teenage boy holding a trumpet
smiling students in class
smiling students drinking coffee


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 7 (age 11) 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 185 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.

Is Audio Production considered a first study at The Purcell School?

Yes, The Purcell School offers Audio Production as a first study. Please note that Audio Production is only open to applicants entering Year 12, who have a supporting instrument to Grade 5 standard.

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?

Our next Open Morning is on Sunday 26th February 2023.

What are the School fees?

The School fees for academic year 2022/23 are £27,042 (day) and £34,527 (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. For classical instrumentalists: evidence of a recent performance, be this in the form of a YouTube link or similar. The recording should contain two contrasting pieces on the first instrument, at least one of which should be accompanied (except in the case of piano, organ, harp, percussion or guitar), and one piece on any supporting instrument. For first study pianists, the audition repertoire should be performed from memory.
  4. For jazz applicants: evidence of a recent performance, be this in the form of a YouTube link or similar. The recording should contain two contrasting pieces on the first instrument, at least one of which should be a jazz standard, and one piece on any supporting instrument. If an accompanist is unavailable, please use a suitable backing track from YouTube. The recording should contain a large percentage of improvisation, and rhythm section instrumentalists should include evidence of 'comping' as well as soloing.
  5. For composers: three compositions of any genre, style or length, one of which should be written out by hand (ideally we would also like one of the pieces to be recorded, however we are happy to waive this for younger applicants)
  6. A recent passport-style photograph of the applicant
To whom should we send our child’s application and direct queries to?

Completed applications should be sent by email to Natasha Vallance, Executive Administrator at admissions@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?

Our auditions take place in School throughout the academic year, often on a Thursday. During periods of increased Covid restrictions, however, auditions will be conducted remotely via Zoom. Audition dates will be individually confirmed.

Can I have a look around the School?

We encourage prospective parents and students to attend our Open Mornings which take place annually in October and February - please register your interest in attending via our website. If you are unable to attend an Open Morning, we may be able to arrange a separate tour, subject to availability.