February 12, 2007

London Preschool Admission Antics In Place For >100 Years

So supposedly, London's private preschools are a madhouse to get into, but not like New York's. It's not based on the parents, or some gnomic playdate/audition; it's first-come-first-served from the moment of birth. Only now that the numbers are so high, it's getting a little crazy.

Says a Wall Street Journal article today, "Many London schools have required registration at a child's birth since their founding in the 19th century. Most say that such a first-come, first-served system remains the fairest and most practical approach."

Here's headmistress of Prince William's alma mater expanding on "fair and practical":

At Wetherby, the boys school near Hyde Park, head teacher Jenny Aviss advises women scheduling Caesarean sections to have them early in the month in order to secure one of five places that the school allots to newborns each month. "If you have the option, don't wait until the 31st, have it on the first and call on the second," she says.
William was born on the 21st. If this has really been going on for a hundred years, wouldn't the birthdays of London's middle class have migrated to the first half--if not the first week--of the month by now, instead of to 40 weeks after the long Whitsun weekend? [Look it up, I did.]

Also, what's with the begging and encouraged daily phone calls? Is this the real screening system, filtering out parents who can't make a thousand civil phone calls? Are there services for hire that call every day on your newborn's behalf? This is bloomin' cuh-razy.

London Parents Scramble for Edge In Preschool Wars [wsj sub. req, via dt reader elizabeth]

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