A conversation with a London-based client this week. The client “I’m trying to fill in the application forms for my baby but since she isn’t born yet, I don’t have a date of birth to put on the form. What should I do?”
Once a baby is on the way, parents are stampeded by advice on education, much of it well-meaning, but often skewed by the advisor’s own particular circumstances.
For those families considering independent schools, many are urged to drop everything so as to register their child for private school places often leading them to send out applications in a flurry, without much thought as to why those schools were chosen.
Forward-planning for schooling is important. However, it is equally essential to take some time to consider what type of education is important to you, not just in terms of academic results, but pastoral care, culture and ethos, what could loosely be called the “character” of the school.
Advice from friends and family is helpful but should be understood in the context of your own individual ambitions.
It is also important to remember that missing deadlines is NOT the end of the world. Certainly registering when advised by schools allows you to keep a greater control over your choices.
However, because families register at more than one school, because families move away from London without cancelling registrations, because families register as back-up to a preferred state option, there is always much more liquidity in the school system than is publicised by parents and schools themselves.
If you are willing to be flexible, open to different ideas, and to maintain a steady grip on what is important to you, good schools are usually within reach.