Wednesday 6 May 2015
Late Spring is traditionally a time when school places come under greater demand as families finalise plans for the new academic year. Below is an at-a-glance overview of the current state of play.
Most international schools have now completed their re-enrolment process for the new academic year, and thus have a clearer idea of their availability.
The major international schools in central London are showing very restricted places, even in the newer options, such as Halcyon School. We would advise that options are reviewed as early as possible to ensure that a proper back-up plan is established in the English system.
Outside of central London, the major international schools have a little more flexibility, though this is the time of year when there is usually a surge of applications, and we are seeing a definite increase in activity again. Again, early action would be recommended, even if families are in the early stage of considering a move.
As with every year, the growing French population in London means that places are very hard to come by in both the government sponsored and independent schools. This is the same situation in other country-specific schools, such as the German School in Richmond and Japanese School in Acton.
For those planning a move for the new school year, state schools are normally unable to clarify their position on availability until early June.
The indications are that spaces are much tighter than normal, especially in some areas that have traditionally been positive hunting grounds for relocating families, for example Richmond upon Thames and Kingston in south-west London or Didsbury in Manchester.
Increased birth-rates and immigration have also seen bottle-necks created in the formal application points of Reception (age 4) and Year 7 secondary (age 11). Over a third of families missed their first choice Reception choice, more than that at secondary level.
Families moving into the state sector will have to consider how to build a strategy to maximise their chance of a school place. Again, early planning is advised when possible.
For those families moving with company support for tuition fees, there is some flexibility in the system.
Popular schools will tend to be full, especially in major urban areas such as London, Reading, Manchester and Edinburgh, though even there occasional spots have bubbled up as families hand in their notice.
If families are happy to look at more rural areas, then schools places are often easier to come by.