What standard of playing are you looking for?

We do not have formal entry criteria – every student is different, and all students make progress at different stages. Above all else we are looking for evidence of some achievement, a musical spark, and lots of potential. Our happiest students are the ones who are extremely motivated intrinsically: they can’t imagine doing anything other than music, and this is clear in their playing and singing.
Consequently, applications and auditions are assessed very much on an individual basis, and exam certificates are not essential.
As a rough guide, with very few exceptions, students joining our school will be playing at approximately the following minimum standard on their first instrument. Most play a second instrument too.
Age 9-11: grade 6-8+
Age 12-15: grade 8-Diploma+
Violinists and cellists
Age 9-11: Grade 5-7+
Age 12-15: Grade 7+
Wind, brass, harp, viola, double bass and percussion players often begin their instruments at an older age, and may be offered a place on potential if they have a less advanced playing level.
All students age 16:
for year 12 (sixth form) we are looking for students who will comfortably be ready to apply for top conservatoires and universities at the start of year 13.
Composers, jazzers and singers are advised to contact the school for more information if in doubt. We do not take singers younger than 14 unless they also play an instrument at a high level, because we are not affiliated with a cathedral, and not equipped to offer a lot of choral opportunities.  
We teach advanced students of classical music and jazz, and although the musical repertoire is varied, we do not run a formal pop or rock school course. All students take iGCSE and pre-U Music, and many take Music Technology A level too.

From what age do you accept students?

We accept students from Year 6 (age 10) through to the Sixth Form (age 16+). New students can enter the school in all years except Year 11 and Year 13.

When is your intake?

Usually in September, but other arrangements can sometimes be made.

Do you have any day students?

Yes. Around a quarter of our students are day students.

Do you have weekly boarders?​

Yes. Students can go home most weekends, unless there are rehearsals and/or concerts.

How many students do you have?

We have approximately 180 students, of whom about 45% are boys and 55% are girls.

How much instrumental tuition do students receive?

Students receive a total of between two and three hours a week instrumental tuition.

Can my child learn with a teacher outside of School?
Do you accept students that play only one instrument?

Yes. Although most students play two or more (one of which may be composition), around one in ten students play one instrument only.

How much time do students have to practice?

Between three and six hours a day, according to their age.

My child does play an instrument but their main focus is composition.

Composition is counted as an equivalent to an instrumental study at The Purcell School.

Do you have a Jazz department?

Yes. We have a strong and well established Jazz department with first study jazz students playing instruments ranging from jazz piano to jazz bass. Jazz voice is also included. ​

Do you accept students with special educational needs?

​Yes – as long as the student is able to cope with our demanding programme and the constraints of the layout of our buildings.

When is the next Open Morning?

Ordinarily, twice a year The Purcell School opens its doors (October and February) to prospective students and parents, welcoming them to meet staff and students, take in the campus and facilities, and enjoy the outstanding music-making that characterises the School. In line with government recommendations, the School is currently looking into providing an online Open Morning experience for this coming October, details will be published to the site shortly. For more information, click here.

What are the School fees?

The School fees for academic year 2019/20 are £26,748 (day) and £34,152 (boarding). However, see below.

Do you offer any Bursaries, or financial support?

Yes – do not be put off by the School fees! All students accepted into the School are means-tested so parents pay a contribution to their fees according to their financial circumstances.

How do I go about applying for a place at the School?

To be considered for a place at The Purcell School, you must first apply. The Application Form is available as a downloadable PDF or as an interactive PDF.

The completed Application Form should be returned together with:

  1. a non-returnable application fee of £35 paid by cheque or online - click here to pay online
  2. a written recommendation from the applicant’s music teacher(s)
  3. evidence of a recent performance, be this in the form of a YouTube link or similar (two contrasting pieces on the first instrument, ideally at least one of which should be accompanied where appropriate)
To whom should we send our child’s application and direct queries to?

All applications are to be sent to the Registrar, Ms Karen Eldridge. Her contact details are as follows:

  • Postal: Ms Karen Eldridge, School Registrar, The Purcell School, Aldenham Road, Bushey, Hertfordshire, WD23 2TS
  • Email: k.eldridge@purcell-school.org
When is your closing date for applications?

Applications are considered as they come in, and there are many advantages in applying early in the process. Candidates are assessed in relation to their age and potential at time of audition, so there is no advantage in waiting to audition later in the year.

When do auditions take place?

Auditions take place at the School on Thursdays during term-time.

Can I have a look around the School?

Unfortunately, tours of the School have been suspended for the time being. We hope to be able to resume welcoming visitors to the School again as soon as possible.