What’s the difference between Private, Independent and Public schools?

It’s often difficult to pick apart the differences between private, independent and public schools – they overlap and terms are used interchangeably by parents and teachers on a regular basis. Private schools are any schools that are financed independently (as opposed to those which are funded by the state). For this reason, both independent and public schools are in fact private schools – however, there are subtle differences.

The distinction stems from how schools are managed. Independent schools are all overseen by a board of governors (or trustees), whereas private schools may be run without a governing body or trust – simply by an owner. Public schools are independent schools (usually boarding) that are particularly traditional and academically selective. They get their name from their historical purpose – to prepare students for Oxbridge to benefit the ‘public’ sector!

All three school types are the same in that they charge fees for attendance and have the independence to operate outside of governmental regulations. They are still, however, regularly inspected and kept to the highest of standards; they are also required to prepare students for the same qualifications (GCSEs/IBs/ALevels) as state schools.

What are Prep Schools?

Prep schools can be understood as selective fee-paying primary schools, with the purpose of preparing pupils for entry into private secondary schools. Pupils usually attend from the age of 3 – with new attendees being fed at age 7 or 8. These students are then taught with the aim of being fully prepared for the 11+ or 13+ examinations.

 

How do I apply to Private Schools?

Although there is no standard model for applying to UK private schools (each school sets its own admissions policy), there are a common set of steps you will be required to take when applying:

 

Step 1: Registration

All private schools will require you to register your child for consideration. To complete this registration, you will need to pay a non-refundable fee of up to £300 before your child can be considered for entry. It is important you register your child as early as possible for your prospective schools before their list of applicants becomes full. For registration dates and important deadlines for London private schools click here (link coming soon).

 

Step 2: Entrance Examinations

The vast majority of private schools require applicants to sit an entrance exam. The exams will usually consist of Maths, English and Verbal/Non-Verbal Reasoning papers. These examinations are either written by the schools themselves or a standard test from the Independent Schools Examination Board (ISEB) is used; these are known as the Common Entrance Exam. These exams are highly competitive and for this reason can be extremely challenging. It is vital that your child scores highly in these exams if they are to be considered for entry into the schools of their choice.

 

Step 3: The Interview

Despite state schools being prohibited from interviewing prospective students, interviewing is a crucial part of the admissions process for private schools. If your child passes their entrance exams, they will be invited to the school for an interview where a member of staff will try to gain insight into their character. Schools are looking for students who are capable, teachable, polite and a good fit for the school community.

If these three steps go as planned, then hopefully your child will be offered a place at one or more of the schools you applied to. You now need to pick the place you most want and prepare your child for entry into their new school!

Private schools list (11+)

BOROUGHSCHOOL NAMEGENDERPLACES AVAILABLEREGISTRATION DEADLINETESTSTEST DATESBURSARIES/SCHOLARSHIPS
Hammersmith and FulhamSt James Senior Girls' SchoolGirlsFriday 12th November 2021Stage One - computerised ISEB pre test - verbal, non verbal, Maths, English

Stage Two - Interview and Activity day
ISEB - taken by Friday 10th December 2021

Interviews - November 2021 to February 2022
Bursaries - means tested and up to 100% available
Hammersmith and FulhamSt Paul's Girls SchoolGirlsFriday 12th November 2021Stage One - CEM computer test in verbal , maths and non verbal

Stage Two - English, Maths and comprehension

Stage Three - Interview
CEM computer test: Monday 22 – Friday 26 November 2021

English, Maths and comprehension - 5th January 2022

Interview :
Monday 17 – Thursday 20 January 2022

Bursaries - means tested and up to 100% available

Music Scholarship - £1650 per annum
Hammersmith and FulhamSt Paul's SchoolBoysapprox 36Monday 1st November 2021
Stage One - computerised ISEB pre test

Stage Two - English & Mathematics written test

Stage Three - Interview
ISEB Online Pre-test Monday 6 December 2021

Written Exams - Tuesday 4 January 2022

Interviews - Mid January
Bursary - Means tested and up to 100% available

Music Scholarship available
Hammersmith and FulhamLatymer Upper SchoolMixedTbcStage One - English and Maths (written)

