Moving back to UK midyear - Norwich

(22 Posts)
norfolkntokyo Sun 20-Jul-14 20:20:53

We are moving back to Norwich with our two children later this year.

I've read through the local primary school ofsted reports and the school websites and we have shortlisted a few likely schools. The council have told us the process starts when we have a confirmed address and a fixed move date but this feels a little like chicken and egg for us as we would like to live near a school if this helps us get in. Our kids will end up in Yr5 and Yr3 in the UK system from what I can work out, with the eldest joining around half term and the youngest from January, due to our move dates.

Has anyone got experience of moving into the UK system from midyear, from abroad?

I am fortunate to have somewhere I can move to immediately upon arrival but I don't like the look of the school in the catchment area (Wensum) - any feedback on this school before I jump to the wrong conclusions?

Our preferences are in neighbouring (Golden Triangle) catchment areas and seem to be better performing (Avenue, Bignold). One in particular (Bignold) has around 20% of students with English as a second language, which may be suitable for us, as our children will need some additional English help initially to get up to speed. MN seems to have good things to say about Bignold but I'm always looking for additional information.

A 'left field' option appears to be Trowse but that looks almost impossible to get into from what I can see, given there is no rental property anywhere near the catchment area.

With the eldest joining Yr5, some advice appears to be to bear secondary schools in mind also but first things first, we want to get there and settle - we can always move later on when we look for somewhere to buy.

Ideally, I'd like to be able to go over with my eldest just before half term, look around schools I know have openings, pick a school together and then rush out and get uniforms by the start of the latter half of term - is this merely wishful thinking?

Thanks in advance for any advice you may be able to provide...

ridiculoussingle Sun 20-Jul-14 20:27:34

It's very hard to get into avenues or trowse. Wensum has gone into special measures, but the new county head has turned schools round really quickly. When we looked round it it was really nice with lovely kids and staff, and its small so each kid counts. Friends with kids there really like it.

pyrrah Sun 20-Jul-14 23:39:28

Have the council told you if any schools have vacancies or are you moving to an area with undersubscribed schools?

norfolkntokyo Mon 21-Jul-14 08:04:25

So far they have said nothing until we give them a confirmed address and date. I'm pushing them to give a little more info...

ihearttc Mon 21-Jul-14 10:56:19

Bignold is an amazing school.

I don't actually live in Norwich anymore but I have several friends whose children go there and they absolutely love it.

teacherwith2kids Mon 21-Jul-14 11:08:59

With a child in year 5 starting Octoberr half term, you have a year - almost to the day - before you have to put your senior school application in, and your alliocation will be based on your adsdress at that point.

It would be wise to at least think about secondary schooling - if there is always loads iof rental oproperty around the secondaries that you want to consider, enabling immediate moves, no problem - but with short term lets being for 6 months, it would be sensible to bear secondaries in mind even if they don't absolutely drive your choice IYSWIM?

norfolkntokyo Mon 21-Jul-14 11:45:02

Wow,I've definitely found the right place to ask questions, thanks all.

I noticed another school nearby also, Colman, which I know very little about. So far, Bignold seems to be a front runner tho.

For secondary, if we have a year to make a choice and, where necessary, move, that seems enough. We are thinking to buy within that timeframe anyway, so we will be spending plenty of time researching areas, schools, etc. For buying, I'd rather be on the ground when we make our decisions...

Council have again said to state our preferences without much additional info, so this forum appears to be our best bet for understanding the process so far...

ihearttc Mon 21-Jul-14 12:48:00

I lived in Norwich all my life...we currently live about 20 miles away! Like I said my friends children go to Bignold and love it.

My DH actually went to Colman and he turned out pretty good...but it was about 28 years ago lol!

Whereabouts are you looking for a house? As I understand it Bignold seems to accept children from a very wide area as friends both live completely different directions from each other (literally one is one side of Norwich and 1 is the other) so obviously depending on spaces you might find it easier to get into.

If you look around that area one of the secondary's to consider might be used to be a really good school. Haven't looked at recent ofsted reports but if I was moving back to that area it would be the one I went for.

Feel free to PM me if I can help at all.

SwiftRelease Mon 21-Jul-14 14:18:10

Near your area but not in it so my advice if from pov of moving back with dds from overseas.

Liaise direct with schools as well as council, a lot. Call them ideally, made all the difference in terms of being taken seriously. We targetted oustanding schs with also excellent rep, head etc and fully explained our then circs. They were patient and accommodating and v able teachers; managed to motivate girls to achieve far more in 1 term than they had in entire year overseas!
Not easy tho lots of "home sickness" and confusion but working out.

I picked up a couple of relevant key stage books on amazon to dip into before wd left.

nigerdelta Mon 21-Jul-14 22:18:39

Norfolk admissions is thru council last I knew.

I don't know latest gossip on Colman, but it was hard to get into when I looked for DS1 (10 yrs ago). There were lots of things I liked about it; it had small classrooms so enforced small class sizes thru KS2. Has catchment which straddles rich as well as very WC areas, so quite mixed. used to have a big programme for teaching sign language.

I liked Bignold a lot, too. They rent (ed?) off their playing fields to be a carpark; sounds bad but it means they have a lot more money than some schools & they had a very holistic attitude toward the whole child; told me bluntly not to send DC there if I only cared about academic results.

That secondary choice may come sooner than you think, October of yr6 (dreading it now for DS2).

I imagine it will help you liase a lot with school to really get a feel for how would suit your child. Good luck.

