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When considering an independent school for their child, one of the most common questions parents have centres on the independent school application process. 

Applying to a private school can seem like a daunting task, but in reality, schools are always more than happy to help with any queries about applying, and the process itself is usually very straightforward.  

Keep reading to find out what to expect when applying to an independent school. 


When is the best time of year to apply? 

There is no perfect time to apply to an independent school, with schools receiving applications year-round. 

However, most schools see the majority of their applications between June and December for the upcoming school year – many parents also tend to register their child up to two years before they plan on attending.  

In most cases, earlier is better when it comes to applying – it means you can secure your place and get to know the school before the time comes for your child to actually attend. 

To find out all the ins and outs of the best time to apply, read our blog with Caroline Routledge, registrar at St Leonards in St Andrews, here. 


How can you make an informed decision? 

You will naturally have a lot of questions when considering which schools to apply to. Lots of these can be answered by attending a school open day, which is highly encouraged so that you can gain a proper understanding of the school, its ethos and your child's potential teachers and classmates.  

Now with more schools adept at doing things digitally, you can also build in opportunities to meet the school team on video calls as well as getting a feel for lessons through online learning systems. 

Open Days regularly feature dedicated Q&A sessions and generally, as a minimum you should be looking for the answers to the following key questions before applying: 


  • What age of entry should your child be when the school year starts? 
  • Which date do you need to apply by? 
  • If you are considering boarding schools – what kind of boarding to they offer? Full time, weekly or flexi?  
  • When are the school open days? 
  • What kind of assessments are necessary upon applying? 


Fee assistance & bursaries 

Every independent school offers some form of fee assistance, bursaries or scholarships. 

Scholarships offer the opportunity for talent to be rewarded in independent schools and can be awarded for things like music or sports. Find out all you need to know about independent school scholarships in this blog. 

Fee assistance, also known as a bursary, allows families who might not otherwise have been able to afford an independent education for their child the chance to consider the option of an independent school. Schools can provide up to 100% of a child’s school fees, so it is worth enquiring with prospective schools about what kind of fee assistance they offer. 

If you need advice on how you can best budget for school fees, read our blog on this topic here. 


You’ve decided to apply – now what? 

Once you have narrowed down your list of schools to apply to, you can embark on the next steps of the independent school application process. 

Application processes vary between schools, but most likely you will be invited to sit some kind of entrance assessment or interview. Some schools require children to sit papers in Maths, English and Reasoning, for example. We’ve got some tips on what you can expect from an entrance assessment here. 

If you’re considering registering your child at an independent school, SCIS can help – use our find a school tool or get in touch with us today.