Secondary Schools for SE23 residents

Having just been through the process of applying for secondary schools for start in Sep 2022, I thought I’d make some notes that may help someone applying next year, where I expect a similar process will follow. @mods maybe we could make this a WIKI so other people can edit?

Headline process

The Deadline for applying was 31st October 2021 for Sept 2022 entry. That is just under 2 months into Y6.

The name of the school your child has been allocated was sent out on the 1st March 2022. In London this typically seems to go out after 5pm, however you can log-in to the portal if you do not receive the email (ours came through quite a few hours later) to see which school it is.

You then have until the 15th March to accept the place (the place is sometimes auto accepted I think if it’s your first choice but best to check).

** if applying for grammar schools I think you need to apply in Y5 to do the seperate entrance exams.

*** I believe there may be a seperate process if you have an EHCP - edit there is it is here:

General process

You will need to have various documents to submit your application, so try to get these ready in advance to avoid last minute panics!

As a Lewisham resident, you can apply for up to 6 schools. These 6 schools can be in any London Borough, not just Lewisham.

The schools include Academy, Grammar or Community / State schools / Comprehensives. It does not include Independent (private fee paying) schools.

What order to list schools on the application form?

This always seems to cause some confusion, but essentially you should put the schools in order of the ones you prefer. You lose nothing by doing this.

Schools have no idea which preference you have given them, so putting them 1st or 6th gives you no more advantage of getting into the school.

You will be offered the highest preference school on your list for which your child meets the entrance criteria.

So let’s say you put school X on your form as No4 preference and you didn’t get a place at your first 3 choices, and someone else put it as No1. Let’s say that school uses distance as criteria (and neither of you are eligible on other categories eg sibling) and you are 500m away from the school and the other person is 800m away. Although you put it 4th, and the other person 1st, you would have priority as you are closer and would be offered the place first. I hope that makes sense.

Therefore you can afford to put some more unlikely destinations first, and some more likely ones further down the route (assuming you prefer the more unlikely ones - if you hae a likely school you prefer put it 1st).

What local secondary schools are there?

Keep in mind secondary schools often have different admission criteria, you should look at this before deciding whether to apply.

As I stated above, you can apply for schools in other boroughs. I’m more Honor Oak based than FH, and below are the state schools I think people are commonly for (excluding grammar and faith schools) - so very anecdotal.

Boys

Forest Hill https://foresthill.lewisham.sch.uk/ *6th Form co-ed with Sydenham Girls
Harris Boys East Dulwich [https://www.harrisdulwichboys.org.uk/] (https://www.harrisdulwichboys.org.uk/) (Southwark) * 6th form co-ed with Harris ED Girls

Co-ed

Prendergast Ladywell https://www.prendergast-ladywell.com/
Kingsdale (Southwark) http://kingsdalefoundationschool.org.uk/

Girls

Sydenham Girls https://www.sydenham.lewisham.sch.uk/ ** 6th form co-ed with Forest Hill
Prendergast Hill Fields https://www.prendergast-school.com/ * 6th form co-ed with Prendergast federation
Harris East Dulwich Girls https://www.harrisdulwichgirls.org.uk/ * * 6th form co-ed with Harris East Dulwich Boys

There are lots of other schools but these seem to be the main ones people aim for, happy to add above:

Sedgehill
Harris Crystal Palace
Prendergast Vale
Depford Green

There are also a number of Grammar Schools and Faith Schools people apply to, I’ll try and add some of these later.

How to view schools \ get information on schools?

You can view any schools Ofsted here: https://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/

You can view schools performance data, and drill down into data to see boys v girls difference, how people do based other criteria etc - https://www.gov.uk/school-performance-tables

You can ask for feedback on schools from parents on local forums, and more general places like mumsnet. Keep in mind a great school for Child A might be a terrible school for Child B. So you need to try and work out what your child might like (very strict, good sports, pushed academically, vocational options etc).

School websites generally list their extra curricular activities, GCSE options etc.

You can generally visit schools on tours in person with your child - these are typically in September and early October. Tours are often done in part by children which is nice as you can ask them questions (and your child can). We changed our minds a lot based on tours so I would highly recommend these, even for schools you might not think you like.

What do if you didn’t get your first choice of school?

The council is obliged to offer you a place. This will generally be one of the schools on your list, but if not they will offer you a school not on your list. this is why it is important, if you can, to put couple of realistic local choices if you can.

Whatever school you are offered, you should accept it. If you don’t, the council has fulfilled it’s obligation to offer your child a place.

You will automatically be put on the waiting list for any schools higher on your preference list than the school you were offered. You should be able to find out your waiting for each school.

People have until the 15th March to confirm places. There is, apparently, a lot of movement after this date. I believe new waiting list positions are then given on and shortly after April 1st, assuming you are not offered a place in the interim.

Appeals

You can, as I understand appeal for a place at a school if you have been unsuccesful in your application.

There are deadlines for when you need to appeal by so it is important to find out what this is if you are thinking of appealing.

The first way is if you think there has been an administrative error of sorts (eg distance incorrectly calculated, sibling priority missed), and that this error would otherwise have meant you would have been offered a place.

The second way is if you can prove the harm to your child not attending the school would be greater than the harm to the school accepting an extra child. This, as I understand it, cannot be based on you not liking the school offered, bad Ofsted etc, but must be something the school you want has that would greatly benefit your child that the other school does not.

// I am no expert in this, best to consult some if you want to go down this route.

Entrance Criteria

Different schools have different criteria.

Most have priority children in care, followed by siblings and then typically distance.

However some reserve some of their spaces for ‘scholorship’ type places, for those that excel / show promise in Sports, Music, Art etc or Academic ability.

Kingsdale is I think the only one on the list that operate a lottery system and does not look at distance at all. Grammar schools will clearly be much more selective based on Academic tests than others.

You really must look at the criteria for each school.

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Great write-up @oakr and a very useful resource. I’ve made it a wiki so others can edit and improve as needed.

I hope you got the place you wanted.

Excellent article but please could you just throw light on what EHCP initials stand for ?

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Hi @se23blue

I believe it stands for an Education, Health and Care Plan. The .gov site says:

An education, health and care (EHC) plan is for children and young people aged up to 25 who need more support than is available through special educational needs support.

EHC plans identify educational, health and social needs and set out the additional support to meet those needs.

Some further reading here:

And from Lewisham council here: (I’ll update the WIKI post also).

// I have no direct experience of this

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Thanks @ForestHull

We were fortunate and got our first choice, as did quite a few in our child’s year, but not everyone. I know how stressful the process can be for parents and carers, and there is a lot of information at the start so hopefully we can re-use for people going through this later in the year for 2023 entry, and it can help at least partially.

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