Stage Two - Interviews
Maths and English test -Tuesday 11 January 2022

Interview - Saturday 29th January 2022
Bursary - Means tested and up to 100% available

Academic scholarship - one off payment of £1000

Music scholarships - up to 40% off

Hammersmith and FulhamGodolphin and LatymerGirlsFriday 12th November 2021Stage One - computerised ISEB pre test - verbal, non verbal, Maths, English

Stage Two - Interview
TbcBursary - means tested and up to 100% available
City of LondonCity of London Girls SchoolGirls100Friday 29th October 2021

Stage One- computerised CEM maths, verbal and non verbal

Stage Two - Maths and English assessments

Stage Three - Interviews
CEM computer tests - Week commencing Monday 22 November 2021

Maths and English assessments - Monday 10 January 2022

Interviews - Thursday 13 & Friday 14 January 2022



Bursary - means tested and up to 100% available

Art, sport, music, drama scholarships are worth £1,500 per year
City of LondonCity of London SchoolBoys60Friday 5th November 2021Stage One - English, Maths (written)

Stage Two - Verbal reasoning, Non verbal reasoning, Interview
Maths and English tests - Friday 3rd December 2021

Verbal reasoning,Non verbal reasoning,Interviews - late January
Bursary - means tested and up to 100% available

Academic, music and sports scholarships are worth £250
WestminsterQueen's College LondonGirlsFriday 12th November 2021Stage One - Tbc but likely computerised Maths, English, Verbal reasoning, non verbal reasoning (London Consortium)

Stage Two - Interviews
Exams - Tbc

Interview- January
Bursary - means tested and up to 100% available

Academic, music and sports scholarships available
WestminsterWestminster SchoolBoysOctober 2021Stage One - ISEB pretest computerised

Stage Two - written Maths and English test

Stage Three - Interviews
ISEB pretest computerised - November/December

Maths and English test - January

Interview - February
Bursary - means tested and up to 100% available
DulwichAlleyn'sMixedFriday 29th October 2021Stage One - ISEB pre test - Maths, English, Verbal reasoning, Non verbal reasoning

Stage Two - Maths , English, Verbal reasoning (GL), Non verbal reasoning (GL)
ISEB pretest - Saturday 13th and 20th November 2021

Entrance exams (stage two) - Friday 7th January 2022

Interviews - Saturday 29th January 2022

Bursary - means tested and up to 100% available

Academic, Sports and Music scholarship - £5,000 per year

Art and DT scholarship - £2000 per year
DulwichJames Allen Girls SchoolGirlsSunday 31st October 2021ISEB pretest in Maths, English, verbal and non verbalbetween 15th November and 14th JanuaryBursary - means tested and up to 100%

Scholarships in music, art, academics, sports are available up to £4000 per annum
DulwichDulwich CollegeBoys70Monday 1st November 2021Stage One - reasoning exams

Stage Two - English and Maths exams

Stage Three - Interview
Reasoning exams - Saturday 13th November 2021
Saturday 20th November 2021

English and Maths - Wednesday 15th December 2021
Thursday 16th December 2021

Interviews - Friday 14th January to Thursday 20th January 2022
Busary - means tested and up to 100%

Academic Scholarship - 10% to 33.3% available

Art Scholarship - up to 10%

Music Scholarship - up to a third

Sports - up to 10%
EalingSt Augustine's PrioryGirlsTbcTbcTbcTbc
EalingNotting Hill and Ealing High SchoolGirlsFriday 12th November 2021Stage One - ISEB Common Pre-tests (verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning, English and Maths - London Consortium)

Stage Two - interviews
Exams - Tbc

Interview- January
Bursary - means tested and up to 100%

Academic and music scholarship- up
to 10%
Kensington and ChelseaKnightsbridge SchoolMixedStage One - interview and report from Headmaster

