Applying to independent schools

Resources to support applications to secondary schools at 11+

1. What are independent schools, and what are grammar schools?

The terminology used to describe different types of schools can sometimes be confusing.

This video explains the difference between independent schools and grammar schools, and suggests some factors to bear in mind if you are considering applying to one.

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2. What options do I have for secondary schools near me?

The Department for Education’s website has full listings of schools near you – including maintained (state) schools and independent (private) schools.

We have also produced this map, which gives an illustration of some of the top independent schools in the London area. It also includes grammar schools and some independent boarding schools. This map gives you details on the application deadlines for each school, as well as links to information about bursaries and fee assistance.

The schools on this map are not necessarily “recommended” by Westminster School – and there are also lots of other fantastic schools which are not on this map. It is intended as a guide to help families start to consider their options.

Do look carefully at the application deadlines – some are as early as this summer for current year 5s.

3. How can my child get into an independent school or a grammar school?

Each school will have its own tests and admissions process. There are details of these on the map above for the schools listed. Other schools will provide information on their own websites.

“The 11+” is a name given to all the different tests that schools run as part of their admissions processes. Some schools do their own unique test. Other schools share tests such as:

This video explains more about the different tests and gives an explanation of what they involve.
4. I don’t think I can afford the fees for independent schools. What can I do?

Many independent schools offer bursaries for pupils from less well-off backgrounds. This means that they pay some or all of the school fees for you, and can also cover other costs such as uniform and trips.

Every school has their own arrangements and process for deciding who gets these bursaries. This video explains more. We recommend you contact schools you are interested in early.

Some schools may also be able to waive the application fee for some bursary candidates, so it is worth talking to admissions departments, as this can save you a lot of money.

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A Westminster School Initiative