Skip to main content

All things being equal, always have a go at the school you think is right for your child.

Even those independent schools you have been told are jam-packed may have a place.

Don’t restrict yourself to trying at the ‘normal’ entry periods. Dare to try mid-term and mid-academic year or even the day before term starts. If you get a no, don’t be afraid to try again.

NB Some independent schools (especially when it’s a providers' market) simply refuse to consider non-standard entries.

Oversubscribed independent schools 

(If a school is reviewed by The Good Schools Guide- and you are a subscriber or have a copy of the printed guide - read the section on entry - where we give a clear steer of what to do when).

As a rule of thumb you should:

  1. Visit the schools you have shortlisted, take a tour round them and talk with the head and/or housemaster or whoever is appropriate. V time-consuming but infinitely less so than making the wrong choice.
  2. Register your child’s name in the school(s) you have chosen. Telephone the school and it will send you an application/registration form. If your child is still in the cradle and the schools you have your eye on are very over-subscribed, you may decide to register before visiting.
  3. Fill in the registration form - this has to be done at the right moment or the ‘list’ may be ‘full’. Embryos are acceptable at some schools; the lists for many successful schools will close several years before the date of entry. It will usually cost a registration fee (usually non-returnable) ranging from £25 to £200 or more.
  4. Keep your current school on side. The school will then contact you and your child’s current school about the next stage (it doesn't hurt to telephone and check, though, if you think it may have forgotten you – and don’t forget to tell the school if you change your address). They will usually get a report from the head of your child’s current school and attention is paid to that.
  5. Prepare for assessment. Your child is usually, though not always, put through their paces, which might (at a young age) mean an exam, a test or two, ‘meaningful play’ or whatever. (NB You might also – openly or surreptitiously – be put through your paces as well: Are you a good parent? Is there discipline in the home? Are you educated? Are you a complainer or a worrier? Have you some wonderful attribute the school might be able to use?). For entry to senior schools there may be a scholarship/entrance exam or, in the private sector, ‘Common Entrance’ – a standard exam taken by applicants to a wide range of schools but marked by the school of first choice.
  6. Confirm/reject any offer. All being well, the school will then offer a firm place. You must write and confirm acceptance of this place or it may be offered to someone else. NB You will probably be asked for a large non-returnable deposit at this stage, which can be many hundreds of pounds – many, many hundreds of pounds in London (especially at the lower grade schools, which offer places earlier in a bid to catch the nervous parents of bright pupils). Those public schools that require prospective pupils to attend an exam/assessment when they are 10 or 11 may require a massive cheque when the child is still years away from leaving prep school.
  7. Pay school fees in advance. One terms fees in advance is the norm, you will forfeit these if you later decide to go elsewhere. 
  8. Read any contract you have to sign carefully: if in any doubt – such as what do they mean by ‘a term’s notice’? – a little legal advice at this stage can save you a lot of agony later.

There are a few variations on this theme. For example, some may accept entries up to the last minute, though there will be an official date for closing the ‘list’, from about three weeks to three terms before the entrance exam.

by

by

Related articles


  • Special Needs introduction

    Signs of special needs in school age children; how to get help; which type of school to choose; Education, Health and Care Plans ... Read more ... Need help? Perhaps you suspect your child has some learning difficulty and you would like advice on what you should do. Or perhaps it is becoming clear that your child's current school is not working for him or her, and you need help to find a mainstream school which has better SEN provision, or to find a special school which will best cater for your child's area of need.  Our SEN team helps…

  • The Good Schools Guide online subscription

    Find the best school for your child. Subscribe for one month for £15 (£0.49 per day) Subscribe for three months for £36 (£0.41 per day) Subscribe for six months for £60 (£0.33 per day) Subscribe for one year for £105 (£0.29 per day) Register for instant access to: ☑ Search for more than 30000 schools in our parent friendly interactive directory. ☑ Create and save lists of schools via My Schools. ☑ Use our comparison grid to get an exam results overview of schools you are interested in. ☑ Find comprehensive advice on state and independent schools, tutors and special…

  • Where to find a state grammar school

    Identifying and locating grammar schools. Grammar schools are located in 36 English local authorities. Almost half of these are considered 'selective authorities' (eg Kent and Buckinghamshire), where around one in five local children are selected for grammar school entry based on ability. The others are areas such as Barnet or Kingston, with only a few grammar schools.

  • Boarding schools explained - the right choice?

    The headmaster/mistress runs the school but boarding houses are usually the domain of either houseparents or, in smaller schools, the head of boarding. Whilst the housemaster/mistress oversee the house, the day-to-day running is usually under the supervision of a matron.

  • Choosing a school for a child with performing arts talents

    As proud parents, we all know our children are unique. They're smarter than anyone else's, funnier, certainly more attractive, better behaved and above all bursting with the kind of talent that would leave Daniel Radcliffe, Jamie Bell and Charlotte Church standing. And for some extraordinary - though totally understandable - reason, everyone but us seems blind to our offspring's God-given artistic gifts.


Subscribe for instant access to in-depth reviews, data and catchment:

Comprehensive catchment maps for English state schools inc. year of entry.
 School exam results by subject and performance GCSE, Alevel or equivalent.
 Which schools pupils come from and go onto.
 Honest, opinionated and fearless independent reviews of more than 1,100+ schools.
 Overall school performance by GCSE, Alevel or equivalent.
 School data comparison by A/B weighted, relative success and popularity.
 Compare schools by qualities and results.
 Independent tutor company reviews.

Try before you buy - The Charter School Southwark
 

The Good Schools Guide subscription

 GSG Blog >    In the news >

Newsletter

Educational insight in your inbox. Sign up for our popular newsletters.

This month 'Breducation'


The Good Schools Guide: Boarding Schools. Our newest book, available now - boarding for the 21st century.