Welcome to October, if your child is currently in Year 6 then by now you should have attended a number of open days, virtually or in person. Chatted as a family and made your short list; remembering to always involve your child in the final decision, after all this is their future. Your child should also have taken, or at least been entered into any relevant exams. Sounds simple right? However, for many families across the country it is not, the weight of this decision pushes down on them. They may know their top choice but the looming form which requires their top 6 schools ramps up the pressure. In this blog we will look at how to apply and what decisions need to be made before 31st October.
Choosing the school
In our blog Secondary Schools, we discussed choosing schools based on your child’s interests alongside Government Sources such as Ofsted and GCSE results. However, during the actual application process, this month we are focusing on how to choose a list of schools and which order to put them in.
I am sure by now you have a list of local schools, which match your child’s interests and have sparked their enthusiasm for the next step in their educational journey. You have cross referenced the Ofsted results and University destinations; however, you are now asking yourself which order should I put them in on the form?
What to consider
Firstly, think about the exams – in many areas especially Wandsworth and Sutton you will know if your child has passed the relevant exams. If they have not met the pass mark, don’t waste a space on that school. This is no different to leaving it blank! If you don’t know the outcome of the exam or are yet to take it, but it is a good choice for you then place it highest on your list. Next place a good backup school, which criteria you do meet, in second or third place.
Secondly, consider the distance from home, friends, and local social circle. In some cases, you would be glad for your child to move away from some friendship groups and make a fresh start. However, equally if the new friends are further away from home playdates will be further away and they may not have anyone to travel to and from school with.
Another obvious factor for schools further away from home is the travel time to and from school. If children are travelling for an hour each way, this will add to their tiredness and may lead to lower grades. Consider how your child will make the journey and do this route together; it may only take 40 minutes in a car but if they are getting the bus at 7:30am each morning does it have the same feel?
It is not just the school day you need to consider. Extra-curricular clubs and sporting events need to be factored in. These can be late into the evening and on weekends, is this something you can take them to; is the journey just as easy or are there less buses or trains during this time? Lastly, are you okay to travel this distance? Consider parent’s meetings, concerts and performances which you will want to attend, is it easy for you to get to or will this impact on your working day?
Lastly, what are the sibling policies and best fit for your family, expectations and interests. Families often don’t consider the sibling which may be 2 years behind, would you prefer the children to attend the same school? Does this need to be a mixed school? Does it also meet the needs of your younger child?
All of these factors will determine the order you choose, you may love an all-girls school but actually want siblings to be together so you will need to place the co-ed school higher up your list.
Why should I fill all the school spaces?
It is important to put as many choices as possible to ensure that your preferences are heard. If you only put one or two schools down and then you don’t meet the criteria or they are oversubscribed your Local Authority can then choose the school for you. This will likely be the under subscribed, often lower Ofsted rated school; the ones other parents didn’t add to their list. If you have all 6 choices down then they will work down your list in order to find you one of those schools.
To applying for schools, visit eadmissions.
What to do if you are not happy with your allocated school?
On the rare occasion that you do not receive any of your selected options it is important not to panic, but always accept the given school. Speak to the Schools department in your Local Authority and admissions in your preferred Secondary School. Ask to be added to their waiting list and find out what number you are on that list. I would contact them throughout the year to get an update on how the lists are moving and which number you are at certain points.
From March onward it can just be a waiting game. I have known a number of children often receive their first-choice school by the time school starts in September.
During the Summer
Before the Summer holiday, no matter which school your child will be attending make sure you look for the positives, try to talk to pupils at the new Secondary School, ask for another tour, plan the route and as a family feel excited about your child’s next educational steps.
At Growing Young Minds, we are proud to support and advise parents through the Secondary School Journey. If you would like academic support or advice, please contact us at [email protected] or call 0203 4226119.