Hello! I am due in July and I have heard that I should submit school applications as soon as our baby is born if she is to be accepted at a school... We live in Kensington, and I have no idea which are the good schools I should apply to. Can anyone help? Thanks a lot
I presume you are talking about private schools. Personally, I think that you need to go and visit the schools to get a feeling for them, as well as asking for other people's opinions.
If you're talking about state schools, then you don't need to (and in fact, can't) put your child's name down until the year before they start school. The application deadline varies from LEA to LEA so you would need to check out the exact date with your Borough.
I don't know what independent schools in London are like, but those I'm aware of up here don't work on that basis any more - there is a date by which you have to apply, and the children are assessed and offered (or not offered) a place on the basis of their potential and behaviour at the time of the assessment. You can't get a secured place there by applying early, although you can get onto their mailing list and express an interest earlier, so they'll send you info about open days etc.
As to which are "good" schools, well it depends what you want in a school really! You can get info from the schools, find out about academic results and where the children tend to go onto afterwards, if that's something you value. But the most important thing for most parents is to visit all the possible schools and get a feel for whether they are the kind of place and people who you want to entrust your child to.
You could also start a new thread titled something like "independent schools near Kensington" if you want to find out which ones parents on here have experience of, which may help you narrow down your options.
If you're looking at state schools, that's certainly not the case. You won't need to apply until the academic year before your daughter is due to start Reception (i.e. sometime in the autumn of 2012 for her to start in 2013).
For private schools the current economic climate means it's not the case at most schools any more, either. Schools do tend to split into those that offer places strictly in order of application and those that have a further assessment/interview process for all those who have applied by a certain deadline.
Pick up a copy of The Good Schools Guide and it should give you an idea of schools in your area that appeal to you. Then you can check the admissions procedures with them directly.
Any system that operates on a first-come, first-served basis like that penalises any child not born in the Autumn. Which is why state schools, through their LEAs, don't operate that way anymore, and haven't for many years. Otherwise, all the places for a given cohort would be filled long before half the potential class were even born. Unfair.