Private education in the UK is commonly divided into three main stages; Pre-Preparatory (Age 3 to 7), Preparatory (Age 7 to 11/13) and Senior (Age 11/13 to 18). Sometimes you can find these age ranges merged into one school or at least combined age ranges on one site. Preps and pre-Preps are often combined together. However of more interest is the concept of having a single school for the whole age range. We commonly call these “All-Through” schools, and they might take children from 4 to 18 or 7 to 18. The objective is to provide a seamless education through at least two school life stages. Aside from the easier transition to senior school, it is a huge benefit to parents with two or more children, because they can keep all their children together for longer.
In the Greater London area, where competition for school places is intense, it can be a huge advantage to gain entry to an All-Through school to remove the stress of having to find a new school, particularly at 11 or 13 entry, where the majority of schools are massively oversubscribed and require children to pass stiff entrance exams.
You will note that there is only one list because some parents will consider a factor to be an advantage whereas a different parent sees the same factor as a disadvantage!
1. An All-Through school permits a child to stay in the same school throughout. All-Throughs will usually still require their pupils to meet minimum standards of entry to their senior school. However, the majority of All-Throughs give preference to their existing Prep pupils over external candidates
2. An All-Through is usually much bigger than a stand alone Prep school, which gives the junior pupils the advantage of better facilities, such as sports facilities, swimming pools, theatres etc.
3. Sometimes the junior children get the advantage of being taught by specialist senior school teachers.
4. Academic performance is generally very good in All-Through schools. If you study our GCSE league tables, you will see that more than half of the top 20 schools are All-Throughs.
5. Being in the same school for 11 years or more can be stultifying for some pupils.
6. School fees for Prep stages in All-Throughs tend to be higher than in stand alone Prep schools. Conversely fees at All-Throughs for senior school age pupils are often lower than in other senior schools.
7. All-Through schools will often allow parents with several children to keep them together at the same school for longer. They may also benefit from sibling discounts.
At the end of the day the decision on whether to choose a Prep school or an All-Through is very much a personal one, albeit the strategy of ensuring a senior school place may override other considerations. In the league table part of this website, we have ranked All-Throughs separately from stand alone Prep Schools, using the GCSE results of All-Through schools, on the premise that the majority of Prep pupils will stay on at the same school.
All-Through schools fall into a number of different categories; some are day only schools, whereas some offer weekly or full boarding. The international schools also tend to be All-Through schools, and this can be a major attraction for families moving to the UK on a temporary basis with children of different ages.
To discuss your priorities in more detail, please arrange a complimentary consultation with one of our experienced education advisers, who will be pleased to talk through the options with you and explain how we can help you find the right school for your child. Please call +44 (0)1622 813870 or complete the Enquiry Form.