Oxfordshire primary schools

(29 Posts)
ukoz71 Fri 02-May-14 04:26:20

Hi all
I am moving to oxfordshire area from our home in Melbourne, Australia in July this year as my husband has accepted a job transfer to the area. I am feeling a little overwhelmed by the primary schools and admissions as it is a very different procedure to what we have here in Australia. We understand we need to find a rental home first and then find a primary school for our kids, ages 6 and 7. Big dilemma is whether we live in central Oxford or go a little further afield such as woodstock, Combe, bladon etc... I'm under the impression from ofsted reports that all 3 of the above mentioned areas have good local schools? Also - would it be "easier" to get them in to a small village school as opposed to living in central Oxford where it seems schools are difficult to get in to due to large numbers? Clearly we don't want to commit to a year or so rental contract in a smaller, more rural village if we can't get school placements at the local school in the area where we are living. Advice please!!! Stressed....

Mutley77 Fri 02-May-14 04:47:27

Sorry I can't help with specifics on schools in those locations. But it is a total nightmare in England - you are right that you need the address to get a school but there is no guarantee of getting a local school once you have an address - I don't think there is a way around it.

We are likely to be in a similar position next year and I have emailed admissions at the Local Authority and asked where in our town there are currently spaces for my children - so they have indicated where the spaces are. If they could do the same for you at the point of you looking for a house it would give you a good steer as to where best to look to be near the school.

Unfortunately there are no guarantees that you will get your children into a school near where you live or that you will get them both into the same school. However it will work out in the end.... Personally I would take a leap of faith and live where you want to (central Oxford may be better if that's where you want to be as there will be several schools within a reasonable radius of your home rather than a village which may involve driving to other villages for school). Remember there are always waiting lists for school and often it becomes easier once children are junior school age (Year 3 age 7/8) as the class sizes can slightly increase so even if it seems a nightmare to start with, things can change.

icklekid Fri 02-May-14 05:46:43

No local knowledge but worth calling schools interested in seeing if they are over subscribed/likely to have places. It's not as straight forward as rural always have more or less places very individual school dependent. Sorry not to be more help!

madwomanbackintheattic Fri 02-May-14 06:29:55

Woodstock has a much bigger catchment than the other two. Very different, more of a town feel. The other two are villages. All feed to the secondary where our sports day teams used to group the rest if the villages against the Woodstock team as it was bigger.

All very lovely, but the towns and villages themselves are very different. Much better to focus on the town or village and then look to the school, tbh.

My specifics v out of date. Lovely area, though. House prices v expensive - would check rental market closely if you are intending to rent.

Where is dh going to be working? (Nosy)

madwomanbackintheattic Fri 02-May-14 06:30:48

My lovely friend emigrated to Melbourne from chipping norton a couple of years ago. V funny that you are going the other way ;-)

ukoz71 Fri 02-May-14 08:01:53

Thanks folks for all the advice, will still welcome more advice and suggestions... We will be very busy when we arrive in July, finding a school and finding a suitable home, we want a character home with 1 or more open fires, modern kitchen, preferably 2 bathrooms, at least 3 bedrooms, probably would prefer village/or woodstock location, not that we're too fussy, lol smile also want to get the kids involved in ballet and soccer smile

ukoz71 Fri 02-May-14 08:03:26

That is funny, I find the English countryside beautiful, probably in the same way your friend is attracted to a warm climate!

ukoz71 Fri 02-May-14 08:04:52

That is funny, I find the English countryside beautiful, probably in the same way your friend is attracted to a warm climate!

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 02-May-14 08:07:26

"character home with 1 or more open fires"

Open fires are quite unusual in the UK, probably more so in a rental property.

What's your budget and which side if Oxford is your DH's work. Oxford traffic is horrendous. Witney might be an option if that's the right side.

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Fri 02-May-14 08:22:40

Yes, I would recommend looking very closely at your planned commute, traffic in Oxford and on the A34 can be horrendous.

We also had to move mid-year, with the same no address/no school issue. Oxfordshire Admissions folks were very helpful with advice, and we got DD into a school straight away. Although we do live in an area with quite a few Forces families so there is a fair amount of movement through the schools.

ukoz71 Fri 02-May-14 08:29:32

Yes, I know we are bizarre wanting an open fire - lol - but they do exist as we have viewed alot through relevant real estate agencies. Thanks for the heads up re Oxford traffic - hy husband suspected that may be the case!

BridgeOfWhys Fri 02-May-14 08:37:12

For a start you best start calling it football!

I don't think you can even imagine how bad the traffic in Oxford is. It is HORRENDOUS. If you husband is working in the city centre I strongly suggest living somewhere he can get a bus/cycle. Oxford hates cars! There are a few park and rides around Oxford.

Having taught in Oxford schools I would say check the catchment areas closely. There is nothing wrong with ringing a school and asking if they have spaces.

What is your budget? I'm sure you can get what you are looking for. Oxfordshire is full of character houses.

