Admissions Policy

1. Overview

Ashbourne is a co-educational, independent day college for students aged 13 up to and including 21 years; however the majority of students are studying A level and are aged between 16 and 19 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may be unable to meet the needs of the student and in some circumstances this may result in the offer of a place being withdrawn.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.

3.1 English as an additional language

Ashbourne is very careful to ensure that all international students have the appropriate competence with regard to English language skills. The College would never accept a student who would withdraw from general college life because they lacked confidence with either self-expression or comprehension. Similarly we want to avoid cliques forming around different nationalities; ideally anyone visiting the College would not be able to distinguish between a native or non-native student on the basis of fluency with the English language alone. About 40% of our students were born outside the UK and the College supports the development of their English language skills with special classes. In particular, where appropriate, we will help all such students to meet the English language qualifications for UK universities.

4. Criteria for Admission

Ashbourne is selective and will use the following criteria to assess applicants. Applicants should be:

  • Capable of achieving at least a B grade in each of their A level exams.
  • Hardworking, diligent and keen to do well with their academic studies.
  • Genuinely interested in joining Ashbourne.
  • Willing to make a positive contribution to College life.
  • Sufficiently fluent in English to integrate successfully and benefit from education at the College.
  • Capable of independent learning.
  • Present a satisfactory reference and reports from their preceding school or college.
  • Have successfully taken part in an interview with one of our panel of Admission’s Tutors and performed to a satisfactory standard in any admissions test(s).
  • Willing to comply with Ashbourne’s rules, which include:
    1. Attend all classes on time.
    2. Submit all homework, coursework, mocks and assignments promptly and to the best of their ability.
    3. Show commitment to studies inside and outside of the classroom – actively engaging in lessons with minimum disruption.
    4. Respect fellow students and members of staff.
    5. Respect Safeguarding and the need for security by wearing a lanyard and ID at all times on College premises.
    6. Comply with our Acceptable Use of ICT Policy.

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 interests, and any other special circumstances such as a special educational need or disability.

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, reading, 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 write 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 the two terms’ fees in advance and sign the registration form before the date of the deadline.

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 any outstanding, relevant documentation.

As a general rule, we do not make academic grades a condition of admissions at Ashbourne; academic potential is assessed during the admissions process. However, we expect that students will achieve at least six grade 6s at GCSE or equivalent. 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 their 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 students with outstanding academic potential and/or ability in music or drama and 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 accepting 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 required fees 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.

14. Exclusions

Exclusions arise either for gross misconduct or repeated incidents of less severe behaviour. With regard to the former, the College has a zero tolerance policy against drugs, all forms of abuse and extreme bullying. Exclusions for repeated incidents of poor behaviour are a last resort and always preceded by meetings between the administration, parents and students and suspensions.

The College has an appeal procedure against exclusions which may be found in our Complaints Policy. For more information on exclusions please refer to our Student Behaviour and Exclusions Policy.


1. ‘Reasonable’ – Taking guidance from the Equality and Human Rights Commission, 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.


The Admissions Register

1. The College is required by law to maintain an admissions register for all of its students which must contain the following details:

  1. The student’s name.
  2. Sex at birth, unless the person has obtained a gender recognition certificate.
  3. Parents’ names, addresses and contact details. The names and addresses of every person known to be a parent:
    1. Residential parent – The register should indicate the parent(s) with whom the student lives.
    2. Parental responsibility – The register should indicate which parent has responsibility under the Children Act 1989.
    3. Alternative residential addresses – The register should record any other address where the student may reside, including occasional addresses.
    4. Contact telephone numbers – Following Keeping Children Safe In Education (KCSIE) guidance we require at least two contact telephone numbers for parents.
  4. The student’s date of birth.
  5. The date of admission or re-admission.
  6. The name and address of the previous school or college.
  7. As appropriate, the name and address of the destination school or college when it becomes known.

Note that all parents have the right to receive pertinent information unless prohibited by a court order.

2. Start date – The student must be entered in the register on the day they commence studies.

3. Deletions from the register – The Local Authority (LA) must be informed in the following cases:

  1. The child is home-schooled
  2. The family has apparently moved away
  3. The child is certified medically unfit
  4. The child has been in custody for more than four months
  5. The child has been permanently excluded.

The College is obligated to inform the LA if a student has unauthorised absence for 10 or more consecutive days.

3.1 The lawful grounds for removal from the register derive from a) School Attendance 2019 and Children Missing in Education 2016.

3.2 Following KCSIE, when a child is removed, the College will not only inform its own LA but also the LA where the child is normally resident.

3.3 Non-standard entry and exit dates – The College must inform the LA of removal or additions to the register at non-standard times, i.e. at times other than the first or last day of the academic year, for example: when a student who has reached the age of 16 leaves the College before completing the academic year; or a student arrives mid-term.

3.4 Provided that the College and Local Authority have made a legitimate effort to locate the child, the College has the right to delete the student from the register if either:

  1. The student has failed to return after 10 consecutive days of authorised absence.
  2. The student has failed to return after 20 consecutive days of unauthorised absence.

3.5 Criminal offence – It is a criminal offence not to report as required to the Local Authority.

Authorised by
The Principal

September 2021

Effective date of the policy
September 2021

Teaching staff / all staff / parents / Students on request

Review date
September 2022

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