How will Coronavirus affect school applications?
Whether it’s an Occasional Place you are considering, or the all important 13 Plus Common Entrance exams that your child has been working towards for the past two years, here is some key information about how schools are handling applications during the Coronavirus pandemic.
What changes are schools making to their admissions processes?
Although it’s too early to have allowed even the most efficient of schools to get their ‘Coronavirus admissions process’ firmed up, we have been informed of plans to move to virtual tours for parents, remote assessments for students and perhaps more creative interviews in lieu of the traditional holistic assessment days.
Here’s what we know:
- With standard entry routes and deadlines having passed, the next round of Occasional Place assessments would usually be early in the summer term. We don’t yet know if schools will be assessing for these, or indeed whether or not they will find any places coming up in their schools.
- Registrars are still available as usual for all admissions queries. Their main contact numbers may have changed from landline numbers to mobiles but otherwise it is business as usual. If you are concerned about an application you have made recently or were planning to make to the school, call the Registrar and discuss your concerns directly. Transparency and clarity is always sought by admissions teams so they will appreciate you laying your cards on the table.
- Many schools stopped visits to the school for prospective parents long before the government announced school closures. For example, Cumnor House School in Sussex gave clear and helpful guidance to their parents that they had decided to increase precautions within the school and were not allowing prospective parents to visit. Now with the school closed it is not possible to visit but they are “working hard to provide other means for you to get to know our school.”
- Virtual tours – several central London schools are making plans for these. Realistically, it will be the only way to safely give parents a tour of their school. A key ingredient will of course be missing; a full cohort of children. While most schools remain open to the children of key workers, their provision has been hugely adapted and will be very different at the moment. Good registrars will be able to talk you through what to expect.
- Skype or Zoom interviews might be taking place. Schools previously reluctant to accommodate remote assessment are now having to accommodate school interviews this way.
Here’s what we think will happen next:
- Many families are going to be struggling financially and may well need to give notice to stop their children’s independent education. We’d expect that bursary funds will be able to support plenty of families but it is hard to predict how many families this might impact. We also have no word yet from the Independent Schools Council about bursary support packages.
- Consequently, schools might be keen to take on new students. However, they also may streamline their provision to a smaller number of pupils.
13+ Common Entrance
- These crucial exams are due to take place in May and June 2020 and current intentions (as of 19th March 2020) are for these exams to still go ahead. We understand that if schools remain closed, appropriate alternative arrangements will be needed. Parents are also reassured that schools are permitted to send papers to pupils’ homes. It is likely that more weight will be given to the head teacher’s report, past performance in CE papers taken under exam conditions at school.
We will keep you updated as we learn more from individual schools and the ISEB.
Finally, in the coming weeks and months we want to do whatever we can to help the families of all the Key Workers who are currently doing so much for all of us, within our communities and our hospitals. If you know anyone who would benefit from our FREE TUITION FOR KEY WORKERS service, please forward the link to them.