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Obtaining a place at a South London prep school?

(28 Posts)
shirleybrown Fri 04-Dec-15 14:28:25

I'm expecting my first child, apologies this is my first post and I have no idea about all the acronyms I'm meant to use... My other half, who was privately educated, wants to send our child to private school from the start. Our Obgyn jokingly mentioned that if we want to do this we need to be on waiting list from his/her birth. Is this true!? Can anyone help educate me about the processes of getting our child into a good co-ed prep school? Any resources about the best schools would also be a great help. Thanks!

whatsagoodusername Fri 04-Dec-15 14:36:59

It will depend on which one you want. My DS goes to a good co-ed prep school in southeast London - we put his name down for it when he was about 4 (November baby), so no more than a year in advance and we had no trouble getting in. It's not academically competitive though - more focussed on pastoral and all-round good.

jeanne16 Fri 04-Dec-15 16:54:32

For the most sought after ones, you need to put your DCs name down in the first year to be sure of a place. Even that may initially only give you a waiting list place though you should make it off the waiting list since lots of people put DCs names down for multiple schools.

bittapitta Fri 04-Dec-15 17:04:24

Fwiw it's true that you need to be on the waiting list for some private nurseries in areas of London while you are pregnant/baby is weeks old if you want a chance of a place a year later. That might be what fuelled the claim.

MMmomKK Fri 04-Dec-15 18:18:38

Now that you still have time - do some research about the school's near you. I found Good Schools Guide (online, you can subscribe for 1month) - very informative.

If you know the gender of your child - you can focus on boys or girls schools. If you are waiting to find out - the you need to research both types, and co-ed.

Here in the Kensington and Chelsea area - there are some "first-come-first-served" and some "by assessment" schools. With the first type - it makes sence to register as soon as possible. You only have to pay a registration fee - so it gives you an option. With some of those - Wetherby - it might help if you call from the hospital - (I know, crazy!) - but it is VERY thought after...
For other "assessment" schools - it helps to register in the first 6mo.

Knowing how busy people get after the birth of the child - it's better to research/prepare the applications before the birth. Ours were ready - missing the DOB and name - before. Then my husband took care of them while I was in the hospital.

It sounds crazy - but, unfortunately, it is what it is around here. And do trust me - once the baby arrives, last thing you'll want to do in the first year (or two) is research schools. So - why not prepare in advance...

With my first child we registered at 2 non-selective, and 4 selective schools. We wanted to have a range of options.

Same is true for the nurseries. Only you don't need to register with as many. Just a couple you like. And it helps to tour them while you are pregnant - shows you are really keen.

talkiinpeace Fri 04-Dec-15 18:43:04

FWIW a family member has just got the oldest of their kids into a private SW London prep school
it has cost them £10,000 in deposits and non returnable advance fees and form fees
next ones will follow first for only £1000 each

they have the money but agree its utterly mad

DO NOT get bounced into paying for anything till you have a better idea what sort of person your child will be.
If they ask for money up front, walk away
its a buyers market (despite what the schools will try to tell you)

nurseries are a different matter

shirleybrown Fri 04-Dec-15 18:47:37

Thanks so much, these tips have been really helpful!

AnotherNewt Fri 04-Dec-15 18:47:46

Are you reasonably sure you're going to stay put where you are living now?

There isn't really any need to register at birth across the board. But, and especially if you might want a nursery place at the school, you might want to think about an early registration at a school close to you that does 'first come first served'. That gives you a fallback. Yes, you'll have to pay the registration fee, but that should be all at this stage.

Then you can take your time and research other schools (both sectors) properly. There is no advantage in an early registration for a selective prep. And you cannot apply early for a stat school.

M48294Y Fri 04-Dec-15 18:50:25

Really? is this actually true?

Taranta Fri 04-Dec-15 18:57:46

Our DC goes to a excellent south London prep, he gained a place by assessment at the entry point for his age not by putting his name down at birth or whatever. The coed prep round here works on the same principle but takes only 18 kids at age 4 so is statistically much harder to get into.

