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?

bigTillyMint Sun 25-Nov-12 13:52:55

What a fab link, thanks! We live in a sort of yellowygreen bit.

tricot39 Sun 25-Nov-12 13:59:09

envy
wink

Gravenwithdiamonds Sun 25-Nov-12 15:07:37

I think you are underestimating what is available to families living out 'in the sticks' noobo (which is unsurprising if you have lived in London all of your life).

I don't need an outstanding school, just one that is reasonably alright, that my children have a likely chance of getting into and is within a reasonable distance of our house - walking distance would be nice. Given that we cannot afford a house within catchment of a school that meets that criteria, we are moving out.

Noobo Sun 25-Nov-12 15:35:59

Tricot the area I live in is red!! There are smatterings of green/blue fairly near and I think my younger child's school is within one, though 99% of the pupils come from the red bits.

Graven, I am sure there are activities everywhere but I think the range of activities and opportunities my kids are, and have been involved in, and which are within a short distance are only available in London.

Blu Sun 25-Nov-12 15:44:07

Tricot! I live in a tract of orange and red too. It isn't considered a fashionable or desirable area by many people, and yet it has excellent transport links, close to great parks, good primaries, good comps, I am v happy with our closest, would have been very happy with our next closest, had an option for a good nearby school which admits by lottery.
We could have made life stressful at secondary transition, by going for one of the super selectives within reach, a poster further down talks of Graveney and other schools which are actually miles apart, and once you start striving for the one place everyone is talking of and competing for, then it becomes both hard and complicated. And also not always worth the stress. There are comps which do almost as we'll as Graveney in terms of the top band, without the benefit of a highly selective intake, but the imperative to get into a super selective seems to take over for some people.

I have friends from high achieving mc families whose children are all doing extremely well in London comps which you never hear discussed as 'must get into' Schools. Haggerston, Lambeth Academy, Rutlish, Norbury Manor, Sydenham Girls, Prendergast, Harris Boys E Dulwich, Pimlico. Elmgreen, also Charter, Dunraven, Kingsdale.

It is difficult if you are in one of the 'black holes' or trapped in the centre of a load of genuinely bad schools. There are schools in our area that I would have been keen to avoid.

Sleepthief Sun 25-Nov-12 16:09:35

According to that map, though, I'm in a red/orange sea...

Xenia Sun 25-Nov-12 16:14:17

The map gets a bit confusing in outer London though as you get so many deprived then not deprived next to each other. Mine seems to be just about the least deprived in the whole country you can get but lots of very different bits near by.

I agree though that London whatever the school brings a lot more opportunities than if say you live in rural Cornwall and choice of schools too.

Pyrrah Sun 25-Nov-12 16:22:01

My area doesn't look too bad on the map - until you realise the most of the population are young 20-somethings who move as soon as they have kids. The reality in the schools is 60%+ FSM, so you can't totally go on maps like that.

One of the things we found helpful to find out about schools was to become governors. DH is deputy chair for an outstanding primary in another part of the borough, I was a governor for a local secondary school. The HTs at these schools are pretty clued up to the local areas and so could give us advice on which ones they would consider. It also gave us a huge insight into how schools work, how league tables and Ofsted reports work and of issues in schools.

You don't need a child to be a governor - and it isn't very time-consuming.

Some of the things I look at - along side the Oftsted are the scores for Value Added, the % getting Level 3 at KS1, the % getting Level 5 at KS2, and in the case of secondaries the range of subjects, the results and the exam boards they are using as well as the % of those going on to University.

