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The Problems Placing Young Children in Schools and Nurseries in London 0

By Martin Humphrys

Summary: Many parents with very young children who are told that they are to come to London will find that it is not easy to obtain nursery places or indeed places in the Pre-Preparatory School within the capital itself.

The most popular area to be relocated is to the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea where at present there are some 51 Nurseries catering for children from two and a half to five and not one of them has a place for next September 2002.

The same is true of many of the Pre-Preparatory Schools with many of them having already closed their admissions for 2006. Many will place children on waiting lists although in a number of cases these also are some fifty or sixty strong.

Indeed in the case of Pembridge Hall (for Girls) and Wetherby (for boys and where both Prince William and Henry attended) registration must take place within twenty-four hours and two weeks respectively of the birth. Indeed to delay by one day will see registration refused. In many cases advice is now being given to parents whilst the baby is nothing more than a scan.

The top Nurseries likewise will have their books for any entry year complete with waiting lists within six months of the birth and whilst many parents are registered for a number of nurseries, the waiting lists will ensure the possibility of spaces be created is somewhat slim.

The moment a new nursery or school is opened it will be full within weeks. The new Preparatory School for boys in Edge Street - Hawkesdown House (a sister school to Devonshire House and Lyndhurst) sent out circulars early in January 2001 and opened with a full establishment in September. Likewise Queens College decided to create a new Prep School for girls this coming September 2002 in Portland Place with Mrs J Davies the present Head from Lady Eden's (which has been taken over by Thomas') as the new Head. It had places for four year olds filled within days of a piece appearing in the London Evening Standard on a policy of first come first served and with many probably following the Head it should likewise open with a full compliment throughout the age groups.

Many parents feel that they must try for the established schools such as Thomas', Garden House, Bute House, Eaton House, Eaton Square, Glendower etc to name but a few and in the case of nurseries Miss Morley's, Pooh Corner, Iverna Gardens but inevitably they are already full and unless one has registered a child very early on then the chance of a place is remote in the extreme. The same is true of schools in areas such as St John's Wood/Hampstead and Wimbledon.

What needs to be done?

It is essential when one knows that a move is likely that you contact someone who can help. It is clearly distressing for a parent sitting miles away across the Atlantic to ring numerous nurseries to be told that there is no possibility of a place although you may register to go on a waiting list.

Apply for as many nurseries and schools as possible. This will hopefully ensure that you will have a choice when the time comes.

It is never too early to obtain the information  whilst the child may still not yet have been born  obtain information from the nurseries and schools with the registration forms  or if necessary ensure that someone rings them within days (and we mean days) of the birth.

Unlike Manhattan it does not matter what your own education is or was, whether you have a large chequebook or whether you know someone who knows someone of importance  your child will go on a list and will only move up as space becomes available. Don't be fooled by those who tell you because your company has so many children at a school it will be able to pull strings  it can't.

To quote one Prep School Head "It would not matter if you were the Queen of England you do not move up my lists except in order!"

Be prepared to have to wait for a space to come up or more importantly don't place all of your hopes on a nursery and school in the most fashionable areas  remember 60,000 children every day cross London to reach their school they are not all just around the corner!

About the Author

AS Martin HumphrysMartin Humphrys, MA (Cantab) PGCE (Cantab), Educational Consultant for Sterling Corporate Relocation, was educated at Chatham House Grammar School, Ramsgate, and Downing College Cambridge University. He undertook his teaching certificate at the Cambridge Department of Education where he taught at Hinchingbroke School, Huntingdon – an 1800 student Comprehensive School.

An Individual Member of the European Council of International Schools, Martin joined the Sterling Education Team as an Education Consultant in 1999, and has since addressed a number of conferences in regard to educational placements in the United Kingdom and abroad.

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First Published: May 03, 2002

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