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The British Independent System

Prep Schools (Preparatory)

Prep schools start at ages 7 or 8 depending on the history of the school. They run through to 11 and 13 respectively for girls and boys. They have to ensure their educational standard is strong - their success or failure depends on their placing their charges in the top secondary schools.

At Colet Court (Prep for St Paul's Boys) the entrance examination at 6+ for entry at 7 years of age, will require a prospective candidate to be able to discuss some 15 (fifteen) books, at interview with the Head, that he has read. This is a somewhat daunting but not impossible task for a bright six year old. They will usually be examined in English, Maths and Verbal Reasoning. There are later points of entry, at 10 or 11 years of age, to some of these schools but once again we ask parents to be aware of the fact that there are some 118 students who will compete for just 11 places.

A child who is 10 for a girl and 12 for a boy will find a place in a Prep School quite difficult to find. Entry at this late stage would mean a very short preparation time before they have to take entrance examinations for a Senior School and any Prep School, who guards their academic reputation closely, would be very wary of that happening.


Independent Senior Schools

These schools are by their very nature well established with a long history, many going back even further than the first English Parliament in the 13 th century. The top schools will have entry points for girls at 11 and boys at 13 and then not again until the sixth form at 16.

St Paul 's Girls' School  Godolphin and Latymer and most of the London Girls Day schools require registration  at the latest by the 1st  November before the set birthday for entry and will sit examinations in the January following. St Paul’s Boys and Westminster require them to be registered by the end of Year 6 (10 years of age but it is best to register from year 5). If the deadlines are not met it is not possible to put in late applications and one must wait until the next regular point of entry in most cases

Some of these schools will allow the entry examinations to be taken overseas if they are assured that a child's current school can provide a strict examination process. This does allow some flexibility and a child is able to work in a known environment. Some schools will require pupils are brought here for testing and it is essential that the child is allowed a couple of days, at least, to recover from tiredness and flight fatigue.

Independent Schools are very much governed by League Table results and these are produced on their success rate at GCSE and A level. Results are published annually and are available to all. It is essential to understand that the grading is for 5 GCSE passes at grades A* - C; the top schools have pass rates well in excess of 75%+ and some well over 90%+ of their students obtaining A* and A grade in all of their examinations, which for some may number 11 or 12 examinations.

Anomalies of which to be aware:

  1. Parents need to be aware that some top schools still have Saturday morning school with sport in the afternoon. This is very much part of the British system and the ethos of the school. This is a non-negotiable part of the school week. If you wish to have your child attend a particular school, but want the weekends for family time, then it is vital one checks the school's requirements.
  2. At its best the British System of Education is one of the finest and it therefore follows academic standards are very high, as is the level of expectation from pupils.
  3. Some parents are rather astonished when they are told that their child coming from another system will possibly be behind the British system; it is not a condemnation of child, system or country, simply that we do things in a different order here. Particularly in Maths and English students may find themselves struggling in the examinations. Parents to whom this is indicated would again be sensible to take advice before committing themselves to the "British Experience". On a positive note, numerous schools will wish to have a cross section of pupils within their establishment and as always, will invariably, give credit for other skills and accomplishments where necessary.
  4. It is important that parents ensure that the school is aware of their child's strengths, especially in areas such as music, drama, sport and other hobbies or interests; again these are a considerable part of an established school ethos and play a vital part in a child's development as a well-rounded student. Most established schools have Scholarships or Exhibitions within these areas as well as the academic fields.


If it is the case that a pupil will be boarding at the school, the process of obtaining a place is occasionally, but not always, slightly easier. This situation arises owing to a small decline in recent years, of parents seeking to board their children at school during term time, although recent research has shown an increase in its popularity once again.

Weekly boarding is also on offer in some schools but it is essential to confirm that it means the whole weekend is free, or, only after school commitments have been honoured on the Saturday. (If a pupil is a member of the choir, for example, then their time is very much sought after for practice).