Primary Schools Tunbridge Wells - C of E

(12 Posts)
maggie75 Sun 20-Mar-11 18:12:13

We are looking at moving to Tunbridge Wells from London ... a well worn path by the looks of things ... and trying to negotiate our way through the the primary school / catchment minefield.

It seems from what I can deduce, that to get into St James or St Johns, you dont have to be C of E, or attend church, just be happy that your child will receive an education from a school with a christian ethos - is this the case, or am I mis-interpreting the policies? Myself and DH were both brought up catholic, but havent had DD christened.

Many thanks for any light anyone can shed on this.

PanicMode Mon 21-Mar-11 14:23:15

You don't have to be CofE for St John's but you MUST tick the box to say that you have chosen it for religious reasons (even if you haven't) because they give preference to those that have 'ticked the box'. St James's has a more church element to its selection criteria (I believe) but they also publish the list of streets that are in catchment on their website. Again, you have to tick the box to say that you are choosing it for religious reasons.

St Augustine's (the Catholic school) will take you if you are baptised Catholics - you have to have a priest's letter in addition to the KCC form though.

HTH - we made the move three years ago and haven't looked back.

maggie75 Tue 22-Mar-11 09:47:27

Hi - thanks very much for the info - despite it being laid out in back and white I still find it confusing. Apparently Admissions policies for 2012 are still in consulation and will be published in mid april, so i guess things could change, but your comment sounds hopeful.

Do you have experience of the schools mentioned, or any others in TW that you would recommend? Ive heard good things about Bishops Down and Claremont as well, but it seems lack of housing stock for sale and very tight catchments seem to be a problem all over TW.

We are still unsure about where to move to, so trying to gather as much info as possible about various towns. Its a big step for us all, seems like you've made a go of it, so that's encouraging.

PanicMode Tue 22-Mar-11 13:50:16

Claremont is very well regarded as is Bishops Down, but house prices around both of those reflect the fact that they are very sought after and hard to get into. You will pay a big premium to live in the 'village' area of Tunbridge Wells, down to the south of the town by the station, and be wary of estate agents saying that you are "in catchment" - it's best to phone the school as Claremont measure from the back of teh school and you are more likely to get in from Prospect Road area than the roads on the left hand side of Grove Hill Road (for instance). Bishops Down catchment is the Culverden area where detached houses start at 600k upwards. I have children at St John's (we're in St John's) and was at St Augustine's too so have experience of those. I have friends at St James' and Bishops Down as well as the private Rose Hill, Beechwood and Holmewood - there are ups and downs with all of them, but generally the schools here are very good. The only areas you really want to avoid are Sherwood, High Brooms and Broadwater Down. Southborough school has had a good Ofsted and the village schools are very well regarded (Bidborough, Speldhurst, Groombridge).

It is a great place to live - very family friendly, close to London, close to the sea, good arts scene and great countryside on the doorstep. Downsides are that the traffic is appalling through the town, parking is tricky if you don't have off road parking, and the train service that Southeastern run is not brilliant at the moment.

We looked in a HUGE arc from Winchester all the way round to T Wells so I understand the dilemma and how hard it is!

maggie75 Tue 22-Mar-11 21:19:03

Just deleted a huge reply by accident - v annoying!

Basically, what are the negatives of the schools you have encountered? just state, not considering independent primaries. worry about clique-ness and uber mummy vibe?!

Do you have to go to the centre of TW for everything, or are there suburbs with a life to them that have - or walkable distance - the things that every mum needs - good cafe/pub (well - just for the weekends!) /park? these are basic human rights to me atm! I dont drive and have heard terrible things about traffic, so the thought of getting in the car (or sitting on a bus) in traffic just to go to the park really doenst appeal, appreciate that London is London, but love walking to everywhere here and would really miss it.

also, some way in the future, but am already worrying about state vs grammar. heard that comps are not up to much in TW? Ghetto-isation due to grammars and all that. have no idea whether DD will be 11plus material or not, but all sounds v v v competitive ... so unlikely apart from the uber talented?

thanks again, really appreciate your time to reply - as you can see Im a massive procrastinator!