Stage Two - practical day assesment with class
Bursary - means tested and up to 100%
BarnetMill Hill SchoolMixed60-70Friday 12 November 2021
Carousel of three 75 minute activities:

Computer–based CEM Select test (Reading Comprehension, Verbal, Non-Verbal and Numerical Reasoning)
Group interview & creative writing
Problem solving & team activity

Stage Two - Interview
Exams - Saturday 20 November 2021
Bursary - means tested and up to 100%

Academic Scholarships, worth normally up to 10% of the tuition fees

Music and sports scholarships also available
CamdenSt Margaret's SchoolGirlsFriday 12th November 2021ISEB Common Pre-tests (verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning, English and Maths - London Consortium)Exams - Tbc
Bursary - means tested and up to 100%
CamdenSouth Hampstead High SchoolGirls55 Friday 12th November 2021Stage One - ISEB Common Pre-tests (verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning, English and Maths - London Consortium)

Stage Two - interviews
Exams - Tbc

Interview- January
Bursary - means tested and up to 100%

Music scholarship- up
to 50%

Sports scholarship available
CamdenFrancis Holland Regents ParkGirlsFriday 12th November 2021Stage One - ISEB Common Pre-tests (verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning, English and Maths - London Consortium)

Stage Two - Interviews
Exams - Tbc

Interview- January
Bursary - means tested and up to 100%

Scholarships in Academic , music, art - up to 5% available

Sports scholarship - up to 25%
CamdenUCSBoys55Monday 8th November 2021Stage One - Maths and English tests

Stage Two - interviews
Maths and English tests - Thursday January 6th 2022

Interviews - Tbc
Means tested scholarships - up to 100%

Music scholarships - 20 to 30%
RichmondHarrodian Mixed35 - 40Friday 5th November 2021Stage one -ISEB pre test - Maths, English, verbal reasoning, non verbal reasoning

Stage Two - Interview
ISEB test - to be completed by Monday 6th December 2021

Interview - Saturday 29th January, Tuesday 1st February, Wednesday 2nd February 2022
Bursary - means tested and up to 100%

RichmondHampton SchoolBoys140Monday 1 November 2021Creative Writing (30 minutes)
Words & Reasoning (40 minutes)
Mathematics (45 minutes) and Interview
Exams - Saturday 27th November 2021 Bursary - means tested and up to 100%

Academic, Art, Chess, Music, Performing Arts and Sport Scholarships - 5% and 25% of tuition fees
RichmondLady Eleanor Holles SchoolGirlsWednesday 10th November 2021Stage One - Non verbal reasoning, Verbal reasoning, problem solving Tests

Stage Two - interviews
Exams - Sunday 5th December 2021

Interviews -Tuesday 25th, Wednesday 26th & Thursday 27th January 2022
Bursary - means tested and up to 100%

Music scholarships - 7.5%

Academic and music Scholarships - 10%
Hertsmere (Hertfordshire)The Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' SchoolBoys19 November 2021Stage One - computerised bespoke reasoning test (90 mins)

Stage Two - Interviews
Stage One - Thursday 16 December and Friday 17 December 2021

Stage Two - Tuesday 11 January 2022 to Friday 21 January 2022.
Bursary - means tested and up to 100%

Academic and Music scholarship - 5 and 25%

HillingdonMerchant Taylor SchoolBoysTuesday 11th January 2022 Stage One - (1 hour)
Mathematics (1 hour)
MTS General Paper (1 hour)

Stage Two - Interview in English, Maths and group task
Stage One - November

Stage Two - late January/early February
Bursaries are available at any point of entry up to 100% of the fee

We currently offer academic, all-rounder, Art, Drama, Design, Engineering and Technology, Music, and Sport scholarships. - up to 25%
HarrowNorth London Collegiate SchoolGirls15th November 2021written papers in English and Maths and interview10th December 2021Bursary - means tested and up to 100%

Music scholarships available
HarrowJohn Lyon SchoolBoysFriday 15th October 2021 English examination – 1 hour

Mathematics examination – 1 hour

Group activity and interview – 2 hours
Wednesday 10th, 17th and 24th November 2021Bursary - means tested up to 100%

