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Apply to a UK Senior School: How to Choose Schools

by Antonina Kudrova | March 06, 2024

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Choosing the right independent senior school in the UK for your child is a significant decision that can impact their academic development, social growth, and future opportunities. With a wide range of options available, it’s crucial to consider several factors to ensure that the school you select aligns with your child’s needs, interests, and aspirations. This comprehensive guide outlines the key considerations and steps to take when selecting an independent secondary school in the UK.

Getting Started

In considering Day schools, most parents will look at the schools that are a convenient distance from them. For Boarding schools, families tend to consider well-known schools, all over the country. As a starting point, there are two groups of Boarding schools that form somewhat of an “Ivy League” in the UK. The following lists are by no means exhuastive for a school search, however, families may find them to be good starting points to get a flavour the UK’s educational offering:

Eton Group¹

  • Bryanston School, Dorset
  • Dulwich College, London
  • Eton College, Berkshire
  • Highgate School, London
  • King’s College School, London
  • Marlborough College, Wiltshire
  • Sherborne School, Dorset
  • St Paul’s School, London
  • The King’s School, Canterbury, Kent
  • Tonbridge School, Kent
  • University College School, London
  • Westminster School, London

Rugby Group: 

  • Bradfield College
  • Charterhouse School
  • Cheltenham College
  • Clifton College
  • Haileybury College
  • Harrow School
  • Malvern College
  • Monkton Combe School
  • Oundle School
  • Radley College
  • Repton School
  • Rugby School
  • St Edward’s School, Oxford
  • Shrewsbury School
  • Stowe School
  • Uppingham School
  • Wellington College, Berkshire
  • Winchester College 

Process for Selecting a School

Understand Your Child: Recognizing your child’s academic strengths, interests, and social needs is crucial. Assess in what settings they are likely to flourish in. Reflect on their favorite subjects and any special extracurricular interests.

Research and Shortlist: With a clear picture of your child’s preferences, begin your search for suitable senior schools. Look for institutions excelling in your child’s interest areas, evaluating their academic performance, Ofsted ratings, and success in university preparation.

Location and Facilities: For day schools, consider the commute’s impact. If considering boarding, inspect the facilities to ensure they provide the right atmosphere for your child. Understand the policies regarding weekends and holidays.

Visit Schools: Attending open days or arranging private tours is critical. This allows you to observe the environment, meet faculty, and gauge the school’s atmosphere firsthand.

Academic and Extracurricular Offerings: Examine the curriculum and ensure it matches your child’s interests and goals. Explore the breadth of subjects, including A Level or IB options, and flexibility in choosing them. Similarly, assess the variety and quality of extracurricular activities.

Support Services: The level of academic and pastoral support can greatly affect your child’s school experience. Investigate the availability of SEN provisions, mental health support, and overall student well-being approaches.

Understand Costs: Be fully aware of all expenses, including tuition, boarding, uniforms, and extracurricular activities. Explore scholarships, bursaries, and financial aid options to make education more affordable.

Talk to Current Students and Parents: Gaining insights from those currently engaged with the senior school can offer invaluable perspectives not found in brochures or during visits.

Reflect and Decide: After thorough research and discussions, reflect on your findings. Make sure to involve your child in the decision-making process, prioritizing their comfort and preferences.

Moving Forward

Selecting an independent senior school in the UK is a nuanced process that requires careful consideration of various factors. By understanding your child’s needs, researching and visiting schools, and considering the academic and extracurricular offerings, you can make an informed decision that best supports your child’s development and future success. Remember, the right school for one child may not be the right school for another, so focus on finding the best fit for your child. If you would like guidance at every stage of the school application process, JUNO can help. Our education consultants get to know your child, family, and preferences to make recommendations and entry strategies for your best fit schools. Contact us here.