PanicMode Wed 23-Mar-11 13:21:19

I personally didn't like the head of St Augustine's - she is not a fan of the grammar system (I actually don't think any of them are, but it's a necessary evil where we are!) and was told that she "actively frowns on parents who do the 11+". They have split classes - so the older half of one year in with the year above if you see what I mean, and as I have two children a school year apart, I didn't want them in the same year.

St John's is good, but we are having issues with our very bright DS1 not being challenged enough - although they may have finally been listening to me as he was given some Y5 maths yesterday (he's Y2), and it was a criticism of their last OFSTED that they don't necessarily challenge the brighter ones, and that writing in the lower part of the school isn't great. I do think that they are addressing that but it takes time. There is a new head (relatively new) after a very established partnership of Head/Deputy Head left last year so we're still finding out what direction she's going in. It is a good school, but very big (although well managed in that respect so it feels smaller than it is).

Claremont is good, but reputation for very pushy uber parents - can't comment as we aren't there, but it does have an excellent reputation for getting children into the grammars - probably good if you have a very academic child; maybe not so good if they aren't as bright as the school would like them to be to keep their stats up.

Secondary is ok if you are religious - if you don't get into the grammars there is an outstanding CofE comprehensive, a good Catholic one, but after that there is a school which was failng and which has now been rebranded as an Academy. I think it will be good, but it's going to take some time for the more middle class parents to 'risk' it (Sorry if that sounds awful, but I hope you know what I'm trying to say.)

Access to town is very easy - I tend to walk everywhere if I can because the traffic is so bad. There are lots of great cafes, bars, restaurants, bistros and the parks are excellent. Grove Park in the Village area; Calverley Grounds in the centre of town with a cafe (great for sledging in the winter!), St John's Park has tennis courts and a great sandpit and new equipment (and we keep being promised a cafe but it hasn't happened yet!) and Grosvenor Park which has a lovely cafe, a bicycle track, big sandpit, basketball court etc.

It's a great place to live honestly and as there are so many London 'expats' everyone is very welcoming and friendly.

maggie75 Sun 27-Mar-11 19:44:04

Hi - thanks do much for the info. Im sure I will be back with more specific questions if we do start to look more seriously and really do value your info / advice. Like the look and vibe of the place from what Ive heard, though still trying to wrench myself away from E London which is just great for little ones, trying to look to the future we would like for DD and not selfishly live in the present of our groovy little area, with lots going on and friends ... am nervous about the secondary situation in TW, grammar sounds like its incredibly difficult to get into. Things could change an awful lot in the intervening years though in terms of the comps step up I guess.

