Tuesday 6 September 2005 9.26pm
You have effectively gone through a list of South London's preferred schools. Trouble is that you are a Lambeth resident and none of these are in your borough.
Preferred Lambeth Schools are Dunraven, and (probably) the new Clapham Academy. How the new selection process makes things very hard, as you need to to put as your first choice a school that you have a reasonable chance of getting into. Graveney, which is in Wandsworth, are only allowed to take 50 children through a selection process. To make things more difficult half of these are likely to be boys, though rumour has it that almost all the top achieving pupils are girls.
Jac will proably know more about Southward schools but there is a newish school in Dulwich which is liked by parents.
If your child is super-bright ,Tiffin Girls in Kingston (train from Vauxhall) is a grammer that does not need to consider catchment. There are also some in Bromley and elsewhere.
Other preferred Wandsworth schools are Elliot and the new CofE St Cecilia's. If you can suddenly discover religion Notre Dame close to the Elephant is good. And there is also a CofE school in Fulham, who bands which is also good, but I am forgetting the name. (Banding, which Graveney also does, means they take so many from the top 25% and then so many from the next. etc. I knew someone whose child came in on the 74th percentile so got a place.)
Cheaper private schools include Clapham and Streatham High, and Emmanuel. The former has a good reputation. The latter has some very impressive sixth-formers (in a previous life - like about three years ago - I came in contact with a lot of sixth-formers) and is not so hard to get into.
However my guess is that you have a problem. Go to see a lot of schools, and then engage in some careful thought about the Balance
between the really sought after school and your chances of getting a place. (EG forget Graveney unless your daughter is going to be one of the best 25, though you can always apply for sixth form.) Also do a charm offensive on Head Teachers. They need to get results, so will want committed parents, and bright kids, so they can leap up the league tables. Ironically things are better for boys in SE1as the London Nautical is improving fast. I think that about 300 Lambeth kids were left without a place last year and ended up pleading with schools that they would not otherwise have considered. A miserable experience for an 11 year old, who sees all his/her friends going off to the school they were rejected from.
Its that, or God, or paying. And curiously the competition for fee-paying schools is almost as ferocious, maybe even more so. (Alleyns, anecdote has it, is only taking one in thirty.)
One friend has been suggesting that we all ought to take a leap of faith with the new Lilian Baylis and support it together. Nice thought, because there is a real problem. But I am not sure how many of us are prepared to experiment wiht our children.