I will admit that we are hoping that a new bi-lingual Free school does indeed open up in this area because we pretty much guaranteed a self-selecting cohort of parents and whatever the risks of having a new untried school, I considered signed-up interested aspirational parents to be one of the main reasons of children succeeding.

tricot39 Sun 25-Nov-12 19:59:44

i have to say that i am envy at all of you who live in red patches but with outstanding schools! that would make things a whole lot easier here! it is about 2 miles to our nearest patch of green. to me that doesnt really shout broad balanced intake to the local schools. if you are in the position where you have got good schools and like your area that is great, but i am not in such a great position. what do you suggest for my circumstances?

notcitrus Sun 25-Nov-12 20:09:24

I'm in a beigey bit, with green and brown within 50 yards and both turquoise and dark brown within about 300 yards! The nicer areas on the map are mainly semi-detached houses, and the redder ones terraces divided into flats and bedsits.
I have to admit that one thing I like about my area is lots of cheap stuff available, but easy access to posher areas for restaurants and special shopping - and secondary schools if need be.

Being in any city large enough for decent public transport means a lot more opportunities for work experience, part time jobs, etc. I grew up in a small town and after being turned down by all the supermarkets and takeaways etc I was pretty stuffed as a teenager - admittedly the main reason they turned me down was I was at boarding school so wouldn't be there for long. Ironically 15 years later they had to bus kids in from 20 miles away to be waitstaff in the restaurants - the economy means it's probably more like my youth again now.

Blu Sun 25-Nov-12 20:23:52

Tricot, if your neighbours kids in the 'not great but improving' schools are doing OK, why won't yours?

It doesn't sound as if you actually like where you live much, but up and coming can be a gold mine if you sit it out a bit. How old are your kids?

Edinburgh is a v expensive place to live, is it not?

Tbh things sound pretty good for you ATM, with part time working and a non cramped house. Could you consider moving within London to be closer to better comps and parks?

harrassedswlondonmum Sun 25-Nov-12 21:04:16

I think this is really hard. Neither DH nor I come from London. We don't have family here, but we have lived here for 21 years now. We never thought we would live here forever, let alone in this house, but time goes so fast and before you know it your children are in secondary school and it's too late to move away. Our eldest is now yr 11.

We live in a very green/blue area on the map. We love where we live and cannot fault it, but that also means we can't afford to buy a bigger house. We are lucky that we bought our house almost 15 years ago - we couldn't afford to buy it (even less rent one equivalent) now. Our children all went/go to the local good primary, but we decided to pay for secondary. Both the older two got into very good academic schools, and we are fortunate that was (just about) an option for us. We know plenty of people who have sent theirs to the local ok comp. As dd is year 11, we don't know the GCSE outcomes yet but I am sure most will do well. However, I do know a few people who have left said comp due to bullying, low levels of discipline etc.

If we weren't paying school fees we could afford a better house, but if we moved out of London we could live in an amazing place. But we are paying school fees, and we haven't moved out of London. My dd loves living here and wouldn't want to be anywhere else. I suppose I could do what Xenia says and get a stressful, senior, professional full time job the like of which I used to do - but I now work locally, school hours, term time for a fraction of the money and I know what I prefer!

If I had my time again would I still live here? I don't know. There are times when our house creaks at the seams and you ask yourself what you are doing, but on the other hand I know at least 4 families who moved away and then moved straight back!

RumBaaBaa Sun 25-Nov-12 22:27:44

Well, we left London for rural Cornwall. We have a far greater choice of schools within our reach for both our children (who have very different needs) here than we had in south London. State, grammar, independent and SN. The options are great whereas in London, because we are not church goers, and couldn't afford London day school fees, we'd probably have been left with a failing, overcrowded, cramped primary for DD and a long journey in London traffic for an SN school for DS.

Assumptions about the variety and quality of schooling in different areas of the country are dangerous. It's so localised and personal.

Gravenwithdiamonds Sun 25-Nov-12 22:50:17

I would never base a move completely on schools - as others have said, you've no idea what your local school is like til you've experienced it itself. My children go to the local 'rough' primary and it's fantastic and most of the hearsay I hear spouted about it by other parents at other schools is nonsense.