Music, sports, drama and arts scholarship available
HighgateChanning SchoolGirlsFriday 12th November 2021Stage One - ISEB Common Pre-tests (verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning, English and Maths - London Consortium)

Stage Two - interviews
Exams - Tbc

Interview- January

Interviews - January 2022 for all candidates
Bursary - means tested and up to 100%

Academic scholarship - up to 10 of fees



GreenwichColfe SchoolMixed60-70Friday 26th November 2021 Stage One -Maths and English written exams

Stage Two - Interview
Exams- Thursday 6th January 2022

Interview - January
Means tested scholarships - up to 100%

Academic scholarships - up to 50%
GreenwichEltham CollegeMixedMonday 15th November 2021
Maths and English (writtem)

verbal and non verbal reasoning (computerised)

Interview
Wednesday 5th January 2022
Bursary - means tested up to 100%

Acacdemic, music, sports, art Scholarships - up to 50 %

GreenwichBlackheath High SchoolGirlsFriday 29th October 2021English, maths, verbal reasoning (GL)Saturday 20th November 2021Bursary - means tested up to 100%

Academic scholarship - up to 50%

Art, mujsic and sports scholarships available

MertonWimbledon High SchoolGirls03 November 2021Verbal reasoning and non verbal reasoning (written paper unless lockdown then it will move to ISEB pre test)Mid-November 2021
Bursary - means tested up to 100%

Academic scholarships - up to 20% of fees but are usually 5 - 10%
MertonKings College SchoolBoysMonday 1st November 2021Stage One -English, Maths, verbal reasoning

Stage Two - Interview
Stage One -December

Stage Two - January
Bursary - means tested up to 100%
SurreyEpsom CollegeMixed31st October 2021Stage One - Interview

Stage Two - Verbal Reasoning (50 minutes / GL)
Non-Verbal Reasoning (35 minutes/GL)
Creative Writing (30 minutes)
Mathematics (30 minutes)
Stage Two - 5th-8th January 2022Bursary - means tested up to 100%

Academic, drama, music, sports, Scholarships - up to £6000 per year

KingstonSurbiton High SchoolGirlsWednesday 3rd November 2021. Stage One - Maths and English papers

Stage Two -Interview
Exams - Saturday 27 November 2021

Interview - mid January 2022
Bursaries available - means tested but not up to 100%

Academic, Art, Drama, Dance, Performing Arts, Music and Sport scholarships available
CroydonCroydon High School for GirlsGirlsMonday 8th November 2021Computer test - numeracy, problem solving, vocabulary

Teaching activity/interview
Saturday 4th December 2021Bursary - means tested up to 100%

Academic, music, art, sports, drama scholarships available
CroydonWhitgiftBoysFriday 12th November 2021TbcSaturday 4th and 11th December 2021Bursary - means tested up to 100%

Academic scholarship - up to 50%
WandsworthIbstock PlaceMixedFrday 12th November 2021Computer test (CEM), practical assessment, - subjects Tbc

Exams written - subjects Tbc
computer-based test and participate in a
Learning Workshop either on Tuesday 4th January or Wednesday 5th January 2022.

Written Examinations- Saturday 15th January 2022
Bursary - means tested up to 100%

Music scholarships - free tuition
WandsworthPutney High SchoolGirls100Wednesday 3rd November 2021Stage One - computerised but subjects tbc

Stage Two - Interview
Stage One -mid November.

Interviews - Wednesday 19 January
Bursary - means tested up to 100%

Academic, music and sport scholarships
WandsworthEmanuel SchoolMixed96Friday 15th October 2021Stage One - interviews

Stage Two - maths and English
Interviews - Monday 1st November to Frday 10th December 2021

Maths and English - Friday 3rd December 2021 or Thursday 9th December 2021
Bursary - means tested and up to 100

Academic, music, sport, drama, art scholarships - up to 25%

Please check the information on the websites of the schools as there may be amendments and adjustments which have not been reflected in the table above.