Kavimole Thu 14-Mar-13 21:56:38

Hi I just want to add to this conversation even though the conversation was two years ago...as times change and when you type in broadwater down this is still what comes up. I feel that someone needs to tell anyone out there thinking of Moving to tunbridge wells who hear the much undeserved rumours that Broadwater Down school should be avoided as a school of choice to IGNORE it all!People should really not judge a school or comment on a school unless they have been there!
I like many live in the St johns area and did not get any of my schools despite being on the doorstep of all of them... St. John's bishops down st. James...we as many felt at he time if was the end of the world...and in a haste to ensure my son got in somewhere decent paid a deposit to beechwood. we were offered sherwood which sadly despite wonderful teachers, facilities , it has a terrible reputation due to where it is based...I at the time was not too brave to take a chance a this school but I did take a chance on Broadwater Down primary school and I have never looked back. We can afford private if we had to but with three children it would have to be justified.
A Friend who failed to get into Clairmont decided to give Broadwater down a chance a year before us and instead of paying privately hoping at the time that a place would eventually come up at Clairmont she decided she liked the look of broadwater. its a lovely small school currently serving 114 children... Classrooms are large open spaces and woods with an outdoor classroom in the wood and allotments which any family can opt to have . When a place did come up a Clairmont the next year she turned it down realising that her daughter had achieved so much...I thought to myself this at least warrants a look irrespective of what I heard...once at the school gates the school really sold itself.The teachers are amazing having all come from outstanding schools themselves...they push the children to achieve their maximum potential...and with the current headship and strong governing team the school is changing fast and in front of my eyes.We got satisfactory for a great many years..but just recently confirming mine and many people's experience whose child goes there we not only a good...the ofsted stated that the school was almost outstanding bar two little things which are easily solved...considering it was satisfactory only two years before you can see how much and how fast the school has changed.the school really is wonderful place to be and it's like one big family.We consider ourselves very lucky to have found this school and taken the risk...it has paid off...I would say anyone who has never been to the school because they have heard rumours IGNORE them...come pay us a visit.
Another thing you should perhaps be aware of...Broadwater got the highest sats in the whole of Kent recently and best school for improvements second came Benenden primary school who if does listen to rumours will have been told Is a Much sought after school...this would make sense by how much my son was pushed with his literacy and numeracy... He was reading and writing by half way through reception...down entirely to the wonderful reception teacher there and ks1 team.
Come see for yourself...i for one am no longer interested in St. John's and bishops down..and actually despite it being across town it's more like six mins on a good run ten on a bad run...so actually not bad!!!

Lifeisaboxofchocs Wed 11-Dec-13 08:08:24

kavimole, i live in TW. You make some very valid points. Broadwater has made huge improvement and, from what i have heard, from both the head at Claremont and parents, Broadwater is developing in to a really rather special and impressive school.

I will just pick you up on one point.

Broadwater got the highest sats in the whole of Kent recently

It didn't. Not even close. It did very well though and improved dramatically, so should be very proud indeed. But anyone who does the most rudimentary of research will soon see that it did not perform any where near the best.

pjskidmore1980 Mon 04-Apr-16 08:15:54

Sorry I know this thread is very old, but I wanted to ask whether anyone has any updates on Broadwater Down. We are not religious and I feel strongly about sending our children to a primary school without a religious leaning. Claremont is 0.6 miles from our home on Forest Road (no chance!) and Broadwater Down is the next nearest non-denominational primary.

We are considering moving to Langton Green, but a very limited selection of suitable houses makes me wonder whether we should take a chance and apply to Claremont and Broadwater Down as options.

How does it work? As we are not within any of the tight catchment areas for any primary schools, what are our options? Do we select based on our requirements and keep our fingers crossed?

Some thought would be greatly received as its a stressful proposition to try and get this right for our children.

Thanks in advance
Paula

RustySwanson Mon 04-Apr-16 10:26:29

When is your child due to start start school? Have you looked at the stats to see the distances offered in previous years? I agree that you don't have much chance of getting into Claremont, the furthest distance was 0.1653 miles. But Broadwater is gaining popularity and that distance was 0.4147, so that isn't a banker choice, I know people who put it as their first choice for Sep 2015 and didn't get in. My son is at Langton Green and we are very pleased with the school, as I also did not want a school that focused on church and religion. But do be aware that there will still be some c of e wherever you go, my son has visited the church with school a couple of times, but it certainly is a lot less church focused that some of the other schools in tunbridge wells.
Have you considered Skinners? I know a couple of parents who have reception children there who are happy. I would say study the stats to check where you have a realistic chance of getting in and visit those schools. I would be wary about taking a chance, you have to be realistic, finger crossing may well leave you disappointed and with an offer of a school that wasn't one of your preferred choices.

pjskidmore1980 Mon 04-Apr-16 13:15:06

Thanks, we've actually got a couple of years, but if we need to move house we will need to start that process sooner rather than later. Nice to hear you're pleased with Langton. We may just hang on for an ideal property within their catchment then. Thanks for your thoughts.

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