Vagndidit Fri 25-Jul-14 08:30:02

I lived in the catchment for Bignold and I know a lot of families choose private or other schools (namely Rec Road/Avenues or the Free School) over Bignold. Ds was there for nursery a couple of years ago and I was less than impressed. If you buy into Ofsted reports, Bignold has been struggling...currently on a "needs improvement" rating after last Autumn's follow up inspection. The school population will bot be your typical Golden Triangle type population, if that's what you're after.

In the NR2, I'd go for Rec Road/Avenues, Colman or St Francis (Catholic primary) long before Bignold if I were you.

Jumpingjuly Fri 25-Jul-14 08:41:25

Hi I am just returning. From overseas and although looking for secondary rather than primary I can imagine the process is just the same. What I did is call round the schools to find out which had places (in my case none of my preferred schools) . I then ranked them in my order of preference I ignored catchment area as I think when you are applying mid year you are going to be offered what is available nearest anyway so you might as well put your dream choice! Amazingly I have just been offered my preferred secondary (not in catchment) but as I have already lined a private school up as fully expected the local sink school this has caused me a different set of quandrys

alardi Sun 27-Jul-14 10:53:12

I find the area near Wensum is a bit run down, on edge of the GT, but still run down. And catchment must overlap with Mile X which isn't great, either.

Brightoncheery Sun 27-Jul-14 17:12:21

Not sure if it's still the case but Norfolk County Council used to have a policy of not holding waiting lists other than until the end of the the autumn term for reception, and you could only apply for a transfer once per academic year that was considered for entry at the start of the next term. This meant that you didn't really have the option of accepting a place at a different school whilst you waited to move up the waiting list to be offered a place at your preferred school and also if there was no place when you used your one transfer application of the year, that was it until the following year.

This may not be a problem in this case but I've often seen posters on here be advised to accept another school while they wait on the waiting list for their preferred school, so just thought thar I would mention it.

I've got a couple of friends with kids at Bignold and they are really positive about it. Avenues obviously has a great reputation but v.hard to get into. Have another friend who's recently removed their child from St Francis as unhappy with the school.

Give me a shout if you head a bit further south, I know the Hethersett/Wymondham/nearby village schools v.well.

5madthings Mon 28-Jul-14 12:07:18

We looked at bignold and I have friends whose children go there, it's a nice school and they are happy with it.

Colman is oversubscribed as is recreation road I think you will struggle to get your children places there.

Are you on Fb? As we have a Norfolk/Norwich Fb group of mnetters and often have meet ups and it can be a good place to ask for advice.

norfolkntokyo Sat 09-Aug-14 12:51:28

@5madthings: found the fb page, thanks

We were pretty much fixed on Colman or Bignold but our equation has been complicated somewhat in that, although we are very likely to be in GT when we move to Norwich, we now may well end up around the Station/Riverside area within six months (Long story)

This swings our catchment area hugely but from what I can see, Bignold is a valid choice for bridging these two areas (It looks about 25 minutes walk or 15 minutes on scooters from the station - they are used to 25 minute walk each way currently, so fine with that) - Colman just looks too far away.

It does bring Trowse back into play but sounds like that is too hard to get into. Lionwood is technically the closest and looks similar level to Bignold based on Ofsted, but its actually only a few minutes walk closer than Bignold and I'd not look to move them for a few minutes walk every day.

It changes the picture hugely for secondary tho but will have to address that when the time comes.

5madthings Sat 09-Aug-14 13:21:45

Mine have a two mile walk to School. Depending in your route from train station area ie straight down queens road? Then along past the castle and through town to bignold it will take longer than 15 mins I would say. It's a route I have walked and will be busy at school run time.

The Fb group I am in is a private one so if you pm me I can add you as a Fb friend and add you to the group. Up riverside and station way is nice, have friends who live there.

Re Colman I doubt you would get a place but unfold is def more likely.

lljkk Sun 10-Aug-14 14:41:13

Lionwood has a nice feel to it, socially diverse by Norwich standards (DD did music workshop there), like Colman on the edge of affluent and less affluent areas.

I'm not sure why you're fixed on Trowse. Smug remarks about recently retaining their Outstanding rating* made me want to run a mile. And it's impossible to get into, I guess.

*when tonnes of Norfolk schools are being forced to Academise or otherwise getting razored in Ofsted inspections.

The other gossip said about Trowse was that this last year one family with ?4 children in the school went on a Trip-of-a-Lifetime for 6 months; all unauthorised absence because the school said UA was best. Else if they de-reged they'd lose the school places. When there's probably a waiting list to get in. Interpret that how you will.

norfolkntokyo Fri 15-Aug-14 07:55:37

As a total aside, my youngest DS has very long hair. In Tokyo, we were asked politely if he could tie it back and we were happy to. The school asked us, rather than insist, because the regulation only exists in their school rules for girls...

Anyway, we have let him decide when he wants to cut his beautiful hair, rather than insist upon it, so I wonder if we are likely to have any issues with any of the Norwich schools around this.

I certainly plan to dig my heels in as I feel it is sexist to insist. Once DS is in, if he feels the peer pressure enough and wants it cut, that is different...

lljkk Fri 15-Aug-14 12:49:44

To be honest, my first thought was about head lice. So much easier to control if hair is short (and therefore handy that boys usually want short hair).

I don't know about private schools & hair.
I know state schools, especially secondaries, usually require "normal" haircuts. That could be interpreted as not too long by some secondaries, but mostly I doubt they'd give a toss. Too many other things to worry about.

5madthings Fri 15-Aug-14 12:51:57

My boys have had long hair, ds1(14) currently has very long hair, down his back and it's never been a problem at school, he has to tie it back for pe, food tech/design ttechnology and science etc.

But none of the primary schools or high sschools have had a problem with it.

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