With a range of excellent choices in the area, some parents may decide that independent schools are a good alternative to grammar schools.

As with grammar schools, it can be incredibly difficult to secure places in many independent schools. These fee-paying schools are often highly academically selective but do also attract children gifted in music or sport.

It is worth noting that means tested bursaries are available to over 40,000 pupils every year to widen access to children with families unable to afford the fees.

To find out which independent schools are in your area, we suggest visiting the Independent Schools Directory.

In order to find out how independent schools are performing, you will have to establish which inspectorate they are aligned with.

Independent schools are inspected by one of four organisations:

1. Ofsted (around half of all independent schools)
2. Independent Schools Inspectorate (schools that are members of the Independent Schools Council)
3. Bridge Schools Inspectorate (schools that are members of the Christian Schools Trust or Association of Muslim Schools)
4. School Inspection Service


Many independent schools use a standard test developed by the Independent Schools Examination Board (ISEB). The Common Entrance Exam for both 11+ and 13+, is generally taken between 6 and 9 months before entry. If the applicant achieves a high mark in the exam, they will generally then be invited to an interview at the school.

The main subjects that are included in the Common Entrance Exam are Maths, English and Science but pupils may also be asked to sit exams in other subjects as well.

Some schools may use their own entrance examinations and so it is essential to fully research the process well in advance so that your child can be fully prepared.