staying in london post dc - experiences please?

(92 Posts)
tricot39 Mon 19-Nov-12 19:38:06

We are in a quandary. We were looking to move near to dps, to a city with a good job for me, 15/20min walk to work and great state comps. Unfortunately the economy looks like it will put a spanner in the works. We get the above, but with a 20% pay cut and probably scant job security. Staying put looks sensible but with the avalanche of families/friends leaving london we wonder if we are making a mistake by considering staying. We dont need to move for space. We live in a fairly deprived/up & coming part of london and the schools are improving but not great. Neighbours' kids all seem bright sensible types who went to.cambridge or are heading that way. Am i fooling myself that things could be as good for our kids? (or at their equivalent level). Any advice? What did you.do?

marilynmonroe Fri 23-Nov-12 13:25:18

Watching this thread with interest. I am also in wandsworth and my DS has just started at pre-school in a very mixed school. was very apprehensive but he loves it and is learning a lot! We are in a lucky position as a free school is opening up in time for ds to start primary school. We live v close to it. The other schools in the area are pretty good, they are all good to outstanding so i think we are really lucky.

I''ve just had some friends move out because of the schools and it's made me morre determined to stay and prove them all wrong. Your child can do well in a london state school! if no one gave them a chance then they will never improve!

We are going to stay for a few more years but will probably move back to scotland at some point but it all depends on my dh's job.

Xenia Sat 24-Nov-12 14:56:08

You say you work part time. Surely the solution is stay put work full time and send them somewhere like Dulwich College www.dulwich.org.uk/

Do we really think it morally right parents work part time so children end up at useless schools. Is that really the right moral decision for children?

Pyrrah Sat 24-Nov-12 15:52:51

I lived in the countryside and was bored to tears - thank goodness my parents sent me to boarding school in the end and I had a social life that didn't involve them driving me 30 minutes each way. Also had access to after school activities that didn't exist locally.

No way will DH and I be moving out of London - love the area we are in (one of the most deprived but up and coming). Not having a long commute means much more time to spend with DD. The free museums are amazing and we are never short of things to do whatever the season or weather.

We've found a half decent primary with an Outstanding Ofsted so hoping that will do for a few years.

The downsides are that we can't afford a bigger house - have very small 2 bed at the moment. The secondaries round here are DIRE, so we are going to tutor like crazy and hope either for a place at 7+ (and cripple ourselves on school fees for a few years) or at 11+ and hope she gets a decent bursary. If she doesn't get in anywhere at 11+ then we may well move for a decent school or have a shot at 13+ for a few places - but she would probably have to board and the chances of bursaries are less. Because of this we can only really afford to have 1 child.

It does annoy me that the only way to get a decent sized house in an area with great schools is to either be penniless and win the council house lottery or a multi-millionaire. The average middle-class, middle-income parent is totally screwed. I have friends paying £85 a week for a 3 bedroom propery - they were totally shocked when they heard what our monthly mortgage payment was on our teeny tiny flat, and hadn't realised how lucky they were!

LadyIsabellaWrotham Sat 24-Nov-12 15:59:28

Honestly I wouldn't have the slightest qualms at primary level. And by secondary level who knows what your job situation will be.

bigkidsdidit Sat 24-Nov-12 16:01:16

I left London for Edinburgh this year! Not contest. I love it here, particularly the houses are much cheaper and it is so much smaller you can walk to the national gallery then walk on to Harvey nicks then walk on to soft play etx etx. I love it!

However if staying in London seems the best option, I agree with Xenia. Go full time and pay for tutors or private school. That's what I'd do.

tricot39 Sat 24-Nov-12 16:12:37

xenia i am not really sure how to reply to that. You have made a number of false assumptions so your logic is rather flawed, but thanks anyway.

Xenia Sat 24-Nov-12 16:13:48

I think you said you both worked part time. Surely if you both moved to full time work then you could afford a place at a good London private school and then the problems are solved. That was all I meant. The interesting ethical issue is should the parents self indulge in ways that damage children.

tricot39 Sat 24-Nov-12 16:30:48

ladyi sadly i know that i am overqualified so that situation will not ease over time. Also the primary schools are very oversubscribed so in year admissions tricky. We either go now or not at all. So looking for info on secondaries from people who have been through the system to help decide.

tricot39 Sat 24-Nov-12 16:42:26

xenia i know you meant that but you assumed that switching to full.time work would generate £16k net per child of extra income! You also assume that a "not great" school = damage to child , while independent is best. Sadly it is just not that easy an equation.

We will probably put money aside for private just in case but i am not comfortable about working all hours to pay for a school. For me, absent parents cannot be made up for by a school. That is my personal choice obviously.

there is also the issue that if they can pass the 11+ we would be better off at the state.grammar which gets better results that if we paid. So the question keeps coming back to how will we get on if.independent & grammar options are not available?

