Have you missed the prep school boat?
Susan Hamlyn, Senior Editor of the Good Schools Guide, reassures parents that entry to London's top prep schools doesn't need to be done at conception.
You get used to it in this job. “Woman called up just now,” my colleague said. “She told me they’d had sex last night and was she too late to register any possible baby at Crammem Prep?”
Crammem Prep is, of course, The Best Prep and The Only Prep that will do for my baby. I can’t possibly send him/her to Nightmare House in the next street – had you heard that they only got six out of seven into Eton last year and the yoga teacher is only part-time? Clearly they don’t know what they’re doing!
Waiting list anxiety
You may think I exaggerate but, at The Good Schools Guide Advice Service we deal daily with a monumental level of anxiety, much of it fuelled by the schools themselves. It is a seller’s market and a school which operates a first-come-first-served policy – as many sought-after London preps do - can look ahead to a full register for years to come and all they have had to do is man the phones! The alternative system is to register your child early but take him/her along for a morning of observed activity and informal interview when he’s two/three/four to put him through the school’s admissions process.
The most competitive boroughs
London is full of preps and most of them do the job. The job, of course, being to get the child into the senior school of his parents’ choice. The vast majority of pre-preps and preps cluster in Kensington, Hampstead and Richmond. If you live in these areas you probably have at least half a dozen preps you can walk to – most, if not all, in The Good Schools Guide. The trouble is that all your neighbours know about these schools, have plenty of money, super-bright children and probably a friend on the school’s Board of Governors. So – are you too late?
Just make the call
You might be if your baby has had the effrontery already to be born. Some schools demand ‘name down at birth’ – though in times of recession, it’s always worth a call. In inner London, it’s worth a call anyway as parents get relocated all the time. Call any school you like – whatever the rumours. Schools are eager to catch children younger and younger and many add a reception or even nursery year to scoop up David and Samantha while they are still in Pampers.
Is the most academic right for your child?
Academically selective schools will be happy to register your baby but will summon you to the assessment later on. It’s worth registering him at several schools. Remember, one tot can only go to one school and waiting lists evaporate pretty smartly when the time comes. Don’t assume Junior will be a genius – look at schools which offer more than Greek for 3-year-olds. He may a genius but he may also be an artist or sportsman or just a thoroughly nice chap.
The Good Schools Guide is in a unique position to do this because we have visited hundreds of schools - state, independent, junior, senior, day and boarding - and gathered an enormous reservoir of information and experience. The Guide itself is only a glimpse of this. We can put our knowledge and our wide network of personal contacts to work for you.
The Good Schools Guide is the authority that other educational consultants turn to ... So why not come straight to the Experts?
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