MMmomKK Sun 06-Dec-15 15:00:21

I have no we heard of £10,000 deposit fees here in SW London. I don't know what this is about. Registration fee should (used to be) around £100. Maybe it changed since mi kids started.

All I am saying is - research now. Call the schools and ask how quickly their lists fill up. Where I live - most popular schools's assessment lists fill up and CLOSE within 1-2 years from birth.
And there is definetely a benefit to registering early at the non-assessment schools - as they are 1-come, 1-served...

If you think you are staying in the area - there is nothing to be gained by waiting to register. You'll need to do it before the child is 2 - so you will not have any clearer picture about what she/she is like.

talkiinpeace Sun 06-Dec-15 16:38:42

Please do not question my numbers. I read through the paperwork with my jaw on the floor

£200 to fill in the form - per school
£2000 deposit to secure place (non refundable if place not taken up) - per school
certain schools demand a non refundable term up front £4000 to secure place
most parents apply to three schools

£10k is south of the river prices grin

AnotherNewt Sun 06-Dec-15 16:46:34

£200 is very high for registration fees. Most are £100 or less, and the info is usually readily available from the website.

The other charges do not kick in until you are offered a definite place and it's usually a couple of terms before proposed entry. Only those who hedge by holding multiple offers lose deposits and/or terms fees in lieu. And it's priced to deter that.

Payments for deposits and term's fees in advance are knocked off the final bill (assuming correct notice to quit is given).

wandymum Sun 06-Dec-15 18:55:26

Yes as others have said it depends on whether you target selective or first come first served schools. So in our bit of SW london Finton House, Eaton House and Hornsby House entry just depends on getting your name down quickly. Thomas', Broomwood Hall and the Dulwich schools do assesments at 4 so you can register later. It's a good idea to go for at leat one of the first come first served schools so you have a back up in case the assessments don't go in your favour.

As for £10k to just secure a place I agree I've never heard of it coming to anywhere near that much. Registration fees are usually about £100 and then you only have to pay the deposit once you have a place and know which school you are going for so very rare to pay more than one and of course you get that back when you leave.

wandymum Sun 06-Dec-15 19:03:22

Oh also it is definitely not a buyer's market around here. I can't think of a single local prep that isn't oversubscribed.

talkiinpeace Sun 06-Dec-15 19:13:19

The deposit
is £2600 at Kensington
non refundable

PRE PAYMENT for entry £2500

TRL Sun 06-Dec-15 19:17:30

Hi there,

Lots of good advice here. For most schools it's safer to register early. Some like Putney High won't take registrations before their third birthday but most will and the first-come, first-served can fill up quickly.

We have several children at Thomas's Battersea and the system is £50 to register, and although your child won't be assessed until the November preceeding entry you should do that once you've visited before DC's about 18 months old so you get onto the Main Registration list of 180 kids (only those children are guaranteed assessment and I think your £50 cheque won't be cashed if you're on the waiting list for assessment). If you child is successful in the assessment, you pay a deposit of £2000 - I think this is returnable minus any outstanding amount once they leave... none of our gang have left yet! It is not returnable if you then choose another school unless it's one of the Consortium Group they operate with eg Ken Prep, Garden Hse etc, there's a group that work together to make everyone's lives easier as schools tend to do assessments/offer places at different times. The July before they start, you then pay the first term's fees.

I guess it's pretty similar amounts across the S London preps but there's no reason why anyone would end up paying the full amount for more than one school unless they're moving house in the preschool year perhaps?

Probably a good idea to check out some schools in your area, see what their systems are (it's all online) and make a visit or registration plan sooner rather than later unless the schools you're interested in don't require it. Once it gets to the point where you have to part with big cash amounts, revisit and decide what might suit the little one/you.

MrsFlorrick Sun 06-Dec-15 19:27:47

You can usually register with a non-refundable £250 to £1000. This being if you're registering just after birth.

Once you get to 6 months or so before school starts, then a terms fees become payable and that's non-refundable. Occasionally its a full year non-refundable in the term before Reception starts and that would be circa £10k depending on the school.

