How To Apply For A School
How To Apply For A School
Once you've chosen the school you'd like your child to attend, you need to apply for a place at that school on their behalf. Ralph Lucas gives this advice on the schools admissions process and applying for a school
Step 1: Admissions criteria
Schools have specific criteria which help them decide who to let in. These are mostly a matter of where you live, and whether you fall within the catchment area of that school, but some schools will apply other criteria.
Step 2: The application
School application forms are available from your Local Authority. These will detail exactly what information you need to provide and when you need to provide it by. You can apply for more than one school – a maximum of six in London and three in other areas. You will be asked to list your choice of schools in order of preference.
The schools don't see what order you put them in, but that order determines the order in which your- the LA will look at your application and give you your first choice first if that's possible, and if not move on to your second.
Step 3: Supporting material
Generally, state schools do not require any extra material to support your application. There are a few exceptions, however.
There are some schools that are still grammar schools, still selective, and there you will be in competition with everybody else who has gone in for that test and it can get ridiculous in London – you can get 100 children applying for one place, and it's a question of whether they've got a cold on the day or not. Generally though there are no tests, no academic tests for English state schools. If you're applying for a religiously selective school you will probably have to produce a letter from a priest or some other evidence that you belong to that religion.
You must complete your application by the deadline set out by your local authority, or you will not be given a place in your preferred school.
Step 4: Fitting the criteria
If you have your heart set on a particular school, you may need to make adjustments to your own lives in order to fit the criteria more effectively and maximise your chances of getting in.
Mostly that means moving house. It can mean changing your religion or tutoring your child for academic selection, but the most common way of doing it is for parents to rent somewhere firmly within the catchment area, move there for the crucial period of a year or two, then once you've secured the place to move back. And that is perfectly legal, if frowned upon. If you try and cheat on that, if you just try and rent somewhere and don't move there, then you are likely to find that the headmistress has poked her head through the letterbox, seen the pile of unopened letters and crossed you off the list.
If you are unable to do this, but are still determined to get a place at the school, it is still worth applying.
Put it as your first choice, and you will get on the waiting list. You won't get it, but you may get a chance later on, or something may suddenly turn up trumps and you will find yourself on your way to being there. But don't count on it. Don't ever think that you can get there by appeal or by some other mechanism – you're giving yourself the chance to get in later.
Step 5: Appealing
Many good schools are oversubscribed, so unfortunately some children are denied places even if they meet the admissions criteria. If this happens to you, and you have a good reason why your child should attend that particular school, it may be worth appealing against the school's decision.
Generally you have to appeal quite quickly, it's worth doing it professionally. There are organisations who will charge a modest fee for helping you. But the good ones will double your success rate. It's a question of focusing your appeal on the things that really matter, that really make a difference in that school, of making sure you are producing all the evidence to support your particular need for your child being at that school. And it is judged by a human tribunal at the end of it, so if you've got a really good case, whatever t