Below are some of the questions prospective parents have about the admissions process at Shiplake College. If any of your questions are not answered here, please do not hesitate to contact the Registrar, Mrs Esther Pasmore, on 0118 9405 221 or email

At what age do pupils join Shiplake College?

Boys normally join Shiplake at Year 7 (age 11) and Year 9 (age 13), with both boys and girls joining at Year 12 (age 16). Our main intake is at Year 9. We do consider applications to join at Year 8 or Year 10, if there are vacancies. Admission into Year 11 or the Upper Sixth is not usually possible.

When should we apply?

The registration deadline for Year 7 candidates is the December preceding their year of entry, ahead of assessments in January whilst they are in Year 6 at their current school.

For Year 9 candidates the registration deadline is the end of July, prior to their assessments in September at the beginning of Year 8 in their current school.

Year 12 candidates should be registered by the end of the October of their Year 11, ahead of the assessment day in November.

We advise that you register as early as possible in order to benefit from communications from the College about taster events and other activities. Late applications may be considered if there are vacancies.

What are the entry requirements?

Year 7 boys will undertake assessment papers in English and Mathematics, attend an informal interview with the Head of Lower School or other senior member of staff, and participate in a number of other indoor and outdoor activities.

Year 9 boys will undertake written tests in English and Mathematics and take part in a group exercise, sporting activity. They will be interviewed by a Housemaster or senior member of staff during the day and will meet the Headmaster.

Year 12 girls and boys will undertake a range of literacy and numeracy tests. They will also take part in a group task and be interviewed by a senior member of staff.

A reference will also be requested from the candidate’s current school for all entry points.

Is Shiplake a selective school?

Shiplake College is a selective school but we do not select on academic ability alone. In each intake we admit pupils across a range of abilities. We look for pupils who will make the most of the opportunities and challenges that will lie ahead of them at the College and who will, in turn, contribute to and enrich the Shiplake community.

What is the ratio of applicants to places?

We receive about 2.5 applications per place for entry at Year 7, Year 9 and Sixth Form. The intake at Year 7 is 30 boys and the intake at Year 9 is a further 45 boys to create an overall year group of 75 at Year 9. There is space for about 30 girls to join the College each year, depending on the day/boarding split, and about 15 to 20 boys also join Year 12.

What happens when pupils move from Year 8 to Year 9, or Year 11 to the Sixth Form?

There are no separate tests to move from Year 8 to Year 9, or from Year 11 into the Sixth Form; continuation at Shiplake College is assumed. However, all Year 11 pupils progressing to the Sixth Form would be expected to have a good history of academic effort and classroom discipline, together with a commitment to school activities and a record of participation in extra-curricular activities. Pupils should also expect to achieve at least a Grade B in their chosen AS level subjects.

How should I prepare my child for the entrance tests?

No advance preparation is required for our assessment days. Copies of previous years’ papers are not available.

Are offers at Year 9 conditional on Common Entrance grades?

No. Pupils would be expected to achieve an average of 50% at Common Entrance but this is not a requirement if an offer of a place has already been accepted. Shiplake will mark the Common Entrance papers for those prep schools that send them to us and provide a certificate with the boy’s grades.

How can I learn more about boarding at Shiplake?

Click for more information about the boarding provision at Shiplake College. Click for the Boarding FAQs.

When do I have to make up my mind?

A deadline for completing the acceptance form will be provided with unconditional offers of places, normally giving parents about 4-6 weeks to make a decision. After this date, the place will be released and offered to pupils who were on the waiting list.

Can I visit the College?

Each year we hold a whole school open morning and a Sixth Form open morning early in the Autumn Term, and a whole school open morning towards the end of the Spring Term. Families are very welcome to book to attend an open morning – or indeed attend more than one!

Families are also welcome to arrange an individual visit, to meet the Registrar and have a personal tour of the College. For those looking for a place for their child more than two years in advance, you may not necessarily meet the Headmaster unless specifically requested.

What are the main feeder schools to Shiplake?

Pupils join us from around 50 different schools each year. At Year 7 about half of the joiners come from maintained primary schools and half from independent prep schools. At Year 9 the majority of joiners are from independent prep schools, with some from maintained senior schools. There is a mixture of joiners from maintained and independent schools into the Sixth Form. There are a few schools that send us many boys each year but we do not give any preferential treatment. Click to view a list of feeder schools from where we get pupils joining on a regular basis.

Do pupils live locally?

The majority of our day pupils live within 50 minutes’ drive of the College, with clusters in Henley-on-Thames, Reading, Marlow, Maidenhead and Beaconsfield. Full and weekly boarders tend to live between 1 and 2 hours’ drive, in particular Surrey and the western suburbs of London, but a number do travel to the College from all areas of the UK (and from overseas).

Do you have a sibling policy?

If you already have a child at Shiplake, subsequent children sitting the assessments must at least achieve the minimum pass mark required. Their suitability at the College will also be considered and therefore whilst it is likely they will be offered a place, it is not guaranteed.

Another Question?

Is there a question that you would like us to answer that is not included in our FAQs? Please get in touch and we will endeavour to answer this.

55 girls currently part of Gilson House
Shiplake has a customer-friendly head who even came back early from holiday to show clients around himself
The Telegraph, 16 Feb 2014