Almost all of them are, yes. Though, some are more selective than others. For a small number of the most selective schools, the only way to gain a place is to register your child’s date of birth, then head straight to the school and place their name on the waiting list; most schools now organise admissions so that not all places are nabbed by autumn births. Fortunately, at most schools things are not quite so competitive, with many rural prep and senior schools actively recruiting pupils.
Early years selection tends to be via a gentle assessment to see if your child will fit the bill (though even at such a tender age a handful have the hurdles set uncomfortably high). Speech, interaction, play and social skills are the order of the day. If your child has a difficulty in these areas we recommend you consult our extensive SEN section. Many independent schools welcome children with mild special needs, but numbers with the welcome mat out dwindle rapidly as degree of special need increases.
Most senior schools use the 11+ or common entrance exam (or scholarship for top-dogs) to assess whether the proposed pupil meets their academic requirements. Selection should be a two-way process – choosing the right private school for your child is of paramount importance, so don’t be seduced by a top school name, it may not be right for your child; do your research.
For students who make their entry at 16+ for sixth form the entry requirements and assessments tend to be a little more rigorous, with some schools stipulating specific grade conditions, interviews and even group evaluation activities with potential year group piers.