Trying to get your little one into the right school is an anxious and stressful experience. And, with only one month to go before the deadline, the tension is going to get worse. The good news is we’ve put together a guide with the best tips and hints to help.
The Schools You Can Apply To
At a recent council meeting for Westminster school applications, Wendy Anthony, the Head of Admissions, provided some much-needed perspective.
According to Ms Anthony, she said that you can choose schools pretty much anywhere in the Westminster area as kids “travel further” for secondary school places. Also, she cleared up an important point: preference isn’t given to anyone inside or outside the borough.
What Does This Mean?
It means that you can apply for places at schools that are in nearby areas such as Kilburn or Brondesbury. The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is also fair game, as is Camden, Lambeth and Wandsworth.
Because 22% of Westminster children go to school outside of the borough, it points to Ms Anthony being right. If that doesn’t convince you, then the fact that 46% of Westminster pupils are from different areas should.
Are There Schools With Restrictions?
Yes. Half of Westminster’s ten schools have a cut-off area, meaning the chances of securing a place are lower. They are:
- Grey Coat Hospital
- Paddington Academy
- Pimlico Academy
- St Marylebone CE School
- Westminster Academy
Please note that anyone outside of the catchment area isn’t automatically excluded from applying.
Who Makes The Final Decision?
It’s not the council anymore. Under new rules, the schools themselves can decide if applications meet their application criteria. Once they do, the results are forwarded to the local authority, and they pass on the news.
Therefore, the key is to target the criteria of the number one choice on your list Westminster school applications list. For example, a secondary school might prefer it if their students already have friends or family with them to help with the transition. A faith school, however, will prefer it if you can show that you’re from a particular religion or following.
Boosting your child’s chances can start as early as four-years-old as some secondaries have “feeder schools.” Schools with cut off areas might be more accepting if you move closer. Do your homework by researching their admissions criteria online. The details are usually on their websites.
Should You Rank Your Choices?
Ranking is essential, but only regarding the offers’ process. Schools receive applications without any insight into whether it’s a child’s top, middle or bottom pick. Essentially, they have no idea.
The problem with not ranking them comes when you receive an offer from a school that was ranked higher on your Westminster school applications list. So, if you get a place from your third choice but want to go the fourth one instead, you can’t.
You’ll only receive an offer from the highest school on the list, which is why they should go in order of preference.
And If You Don’t Get One?
If your six choices are all rejected, you can appeal after National Offer Day (March 2nd). Don’t worry too much because the council has a legal duty to find your child a place.
For now, focus on applying before the October 29th deadline.