Admissions Policy

1. Overview
Ashbourne is a co-educational, independent day college for students aged 13 up to and including 21 years.

The aims of this policy are:

  • To identify and admit students who will benefit from an academic education as well as contribute to and benefit from the ethos and activities of our college community.
  • To provide a fair means of assessment to all potential students.

Ashbourne is a selective college for students studying GCSE (Year 11 only) and A-Level and will only admit a student who has met the academic and non-academic criteria.

2. Equal Treatment
Ashbourne has a multi-cultural and diverse student population, and welcomes students from all different types of ethnic groups and cultural backgrounds. All candidates for admission will be treated equally, irrespective of disability; gender reassignment; race; religion or belief; sex; and sexual orientation.

3. Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND)
The College will make all reasonable efforts to comply with the Equality Act 2010, including making provision, where possible, to accommodate prospective applicants with specific needs.
Before a place is offered at the College, parents of a candidate with any known or suspected circumstances relating to a disability, long-term medical condition or special educational need must provide full written details as part of the application process.

Should parents or students fail to disclose any relevant information prior to acceptance, the College may be unable to meet the needs of the student and in some circumstances this may result in the offer of a place being withdrawn.

Where a student’s SEND is identified, or develops after beginning at Ashbourne, the College will continue to support the student with regard to the following considerations:

  1. The College possesses the appropriate resources and facilities to provide the support required, and
  2. It is in the best interests of the student and of the College community for the student to remain at the College.

Where either of these considerations do not apply, the College reserves the right to withdraw any place that has been awarded.

For further information on SEND, please refer to the Ashbourne’s SEND policy.

4. Criteria for Admissions
Ashbourne is selective and will use the following criteria to assess applicants. Candidates should be:

  • Capable of achieving at least B grades for their final A-Level grades.
  • Keen to do well with their academic studies and aspire to be a hardworking and diligent individual.
  • Interested in joining Ashbourne.
  • Willing to make a positive contribution to College life.
  • Sufficiently fluent in English to cope with the demands of education at Ashbourne (for overseas applicants).
  • Able to cope with the independent-learning approach to education at Ashbourne.
  • Able to satisfy the rules of Ashbourne, which include these following key rules:
    1. Attend all classes on time.
    2. Submit all homework, coursework, mocks and assignments to the best of their ability and on time.
    3. Show commitment to their studies inside and outside of the classroom – actively engage during lessons, and work in a manner that does not disrupt the class.
    4. Respect to fellow students and members of staff.
    5. To respect our need for security, and to comply with our Safeguarding Policy, by wearing a lanyard and ID at all times on College premises.

We are also keen to accept students who are:

  • Ambitious to gain entry into a top-ranking UK University.
  • Have a clear plan for what they want to do post A-Level studies.

If students do not satisfy the criteria for admission, they will not be admitted to the College. In particular we will not accept a candidate who, in the opinion of the interviewer or member of the admissions team, has a poor record of behaviour or who is likely to be disruptive. We may also reject a candidate who we feel is unlikely to benefit from attending the College.

5. Admissions Procedure
To satisfy our criteria for acceptance, students must complete the admissions procedure, which has the following elements:

5.1 Competitive entry tests (usually subject-specific)

For GCSE entrance tests, students will generally take both a Mathematics and English assessment.

For A-Level entrance tests, students will, wherever possible, take at least one subject-specific entrance test. In cases where students are not sure what subjects they want to take, they will usually be expected to take both a Mathematics and Critical Thinking assessment.

In addition to the above-mentioned tests, the subject-specific entrance tests include, but are not limited to:

  • Drama – Students are required to attend an audition for Drama. As part of their audition, students will perform a short monologue of their choice from an established dramatic text ranging from Shakespearian to contemporary theatre. Details of the monologue must be sent to the admissions team prior to the audition.
  • Music – Students are required to attend an audition for Music. As part of their audition, students will perform a piece of music lasting 1-2 minutes of grade 5 standard or above. The music score must be sent to the admissions team prior to the audition. Music students will also sit a Music theory test.
  • English Literature – Analysis of an unseen poem. This is a 45-minute assessment and students should use literary terminology in their response.
  • Art – Those students who wish to take an art-based subject (Fine Art, Textile Design or Graphic Communication) will be expected to bring examples of their artwork to the interview.

