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 independent schools.

Originally developed in England and Wales in the early 19th century as boarding schools to prepare boys for leading public schools, such as Eton and Winchester, the numbers attending such schools increased due to large numbers of parents being overseas in the service of the British Empire. They are now found in all parts of the United Kingdom, and elsewhere.

Boys' prep schools are generally for 8- to 13-year-olds, who are prepared for the Common Entrance Examination, the key to entry into many secondary independent schools. 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 of 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 (as most secondary schools now are). However, as more girls now go on to formerly single-sex boys' schools which have become co-educational, the separation is less clear.

The Independent Association of Preparatory Schools (IAPS) is the association of prep schools' heads and serves the top 500+ independent prep schools in the United Kingdom and overseas, 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]