Saying that, I'm not keen on the London secondary system, ie, our local schools are a complicated mix of selective/non-selective, church/secular, single-sex/mixed schools/academies spread across 3 or 4 boroughs. We would have no idea where our children were going until we went through the application process. One of the reasons we're leaving is because the place we're going to has one local high school and linked primaries.

I love Edinburgh but the Scottish system is quite different to the English secondary system - would that influence your decision at all?

Noobo Mon 26-Nov-12 10:36:55

Tricot,
Your kids are still quite young by the sounds of it? The schools in my area have changed dramatically in the last 10, even 5 years. The schools I would not consider for my 16 year old a few years ago are now very sought after. My younger child attends a secondary that was notorious a few years ago and still is in some people's eyes - a rather posh mum of my acquaintance physically recoiled in shock when I told her where DD goes to school. It is a good school.

We also are in an area where a lot of people speak other languages at home and have free school meals etc - DD is in the top set and most of her friends are in one or both categories - it doesn't make a difference.

There is a minority at the school who are completely disengaged from education and not interested, but the school is robust on discipline and the classes are setted so that they cannot spoil things for the children who are there to learn.

My other dd goes to a super selective out of the local area. Academically one of the top schools in the country, with polite, motivated mainly middle class girls. However we have had to deal with bullying, bitchiness and resultant anxiety.

No school is perfect.

GreenBeer Mon 26-Nov-12 12:05:22

that link was fascinating, thanks Tricot. I live in a less deprived area than I thought - plus someone up thread mentioned our local primary as being OK so maybe I will stay in London until DD hits secondary school smile

In all seriousness though, I think it's a hard decision for any parent to make. My DH went to a very exclusive school and I went to a bog standard one. Granted he has two degrees and I have half of one...but I earn more than him so it does just go to show. Being well educated is all well and good and I hope my DC embrace it, but you also need a bit of drive yourself to get anywhere in life.

Xenia Mon 26-Nov-12 16:57:22

I suppose therefore as GB is the higher earner, would pay the school fees and is female it is likely GB will choose the school (is that right?) - I am making a lot of assumptions there.

GreenBeer Mon 26-Nov-12 17:09:59

Ah yes Xenia, you are making a lot of assumptions there. My DH and I will both make the decisions on where to send our DC to school, and the final say doesn't go to the one who earns the most, what a weird thing to assume!

I am in a different situation to most on this thread, as we will leave the country when we move out of London.

Xenia Mon 26-Nov-12 17:46:54

It is often said that in 80% of cases women determine schooling actually so I was just testing the theory. If it is the woman usually plus in your case you earn more perhaps even more likely you decide as in a sense it's your money that's spent on school fees or would be. Although sometimes it depends on who has the strongest views which can be issue if an female atheist marries a Jewish man etc.

There was a fascinating article in a weekend colour supplement this week about a man who married a Muslim lady in London and their son goes for an hour to the mosque after school every day where his grandfather works and how the white English father copes with in a sense his young son changing - either Times or Telegraph.

tricot39 Mon 26-Nov-12 20:38:15

Gosh so many points. sorry if i miss bits.

the local kids that i know have done well either were in the grammar or home ed! some coming through the local comp but it is still early days to know how it has been. there is also no 6th form which is a shame. i found role models at school quite inspiring.

the simplicity of the scottish system is what attracts me. also free uni fees! none of the english stress. if you live in catchment, you get a place. catchment maps are fixed and published. changes are widely consulted and infrequently made. having said that, the independence prospect is pretty unappealling so it is not all a bed of roses.

in relation to our current area, it is nice enough. one of its best features are its great transport links, proximity to central london and nearby green spaces. most streets are.tree lined but the high street is populated by bookies, pound and pawn shops. there are a few nice restaurants but limited local facilities. residents travel to other boroughs for typical uk high street chains, cinema, etc. a casual visitor might think that locals were engaged in a permanent festival of litter!

the area is changing a bit though. but with lots of young families leaving before or by mid primary there is a collective lack of confidence in the place. particularly the schools. In the last year 2 youths were separately killed running under busses to escape gangs. it is a worry.

thanks Noobo. i think i needed to hear that things might be different by the time we get there.