BridgeOfWhys Fri 02-May-14 08:39:11

There are lovely villages closer to Oxford than the ones you mentioned. Where is you husband going to be based?

ukoz71 Fri 02-May-14 08:45:58

My husband is home based (home office) and on the road travelling alot, so I should mention that he won't have to pass through Oxford much if we are living in a village type area. He's originally from buckinghamshire and although im an aussie, I've lived in London, so we are not completely new to the UK , we just don't know an awful lot about oxfordshire. Whilst we've both visited the area as "tourists" - its a different scenario actually living in a place smile

AmberTheCat Fri 02-May-14 09:02:02

Hi OP. I live in Oxford and have lots of friends with kids in schools in and around Oxford - happy to help with any specific queries. You're right that primaries in Oxford itself are very full - there was a bulge in the years you'll be looking for for your kids, and I know some kids who are actually being bussed out from central Oxford to village schools because there's no space for them in the city schools. You may get lucky and hit a point where some children are leaving, so definitely worth a conversation with the local authority, but I suspect you're more likely to find spaces in schools outside the city.

The three schools you mentioned all have good reputations. Generally you'll get more for your money house-wise west of Oxford, so you're looking in the right sort of areas. Plenty of houses with open fires in that area!

BridgeOfWhys Fri 02-May-14 09:09:53

Ah right. Well that's good then! Have you looked at Headington? Two nice schools. Smallish town and good links out of Oxford to the M40.

Or Wheatley is a village with good road links.

More little villages on the M40 side of Oxford are Forest Hill, Beckley and Waterperry. All are lovely and not too far out with good schools.

Kennington is on the ring road with a good school and a nice feel.

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Fri 02-May-14 09:45:10

Oh.... and just to add to your difficulty level, you also need to keep an eye on what secondary school you'll be in catchment for, because some Oxfordshire comps are really not great at all.

Unless you plan to move house before then. But we always move saying, "We are DEFINITELY never moving again after this" (and yet we've managed to move six times in 15 years or something hmm).

LizzieMint Fri 02-May-14 09:47:37

We're in the process of relocating to that area too (from in the UK) and the LEA don't tell you which schools have places, I've already asked! Their reasoning is that it can change all the time so there's no point until you get to the point of actually applying. This leaves you a bit stuck if you are choosing an area based on whether you can get into schools!!
Woodstock was one of our preferred locations but we're after a 5 bed house and they seem to start at £800k and go upwards shock
So we haven't quite found the right location to go for yet, we've looked at Kidlington, Eynsham, lower and upper hayford, woodstock and long hanborough.

ukoz71 Fri 02-May-14 09:50:29

It's a bit of a long shot, but if anyone knows of anyone willing to rent their home to us in either north oxfordshire or east oxfordshire (towns or villages), we would be very happy to hear about it. We are open to using a rental agency or otherwise privately through the owner. We really have our hearts set on a character property, open fire/s, Central heating and 3 plus bedrooms, furnished or unfurnished. You can send me a private message if you have anything that may be of interest. Thanks everyone, your input has been amazing so far. A friend recommended this site, and it's great!! No doubt I will be using it a lot when living in the UK! Lots and lots of informative material on here! smile

ukoz71 Fri 02-May-14 09:54:34

God luck Lizzie finding a rental, hope you find a good place smile

LizzieMint Fri 02-May-14 10:26:22

Thanks, you too. We're looking for something to buy but haven't found anywhere (village) we'd want to move to yet!

Jellified Sat 03-May-14 20:24:16

BlAdon and Combe are both very small villages no shops etc. Bladon school is very small. Woodstock is the biggest of the 3 and was heavily oversubscribed this year - apparently 80 applicants for 45 places.
As a parent with a child currently in the school and 2 who have been through I have been reasonably happy as have the kids

Sinkingfeeling Sun 04-May-14 01:26:12

I live close to Oxford too and have three dc at primary school. Happy to help with primary school questions and questions about the area around Oxford - regarding finding a property, have you tried the Oxford Gumtree site and Rightmove as well as the rental agencies?

ukoz71 Wed 07-May-14 23:58:22

Thanks again ladies for all the tips, very helpful. Yes - we are always on rightmove looking at properties - I will also try Oxford Gumtree. We will be staying in Watlington area for our first 6 weeks so that area is also of interest. Just opens up our search a bit more for house/school. Thanks to all of you again!

Pommom Thu 15-May-14 22:44:11

Hi OP, I did the same move from Oz to Oxfordshire with primary school children a couple of years ago. Very tricky. The UK got rid of the concept of having an absolute right to go to the local school - in favour of parental choice. It's no longer the same system as in Oz (or continental Europe).

We decided that towns and cities were too risky. Villages (one school, Community responsibility) were easier to get a handle on spaces - and also, in our experience at least, seemed to feel more pressure to expand to accommodate kids in the village. They also tend to be fairly solid in Oxfordshire villages - at least near us, you don't get the extremes of failing schools nearby outstanding schools. We had to visit a number of village schools whilst we were looking for houses to see who had spaces. The LA won't just send you a list of schools with spaces but once you get stuck in, you'll find out. Narrow down the area a bit and focus on transport issues - as others have said, A34 is hellish. Then contact schools. If you can, visit them. Village schools, especially average-rated Ofsted ones, are fairly responsive; some are extremely helpful. On the other hand, you may never get a reply from an over-subscribed City school.

The other things to bear in mind are that (a) you may be fortunate to get a bubble year (when they open up another class to accommodate demand); and (b) spaces open up the higher up the school you go. If you can get an older kid in, then your younger kid will get in on sibling preference (depending on admission rules) as soon as someone leaves.

Sorry it's so complicated but, persevere, Oxfordshire is a great place to live!

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