Britian: Parents move house, baptise kids, appeal for a spot

Bussiness analyst Kate Ashton registered her daughter for a private school near her home in Essex when the baby was just six months old.

But that effort was good enough only to get the child on the waiting list.

"Other parents probably registered their children at birth," quipped Ms Ashton, 43.

Not all anxious parents in Britain have gone to such extremes.

But many are certainly pulling out all the stops to secure a spot for their children in choice primary schools.

Competition is even keener for spots in top government schools.

Those with the financial means, for instance, relocate to catchment areas of the good schools.

Others become avid churchgoers or baptise their children to secure a place in reputable faith schools.

There are also tales of parents randomly knocking on doors, seeking to temporarily rent a home, much to the chagrin of long-term residents whose own children could lose a place as a result.

Parents are even turning to experts who charge £1,000 (S$1,900) for an "appeals service" that has no guarantee of success.

"We can maximise people's chances of approval. But winning an appeal for a class that already numbers 30 is almost impossible," said Mr Peter Read, of Kent Independent Education Advice.

In Britain, class size for five- to seven-year-olds (Years 1 and 2) is limited to 30 pupils.

For parents, the anxiety begins in January, when they start applying to their local authority for school places. This involves listing their top three choices, usually according to those closest to where they live.

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