Former headmistress shares insight on exam waiting lists

Now that the throes of the London Day School testing are over, a number of parents will find them-selves with waiting list offers. Lucy Watts, former Headmistress of Eaton House, Belgravia, has some guidance on how to manage the next few days before School acceptance dates.

  • If your child is on a waiting list, it means that he or she has effectively passed the entrance exam and should be congratulated for that.
  • No doubt your child’s current school will be in touch with the waiting list school(s), if that is en-couraged by the entry school. Your Headmistress or Headmaster will usually have a relationship with the schools and can often help to understand the waiting list situation.
  • Allow your current school to negotiate on your child’s behalf. Tell them if a particular school is genuinely your first choice. Your current school will have sent a specific report to the prep/senior schools which will have outlined your child’s profile and extras. There is no need for you to bombard registrars and Heads with, for example, your child’s latest skiing medal or recent pieces of artwork as all the relevant information will already be in place to supplement the exam perfor-mance.
  • On receiving a waiting list offer, respond by thanking the school for putting your child on their waiting list and if you are genuinely interested in a place, make that clear in a short, polite email or handwritten letter. Either format carries the same weight – just make sure that your correspond-ence reaches the relevant person.
  • If you have personal connections with a school through family, friends or others, make that clear but do so subtly. Let the schools know that you have a positive connection but do not push ‘names’ at the schools as they will have many people trying to do that and they still have to abide by their exam result criteria. Please do not, therefore, overdo any connections because however much dinner party chat there might be, there is a firm and fair system of school place offers.
  • Ask for feedback from the schools if your child is not offered a place. This will just be an outline that can be discussed with your child’s school, not least to prepare for another application if that is appropriate. Remember that your child’s school will focus on all round preparation. Although the feedback might say that a child was ‘weaker’ in a particular area during the exams, it does not mean that that will be the only area on which your child should focus.
  • Do not despair if your child is on a waiting list. Once places are accepted, lists often move. There are plenty of great schools for everyone!

After the waitlists are closed:

Deadlines have now passed but some parents will still be struggling with their child’s school place.There is no need for this and parents should be as positive as possible about the next stage in their child ‘s schooling.

My advice is to embrace your child ‘s new school place and realise that actually ,it might not have been your first choice but it will,no doubt,be a school with superb teachers who genuinely want to teach your child to the best of their ability .Those staff will want to understand your child’s needs and do everything that they can ,to set the children on the best path for their learning and progression and onto excellent senior schools.Let your child know that you are happy with the school choice.

In the aftermath of the 7/8/11+ exams,do what you can to give your child a school place.Let him or her know what the destination school is and if he or she is on a waiting list,explain that to your child.Work with your current school for the best possible backing and placement.

If your child has not gained a place at a school of your choice,do not despair !That one school might not be the best place for your child or your family.If your child misses a particular entry point , he or she might be able to reapply at another time.A second try might do the trick and if not,it won’t ruin your child’s long term opportunities .

If you decide to apply to schools at another entry point e.g. 11 +, work with your school and consider a tutor but do so candidly.That is vital.

Many schools now teach wellbeing and resilience skills.This is so important for children to know that life can throw them something during the school application process but that they can bounce back! Parents can adhere to that too .

Lucy Watts, Education Consultant.
Tel: 07956 140101

Lucy Watts helps children in UK schools, advises on entrance exams, undertakes 7+/8+/11+ and pre-test interviews. She performs school searches for parents and children based in the UK and world-wide. Having been at Eaton House for 25 years, she has extensive knowledge of a wide range of schools with particular expertise in the London day school system from nursery to senior schools. Lucy works with former SENCOs and Education Psychologists for the assessment of children. She can source and guide tutors, if required. She also advises on staff and Headship recruitment, as well as offering senior management support.

Fees on application for: o Telephone or face-to-face consultation
o Interview practice
o School search
o Arrangement of academic assessments
o Tutor, mentor and SEN support searches

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