Gravenwithdiamonds Sat 24-Nov-12 16:54:13

Also, round here, going private is just not that easy. I know plenty of mothers for whom getting their boys into the likes of St Pauls and Kings is a full-time job in itself (it does seem to be easier for girls as they don't do the equivalent of the 7+).

Personally, I don't want my children to go private. And, even if I worked full-time, that wouldn't cover the cost for three children in private education, plus the childcare and extra-curricular activities that the private schools (in SW London at least) demand that your children do.

There are many good London (and its surrounds) state schools - eg, Graveney, Teddington, Hinchley Wood, near us. But getting into them is tedious and time-consuming and not guarenteed (and the same applies to the local decent private schools). For us, it's the complicated school system combined with the property prices that are instigating our move out of London. An added bonus will be not having to discuss school places on a daily basis!

notcitrus Sat 24-Nov-12 18:30:06

We're committed to London for the foreseeable - in order to get a large house in an area we're happy with, we went for a wreck and a 10 year plan to fix it. 7 years in, have kids starting school, and only problem has been lots of ds's friends from nursery leaving as parents aim to move in time to start school in leafier areas. Luckily the local schools have all just expanded to meet demand and are supposed to be good - as are the nearest couple secondaries.

Very glad I don't live further into south-west London where not going private seems considered child abuse - the raised eyebrows I meet at soft play etc are quite impressive.

Also I know familes who have had kids at local comps over the last decades and done well, so I know it's possible. And MrNC has an Oxbridge PhD after a comp - plus while I went to private schools, I didn't hang out with the wealthy crowds, so don't know many people in high places. Even friends' brothers who went to Eton say that the future politicians and the geeks were in separate worlds.

tricot39 Sat 24-Nov-12 19:15:12

not that is sort of my logic. if the dc were to only get to my sort of professional level i would sort of consider paying for school a waste of time! i know first hand that comp is entirely satsfactory for that. i earn more than plenty oxbridge types and am not at all envious of their jobs so academically i strongly believe that there is not a lot in it. socially is a whole other kettle of fish...... <worried>

GreenBeer Sat 24-Nov-12 19:22:18

I keep saying I am going to leave London when DD hits school age. I am not from the UK and the talk of schools here actually worries me! I think I would be happier putting my DC through a system l know works. It just seems so hit and miss here?

tricot39 Sat 24-Nov-12 19:41:20

green - but is that reality? or just what everyone thinks will happen? it is difficult to unpick. most of the people posting on mumsnet are yet to go through the secondary system so mostly discussion is more speculation rather than experience. from what i can tell all parents find the transition to secondary stressful, so how much of the angst is that? and how much if anything is the extra london angst?!

lalalonglegs Sat 24-Nov-12 19:55:31

I tend to agree, tricot. There are these perceptions that some schools are terrible and you mustn't send your child there (when, sometimes, they are really quite good but, perhaps weren't great a few years ago, reputations lag behind reality) and then there are the fabulous ones which the school gate sages tell you that you will never be able to get into. Even though these "great" schools might not be right for your child, there is a pressure that you really should try to get him/her in or you are in some way letting him/her down.

London is a city full of very ambitious people and that does bring out an extra competitive streak in most activities but probably in education more than many others and I am just doing my very best (not always successfully) to keep a sense of perspective when it comes to schools. I don't think moving outside the capital would magically solve a lot of the "problems" that we are told are inherent in London.

bigTillyMint Sat 24-Nov-12 20:10:08

We live in an area which was up and coming before we had our DC - we moved here 3 weeks before DD was born and are still here. (It is now nappy valley and you have to be a high earner to afford a house here) Our DC are 13 and 11. They are happy at their local comp, with lots of lovely friends.

We have no family nearby, but when we had our DC, we gained a circle of friends who also had no family nearby and DC the same ages. We supported each other as well as using babysitters/nursery, etc as necessary. And family came down for visits and babysat, etc.

Some of our friends moved out - we have kept in touch with some of them and visit each other. Most decided, like us, that London was where they wanted to be and stayed. We have a large group of friends that have DC the same ages that we have known for a long time and the children feel very secure in their relationships. Their DC go to a variety of schools including grammars and indies as the parents went for what they thought best and AFAIK, all the children are happy and flourishing in their individual schools.

bigTillyMint Sat 24-Nov-12 20:12:47

Also, I think that depending on the circles that you mix in, you get a range of views about schools in London (or anywhere for that matter), depending on their own experience of schooling-v-the local social mix.

GreenBeer Sat 24-Nov-12 20:35:24

Maybe its because I dont live in a great area that I feel getting out of London would be for the best? If I lived in nappy valley I might think diffrently smile

Plus for me it is the hustle and bustle of London that I don't want DD to grow up in.

I will miss this city though!

notcitrus Sat 24-Nov-12 21:58:53

Was interesting seeing my friends looking at secondaries for their kids, as while they read all the blurb etc, most local families wanted their kids to go to 'the High' - which 25 years ago was the one to go to, but now is struggling and has lots of pupils involved in stabbings. Whereas the boys school down the road was undersubscribed but got their ds loads of top grades. Reputations are often behind the reality.

