Moving to London from Australia

(106 Posts)
GroovyOne Fri 27-Dec-13 01:41:41

Hubby's company would like us to move to London in 2014.
If we did, we would likely arrive so the kiddies can start the new school year in Sep 2014.

In Sep 2014 or kids will be:
Daughter- 11 years old - going into year 7 (which from what Im reading will make it tough for her to get in somewhere, but we'll do it).
Son1 - 9 - year 6
Son2 - 6 - year 2
Son3 - 4 - prep (or whatever it's called).

The company will pay for schooling and housing.
I understand that the most expensive doesn't always mean the best....
Our kids are quite sporty.

If anyone has an tips on schools and areas to love, that would be fab!! ��
I am researching and researching, but there are so many options!!

GroovyOne Fri 27-Dec-13 01:42:53

I mean, areas to 'live' smile

BBQshapes Fri 27-Dec-13 01:48:42

Look at the Ofsted website for school inspection ratings.
Consider transport options to work. Better to be well connected with tubes and buses. Check tfl.gov.uk - journey planner is very useful.
Consider demographics of the different boroughs. London is very diverse.

GroovyOne Fri 27-Dec-13 02:12:09

Thanks BBQ.
I've done all that.
More after recommendations if anyone has any.
Hubby's office is near Green Park station but they might be moving it to Fulham.
There are so many schools!!

BBQshapes Fri 27-Dec-13 07:50:34

Ok. Can't tell you about schools in those areas sorry. But Fulham is a nice area to live in. Also upmarket Chelsea next to it. In the Hammersmith and Fulham borough Ravenscourt Park (some good schools I believe), and Brook Green (there is a posh private school here who's name eludes me) are nice areas. Just south of the river from Hammersmith is Barnes which is also popular with families and has a village feel (duck pond on the green etc), but not great for public transport.

monet3 Fri 27-Dec-13 09:04:15

I would live in Surrey and let your DH commute into London. There are lots of good schools in the Surrey area.

frogspoon Fri 27-Dec-13 09:42:56

If company are paying for private schooling that's good as you will have your pick of the private schools (at least the non selective ones). Are you more interested in single sex or co-ed education? Are your DCs academic, or is sport their main interest? Do any of them have SEN? Would you prefer a highly academically selective school (if your children can get in) or a mixed ability school? Do you need an international curriculum? There are good independent schools for all types of children all over London, so maybe better to choose where you want to live before choosing the schools.

Y7 might not be as hard as you think because that is a standard admissions age, so most schools will still have spaces at the moment. Most independent schools do entrance exams in January, so you will need to move quickly. If you contact your choice of schools now, they will be probably be able to sort out your DD taking their entrance exam (if they have one) under supervised conditions in her current school. You probably won't be able to get her into a good state school at this stage (Surrey has some excellent grammars), as the deadline has passed.

I would think it will be a little harder to get your 3 DSs into the same prep school (if that is what you want). You may end up having to go for one that is a little less well known and prestigious, as the most prestigious ones have long waiting lists and will be full in most year groups. I would suggest that you go for a boys/ mixed prep that goes up to year 8 (13+ leavers) as it will give your oldest DS enough time to get settled before taking exams for senior school in year 8, or go for an all though school. If you are looking at preps you should go for one that lists its senior admissions on its websites and gets its pupils into the schools you might like your sons to go to when older.

Needmoresleep Fri 27-Dec-13 11:21:08

Yr 7 will be the problem. As a first step I would send an email to Ibstock Place, which goes all through and which used to have a reputation for taking ex-pat families. It is in a nice leafy bit of SW London easily to access Green Park via Victoria. Trouble is that their results are improving and so itmay now be hard to get in.

Needmoresleep Fri 27-Dec-13 13:12:15

Or as a further though, you could look at prep schools that go up to 13+. These can thin out significantly in Yrs 7&8 with relatively small class sizes giving an older child a chance to find their feet in the British system before moving at 13. Worth perhaps talking to Newton Prep in Battersea, Thomas' (Clapham and Battersea) Fulham Prep, Hill House and Eaton Square about scope for taking all your children.

I would have these conversations early as you would then be talking in parallel with the application processes for l9cal applicants.

sinclair Fri 27-Dec-13 16:51:50

If company are paying I would use a school placement service - they will know everyone, will know where there are likely to be spaces, can advise on areas etc. Then find a house that matches what you can find in schools.

