Will State School Postcode Lottery Benefit Private Schools?
2008 sees the introduction of the new secondary schools admissions code. Basically it mandates that places at oversubscribed popular schools must be offered randomly as opposed to just children living in affluent catchment areas.
This has caused uproar in Brighton where the Labour controlled council has already introduced the random allocation in two zones. The Conservatives have responded with claims of “social engineering” and “replacing one set of unhappy parents with another” Residents of Hanover and Queen’s Park, an area known as “muesli mountain” (reflecting the mix of socialist and liberal inhabitants!) are delirious that they will now have access to two of the best schools, whilst the “golden halo” couples buying houses for £500,000+ in the previous catchment area are furious.
It’s estimated that nationally more than 100,000 children are being denied their place at their preferred first choice school this year. In London only 64% of children get their first choice against 82% in the rest of England.
Whilst the Conservatives have pledged to scrap the school lottery system, in fact other Tory controlled councils are already implementing similar placement systems. In Hertfordshire they are introducing a random allocation system for single sex schools.
The disillusionment of those parents denied their preferred school for their children can of course be solved by opting for an independent education instead, but it is not necessarily straightforward. The knock-on problem is that the state school lottery is fuelling demand for the less expensive private schools with good academic track records. Thus parents need to get their applications in early. They need to be aware that entry to most senior independent schools is by passing the Common Entrance Exam typically taken in January preceding the September entry – so you may have already missed the boat for September 2008 entry, but you can enter many private schools at 12 or 13 as well. There is much advice on independent school entry at http://www.best-schools.co.uk
Then there is the issue of cost. Day tuition fees range from £9,000 pa to £15,000 pa. Extras such as meals and school trips will add a minimum of 5% to the fees and annual school fees inflation is running at 5% to 6%. The www.best-schools.co.uk league tables carry the current senior school fees for most private schools. There are helpful tips on how to reduce school fees by tax planning at www.education-fees.co.uk
back to newsroom