Queue to submit forms for South Hampstead High School?

(49 Posts)
stretto Mon 23-Sep-13 11:27:49

We are hoping to apply to South Hampstead High School. The applications are being sent out now, and have to be submitted after 9 am on 1st Oct, ideally by hand. They only accept the first 250 applications. My husband and I will both be away on 1st October, and the only person who can submit the form for us is my MIL who lives 60 miles away from London.

The school said that if we send the form by regsistered post to arrive by 9 am, they won't accept it if it arrives before 9 am, and if it is picked up in the post after 250 forms have already been received, they won't accept it. So it seems our only option is to ask 79 year old MIL to submit it for us. Is it likely that there will be long queues? It seems awful to ask an old lady to stand in a queue for hours.

BranchingOut Mon 23-Sep-13 11:32:17

I suspect that you might need to get in line before 9.00!

Can you pay someone to do it for you? Hire a student or temp for the day?

stretto Mon 23-Sep-13 11:35:47

So what sort of timescale are we talking about? Queuing overnight? I've read some horror stories where parents pitch tents on the street outside the school overnight! Is SHHS one of these schools?

Noteveryday Mon 23-Sep-13 12:17:41

I would not want my kids to go to a school where they had all this sort of bollocks.

And I would definitely not ask anyone else to do it for me, let alone an older person who lives nowhere nearby. My parents / PILS would laugh in my face at the very suggestion tbh.

neverknowinglyundersold Mon 23-Sep-13 12:17:43

Help!
I've never heard of this before. Where did you read this information about first 250 applications. The website gives a date in early December to get the application form in by, so we weren't thinking about doing it for ages.

BranchingOut Mon 23-Sep-13 12:25:32

Not everyday - I am afraid that this is the educational micro-climate of North London! Intense competition for everything, even within the indpendent sector. If this is not the case where you live then thank your lucky stars...

For example, i have just had a hefty deposit not returned by a school, despite giving 14 months notice that we would not be taking up a place. It is just the way it goes...however, this is partly why we have left London.

stretto Mon 23-Sep-13 12:29:05

Neverknowingly - this would be for admission at 4+ in 2015. 11+ is December deadline, so don't panic!

Branchingout - is this really typical or is it a particularly competitive school?

BranchingOut Mon 23-Sep-13 12:51:30

I have no need for a girls school, so don't know anything about SHHS. But, I do have some experience of the overall hoop-jumping involved in getting into an independent school in North London! In general, it is a seller's market so terms and conditions which would be seen as unreasonable in any other walk of life are 'take it or leave it' as far as the schools are concerned...

Regarding the queue, I just don't think that parents will be strolling up at 9.00 - eager beavers will probably be there before 8.00 at least. Would parents honestly risk not getting a place for the sake of getting up a bit earlier?

stretto Mon 23-Sep-13 13:02:32

There must be a lot of families who have nannies who can submit the forms, or else SAHMs. We only found out a few days ago that the forms had to be submitted on 1st October, and not many people can just book time off work at such short notice.

SavoyCabbage Mon 23-Sep-13 13:06:07

I would say people are going to get there well before 9am. I would hire someone to do it for you.

Bonsoir Mon 23-Sep-13 13:07:30

Pay someone to queue for you - preferably overnight.

motherinferior Mon 23-Sep-13 13:17:00

You have to queue overnight to get your child's reception place???

jeee Mon 23-Sep-13 13:26:44

I don't think I'd trust someone else to do this for me -it's just too important to rely on other people even if you do pay them. After all, if they don't stand deliver the letter, what can you do? The school won't change their admissions procedures for you. And I don't think it's fair to ask your MIL to do this.

If you believe this is the right school for your DD, I think either you or your DH are just going to have to take the morning off work.

stretto Mon 23-Sep-13 13:49:44

We will both be giving concerts hundreds of miles away. The audiences have already booked their tickets, and it's just not done in our profession to cancel. I guess it just isn't the right school for us....