Check your ages/years etc - aged 9 going into Y6 sounds odd - unless you mean is 9 now but 10 before 31 August?

irisha Fri 27-Dec-13 20:53:31

Are you moving permanently or temporarily? You can be a little bit more relaxed in terms of what you want/can get if it's a temporary move. If a move is permanent you would need to consider options more carefully.

I think an option of going to a 13+ school is a good one as it allows you two years catch up for the older one to take 13+ exams for a London day school or boarding. Thomas's Clapham and Battersea both go to 13+ and a co-ed. Or you could try Broomwood Hall and Northcote Lodge (under same ownership, one is co-ed until 8, then girls to 13+ and the other one boys from 8+ onwards).

In term of areas to live (for the schools above), Between the Commons (Wandsworth Common and Clapham Common), Balham/Heaver Estate, etc would all work with commute to both Green Park (Victoria mainline, then tube or bus) and Fulham. Try SW11,12,17, 18.

Getting into reception is always tricky in London, but if you go into a 13+ school, the years for other DCs should have spaces - so that's a lot of leverage to get you youngest one into reception at same school. 4 sets of school fees is good leverage.

GroovyOne Sat 28-Dec-13 11:44:44

Thanks so much everyone!
So many excellent tips!

Yes, I made a typo above, my eldest son will be 10, going into year 6.

I've found a really nice house in Fulham for rent.
Are rentals usually furnished or unfurnished...?!?

To answer some of your questions above:
- Being from Australia, happy to go to a British school, not international.
- My kids are all sporty, so the school definitely needs to have good sport on offer!
- the move would be for 2-5 years

I agree - 4 sets of fees is definitely good leverage if they're all at the same school.

My research awaits me!! smile

GroovyOne Sat 28-Dec-13 11:45:05

I mean 'More research awaits me'.

Shootingatpigeons Sat 28-Dec-13 13:32:43

Hi former expat, came back with an 11 year old and 7 year old. We had a house in South west London though so that bit of equation sorted out.

Firstly your big problem is that your 11 year old has missed the registration for selective secondaries and the exams are days away. Whilst everyone here gets their knickers in a twist about tutoring to an excessive extent since the schools are looking for ability not cramming , if your DD is in the Australian system she will need some help with exam technique, timing and any parts of the Year 6 curriculum she hasn't yet covered (though of course in some areas she may have covered more) so I wouldn't advocate going for a last minute application to sit the exams now.

Approach the schools to see who is receptive to a last minute application to sit the tests in a few weeks time when she will be better prepared to show her potential. I would bet on Surbiton High being helpful. I have known them help out quite a few expats with last minute moves and though perhaps not perceived by some as one of the more selective schools (Londoners have ridiculous perceptions of notional league tables of schools which anywhere else would be all good schools) it is a good school. Ibstock used to be a very good fit for returning expats with an ethos akin to many International schools. It now has a very ambitious Head determined to take it up those notional league tables and make it more academic, which is strange since it is a crowded marketplace and they had a distinctive niche. She is taking no prisoners in the process and so it's reputation for pastoral care, support for dyslexia etc has suffered. I know a lot of expats who have moved on as a result. I could go on about other schools but I think your first step is to get on the telephone and see what choices you have, the rest of London has more good schools again, and then come back for advice, or you will find threads on just about all the options if you search on the name of the school.

For your younger children many preps will have vacancies further up, families often move further out of London, and that may give you leverage to find places in the more crowded younger years.

I'm afraid there is no substitute for ringing around!

Shootingatpigeons Sat 28-Dec-13 14:06:32

And houses here are either let unfurnished, but for corporate lets at least, with curtains and light fittings, or furnished, usually more expensive and shorter lets. I would let the house follow the school since I suspect that will be more difficult to find the right combination of schools for all your children than a house in the area of whichever schools you do end up at. You do not want a long school commute if you can help it, London traffic is terrible, for the young ones at least (some of the selective secondaries have pupils travelling from all over London)

Shootingatpigeons Sat 28-Dec-13 14:08:06

Oh and the good schools let the applicants sit the exams overseas, if the overseas school are able to implement their requirements. We had to pay someone to invigilate though.

