This website gives you contact details for all our member schools on the Search facility. Most of the schools are independent (private) and all of the schools, including state boarding schools, are responsible for their own admissions. There is no central clearing system for pupils wishing to attend boarding school, as there is, for instance, for University entrance.

So, the first thing to do is to make contact with schools which interest you. Enquire if they have a vacancy for your child at the time you would like them to join the school. Many schools may be able to admit another desk in a class for a day pupil, but some boarding schools may not have spare beds due to regulations about space, for instance.

Usual points of entry for boarders in our schools are at ages 7 or 8, 11, 13, and 16 for Sixth Form.

In an ideal world…

  • Apply direct to schools in which you are interested
  • Visit at least three schools to inform your decision, ideally in the summer term of the year before entry
  • Ask questions about evenings, weekends, pastoral care and activities – the things which are not visible on a day trip
  • Talk to the pupils that you meet – find out what it is really like from their perspective
  • Include your child in the decision making – if it is their choice, they are more likely to settle in happily

Discuss with the Head the following things:

  • Their scholarship policy
  • Your child’s potential for a scholarship
  • Bursary assistance policy
  • Anything about your child for which the school would need to make special provision, e.g. being dyslexic or autistic or gifted & talented


  • If you are not sure your child will qualify for a particular school, apply to more than one but be aware schools may ask for a deposit and this is unlikely to be returnable if you then decide not to take up the place
  • Your child takes the scholarship and/or entrance papers
  • Your child is accepted
  • Your child’s place is assured by the Easter before admission in September
  • Overseas parents should arrange a UK guardian for their child, ready for their arrival
  • Finally, your child starts school in September

But it is not necessarily an ideal world…

If your decision that a child should become a boarder is sudden or urgent, it is still possible to find a place in many good boarding schools.

  • Use the BSA or SBF School Search engines to find schools in an area which suits you (e.g. near an airport if you are an overseas applicant or with good road and rail links to your home in the UK)
  • Contact the schools via phone or email to find out if they have a boarding place available when you need it
  • Visit, if possible, two or three schools. Even if it is an urgent move, this is a big, life-affecting decision and there should still be choice, even in the midst of possible panic
  • Involve your child in the decision – it is their life that will be most affected
  • Talk to pupils and ask probing questions about evenings, weekends, pastoral care and activities – the things which are not visible on a day trip
  • Discuss your child’s needs with the Head
  • Make a decision
  • Enter your child and on occasion this can be within a week of applying
  • Some boarders are sometimes admitted, space permitting, in any term  and even in the middle of a term, if a crisis has arisen. All boarding schools work hard to help a child entering at any time other than September to integrate quickly into their year groups and the boarding community. However, parents should be aware that if may take a child in these circumstances a little while to settle in.

Are you looking to go in to Year 10?

Entering a boarding school at the start of Year 10 can be a very good idea, though the student will still need to make friends quickly while also tackling the start of the 2-year GCSE course.

Are you looking for a Sixth Form place?

Boarding is popular in the Sixth form, for pupils aged between 16 – 18. Parents and pupils see two years at boarding school as an excellent bridge between home and university, with enough independence to please the student and enough supervision to keep the parents happy. So if you want a Sixth form place, you should be applying in the Autumn of the previous year.

All boarding schools are likely to welcome registrations at that time – Autumn a year before entry – whatever the age of the pupil, even if their scholarships and entry examinations are held in the Spring term.

Are you looking to change schools in the middle of a two-year exam course?

Entry in the middle of a 2-year exam course – e.g. changing schools at the end of Year 10, half way through the GCSE course – is sometimes possible but can be very difficult. If seeking a place in the middle of a course, parents should approach schools with very clear information about the courses that their child is already taking, and examination boards for each subject. They are likely to be different – e.g.


  • English OCR
  • French NEAB
  • History MED
  • Science AQA


They are also likely to have different syllabi and demands for coursework.

Moving mid-course is seldom a good idea, but the match of courses between schools can make it possible. Some schools will insist the student starts again, re-doing Year 10. While this might be difficult socially, academically it is normally an excellent idea.