I haven't posted for ages, but am worrying myself into a frenzy about moving from Notts to Maidenhead or nearby as my husband has moved there for a new job, and I am jobhunting there too.
We have 2 primary age children, and are looking to rent a house from September, but I am worried about choosing the right area for schools. We have found a house in Bray which I think is in catchment for Holyport, but over 1 mile from Oldfield, which has a better ofsted. How easy is it to get into Oldfield this year? Anyone with experience of either school?
We live in a great area, full of outstanding schools at the moment,and all I see about the school system in Maidenhead is worrying me. I want my children to go to an outstanding school, if at all possible, but we can't afford to live in the most expensive areas.
wombling - I don't know the schools you have listed but, as a general guide to moving to a new area, living in catchment doesn't necessarily mean you will get a place at the school.
If you are applying 'in year' (eg if your children are already in Years 1 and 3 at school), you will only get a place if the school happens to have a vacancy in that year group or if you go to appeal and win (very hard to do unless a child in in Year 3 or above because of the law on class sizes for younger children).
If you move to a new area and rent a house close to a very good school, they are not obliged to find a place for you. If they are full you will be allocated the nearest school which does have a place available. It might be that Maidenhead schools aren't as crazily oversubscribed as other areas, but generally outstanding schools can be hard to get into unless you are lucky and someone happens to be leaving just as you are looking for a place.
I'm not sure why are worried the school in M'head, a lot of them are rated as Good or Outstanding apart from a few in, sadly, more deprived pockets of the town.
What age are your children ?
My DD went to an outstanding infant, Boyn Hill Infant School and I would highly recommend it. She now goes to a Junior, All Saints, they are Good ( I think they really didn't struck lucky with their Ofsted as the head mistress is absolutely brilliant and the teaching staff are very good and approachable ) and the community is lovely. Both are CofE. Another great aspect of those is that they have a great wrap around care system comprising of a Breakfast and an After School club.
You also have St-Edmund Campion, which is a Catholic School and also an outstanding school. I'm not sure how easy/difficult it is to get in that one as I think you have to attend the church ?
DSD has a friend who went to Oldfield and she really enjoyed it.Furze Platt is another good area with great schools.
Our oldest is in Newlands Girls' School, which is an outstanding over-subscribed Secondary School.
I don't know much about the schools in Bray as I'm near the Boyn Hill area. Bray is lovely but you might be limited in choice of schools.
I would avoid St-Lukes and Ellington Schools.
In year application have to be dealt directly with schools so you will need to contact them.
It's all changing again soon anyway I think! In 2010 the government put their foot down and stopped schools doing their own admissions in year. Now there are plans to revert back again The LAs have sometimes been incredibly slow getting people placed (cases where the school say they have a place, the parents know there is a place but the LA aren't ready to allocate straight away).
Oh well. I'm just glad we're in the system now. Most pleased we got a place a Newlands as it means youngest DD will be most probably allocated a place with the sibling rule. That's if they don't change it !
Cox Green was our second choice of SS - They have massively improved in the last few years and we were impressed with their Arts department. Both DDs are very Artsy/Media type of girls so that was important for us. Newlands has a music recording studio and I think this is fantastic.
Oldfield has a great local reputation and you did have to live incredibly close to get in. However, they are expanding and it seems to be causing some ructions. Last I read it was up in the air whether they would have Infants on the current site and a new site for Juniors or have both Infants and Juniors on two sites- so effectively two federated schools or to try to squeese a school double the size into the current site. I think they are trying to get their hands on the bildings of what was the Winbury Prep school in Bray, no idea if that is going ahread or not.
Neither the current parents or staff seem to be pleased about the expansion.
I've heard good things about White Waltham and it might be a bit cheaper to rent there than in Bray?
Your DD might be OK for more schools than your DS because the infant class size regs (max 30 in a class) only apply up to Y2. If your DD gets offered a school you really like and your DS doesn't, check if the school gives preference to siblings in its admission criteria. If there is sibling priority then your DS could be pretty much top of the waiting list for the next available place in his yeargroup because his sister is already at the school.
Had call from DH, apparently get news from LEA tomorrow. Fingers crossed. We loved White Waltham, but have found it impossible to find a house to rent there that we can afford. That is/was our no 1 choice.
Hoping we get them into the same school too. Will keep you posted.
Crapola, got letter for DS when we got back at 2am this morning, none of the 6 preferences we indicated have got a place available. Not sure what we can do now. Just don't need the stress, and have no idea about DD yet.
Sorry to hear you haven't got a place as yet. When you get DD's letter you might have more options available. For example if DD gets a school offer, DS may well go tot the top of that school's waiting list in September. And if DD doesn't get a school from those you have picked, you can appeal with much higher chances of success since she is Year 4 (which in turn might help DS move right to the top of the waiting list).
Have they offered you an alternative school for DS? They will be obliged to find him a place although not necessarily at one of your listed schools. If it gets to the stage though where no school at all has a space for him, then the LA will have to force one school to make an extra space under Fair Access Protocol. But that only applies if absolutely no school within a wide area has any space at all.
I suspect you will have to keep on at them a bit to ensure they find places.
Cookham has three primary schools - Holy Trinity, Cookham Rise and Cookham Dean. Holy Trinity reputation has gone down in recent years with a change of head and most people I know with dcs there aren't happy. Cookham Rise was fab, head retired, new head rubbish, special measures, temp head, now permanent head and school has improved a lot. People I know at the school are very happy with the head and the way the school is going. Cookham Dean is small and has old buildings but good reputation. Depending on size of school year birth rate it can be ok or completely impossible to get into. I can't put my finger on it but I didn't like the atmosphere. However that was four years ago so it may well have changed.
If I were picking now I would chose Cookham Rise over the other two, which is a very different decision to the one I made 4 years ago. Oldfield didn't even take everyone in catchment for this Sept.
Alwyn is a very good infant in Maidenhead and feeds into Courthouse, which is a good juniors. Alwyn also takes dcs out of catchment.
Also would it be worth trying for Dorney or St Nicholas CofE. Don't know if they take DC from out of catchment but the area around St Nicholas is not very densely populated which makes me think they might?
Thanks for replying everyone. We applied for Cookham Dean, white Waltham, Bisham, Datchet and Knowl Hill and st Edmund Campion. Not sure what they will offer us now. We are in Holyport catchment I think, so no chance of Oldfield I'd guess.
Thanks for the extra detail about the process Tiggytape. That's a good idea re Dorney and st Nicholas goGBteacher.