There are smaller and cheaper preps who focus on individuals and pastoral rather than just an 11+ factory. For this expect to pay £7k a year basic fees for Reception to yr 2. You won't need to sign up at birth for these. And the initial deposit on filling in forms will be about £250.

There are larger preps who are all around fab with amazing facilities and great results. Think indoor and outdoor pools. Acres of land. Robotics labs, art and music wings with everything imaginable. Expect to pay £12k per year for Reception to yr2. Expect to pay about £1000 on filling in forms and a years fees in advance in some cases (some schools credit score you and want full financial disclosure).

And then there are smaller but very very academic preps with average facilities. Expect to pay £10k a year for Reception to year 2. Expect to pay £250 on filling in forms but then the place won't be guaranteed until they've assessed your child before starting school.

My DC started at small local prep but we moved them this year to large prep with every facility going. It wasn't just about the school we were moving house so took the opportunity.

Before choosing, spend time speaking to the staff and particularly the other parents. If you find most of the parents are not your cup of tea, then it's unlikely your child will thrive there. Good luck choosing.

AnotherNewt Sun 06-Dec-15 20:15:40

talkinpeace. You've linked pages which describe the payments required for firm acceptance of an offered place, in the run up to actually joining. You do not have to pay anything other than the registration fee (for one of the school's you link, Newton Prep, that's £75) unless you accept a place.

And the payment when you do accept a place, (£4k for NP according to your link), is less that one term's fees, and appears to be refundable on leaving provided proper notice is given.

It's utterly standard to require a term's fees in advance.

But yes, it will quickly mount up if you're talking about London prices (say £4-5k per child per term) if you want to hold more than one offer until closer to the point of entry and therefore forfeit the others.

talkiinpeace Sun 06-Dec-15 20:18:45

it sounds insane, but is nothing out of the ordinary in the inner SW postcodes
as such money to get the right place is small fry for some
and thus makes the system out of reach of even more Brits

it will come back to bite the schools IMHO
which is why I'd honestly suggest that OP waits and sees

AnotherNewt Sun 06-Dec-15 20:25:49

I think it's probably the cost that is the barrier. Full Stop. Not that it's payable termly in advance.

The pricing may change if schools find themselves unable to fill places. But that's not happening right now. There are a lot of rich people in London, and a lot of international business types (fees paid by companies).

wandymum Sun 06-Dec-15 20:26:03

Yes talkiinpeace the links you have given say the opposite of what you are saying that they do in your posts.

wandymum Sun 06-Dec-15 20:29:25

The number of applications to private schools in London rose 13% last year alone so I don't think the schools are going to have to reduce their prices anytime soon.

MonsterDeCookie Mon 07-Dec-15 08:33:33

You need a spreadsheet with all the schools within 20 minutes. They will all have different registration fees/timings for application. Try and choose a range: one that goes 3-18, one super selective, one first come first serve etc. Until you meet your child it's hard to know which school will suit and schools can change quickly. You don't have to pay big deposits until you accept a place. It's just the registration fees at this point. Paying multiple thousand pound deposits only happens if the schools you want have out of sync offers (often happens!) and you don't want to be left without a place. But I've never heard of anyone paying for more than one backup. More than that is madness!

MumOfTheMoos Tue 08-Dec-15 12:13:36

DUCKs in Dulwich had a wait list for their Nursery & pre-prep. I put my son's name down when he was 8 months old and was told last year that we were well big placed on the waiting list for entry at Reception 2016. He's just been offered a place a Dulwich Prep (which I am chuffed to bits about) and given that we have to pay £1500 deposit plus will be liable for a terms fees in lieu of notice if he doesn't take up the place, we wil be stopping there. If it was just h £1500 then we may have paid it and then seen if he got a place at Alleyns after assessment in the New Year or waited until a place came up at DUCKs to give us the luxury of an actual choice. Nothing in the Dulwich Prep contract says anything about the fees in lieu of notice only kicking in 6 months before the start of term etc. I do wish they were all in synch but I see why Dulwich Prep does this as first to offer. Still, as I said m

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