Today is the day that parents all around the UK are logging onto their council’s websites or checking their emails to see whether their child has been offered a place at their first choice for secondary school.
For many parents it will have been a tense waiting period.
In most towns and cities the ‘best schools’ are invariably oversubscribed and it can feel like not securing that coveted ‘first choice’ will consign your child to a second-rate education in the school that ‘everybody’ hopes to avoid.
Play to win, not play not-to-lose
Whenever we speak to parents about regarding securing a school place for their child one of the first questions we ask is, “How many years do we have before the day the places are decided?”
This is because, whilst some parents may consider secondary school entry is something to deal with “out in the future”, the astute ones realise that it is only by having a structured approach to securing a place, that they will find themselves in a much better position to achieve the school place they desire.
This means that as soon as your child has started its Primary School years you should be developing a plan to support their in-school learning with additional tutoring around their key learning areas, such as maths and English.
Independent school parents, we’re talking to you too!
And in case any parents who are considering sending their children to an independent (read: fee charging) school believe they can avoid the place-securing competition, think again.
We find that in most locations across the country there is a strong demand for places at the most sought-after prep schools (so your child needs to be a top-notch candidate to get in) and then at the end of their prep school years they will need strong CE (Common Entrance) results, along with a supporting note from their headmaster in order to secure a place in their first-choice senior school.
Gone are the days that every feeder-school was in lock-step with a senior school and could ‘guarantee’ a place; nowadays nothing’s guaranteed until the ink is dry on the offer letter.
The Independent to Grammar shuffle
Some canny parents will have put their children into a prep school and have in mind a particular public school for them to attend at 13 (or 11 if it provides for entry at that age) but they may also elect to have their child sit the eleven-plus for a local Grammar School, if there is one local to where they live.
This is not as radical as it may first appear.
Having already secured a strong grounding in their education at their prep school, if they were to switch over to a Grammar School they would undoubtedly be one of the students who would find the rigorous and strict study timetable there something they would take to readily.
It would also mean no more school fees to provide for, as well (Just think, holidays and a new car at last!).
The state school wild card gambit
Whilst many parents who send their children to private schools may feel they can comfortably afford the ever-increasing fees, there is a reasonably large cohort of parents who, given the chance, would consider switching their local “top” state school if that opportunity presented itself.
Few in number, but adroit in their planning they will therefore quietly submit an application through their local council’s website to see whether they are offered a place in their preferred school.
For them, if they do find they turn up a trump card and are offered that place they may choose to accept it and then over the coming weeks review their options in further detail.
This is something we’ve found can form the basis of some interesting “what if” scenarios.
In Conclusion – Start early and reduce your family’s stress
Our recommendation would always be to begin planning for your child’s next school as early as possible.
This doesn’t have to be ‘heavy’ nor do you have to feel like your stopping your child from having time to play – you’ll find some further tips and suggestions in our blog – sign up today – it’s Free.