Secondary school applications can be a stressful experience. That’s especially true in a county like Oxfordshire that’s home to several of the country’s leading independent schools, including Magdalen College School, Oxford High School and Headington School. Entry is competitive and schools are often oversubscribed. 

If you’re a parent thinking about your child’s secondary school, here’s what you can do to make the application process smoother.


 1. Start Early

Even Eton no longer requires parents to register their children at birth. All the same, if you’re aiming for one of Oxfordshire’s best independent schools, you’d ideally start thinking about applications once your child reaches Year 4 in their primary school. 

2. Look Beyond League Tables When You Choose A School

League tables, especially if they rank solely on exam results, can be misleading. Make sure you take into account extracurriculars, class sizes and ethos. This doesn’t just help you pick the best school for your child; it’ll also help your child’s application if you can show you’ve really put thought into why the school is right for them. 

3. Attend Open Days

One of the best ways to get a feel for the school is to attend an open day, and it also helps to demonstrate your commitment to the school. What’s most important is how the teachers interact with your child – does your child feel welcome and at home there?

4. Consider The Living Situation

Boarding, flexi-boarding, weekly boarding, day only. The number of options for your child can be overwhelming. Pick the environment that is right for them. If they are strongly independent, boarding may be the way forward, more shy students may prefer a day school.

5. Get A Tutor

The brightest of children still benefit from a tutor when it comes to sitting entrance exams, even just to give them some coaching in exam technique and get them used to the style of questions. Tutoring can also increase your child’s confidence around entrance exams and interviews. 


 Oxford Office: +44(0)1865 548459  

London Office: +44(0)2078 460259


Leave a Comment