The % of kids getting good grades isn't what I want to know - what I want to know is how the kids like ds do, who are from academic supportive homes and reasonably bright. Will other children stop him learning or make him feel uncool? Will bullying be clamped down on and do they have policies to help kids make friends?

I got an excellent education from my schools despite a few nutjob and incompetent teachers that would never be tolerated in the state sector now, so I feel I can supplement the academics if necessary - it's the rest I hope the schools can provide. Have seen 2 local schools now and see what people mean about impressions and the influence of the head - have totally reversed my opinions of them that I had from data and hearsay! Though both would be fine, I think.

SavoirFaire Sat 24-Nov-12 23:04:12

Lots of good points made here. And I am not talking about Xenia.

We're in central London. Most people I know with young kids have moved or are planning to in next few years. I can't imagine leaving - I love it. There is so much on offer for all of us. Our jobs are tied here anyway and commuting long distances is something I have no intention of doing - it adds way too much pressure on to the family IMHO.

My DCs (4, 1) will go to local 'good' (Ofsted) primary, which local MC-mummies roll their eyes at, since there are a plethora of pre-preps/preps and a couple of Outstanding schools with miniscule catchments, nearby). Has v high FSM, ave SEN, v high EAL. However, I do not believe that my children are going to catch something from children who have different backgrounds from them. I know kids locally who've been through these schools and gone on to fabulous things. I see no reason at all why my children can't do the same (jeez, if I can't have confidence in them, then who will?!).

I have cut back my hours (sorry Xenia - I am morally reprehensible) so that I can be around my children significantly more than I could have been otherwise, and this is part of what rules out school fees for now. However, given my Oxbridge experience, I know there were lots of people there (and at every RG uni too) who went to below par (even failing) schools - every kind of school actually, despite the hype. I also know plenty of wasters who went to very expensive private schools. A good friend left his expensive boarding school at 17, with 2 GCSEs and went on to drive trucks for a living. One of my best friends was inner London state educated all the way through and has a first degree and a PhD from Cambridge. In both cases, it was the involvement and interest of the parents, family situations and a whole host of things beyond the school gate which probably had the most significant impact on the outcome. Of course the schools are a factor, but they are just one influence. (I'm not anti private school by the way - just saying they are not the be-all and end-all).

I think that you generally have much better choices, school-wise, in London that you would in your average rural village.

hellsbells99 Sun 25-Nov-12 09:03:09

If you plan to move out of London, consider somewhere like Chester! Lovely small city. Local schools are good: Christleton High School, Upton High Nd the Catholic High - all have large playing fields, excellent music departments. Liverpool and Manchester are commutable, both have airports. 2 hours to London on train. Great place to live and bring up children!

Noobo Sun 25-Nov-12 10:21:04

I have lived in London all my life and I think your post comes over as a bit odd to be honest. I went to a state school in inner London and went to Oxford. Both my children are at outstanding state schools in London. My elder child achieved A/A* at GCSE. My younger child goes to a school with facilities better than most private schools: swimming pool, recording studio etc.

Living in London has given them the opportunity to regularly visit the theatre, museums, galleries etc. Any activity they wanted to undertake from climbing to riding to opera are on their doorstep. Both my children have taken part in professional stage productions for example, which they would never have done living out in the sticks.

I work in a profession that requires some years post graduate training and is well paid and fulfilling. Thinking of my colleagues, many went to state schools in inner cities Sheffield, Bristol etc (and not in the posh areas either).

If your children are intelligent and motivated they can do well anywhere.

Sleepthief Sun 25-Nov-12 11:03:02

We're here for the duration and my three don't seem too deprived. Briefly considered joining the lemming-like rush to the sticks, but weighing up the pros and cons it just didn't make sense for us.

We've got a great selection of primaries around and good state secondaries, a lovely house on a leafy road with great neighbours and a real sense of community,loads of amazing parks nearby - Crystal Palace, Peckham Rye and Dulwich to name the bigger ones in the immediate proximity - and a 12-minute train ride into the excitement of central London!

I'm fairly certain, too, that there are shit schools outside London hmm

tricot39 Sun 25-Nov-12 13:04:10

noobo what comes across as odd? we do not have outstanding secondaries here and the facilities ate pretty poor. cancellation of the bsf programme has stalled rebuilding for the moment. where do you live? maybe the solution is to shift borough but that just seems such a shame. we are in a nice community here it is just the schools that are problematic.

tricot39 Sun 25-Nov-12 13:34:23

Hhhm. I think it really comes down to the area of London that you live in. Check out the IMD maps: here
I live in amongst a geat swathe of red/orange.
In general my experience and the opportunities available to my children will be very different to those on offer to those in the green/blue areas. So although we all talk about "London" the areas are all quite different in character.

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