Prior's Field September 2018

Independent Schools

What is an independent private school?

Independent schools are schools that charge fees to attend rather than being funded by the state. They are sometimes referred to as private schools or, in the UK, Public schools. Some are privately owned, some are run by charitable trusts.

The independent school sector is not obliged to teach the National Curriculum. However, they must be registered with, and meet certain regulations set by, the DfE (Department for Education). In Wales the schools are registered with the Welsh Office Education Department. Independent schools are also free to set the day and term lengths.

Half of all independent schools are inspected by Ofsted. Schools that are members of the Independent Schools Council are inspected by The Independent Schools Inspectorate and some schools are inspected by the school Inspection Service.

What types of independent schools are there?

Independent schools can be boarding or day, single sex or coeducational. They generally fall under:

  • Pre-Prep Schools – Taking children between the age of 4 and 7
  • Prep Schools – Taking children between the age of 8 and either 11 or 13
  • Senior Schools – Taking children from the age of 11 or 13 through to 16 or 18 depending on whether they have a sixth Form
  • All-Through Schools – Taking children from the age of 3 through to either 16 or 18 (depends on whether they have a Sixth form)
  • Private Sixth Form Colleges – Taking students from the age of 16 to 18

Admission to independent schools

Independent schools set their own admissions criteria and this can be based on interview, common entrance exam, previous school report or a mixture of all of them. Many independent schools are academically selective. At Pre-prep level this is much less so as children are more likely to be assessed on their overall development including factors such as speech, play and social interaction.

To gain a place at prep school children may be asked to take tests in English and Maths. These tests are often described as 7+ tests. Admission to senior school generally involves children sitting an entrance exam at 11 which will determine whether they are of the desired academic standards. Children may also be able to set a similar test at 13. These exams are often referred to as Common Entrance exams.

Why choose an independent school?

Independent schools generally have smaller class sizes, outstanding facilities and offer a wider range of extra-curricular, activities. Many of the best independent schools have high academic standards with many students excelling at GCSE and Alevel.

How much will it cost to send my child to an independent school?

The average annual fee for a day pupil is £13,000 for junior or preparatory schools and £15,000 for senior schools, however most schools will offer some help with fees through bursaries and scholarships. You can use our advanced search facility to search for schools that offer scholarships in a number of different fields.

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