Needmoresleep Sat 28-Dec-13 18:48:00

Transport for London's journey planner is your friend. Bits of Fulham get unbelievably clogged with traffic, and lots of kids commute using public transport. I agree about getting schools sorted first. You really don't want to be crossing the river in rush hour. You may find that getting to Green Park is quicker via overground and then a tube from Victoria, than chugging along the District Line from Fulham and then changing, but the TfL planner will let you know. A huge generalisation but you will normally expect to get more house and more green south of the river.

Lets can be either furnished or unfurnished. Good tax breaks to landlords for letting furnished, so dont expect a discount if you take something without furniture.

Ibstock is still worth a look as they could well take all four children in one go. I know several people who are very happy, including two families who moved from very well-thought of schools. But I am aware that not everyone is.

GroovyOne Sun 29-Dec-13 02:13:57

Thanks everyone.
I have shot off some initial e-mails to a few schools and will follow up with phonecalls if needs be next week.

Re. the government schools....
Do any of you know if Lady Margaret is any good....?
Is Fulham College Boys School dodgy or ok...?
We don't have to go private if the local schools are ok.... But, I would say that we may end up private.

Hubby tells me that we will be in London for 2 years and then moving down south after 2 years probably, so the move is kind of temporary I guess.

Ibstock looks quite good but not sure we want to live that far out....
Well, it's probably not far out to London folk, but seems a bit far out to me. smile

I will likely take a trip over to London in January, so will hit it hard then and look at everything, but good to do the groundwork now.

frogspoon Sun 29-Dec-13 09:49:57

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/special/education/school_tables/secondary/12/html/eng_maths_205.stm?compare=

This may help. It is a league table of the results of all the schools in Hammersmith and Fulham. As you can see it is dominated by highly selective independent schools. Although they get the best exam results, it is because they only take the most able pupils.

For reference, approximately ⅔ of GCSEs are graded A*-C nationally. From this table, Lady Margaret has 72% A*-C, slightly above average, so is probably a fairly "good" school. Fulham College boys school has 52% A*-C, significantly below average, so is probably not a particularly "good" school. However these exam results has no correlation with the sports facilities, it's just the grades children get at age 16.

Also bear in mind that some inner London schools (both state and independent) simply do not have the space for the best sporting facilities, and pupils may even need to travel off site to use facilities elsewhere. However some inner London schools (mainly independent) do have the benefit of access to niche sports not available elsewhere e.g. rowing. If your children have a particular sport they are into, make sure that it is one of the school's main sports, as different schools offer different sports.

GroovyOne Sun 29-Dec-13 09:58:35

Thanks frogspoon smile
Not sure if I've mentioned that I quite like the look of The Harrodian school.
Lots of space, co-ed. Driving from Fulham over the bridge may be a pain though....?

I think I would like to live in Fulham smile

Why not immerse ourselves and live in a 4 story terraced house near shops and restaurants!

We have a 6 bed house in Australia that's 400sqm all on one level, so we can come back to that after.
The change would be fun I reckon smile

Clonakiltylil Sun 29-Dec-13 10:28:07

Hello GroovyOne. The Harrodian is ideal for your situation as it is lovely - a really friendly, sporty school and all your children could go there.

Don't worry about the drive over the river - compared to many students who attend, you will be virtually on the doorstep, as it were. It is one I seriously considered for my child when we lived in central London.

GroovyOne Sun 29-Dec-13 11:38:32

Woohoo.
Thanks Clona. That's great to hear!
It does look good and looks suited to our kiddies.
I emailed them Sat our time which would have been Fri night UK time.
So, will look forward to hearing what they say.
grin

PiratePanda Sun 29-Dec-13 11:45:13

Don't expect anyone to answer your emails for a good few days yet - it's the Christmas/New Year break and in my experience nobody in education is back at work before 2nd Jan.

GroovyOne Sun 29-Dec-13 15:34:13

Yep.

scaevola Sun 29-Dec-13 15:46:19

Lady Margaret is a state school, and you have misse FTE applications deadline for secondaries. It's got an excellent reputation, but it's a VA school and works on a points-based faith criteria. You'd need proof from your priest of your daughter's churchgoing to stand a chance. But, it's free to apply, you may as well do, and sit it out on the waiting list. You might strike it lucky.

For sporty boys, always worth looking at Dulwich - who run coaches from across SW London so the school commute wouldn't be as daunting as you'd expect from the map.

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