With exception to auditions and the Music theory test, students are not expected to prepare for any other entrance examinations. The general purpose of these assessments is to test the raw academic ability of students.

The entire audition process, including feedback, will usually last a maximum of 25 minutes, whereas written assessments can take up to one hour.

5.2 Interviews

There are two kinds of interviews for prospective students at Ashbourne, General and Academic.

5.2.1 General interviews: in all cases there will be a general interview, which will aim to explore the candidate’s hobbies and interests, attitude to learning, academic ambitions, personal qualities, ability to contribute to the College community, support available at home and to discuss any other relevant information.

5.2.2 Academic interviews: where applicable there may also be an academic interview to explore a candidate’s academic ability in a particular subject. This interview may form part of a candidate’s general interview.
We prefer interviews to take place face-to-face but are happy to proceed via Skype (or another online application) or telephone in cases where, for whatever reason, the student is unable to meet an Ashbourne admissions tutor in person.

If the interview is organised via Skype, students must ensure the following:

  1. They have a secure, fast Internet connection.
  2. The environment is quiet.
  3. They use a stable device that does not move around during the interview.

5.3 Character reference
The Head of the candidate’s current school will be asked to provide a written reference relating to the candidate’s academic ability, attitude and behaviour, involvement in the College community, talents and interest, and any other special circumstances such as a special educational need or disability.

The College will ensure that the candidate is informed prior to a reference request being made to the candidate’s current school.

5.4 Academic records from previous institutions
Candidates must submit copies of results for the most recent tests taken at their current school and, if applicable, any copies of official examination results (e.g. GCSE, A-Level, IELTS or overseas qualifications).

5.5 Personal statement
Candidates must write a 500-word statement to express their ambitions, interests and hobbies. For candidates who are clear about their university path after A-Level studies please provide evidence of activities they have participated in to support their interest in their chosen degree programme (e.g. work experience, books read, projects undertaken, seminars, other relevant courses and competitions).

5.6 Letter of Intent (if applicable)
Occasionally, prospective students whose commitment to learning or behaviour is in question will be asked to writer a Letter of Intent. This offers them the opportunity to reflect on their past behaviour or performance and to pledge to do better during their time at Ashbourne.

In addition to this forming part of the application process, the College has also found this to be a useful exercise in aiding students to improve in any areas where concerns are raised.

5.7 Completion of application form
Applicants will be expected to complete an application form which will require:

  1. Up-to-date contact information.
  2. Details about the subjects they wish to take at Ashbourne.
  3. Details of any special educational needs.
  4. Details of any medical conditions or disabilities.
  5. Details of any behaviour issues, suspensions or expulsions.

In addition, the College will also expect students to provide the following as part of the admissions process:

  • A copy of the applicant’s passport.
  • A copy of the applicant’s visa page/BRP card (if applicable).
  • A copy of the applicant’s educational psychology report or details of prior access arrangements, if applicable.
  • Any details of medical conditions for the applicant.
  • Details of the educational agent who referred them to Ashbourne, if applicable.

6. Offer
Once students have satisfied the criteria for acceptance, providing there are places available, they will be made an offer.

Within the offer letter, a deadline date will be given (usually two weeks from the date that the offer is sent). For UK students to accept the place the candidate’s family will need to pay the registration fee and sign the registration form before the deadline date. For Overseas applicants, the candidate’s family will need to pay two terms’ fees and sign the registration form before the deadline date.

7. Conditions of Offer
On occasion, candidates may be given a conditional offer. In circumstances where candidates do not meet the condition, this will be reviewed with the candidate before a final decision is made. Conditions could include:

  • Achievement of satisfactory academic grades for an official examination (e.g. GCSE).
  • A satisfactory reference from the previous school.
  • Submission of relevant application documentation that hasn’t already been submitted.

