preparing our pupils for Scholarships to senior schools

The preparation of Holmwood House pupils for Scholarships to Senior Schools fall into two categories: Academic and Non-Academic.

Academic Scholarships

Pupils are selected for an Academic Scholarship route at the end of Year 6 or early in Year 7 as a result of a thorough consultation process involving all of the child's academic teachers, tutor and senior staff.

The upper sets in Year 7 and Year 8 are designed to cater for children who demonstrate significantly high potential across the broad academic arena; hence it being known as the potential scholarship set.

Pupils are required to demonstrate not just their academic strengths, but their emotional and attitudinal maturity to handle the pressures and demands of working at a consistently high and demanding level.  It is possible that given the opportunity to experience working at this level in all subjects, some pupils may find the pace, depth and breadth of the curriculum too challenging. It may be at that point that we adopt the Holmwood House Certificate route. The teachers of this set will, by design, cater for a variety of different demands as dictated by the pupils’ needs and future schools but within the bounds of a very high achieving group.  All ongoing decisions will be based upon continuous formative assessment of your child and you will be consulted at each step if necessary.

Academic Scholarships for individual schools vary considerably in terms of difficulty and the challenge this presents to individual pupils.  The particular senior school of choice may determine their prospects of gaining an award.  The scholarship route in no way guarantees that your child will be successful in winning an award, rather the learning process involved in working at this high level is in itself intrinsically valuable.

Academic Scholarship PROCESS

Process: If your child is selected for the potential scholarship set, Mr McCormack, Director of Studies, will contact you in June/July of Year 6 or early in the autumn term of Year 7 to discuss the most appropriate route.

Non-Academic Scholarships 

Non-Academic Scholarships

Non-academic scholarship awards, ranging in monetary value from 0% of fees upwards, are awarded for passion and excellence in a particular area or skill other than academia (i.e. Music, Art, Drama, DT, Sport or All-Rounder.) Occasionally, a smaller award, sometimes referred to as an ’exhibition’, may be made as encouragement or recognition of impressive progress or spark in a given area, but on the whole, scholarship awards are made to pupils who can demonstrate something significantly above the norm of high achievement.

Non-Academic scholars should not require excessive coaching, mentoring or ‘cramming’ above and beyond the involvement in the given area which a scholar of that subject should be demonstrating anyway. Preparation for these scholarships will require children to be focused and willing to spend time on them.

To be a potential scholar pupils need to demonstrate a consistently strong work ethic in that field. If they need to be pushed, cajoled or overly mentored, they probably should not be considering a scholarship.

Encouragement to become involved in sport at County level for sports scholars is advised. Art scholars must put together a portfolio and sketch book. For many non-academic scholarship applications, a brief CV and list of achievements, plus references from coaches, are also required.

Potential non-academic scholars will be identified to the Headmaster by the Heads of Department in Art, DT, Sport, Music and Drama through observations in lessons and activities and their knowledge of the children

In the summer term of Year 6, potential non-academic scholars are identified internally and, if necessary, parents may be contacted at that stage to give them the opportunity to investigate the individual requirements of these scholarships at individual schools and to put in place, where necessary, a programme of preparation (e.g. where County performance in a sport may be a requirement).  The Headmaster and his PA manage the non-academic scholarship programme and can advise pupils and parents on requirements, etc.  In the spring or summer term of Year 7, parents will be informed of whether their child is on track for consideration for a scholarship and by the beginning of Year 8, notification of scholarship potential will be confirmed.

Non-Academic Scholarships PROCESS

Process: The Headmaster or his PA will contact at some point in Year 7 you to inform you that we are considering entering your child for a non-academic scholarship. 

Once notification has been confirmed at the start of Year 8,  you will be advised to inform the senior school of choice of your intention to apply for a scholarship.  Your application will trigger a request for a report from Holmwood House.  In due course, the senior school will send you the time and date of your child’s interview and assessment.

If your child has not been identified and you feel that they should have been, by all means, please contact the Headmaster’s PA to arrange to discuss this with the Headmaster.

 Types of Non-Academic Scholarships

All-Rounder. Most senior schools offer All-Rounder or General scholarships, which usually require evidence of advanced skill/potential in at least two areas (such as music, art, DT, drama, sport) and often require candidates to be strong academically as well as demonstrating clear leadership skills.

Art.  The Head of Art identifies potential scholars by the beginning of Year 7.  A separate leaflet is available to support art scholars.

Drama.  The Director of Music & Drama will identify potential candidates in Year 7.  It should be noted that, at many senior schools, the level of performances expected is extremely high, often requiring evidence of considerable stage experience outside of school.

DT (Design Technology).  If you feel your child has potential in this field, you should raise this issue with the school.  Whilst DT remains an activity rather than a timetabled lesson, we can arrange extra support for potential candidates.

Music.  The Director of Music & Drama handles all aspects of the identification,  preparation and application process for music scholarships.  The Director of Music & Drama will contact parents to discuss requirements and expectations.

Sport.  The Director of Sport will identify, through consultation with coaches, any children who show potential on the sports field; normally in a number of disciplines.  This process will take place initially at the end of Year 7, but will be reviewed early in Year 8.


Assessment for scholarships varies according to subject and school but most involve your child visiting the senior school and being interviewed by the Head or another senior member of the school at some point in either the autumn term, or more commonly, the spring term of Year 8.  However, every school varies and these interviews can take place earlier in the process.

All-Rounder scholarships vary enormously, depending upon which school you have chosen and which talents are being offered for assessment.  It is likely to involve parts of the scholarship assessments below, and a portfolio of achievements as well as art (if selected), will be required.

For Art it would usually involve taking a full and varied portfolio of work from recent years for the school to view and your child undertaking some test, eg in drawing, followed by an interview with the Head of Art.

For Drama, your child will be given a short piece to learn and our Head of Drama will help him/her prepare for this.  The senior school may well issue another unseen piece to perform.  It is likely that other group drama activities would be organised on the day.

 For DT it would usually involve taking a portfolio of designs and some examples of work for the school to view and your child being interviewed about the design process.  There may be a practical session in addition to an interview.

For Music, your child will have to perform in front of the senior school’s Director of Music and/or other members of the school’s staff.  An additional interview may or may not be required.  Our Director of Music & Drama generally accompanies candidates to their auditions.  As a rough guide, Grade 5 is a minimum standard on the principal instrument.

For Sport, your child will spend at least a day at the senior school undergoing fitness tests and ball skills, etc as well as an interview with the Head of Sport.


In preparation, the Headmaster will give your child a practice interview.  It is a good opportunity for your child to take their Laetatum to interviews as it can act as an excellent ice breaker and a way in for the interviewer to see some of the things your child enjoys or is proud of. 


References or affidavits from coaches or tutors outside school can be  beneficial in supporting a scholarship candidate.  This adds weight to the application, as does any outside involvement in clubs and courses, either during term or holiday and free time.  For sport, it is generally, although not always, expected that your child will play at District or County level.

We shall, of course, complete a Headmaster’s Confidential Report and the appropriate Head of Department will write an additional report. 

For all scholarships, we would recommend that you look at the senior schools’ websites, usually under ‘scholarships’ or ‘admissions’, and read all you can about the requirements and expectations, as this booklet can only give you a general idea of what is involved.

Further assistance

Please do not hesitate to contact the Headmaster’s PA for further information.