• 13+ Common Entrance Tutor

What are senior schools looking for when selecting pupils?

Updated: Nov 18, 2020

Any list of qualities that selective boarding senior schools look for in potential pupils would almost certainly include the following:

  • Pupils who won’t just “get in” but will also “get on”. If over-tutoring has had to take place for a child simply to earn a place then they are almost certainly going to the wrong school.

  • Pupils who have a breadth of talents, with something to offer over and above academics – e.g. sport, music, art, drama, interesting hobbies.

  • Pupils who are both interesting and interested.

  • Pupils who can think for themselves.

  • Pupils who are self-motivated and independent learners, with intellectual curiosity.

  • Pupils who want to get involved.

  • Pupils who will be happy boarders.

  • Pupils who have learnt at least one other language; such language learning develops different areas of the brain and the skills needed to “code and decode” foreign languages are valued by senior schools.

  • Pupils who can add positive value to the school community, and enhance the opportunities of others.

It goes without saying that many schools will require a minimum academic standard to be met, as validated by assessments such as the ISEB pre test. However, the qualities needed for children really to get the most out of their time at senior school - and for the schools to get the most out of their students - extend far beyond the classroom. Such non-academic pastimes and hobbies also make a crucial contribution to general wellbeing and happiness.


Of course academics are important, but neglect everything else at your peril.

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