As a general rule, we do not require academic grades as a condition on students’ places at Ashbourne; academic potential is assessed during the admissions process. However, with particular reference to GCSE, we have an expectation that students will achieve at least six grade 6’s or equivalent for GCSE. In cases where students have fallen far short of this requirement, a meeting will usually be organised after the release of the GCSE results to discuss how best to move forward. Invariably, Ashbourne will want the student to continue its studies with the College, but adjustments/plans may need to be implemented to ensure that students have the necessary foundation for A-Level.

8. Scholarships
Ashbourne offers a limited number of scholarships to students. Those students wishing to apply for a scholarship must make that clear when applying. The prime objectives of awarding scholarships are to support outstanding academic students that fit our profile (see our Scholarships policy for further information).

9. Entry Points
Ashbourne can accommodate students applying to the College for entry into year 11, 12 or 13. The College has two start dates: September and January. However, the College is willing to consider students at other points during the academic year, but this will depend on availability of places; applicants will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

10. Age Restrictions
Ashbourne is licensed to teach students between the ages of 13 and 21. In general, we are unable to consider the application for any student who will be over the age of 21 before completing their course of study at Ashbourne (up to 30th June of their final year).

A-Levels – Almost all students will be 16 or 17 years of age in their first year of study. Approximately 5% of our students join us each year for a one-year A-Level course. It is not uncommon for these students to be a year older than their cohort.
GCSEs (Year 11) – Almost all students will be 15 or 16 years of age. In exceptional cases, we would be willing to consider younger or older applicants.

11. Applications for Exceptional Provisions
Ashbourne is committed to providing an environment where students are able to study without discrimination, and will make any reasonable adjustments where necessary. Any requests that do not fall within Ashbourne’s statutory duties will be assessed on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the College with special regard to the considerations provided in Appendix 1.

12. Right of Appeal
Where an applicant is rejected, in certain cases Ashbourne will offer the student the opportunity to re-apply at a later date. This may include the applicant being re-interviewed and/or re-assessed.

In addition, we recognise that a candidate’s performance at interview or in the entrance examinations may be affected by particular circumstances, for example (not exhaustive):

  • Illness.
  • A family circumstance such as a recent bereavement.
  • A disability or specific learning difficulties.
  • Technical issues with admissions tests.

The College will carefully consider concerns raised by the applicant and if deemed appropriate, the College will allow the applicant to be re-interviewed or re-assessed.

13. Commitment to Joining Ashbourne
Before signing the registration form and paying the registration fee or other required payment to secure a place, candidates should ensure that they are fully committed to join Ashbourne. After a place has been offered and accepted, the candidate’s family is automatically liable for the first term’s fees, regardless of attendance. Subsequent withdrawal from the College must be accompanied by one full term’s notice; otherwise the fees of the term following withdrawal become payable.

For example if a student who is registered for September entry no longer wishes to attend, notice must be given prior to the start of the Summer term preceding their commencement of education at Ashbourne.

1. ‘Reasonable’ – In accordance with guidance from the Equality and Human Rights Commission, where reference is made to what is ‘reasonable’, the College will have regard for the following factors:

  1. The extent to which special educational provision will be provided to the disabled pupil under Part 3 of the Children and Families Act 2014.
  2. The resources of the College and the availability of financial or other assistance.
  3. The financial and other costs of making any relevant adjustments.
  4. The extent to which taking any particular step would be effective in overcoming the substantial disadvantage suffered by a disabled pupil.
  5. The practicability of any adjustments.
  6. The effect of the disability on the individual.
  7. Health and safety requirements.
  8. The need to maintain academic, musical, sporting and other standards.
  9. The interests of other pupils and prospective pupils.


Authorised by The Principal
Date June 2019
Effective date of the policy June 2019
Circulation Teaching staff / all staff / parents / Students on request
Review date September 2020