RCheshire Mon 26-Nov-12 22:46:06

We had this discussion 5 years ago. Slightly different from many of you as neither of us are from London (or even the South).

We've also lived in quite a few places between us (Lancashire, Derbyshire, Bristol, Surrey, Leeds, York, Manchester & London (Wandsworth & Clapham). The range of places we've called home perhaps means we've looser ties to any one location (geographical tarts!)

Staying in London as a family wasn't remotely appealing to either of us. I can understand why people do (even more so if that's where you're from/family is) and we have a couple of friends with children who've chosen to stay long-term (all for career reasons). We are both able to both work in many locations (although earning ~60% of what I could earn in the City) which helped.

I don't remember us having a single reason for not considering London. We hadn't got as far as thinking about schools, so I guess it was more about the space/garden we could afford, pollution, crime and simply wanting somewhere a little less densely populated/greener.

I certainly have don't believe there is a commonly held view that London schools = bad and rest of the country = good. There are certainly geographical pockets of exceptional schools in various areas of the country, but even if you moved just outside London, there are average/poor schools in Hertfordshire etc.

Each to their own and all that!

Gravenwithdiamonds Mon 26-Nov-12 22:57:43

Over-subscribed schools in Scotland are still over-subscribed, whether or not they are Scottish - my sister is in Scotland and has had issues with getting into primary schools at least so I would question slightly whether the system is that much simpler. They also start school a year later (which can affect childcare options if you work), plus you may want to consider Highers vs A-levels - not that one is better than the other, just different, with a potential impact on university choices. No fees is a very attractive prospect...

Xenia Tue 27-Nov-12 12:10:45

Children's ages matter too. I think it is rarely kind or wise to move teenagers even if they are still just 13 before GCSE as their friends are terribly important to them, more than their family so psychologically moves well before then are wise.

tricot39 Tue 27-Nov-12 22:10:35

Graven having Highers myself I don't have any particular concerns about transferability or uni applications. It is a bit of a non issue. We had checked out oversubscription in our target areas, so didn't have to worry about that too much. Notwithstanding your sister's problems, the vast majority of scottish kids get in to their catchment school. The schools are mainly local authority and there is one model of governance. Less choice = less stress. I find that very appealling. For me more choice = more stress - but with the added confounders that choice doesn't guarantee better provision, or that the choices are not actually available to all! Having said that tho, the difference in systems between the 2 countries is not going to be an overriding factor in our decision to move. It will come down to employment and job security. If a good job came up, we would probably go (for all the reasons above rather than just being about schools), but in the current climate, I can't say that this is looking terribly likely.

Which is why I started this thread. If we don't move to Scotland, and we can't do grammar or private, then what options are left to us? How do we make the best of schools rated "good" by Ofsted, but with average, or worse, results and high proportions of FSM and EASL. I am sure that these schools are far from failing, but I went to a comp with a similar profile and frankly it wasn't pleasant. There just was not a culture of learning for about the first 4 years. I really do not want the DC to have to suffer the same if they are keen and want to learn. Does it come down to how they manage discipline? and Limit disruption? Because my school was not great at that.

The good news today tho was that the annual Ofsted report scotched the idea that all London schools are terrible. Surprisingly it also revealed that teaching quality is unrelated to economic prosperity - Oxfordshire did not come out too well. Unfortunately the bad news is that my local authority is close to the bottom of the table for having a decent number of good, or better, primary schools. I am pretty sure that the situation is the same for the secondaries. Grrr.

We're Londoners. We have moved further out of the centre for better schools and more space, but still in easy commuting distance. Cannot imagine living anywhere else, so great to have so many options for the kids to do at weekends, and the older they get I think the more we will appreciate t5hat

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