Bonsoir Mon 23-Sep-13 13:54:14

It possibly isn't the right school for you. Here in Paris, where it is also a seller's market for the best schools, there are clear indications from some schools that one SAHP (or at least at home every day outside school hours) is a KSF in obtaining a place. Maybe this is what this school is testing for?

CruCru Mon 23-Sep-13 13:54:58

Hmmm. I do know that you can pay someone to queue up for visas at the Indian Embassy - DH sorted that last time. Perhaps google it and give them a ring to see if they would consider taking the job?

Bonsoir Mon 23-Sep-13 13:56:09

Does the person who hands in the application have to sign?

jeee Mon 23-Sep-13 13:56:31

Yes, you really can't cancel that, can you? When most people say they can't take a morning off, they actually can, but don't want to. Is MIL any kind of a possibility? I know I said it wasn't fair to ask her, but as you really can't get there, I think that if she's reasonably hearty it's acceptable.

Otherwise, I think you'll have to go down the 'it's not the right school' approach. But it's still worth sending in the form on recorded delivery.... you might get lucky.

mrsshackleton Mon 23-Sep-13 14:00:15

Who will be looking after your dd or will she be with you? If not, couldn't that person do it? Imvho a school that asks something so ludicrous is a school to be avoided.

Bonsoir Mon 23-Sep-13 14:02:24

I agree with MrsShackleton - I am very dubious about the general morals and behaviour of schools that require parents to jump through ludicrous and irrelevant hoops in the competition to obtain a place.

I have no issue with competing for a place per se but I think that the tasks should be relevant to the issue at hand.

stretto Mon 23-Sep-13 14:04:39

MIL is the only family member we could ask; everyone else is too far away. She would do it, but I feel awful about asking an old lady, even though she is very fit and well, to queue.

newgirl Mon 23-Sep-13 14:06:31

Send your application by reg post - that sounds very sensible - it is bonkers that any school will make a selection judgement based on parents queuing skills

EverybodysStressyEyed Mon 23-Sep-13 14:10:58

I ambled up at 9am last year and was 80th in the queue. Here were some very overexcited parents there but no sleeping bags!

It is supposed to be a lovely school but there are plenty of those around so I wouldn't worry if you don't make it. Last year they had so many siblings the 250 were going for very few places.

BranchingOut Mon 23-Sep-13 14:18:01

I agree that it is wrong to get parents to do this, as it does immediately disadvantage those parents who are not either SAHP or have a nanny or other person to do so. Let alone those who may actually be more disadvantaged but who want to give their child a private education.

However, this may also be an attempt by the school to get around people putting their child down for a place at birth and may actually be more fair than the alternative.

Seriously, this kind of mechanism is not at all uncommon in London. I know that lots of other posters are advising against this school (which would be absolutely fine if there is another independent school nearby which has places for parents who stroll up at age 3 plus), however I really suspect that this is not the case.

HomeHelpMeGawd Mon 23-Sep-13 14:24:09

newgirl, they're not making a judgement about queuing skills, they're involved in a completely bonkers arms race with parents: they can only manage to look at 250 applications (for about 12 places or something, natch). So they need some way of choosing which 250 that's vaguely fair. So they say "first come, first served". So parents send applications in seven months in advance. So they say "by hand only". So people queue from 7am.

It is mad mad mad, all of it, and it will evolve further in the coming years.

PS: South Hampstead has a bit of a reputation for producing incredibly bright but really quite intense pupils. Given what happens for the queue, who would've thought it? wink

PPS: the selection process for all these schools is completely whimsical, in my view, despite the scientific pretensions that some of them spout. We have friends who applied for their daughter. Said friends have brains the size of planets - they have done every impressive academic thing you could imagine, Oxbridge starred firsts, masters in very complicated topics, etc etc- and their daughter is already showing signs of real brilliance. She got dinged at interview. My sense is that the schools succeed because the supply of clever children whose parents can afford the fees exceeds the supply of places, obviating the need to select "the cleverest".

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