The epithet, 'the early bird catches the worm' is ripe when trying to find nursery and prep-prep school places. What follows is a brief overview of the key entry points in independent education, but do remember that there are always exceptions to the rules. Independent schools are precisely that independent. Whilst they share much in common entry procedures do vary. These idiosyncrasies can only be fully grasped by talking to each school and discussing their entry requirements.

Nursery and 3+

This is the one that captures the headlines, with tales of forms being completed from hospital beds and couriered to waiting admissions staff to ensure a top spot in a London nursery. Although these cases are not necessarily the norm, they do emphasise the point that if you want your child to attend a particular nursery then registering at birth is advisable. A family interview often accompanies the registration process.


Successful entry for pre-prep demands early registration and some schools now have an assessment.

Many schools register on a first-come first-serve basis, opening lists on 1st September. Those born closest to that date will clearly be at an advantage. Other schools are more structured and close lists 18 months after the first births of that cohort. Others simply draw names from a hat. One well-known school uses a tombola!

Assessments vary but usually at this age children are assessed in small groups in a classroom. Family interviews are often expected.

At the Independent Schools Show you will find that there are schools for all types of children from top scholars to late developers.

You will be able to:

  • meet admissions staff at over 200 independent schools catering for all ages from 3+ entry up to 16+ sixth formers,
  • discuss entry requirements for places and scholarships,
  • register your child,
  • hear from the country's leading heads speaking in the Education Theatre about entrance requirements, preparation and how to broaden your options.

2017 Show

Saturday 11 November 2017
Sunday 12 November 2017

Battersea Evolution, Battersea Park,
London, SW11 4NJ