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Criteria for selecting a prep

  1. Know your child. If you've got an academic son or daughter, do everything you can to get them into an academic school. If they're not academic, you might need to consider whether they would thrive in a more creative or sporting environment.

  2. Do as much research as possible: check ISI reports, test data and Sats results, where applicable, and find out where school leavers end up.

  3. After researching the school profiles, form a list and request the brochures. Study them but don't be taken in by glossy photographs of smiling children and new facilities. What matters is what happens in the classroom.

  4. Consider the curriculum offered and look at class sizes and staff turnover.

  5. Ask for a tour of the school and pop into the classroom while lessons are in progress. Check if there is a good atmosphere and a sense of learning.

  6. Do everything in your power to see the head teacher, as they will set the tone of the school.

  7. If you know parents who sent their child to a school that is of interest to you, talk to them. They are the best source.

  8. UK prep schools can cost between £4,700 and £15,000 per annum on a day basis. Make sure the fees fit within your budget.

  9. Does school feed into senior schools, and if so how? How does the common entrance examination work? What proportion of children go on to their first-choice senior school?

  10. See what your child thinks after a school visit. Gauge their reaction - after all, they need to feel comfortable there.

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