Preparatory school (United Kingdom)

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This article is about fee-paying private schools for children between 8 and 13 years old, based on the British model. For North American schools which prepare older students for university entry, see University-preparatory school.
The Perse Preparatory School

A British preparatory school (or prep school) is a fee-paying school for children of the ages of 8-13, often preparing them for entry into British public schools or other secondary level independent schools. Originally developed in England in the mid-1800s as boarding schools to educate children whose parents were overseas serving the British Empire, they are now found both in the United Kingdom, and elsewhere.

Boys' prep schools are generally for 8- to 13-year-olds (sometimes 6 or 7 to 13), when most pupils take the Common Entrance Examination for entry into a secondary independent school. Before the age of seven or eight, the term "pre-prep school" is used. Girls' private schools in England tend to follow the age ranges of state schools more closely than those for boys. Girls' preparatory schools usually admit girls from the age of four or five, who will then continue to another independent school at 11, or at 13 if the school is co-educational. However, as more girls now go on to formerly single-sex boys' schools which have become co-educational, the separation is less clear.

The Incorporated Association of Preparatory Schools (IAPS) is the prep schools' heads' association serving the top 500+ independent prep schools in the UK and worldwide, with a total of 130,000 pupils.


The Independent Association of Preparatory Schools (IAPS) is the prep schools heads association serving the top 500+ independent prep schools in the UK and Worldwide. IAPS is one of seven affiliated associations of the Independent Schools Council.[1]

There are 130,000 pupils in over 500 schools of all types and sizes. Prep schools may be for boys or girls only, or may be co-educational. They may be day schools, boarding schools, weekly boarding, flexi-boarding, or a combination. They fall into the following general categories:[1][2]

  • Wholly independent prep schools, both charitable and proprietary
  • Junior schools linked to senior schools
  • Choir schools, which educate child choristers of cathedrals and some other large religious institutions; they all accept non-chorister pupils with the exception of Westminster Abbey Choir School; these schools are usually affiliated to Anglican churches, but may occasionally be associated with Catholic ones such as Westminster Cathedral
  • Schools offering special educational provision or facilities
  • Schools with particular religious affiliations

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Introduction, Independent Association of Prep Schools.
  2. ^ What is a prep school?, Independent Association of Prep Schools.

External links[edit]