Finding a school that’s the right fit for your child can be challenging, but with this step-by-step guide, you’ll have everything you need to get through the process smoothly. 

We catch up with Chris Elliott-Jones, head of marketing at Rendcomb College, who reveals eight steps you can take to finding an independent school that aligns with your values.

1. Ask yourself: what aspects of my child’s education are most important to me?  

It can feel overwhelming trying to make the right choice for your child and what would work best for your family. So, take the pressure off and begin the process simply by identifying what’s important to you. 

Are you wanting to solely focus on academia, or would you prefer a more versatile approach that’s centered around values as well as results? Perhaps you are concerned with the school’s eco-credentials, or passionate about traditional ways of raising your children? 

You could pick the top school in the country, but if you prefer a more liberal approach that focusses on family values, the arts and developing well-rounded children, it might not be the right choice for you. 

2. Do your online research and attend open days 

Now it is time to shortlist the schools that suit your needs. All schools should have a mission statement, which will provide an initial impression, but the curriculum is also a good place to begin your research to determine their values.

Make sure you utilise open mornings to get a feel for the culture and environment. This is an ideal opportunity to see if they live and breathe the values they mention in their statement. Trust your gut feeling – your intuition can be a great indicator of whether the school is the right fit for you. 

When you leave the open day, do you find yourself feeling a buzz of excitement at the thought of revisiting? This is crucial. 

We frequently receive feedback on how refreshing it is to see that our messaging is consistently used across Rendcomb College. Our values remain the same, from the headmaster to our students and everyone in-between.

Great British Life: Rendcomb College’s student tour guides are always keen to share their experiences with prospective students and parents.Rendcomb College’s student tour guides are always keen to share their experiences with prospective students and parents. (Image: Andy Catterall)

3. Speak to current students and parents 

Do they feel the school lives up to those expectations and values? Encourage your child to chat with other students - these are the best people to talk with to get a realistic, unbiased understanding of the school and what a typical day-to-day experience is for its students. 

Our student tour guides are always keen to share their experiences with prospective students and parents to help them get an idea of what life is like here at the school. 

4. How does the school help its students to develop transferable life skills? 

Achieving good grades is, of course, an achievement we encourage all our students to aspire to at Rendcomb College, but there’s much more to preparing a child for future success after school. 

How can they stand out? Whether that be on paper or in person, it’s imperative to help them develop transferable skills which will propel them to exciting endeavours as they embark on their next journey. 

Universities look for more and expect prospective students to demonstrate this.  They look for well-rounded individuals who can hold meaningful conversations or stand in front of people and talk. 

These life skills go far beyond school, so make sure the school places an importance on these core values over pure academic results. Rendcomb College’s co-curricular activities include Debating Club, MedVet Society (for aspiring medics and veterinary pupils), Global Social Leaders and much more.

5. Find out what the fees are 

Choosing an independent school is a financial commitment, so make sure this is the best place for your child and is equipped to meet your child’s needs. Taster days are great, and I would strongly recommend speaking to the admissions team too. Our team at Rendcomb College are well prepared and happy to provide any information you need about course choices, pastoral care, academic results and co-curricular activities.

Great British Life: Find a school that places an importance on core transferable skills over pure academic results.Find a school that places an importance on core transferable skills over pure academic results. (Image: Rendcomb College)

6. Find out what the entrance requirements are

Once you’ve narrowed it down to a couple of schools, you can now begin the registration process. Most independent schools will have entrance assessments, although their influence on acceptance outcomes can differ between schools, so be sure to check this. 

You can get a clear idea from the admissions team what the process is and how long it takes - every school is different. Some can be two to three years in advance, but generally, it’s around 12 months before the child is due to start. 

Some schools will have external providers carrying out these assessments, whilst others complete the process internally. It can be a mixture of online assessments and physical papers which your child will have to sit. These often evaluate English, Mathematics and non-verbal reasoning.

7. Is the school selective or non-selective?

Selective schools have grade boundaries which need to be reached to be accepted. Non-selective schools still have entrance exams, although these are only in place to assess the pupil’s ability before they enroll and establish where they will sit in the year group. 

It is important to know what kind of schools you are looking at, so you can discuss options with your child and help them understand what would be expected of them. 

Rendcomb College is academically non-selective, however we assess all pupils joining to ensure that firstly they will thrive when they join us and secondly, we can get a decent benchmark for that pupil before they start.

8. Acceptance of offer

After entrance assessments and school references have been completed, and everything is satisfactory, you will then receive an offer letter, which you can then decide to either accept or decline. The letter will outline the financial commitment, whereby a deposit will then be required should you choose to accept. Once you have then signed acceptance, you will begin the process of joining the school.

For more information on Rendcomb’s admission process, visit For enquiries, contact