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Moving to Bath Road area in Cheltenham - primary School pros and cons(10 Posts)
I'm a dad of 2 boys. We're moving to Cheltenham, probably Bath Road area as we like the feel of it. Just wondering if anyone has any views about the primaries in the area (from what I can see there's Naunton Park, Leckhampton, St James)? They all seem quite big to me - any pros and cons about big schools, and these in particular?
I'm generally a novice at the education lark - if I visit a school what am I looking for exactly? My son needs to want to go there, obviously, but apart from that, what are your top five things to look for?
Naunton Park, Leckhampton and St James all have excellent reputations and are over-subscribed afaik. How old are your DSs?
Also close-ish is Warden Hill (also brilliant) and Greatfield Park which has recently had a new and fantastic Headteacher. In that area of Cheltenham, you'd be hard pushed to find a primary school which is anything other than really good. Just difficult to get into, potentially.
My eldest DS will be 2 in February, so by my calculation he would start reception in...September 2014? I know it sounds a long way off, but not when you factor in moving house, getting them half way setlled, nursery somewhere etc.
Had picked up the over-subscribed info from elsewhere, useful to get the lowdown on that. I spoke to someone at the Gloucestershire LEA (very helpful I thought) and they said that moving to the area I was looking at should mean a place at one of the loca schools. We actually like the area just around Naunton Park School anyway and can probably/possibly afford it, so do you think we would still have problems even if we lived close by?
You should ask for the last admitted distance for non-siblings for this year (Sept 2012) as a guide. A bulge class was admitted in Sept 2011, which will probably up the number of siblings for several years down the track, including the one that your son will be in, so you should aim for as close to the school as possible. Had the bulge class not been admitted, the admission distance for non-siblings in 2011 would have been very small indeed (only a couple of hundred metres). Consult the school if you are in any doubt, as although they are not the admissions authority they are usually very knowledgeable.
Also bear in mind, if you are moving long-term, that the area immediately around Naunton Park has the potential to be a 'dead zone' for secondary shools and this has caused problems in some previous years. The border between the 'priority admissions areas' of two very good comprehensives runs down the middle of the road in front of Naunton Park, and despite some recent tinkering with admissions priorities, in large years where both secondary schools are full before the edge of the priority admission area is reached, then children from the 'dead zone' are allocated a 'less desirable' comprehensive across town.
Oh my friend lives there, lucky you - I love the shops and cafes on Bath Road! She has three children at Naunton and has been very happy with it.
Hello teacherwith2kids - that's very useful advice. I had read something about that, but I'm new to all this so didn't really know where to begin to get the detail. We do see it as long term move, so need to get it right.
200 metres, hey, that's, er....not a lot. We offered on a house in Fairfield Walk last year (didn't get it) and that must have been around the geographical limit.
Am I right in thinking that if you don't get into any of those local schools because of distance then you might need to commute across town? I don't mind it being other schools (indeed I don't know any of the schools first hand anyway) but I think as a primary student (and parent) you'd want to be able to walk to and from school.
Starting to wonder where actually would be the best place to live in cheltenham to avoid all these catchment headaches - any thoughts? Charlton Kings feels a bit too far away from everything.
Numberlock - yes, Bath Road suits us. We're ex-Oxford (Cowley and Headington) and Bath Road is a sort of combination of the two, so suits us just fine.
Thanks both for your comments.
Bear in mind, things change over the years!
The secondary school conundrum should be sorted by the time yours reach that age and you also have Pate's/Gloucester grammar schools to consider should you wish to (no catchment).Charlton Kings should be seriously considered if you want to secure a place for secondary comprehensive (Balcarras). It certainly isn't considered as 'out in the sticks' ....it is a much desired area to live in!
(BTW out of interest, my DC all went to Naunton Park and then on to grammar schools, BUT people used to move house rather than send their children to NP, was very unfashionable then, now it's over subscribed....)
Yes themottledlizard, that change over time sounds familiar from Oxford (Jericho apparently used to be the red light district. How times change....).
I notice there are some large developments happening to the south anyway, so you have to wonder whether another secondary might be built?
One of the reasons for these "bulge" classes in Cheltenham is that the council shut has shut at least 2 primaries that I know of in the past 3 years (granted neither were outstanding but they weren't SM either) and 1 of the secondaries closed to create a merged academy (again the school didn't have a brilliant reputation but has since been demolished). However since then (at primary level anyway) bulge classes have been needed in more schools than they closed because the primary population is rising! The chances of them thinking "hmm, we're building all these new houses/estates in Cheltenham, maybe we should build a school to accommodate the additional families" - I'm thinking we're more likely to see pigs flying over the M5!
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