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Hi, we're leaving all this a bit late in the day but here goes... hoping to move to Bath (renting) in January, and will be applying for a primary school place for ds to start reception in September.
We haven't yet found a house to rent but obviously want it to be near a primary school. It sounds like pretty much all the primary schools in Bath are good - Widcombe, Newbridge and St Saviour's have all been recommended. Does anyone have any views on these or other schools? It's so hard to tell from an Ofsted report or even a visit - so personal recommendations (or otherwise) would be really useful.
Ds is fairly shy and will be young for his year so I'd ideally like somewhere that doesn't push the academic side too early, and where the pastoral care is really good.
As you say, pretty much all the schools in Bath are good - I really wouldn't let it be a dealbreaker, tbh. Finding a decent place to live in for a reasonable rent is way more important. Do you want to be central, or are you thinking semi-rural or suburban?
Have a look at schools' websites to get a feel for their ethos, do consider the Ofsteds (with a pinch of salt for sure, but don't discount them) and absolutely do visit them. You really can tell a lot about a school by visiting it.
Also consider whether you want your dc to go to a primary or an infant school. If you choose an infants school you'll be looking at another school for juniors - although I think most infants feed into an associated juniors, do check the admissions info on BANES website. Having said that, if you're renting you might not be thinking that far ahead!
Do you think you'd prefer a larger school or a tiny one? There are some really small primaries in the Bath area. I'm not a fan of tiny schools myself, but others are.
I don't want to out myself by giving specific recommendations - also it's all heresay really
Hi there, thanks so much for your advice. I think we'd rather avoid anything too academically pushy for the first few years (though it's hard to tell at the moment and maybe that's just what he needs...)
Ideally we want to be walking distance from the centre as I really hate driving and don't want to be dependent on a car. And I really don't want to be up a very large hill (pushing 1 year old and cajoling 3 year old to walk doesn't feel like it would be much fun). So I guess that limits us somewhat. Jenai... do the tiny schools you're thinking of tend to be in the villages?
Docket, just out of interest, if you moved from London does that mean you transferred to the school mid-year? Was it easy to get a place when you moved? We're considering not moving till later next year but then would be in the position of having to get a school place once everyone else has been allocated. Don't want to end up with no place, nightmare travel to the other side of town or place at the least popular school. Does anyone know how hard it's likely to be?
assett, I didn't move mid year but did apply late for both a reception place for DD and a Y1 place for DS1 (in fact, I couldn't apply until August for a September place for DS1 because it was an 'existing year group').
DD initially got offered a place at a school that doesn't have a fantastic ofsted but seemed to have a lot going for it when I looked around. In some ways it was my preferred place but when she got the place at Widcombe (second round) I accepted. DS1 got a place I wasn't too happy with initially and then got into Widcombe too at the 11th hour becuase he was a sibling.
I've rambled on.... It wasn't easy and it was stressful at times. If possible I would recommend applying at the 'correct' time. But I think pretty much all of the primaries are good so I would try not to worry too much, things tend to fall into place, in the end, in my experience.
As to the hills, Jenai is right, Bath is packed with them! I live in Bear Flat which means my school run involves a pretty fierce hill with two DC and one in a pushchair. It was slightly hideous at first but I've quickly got used to it and I'm sure my bottom is more pert! I wouldn't plan things around avoiding hills anyway.
Have friends with kids at St Saviour's who are v pleased with it. Ditto Swainswick (although not really easy walking distance of the centre if you live in catchment for that one) and Bathampton (ditto re: distance). Newbridge and Widcombe also meant to be v good, St Andrews less so (I understand - have no experience of it myself).
DS1 is at St Stephen's, he is loving it - think it has a reputation for being quite academic, though, but he doesn't seem to feel pressurised and the care is fantastic. Nice walk downhill into town from Lansdown/Camden, but bit of a steep walk back up!
Thinking about it, Bathampton, if you could find somewhere to rent, would be a lovely place to live. Even though it isn't central at all, it's a lovely walk along the canal to get to town (and flat, obviously!), via Sydney Gardens. Takes minutes by bike.
Thinking about friends, I know parents who have been happy with pretty much every school in Bath. I've also known others who've been unhappy with those same schools!
My DS went to Widcombe Infants , then Juniors. It was brilliant. Some teachers better than others, as is generally the case, I didnt find it academically pushy at all. My DS went at his own pace and did the best he could. Made loads of freinds and good parental support there too.
St Andrews is a very good school - excellent head (am biased, have kids there). It is a small school and with a very mixed intake as it is quite inner city. Because of this is that they are a short walk from lots of places and do a wide range of activities. Have had older kids at two other primaries in London and would have to say this is the best so far. Downside is no playing fields but kids seem to cope and the teachers do get them to Victoria Park when the weather is better.