe in themselves. And once Matilda Wormwood fully harnessed her telekinetic powers, it was only a matter of time before the Trunchbull was out.

Recommended reading age: 7-9 years old

Little Meadows Primary School in Little Badman and the Invasion of the Killer Aunties by Humza Arshad & Henry White (2019)

Little Meadows Primary School isn’t on the map just yet – but it will be! Especially once 11-year-old student Humza Khan shows the world he’s the greatest rapper to ever come out of Eggington. But first, he’s got to survive detention, avoid tattle-tale Wendy Wang and work out where all the teachers are disappearing to. Luckily, the aunties have been on hand to fill in for them. And it’s been pretty sweet! There have been chocolate art lessons, cake reviews, and instead of mystery stew at lunch, the aunties have been serving up biryani, pakora, and even gulab jamun. Yum!

Recommended reading age: 9-12 years old

Avonlea School in Anne of Avonlea by L. M. Montgomery (1909)

If you’re a fan of Anne of Green Gables, then you’ll probably already have fantasised about living in the idyllic town of Avonlea on Prince Edward Island. And if you went to school there, you’d probably be taught by none other than Anne Shirley! Avonlea School is quite different from the other schools on this list. It’s a one-room, whitewashed building with old-fashioned desks and behind the school sits a dusky fir wood and brook. But our top reason for wanting to go to Avonlea is the picturesque walk from Green Gables. You could hardly be mad about having to go to school once you’ve strolled by Lover’s Lane and under the beautiful maple trees.

Recommended reading age: 8-12 years old

The School of Magic on Roke Island in A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin (1968)

The School of Magic sits on Roke Island in the heart of the vast archipelago of Earthsea. Protected by a host of potent spells and a fog that wards off evil, students come from all around to hone their magic. They learn how to cast healing spells, control the weather, the art of transformation, and how to deal with all the dragons flying around. As well as being a place for learning, the school is also where many magicians go to seek refuge from warlords wanting to use their powers for immoral means.

Recommended reading age: 9-11 years old

Seven Schools of Sanctaphrax in The Curse of the Gloamglozer by Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell (2001)

For budding meteorologists, the city of Sanctaphrax is where you’ll want to go. Sitting atop a buoyant rock, it will come as no surprise that the seven schools of Sanctaphrax specialise in all matters related to the sky. From the College of Cloud to the School of Mist, Sanctaphrax is the seat of knowledge and academia in The Edge universe. All this great knowledge, however, also comes with elitism, corruption, and terrible secrets. Such as the mysterious creature created by Most High Academe Linius Pallitax that now resides in the Ancient Laboratory in the centre of the rock...

Recommended reading age: 9-11 years old

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