Avoiding the School Place Race

Avoiding the School Place Race

Avoiding the School Place Race

The new year marks a fresh frenzy of parents desperately trying to secure a place at the best school for their children, waiting in anticipation for state Secondary offer letters out 1st March and Primary offers out 18th April.

In the UK we have become obsessed in securing a top state school place and the most popular schools have applicants of 10 or more for every available place. Parents are doing whatever it takes to get their children into their school of choice and at this time of year parents are riddled with anxiety, when did it become so competitive? I remember, like most parents, going to the nearby local school. Now it seems, the only foolproof method of guaranteeing a place is to move just a few feet away from the school! It is well-worth finding out your schools previous catchment area as certain factors can effect this distance every year, such as high birth rates and sibling intakes.

It’s good to know that in 2016 almost 90% of Bromley students applying for Primary and Secondary places received their first or second choice preference, so we see the majority do get their first choice school – so why do we feel the need to play this system in the UK, can we learn from our European neighbours?

In Finland they don’t have free schools, academies or grammars, however, their comprehensive schools sit at the top of Europe’s ranking and have done for the previous 16 years. The Finns believe that children aren’t ready for school until they are seven and credit their excellent performance schools to the early preparation and groundwork they foster. The curriculum at Finnish daycare centres and pre schools doesn’t involve maths, reading or writing. It’s all about creative play, physical activity and social interaction. Finnish kindergarten doesn’t prepare children for school academically but focuses instead on making them happy, responsible individuals. Maybe we need to take a leaf out of the Finnish education system?

However, a large a majority of people reading this magazine reside within the Bromley Borough and are patiently waiting for their school placement offers, we hope you get offered a place at your first choice of school. But if you are not happy with the place your child has been offered, there are alternative opportunities. The local independent sector offers plenty of choice, they provide academic excellence and its worth finding out about their scholarship opportunities. The Whitgift Foundation bursary schemes, for example, help educate over 3,000 students per year and have one of the biggest bursary funds in the UK, currently offering 44% of students some kind of financial support.

Schools welcome visitors to take a look around and chat to students and members of staff. Find independent schools near where you live using our online school finder at www.futures-magazine.co.uk/find-a-school-near-you, you can find all the relevant School Open Morning information on the website or turn to our School Comparison Chart in the centre pages for lots more information. Visit the schools you are interested in during one of their open events and try to see the school during a normal working day as well in order to get a real feel for it’s ethos and drive.

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