What is a prep school?
‘Prep’ or ‘preparatory’ schools are equivalent to the primary and middle schools of the state education sector. The majority cater for children aged up to 13 years, although some IAPS schools take children up to the age of 16. The majority of our schools have pre-prep and nursery sections that are dedicated to the youngest children.

How many days does an independent prep school have to be open during the academic year for teaching?
There are no legal requirements for school hours in independent schools. So long as schools meet the requirements of the independent school standards for the curriculum and teaching, the time they take to do it is a matter for their own planning. The Department for Education does however issue guidelines that many independent schools may follow. This suggests the following minimum weekly teaching times: 21 hours for ages 5 to 7; 23.5 hours for ages 8 to 11 and 24 hours for ages 12 to 16. Pupils in maintained schools are expected to attend school for at least 190 days a year (38 weeks). These refer to teaching hours and do not include registration, collective worship or break times.

My child has special needs. How do I find a suitable school?
Many IAPS schools admit a limited number of children with special educational needs, disabilities or illnesses. The schools will help these children to develop to the best of their abilities. You can find a full list of schools providing for various special needs by clicking here. Some children are particularly gifted with a blend of intelligence, personal characteristics and interpersonal skills. Help in identifying a gifted child and arranging appropriate schooling is available from NAGC (the National Association for Gifted Children).

How many children are there in a typical IAPS school?
The average number of children in an IAPS school is 260. Over half the schools have between 150 and 300 pupils. There are a few schools that have over 500 pupils and 20 have fewer than 100 children.

Are there any schools that take boarders only?
Over 200 IAPS schools offer some form of boarding and a small number take boarders only. However, many of the remainder have long traditions and experience in providing an excellent boarding education. Here boarders are in a majority and the care that goes into their educational and residential needs sets the whole tone of the school. Many parents regard them as caring second homes for their children.

Can I send my child to a single sex school?
The majority of IAPS schools are co-educational. However, nearly 20% of our schools are single sex. There are more than 70 boys-only schools and more than 30 that take only girls. You can search for these schools in our Schools Directory.

Can I get help with paying the fees?
The increasing number of children receiving help with their fees is a long term trend. In recent years schools have been providing more financial help to compensate for the loss of government assisted places. Many schools offer bursaries and scholarships and, for three and four year olds, some schools may participate in the Government Nursery Funding Scheme and so be able to offer the statutory free hours as laid down in legislation – please check with your intended school to see if this is available. Charitable grant-making trusts are able to help only in cases of genuine need. The trusts will reject applications unless their specific requirements are satisfied. Before any approach is made to a trust or charity, it is essential that parents should seek assistance from their Local Education Authority. The charities will require this to have been done before considering any offer of help. They will also expect parents to contribute as much as possible. More information can be obtained from: the Royal National Children's Springboard Foundation

How do I find a suitable prep school?
First you have to make some decisions about whether your child: needs nursery or pre-prep schooling; will be a day pupil or will board either part or full-time; is to go to a single sex school or a co-educational one. The majority of IAPS schools are free-standing sending their children on to a range of senior schools. Other IAPS schools are attached to senior schools providing, but not necessarily guaranteeing, progression in the child's education. Some schools cater particularly for those children who have special educational needs and some, such as choir schools, have other specialist provision. You need to create a short list based on the needs of your child and your joint expectations. It is important that you prepare a list of questions to ask and then you should visit the schools to find one that best suits the combined needs and expectations of your child and yourself.

Where can I find a league table of the best prep schools?
IAPS is opposed to league tables of schools based on the narrow criteria of test results. We believe that one of the great virtues of our schools is the breadth of their educational provision, both curricular and non-curricular. Tests do not provide a true reflection of all that is on offer in prep schools. This wider excellence is a characteristic of IAPS schools, whether or not they use the Key Stage tests. Typically it is based on specialist teaching and facilities, small teaching groups, good discipline, and very often an important spiritual dimension. The resulting high educational standards and breadth provide the all-round excellence that is at the heart of IAPS schools. Even so, regular assessment and reporting have long been a part of prep school life and the majority of IAPS schools do take part in the Key Stage tests. For some years over 90% of all children in IAPS schools taking Key Stage 2 tests have achieved Level 4 and above and almost 50% achieve Level 5 and above.

I want to move my child to another school - what do I have to do?
Parents have the right to choose their child's independent school. You can move your child between schools, but you should think carefully about why the new school will be better for your child's education. You will need to make sure that you have fully discharged your contractual liabilities to the school that your child is leaving. This usually involves giving a full term's notice, or payment of a full term's fees in lieu. You should also be aware that there is a code of practice that headteachers must follow in relation to school transfers.

Where are the Key Stage 2 results for IAPS schools published?
Regular assessment and reporting have long been a part of prep school life and 60% of IAPS schools take part in the Key Stage tests. For some years over 90% of all children in IAPS schools taking Key Stage 2 tests have achieved Level 4 and above and almost 50% achieve Level 5 and above. Results for individual schools are not available from IAPS but you should be able to obtain them from the school. Remember though that it is not compulsory for IAPS schools to take the tests.

Where can I find a school's inspection report?
The report on an ISI (Independent Schools Inspectorate) inspection that has taken place since Spring Term 1999 can be read at the school concerned. The school can also be asked to provide a copy of the report, for which it may make a small administrative charge. Some schools publish them on their own websites. Reports are also published on the ISI website. Prior to Spring Term 1999, reports on inspections carried out by the Accreditation, Review and Consultancy Service of the Independent Schools Council (now ISI) were confidential to the schools concerned. The regular inspection dates of all IAPS schools in England and Wales can be found on the ISI website: www.isi.net