Applying to an Independent (private) School

Factors to consider when applying to an independent school (private school)

  1. Decide how old your child will be when they start out their school. Common starting age are 2,3,4,5,7,11,13 and 16 in the September of the year they begin.
  2. Decide if you are interested in a boarding school or not.
  3. Obtain a list of suitable schools and look up their admission dates and processes on their websites. For a small number of schools you need to apply two or more years in advance.
  4. Visit the schools you are interested in and apply. Many parents apply to several schools, especially if the schools are academically selective.
  5. Some senior schools require applicants to sit the Common Entrance (CE) exams for entry at 11 or 13. Those sitting this exam are advised to attend a prep (junior) school which prepares pupils for CE. Schools which do not require the CE exam will normally ask applicants to sit a test in English, Maths possibly other subjects and be interviewed.
  6. The school year is September to June or July
  7. Some schools use overseas recruitment agents and the schools can give you details if that is the case. Good agents will help with the application process.

Visit the schools you are interested in applying

What should I look for if I am applying to independent schools?

  1. Age of entry: the age pupils should be on 1 September of the year of entry (pupils normally start at school in early September).
  2. Age of registration: the date by which you need to apply. Some schools require applicants to apply several years in advance while for others several weeks is enough.
  3. If you are applying to a boarding school you need to know whether they offer full boarding (7 days a week), weekly boarding (5 or 6 days a week) or flexible boarding.
  4. Read the schools' latest inspection reports on the Independent Schools Inspectorate website.
  5. For prep (junior) schools you will want to see a list of their senior schools the pupils have gone to in recent years. For senior schools you will want to see their recent public exam results. The Department for Education Performance Tables website will give a summary of A-level performance including value added (progress made between age 16 and 18). Less academically selective schools will not be at the top of the exam league tables but often have excellent value-added.

Read the schools' latest inspection reports on the ISI website

'[Widening Access][1]' offers free help to families applying to independent schools and works to demystify the process of applying to an Independent Schools.