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How do you handle the school rejection letter?

The beginning of March brings not just the long awaited sign of Spring but also marks for many the anticipation of senior school offers. For most it will be happy news but for some the disappointment can be brutal.  We ask Arabella Davies, Education and Schools Consultant how to navigate through these unchartered and sometimes choppy waters…


The words “Unfortunately we are unable to offer your child a place at this school.” resonates dread of how to break the news to your child who, like you has literally put heart and soul into the assessment process.  I am often called upon to offer assistance and guidance at this very crucial time in a family’s senior school journey and am keen to share with you some instant advice.

  • Most importantly, “Don’t Panic”. Have you ever seen a child wandering down the street with a placard saying “I have no school to go to?” – Unlikely!
  • Don’t instantly contact the school that has either rejected or waitlisted your child. Keep calm, break the news gently to your child sooner rather than later because word around their current school gets out pretty quickly. Be encouraging and positive at every turn.
  • Do get in touch with your current head as they too should be able to offer some additional guidance and usually very sound advice on what to do next.
  • If your child is rejected from your first choice school then it may be this school was not the right fit from the outset and in my opinion is a fantastic opportunity to include some additional schools that you may not have originally considered. Many schools have a later admissions process and will also take enquiries much further down the line.
  • If your child has been waitlisted then this too can often have a very positive outcome as there is considerable movement on these lists. As time goes on do appear interested by keeping in gentle touch from a nice safe distance with the relevant admissions office but at the same time it may be worth accepting another offer or pursuing an alternative route.
  • If your child has been offered a waitlist place at your first choice school and a confirmed place at a second choice school then you need to decide if that second choice is worth accepting imminently while you wait and see on your waitlist place.
  • If your child is lucky enough to have been offered places at all their target schools then congratulations all round but I do urge you to consider all your options carefully and choose the school that is going to suit your child the best rather than what might seem an “impressive” choice to those around you as that can often end up being the wrong choice.

Most children usually end up in the right school – have faith in the system even if at times it seems flawed.

For further information on negotiating your way around school place offers, rejections or waitlists or for further information on the admissions process in its entirety then please do get in touch with arabella@theirbestyears.com as there are many tips and shortcuts that can often prompt a successful outcome.

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