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Our seventh edition of Chalk & Chat magazine is out now. For pretty much the whole first week of September, FaceBook posts get taken over by one thing – ‘first day back at school’ photos. Whether it’s a child’s very first day at primary or secondary school, or a transition into a new form, you’ll all no doubt have seen for yourselves that smiling/terrified/excited (delete as appropriate) faces take precedent over the usual political/holiday/cat (delete as appropriate) posts. Even when you open the newspaper, you can’t escape them, although there is one major difference – instead of coming from proud parents, these pictures come from angry schools with headteachers that have sent children home en masse on account of their skirts being too short or trousers with lycra in. Is it fair? Or just another example of policing girls’ (for it is always girls) bodies? This is just one of the issues we explore in the autumn issue of Chalk & Chat.

Kate Hilpern
Chalk & Chat

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The latest London North and London South guides from The Good Schools Guide are hot off the press. Providing essential reading for any parent with school-age children, these London editions of the UK’s only independent guide to schools contain detailed and candid reviews of leading schools, as well as vital information such as school fees, information about state schools in each borough and maps pinpointing the location of each listing.

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Primary schools – top tips when applying. January 15th is the date for parents to submit their state primary school applications to the local authority. A great deal of agonising and soul-searching has been taking place in households across England in the run-up to the deadline but what exactly is the best way to select which schools to put down and how can you avoid the pitfalls which hinder families every year?

Finding a state grammar school Counties such as Kent or Buckinghamshire are ‘selective authorities’ and most families will have at least one grammar school close to where they live. Elsewhere, for example in Reading or Kingston-on-Thames, there are just one or two grammar schools and competition for places at these is ferocious. 

School fees, financial assistance, scholarships and bursaries Most private schools offer financial assistance in the forms of scholarships or bursaries for pupils who are either very able or can demonstrate the need for monetary support. I would like a private school education for my child but can’t afford it!

Educating the gifted child.Gifted is one of a number of issues in education that cause the blood to stir. For some, 'gifted' is an elitist concept that beggars definition; others do not see what all the fuss is about because a gifted child will always do well, won't they? Gifted children develop cognitively at a much faster rate than they develop physically, emotionally and socially, posing some interesting problems.

Inspection reports from Ofsted. As with most reports, there’s a code to decipher and a few questions to ask. The local school gets a glowing report, yet you know half the population are banned from the shopping centre. Puzzling? So just what do inspection reports tell us and have they any value? The answers are lots, and yes, if you know how to read them.

State schools - the right one? State schools exist not only in a variety of forms, but with nuances between those.  Some areas continue to have a selective system at 11; others do not. Many secondary schools – and a few primary schools – are now academies.

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