Completing the Schools Application Form involves more than just writing down the name of the school you want your child to attend. It’s a tactical process and knowing how to complete the form to maximise your chances of getting offered a place will make a big difference to the outcome. The following is a quick guide to help you do this.
Use all of your shortlist preferences
Even if you have your heart set on one school, you should give a shortlist of four schools. This will allow you to express a preference in case you don’t get the school you would like the most. If you only put this school down but don’t get offered a place, you will be allocated a place at the nearest school with room. At least by putting down three other options, you are likely to be offered a place at one of them. However, if you put four South West Consortium schools down on your shortlist, you may find that you don’t get offered a place at any of these schools, particularly if they are some distance away. Therefore it is sensible to select one of the schools to be one of those nearest to your home address.
Check your location
Even if applying for academic or other specialist places, find out if you are in the priority area for that school. With so many applications for all of the South West Consortium schools, you are far less likely to be offered a place if you are outside of these areas at some of the schools. You may be wasting your shortlist option by including them in your list. All SWC schools except for Bushey Meads School operate a priority postcode system for some aspect of their admission criteria.
Check your scores
Once you get the results back from the academic assessment test, check the combined score against the values for 2014. These aren’t a pass mark but will give you some idea about whether a place would have been offered in previous years. If this score is similar to last year’s value, look on school websites for further historical values to help decide. Having a higher score doesn’t mean that you are guaranteed to be offered a place but it suggests it will be more likely. The closer you are to the school, the greater your chance, particularly if you are within a priority postcode area.
Do put your shortlisted schools in order of preference
The order you put will not affect which schools you are offered places in. They will not be told the position and will consider all pupils using their criteria as set. However, if you are offered a place at more than one school, the school highest in your order will be the one you are allocated.
Don’t forget to complete the Supplementary Information Form
In addition to completing the school admission form online, you must also complete a supplementary information form for each of the schools who require it. All of the South West Consortium schools require a supplementary information form to be completed and returned to the school. Details of these deadlines can be found on Hertfordshire School Admissions: Deadline October 31, 2014 . In general, this is just before half term. Supplementary information forms can be downloaded from the schools website.
Do consider other available schools
If you don’t have a child already attending the schools you are shortlisting from the South West Consortium or you don’t live near to one, then it would be sensible to include at least one non-selective school in your shortlist. You cannot guarantee that you will be offered a place here automatically, so you still need to consider the criteria for admissions. Here is the key data (good GCSE scores and Value added) and the admissions number and applications for schools in the same area of Hertfordshire:
Admission numberApplicationsGood GCSEsValue AddedAdeyfield School150287391005.2Ashlyns School21039266993.6Beaumont School1801117801010.7Kings Langley School186660621000.9Longdean School21845458998.7Roundwood Park School196708791004.7Samuel Ryder Academy180299not availablenot availableSir John Lawes School196800831008.8The Astley Cooper School18014943991.4The Cavendish School21048153979.6The Hemel Hempstead School180834691003.3Westfield Academy240289541020.8
Alternatively, you can also look at the independent schools in the area and apply for a place at one of these schools. Applications for these schools will need to be completed separately and the deadlines vary from school to school. These independent schools are all within geographical reach for day pupils living in the area:
Good GCSEsAdmission entry deadlineEntrance examtermly fee — day pupilAbbot’s Hill School9601/12/201413/01/2015£5,444Aldenham School8801/12/201405/01/2015£4,669Berkhamsted School99applications closed due to oversubscriptionEgerton-Rothesay School15open day on 20/11/14 and 29/1/15Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School10030/11/201409/01/2015£5,554Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls100not available — contact the school14/01/2015£4,834Immanuel College8330/11/201405/01/2015£4,784The King’s School7131/01/2015arranged after registration£1,920Merchant Taylors’ School9930/11/2014second week of January 2015£6,017Purcell School88prior to audition end dateauditions held until end of March£8,259Royal Masonic School for Girls8701/12/2014arranged after registration£4,850Rudolf Steiner School47not available — contact the schoolnot applicable£2,940St Albans High School for Girls10030/11/2014To be arranged in January£4,825St Albans School10030/11/201417/01/2015£5,292St Columba’s College97not available — contact the school10/1/15 and 17/1/15£4,390St Margaret’s School9330/11/201406/01/2015£4,910Stanborough Secondary School67not available — contact the schoolarranged after registration£2,885
If you have thought through the options using these stages and considered the alternatives, then you should have allocated the most realistic options for achieving a place based on your scores and the area you live in. There are no guarantees that you will receive an offer from a school you’d prefer but it will maximise your chance of success. If things go well, you will hopefully have an offer you are happy to accept.
Unfortunately, you will have to wait until allocation day on March 2 2015 to find out the results of your application, so if you are also thinking about independent schools then you will need to start this process before finding out if you have been offered a place your would accept. Eleven Plus exams for independent schools are taken in January, so if you want to give your child this additional option, get in touch to see how we can help.