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

lalalonglegs Mon 19-Nov-12 20:20:19

tricot - please don't buy into the idea that staying in London is some form of child abuse. I have three young children, they have an amazing life in London, there is so much to do on their doorstep, they will have fantastic opportunities as they grow older in a fantastic city and they will have a great state education because, despite what everyone tells you, there are tons of good schools here and, as importantly, tons of neurotic concerned parents who will make sure as far as they can that the schools serve their children as best they can. If space isn't an issue, stay put. You can't beat London (unless you're planning to go to Newcastle - I visited in half term and am a bit smitten grin).

tricot39 Mon 19-Nov-12 22:03:46

Thanks lala!
With our plans to move (edinburgh is pretty special and is a lovely place to live) looking shaky we have come to the conclusion that it not be a disaster if we ended up staying. Trouble is in our area of east london the schools are not great. There can be no getting away from it. I went to an ok comp but dealing with those uninterested in school with low expectations was a bit grim. I was hoping to avoid putting the dc through the same. There are lots of interested/engaged parents but 75% not speaking english as a first language, 20% sen and 50% free school meals is difficult to feel calm about. Sure if the dcs are bright they will do ok. But i dont know if they are bright yet.......

lalalonglegs Mon 19-Nov-12 22:14:58

I went to a rubbish London school too (this was the 80s before league tables and things) but still ended up getting a First from a Russell Group university and working as a journalist on national papers for almost 20 years... I don't know which part of east London you are in or how old your children are but there are choices there and schools that improve start to attract a new cohort (the local sink school to us which I have always thought "over my dead body" is now doing really well and we went to look around it and were really impressed).

Still, Edinburgh. I would be tempted to move for Edinburgh. If you do move, I will happily house swap with you during the holidays so that I can spend much longer than I should at the Festival you can get regular summer fixes of London wink.

Blu Tue 20-Nov-12 09:44:52

How old are your children?

sparklechops Tue 20-Nov-12 11:05:58

Watching with interest as we are in the same quandry!

littlebirdy Tue 20-Nov-12 13:56:22

I have raised DS in London and most of my family still live here. There are all sorts of advantages - lots of free world-class museums, different clubs and activities which are easy to get to by tube, different cultures (important for us as DS is mixed heritage). I think we're lucky in particular because my siblings, parents and aunts live here - so we have lots of childcare available, nephews and nieces to visit, and it's easy to visit everyone.

We're also in an up and coming area. Crime is high, gangs are a reality, although there's also a mix of more educated types who are happy to live in ex-council flats for the convenience of central London life.

The schools and health authority were my biggest worry. Schools aren't a problem any more, since DS has SN and now goes to a private special school. Before that he went to a mainstream primary which was pretty poor, plus the demands on their budget meant they struggled to meet DS's SEN needs. (Though peversely that gave us the advantage in the end, because it was easier to prove DS a private school to be funded).

I am not sure I would do it all again. For me personally, it was very important to live in a vibrant, cultural area, and I think something inside me would die if I ever moved out to the provinces. I think if I had another dc, I would probably insist on moving to a good catchment within London, but then the cost of that would be very high, and those areas also tend to be a bit sleepier than my current dodgy gritty neighbourhood.

Blu Tue 20-Nov-12 14:55:39

London has worked and is working very well for us, and anyway it has to - we can't both get jobs anywhere lese and I don't want to spend time and money on the commuter schlepp when we both work.

We live in a relatively cheap gritty area, 'Outstanding' primary which was a really happy experience, a lovely friendly school, and exellent comp on our doorstep, great sense of community (we have a street party, I just took part in a 'yard sale' at the church and about 30 people said hello to me by name, people look out for each others children, great local park.

And we have easy access to a top NHS Foundation teaching hospital.

We do use the cultural offer in London and would miss that if we moved away.

I couldn't live in suburbia or commuterland.

We live in south London with DSs 6 and 8 attending local state primary. There are 3 reasonable comps nearby - private is unlikely to be an option. We are all very happy and have no plans to move out. I agree with others that London has a lot to offer. My relations in the country tend to drive far more than we do (realised recently that the car hadn't moved for 3 weeks!) so am not sure that the country is that much more healthy! All the boys activities are a bike ride away - whereas my SIL in the country drives up to 30 miles taking her kids to clubs and lessons etc after school. We don't have any family nearby.

Not many people in our circle are considering moving out, although clearly a lot have considered it at one stage or another.

HappyHippie Tue 20-Nov-12 17:28:28

IMHO the worst thing about London are not the schools... it's the distances, the crime, the public transport, the self-obsessed twenty somethings, the self-obsessed 30 somethings and 40 somethings, the adultification of children, and yes, of course, those tiny flats (unless you're rich), the pollution, the traffic, the crazy people, the exhausted workaholics (oh look, that's you! how else are you going to pay for anything bigger than a 1 bed flat?). And yes, then you got Dippy too, and Santa's Grotto and lots of things going on! But IMHO children don't need that. They need other children to play with, open spaces and they need time. Londoners don't seem to have much time for their kids. I hate this city (a little bit) but am scared of moving out. Apparently the rest of Britain is full of English people.

Signed: a (possibly, slightly) self-obsessed 30 something who's also a bit of a workaholic

tricot39 Tue 20-Nov-12 18:04:46

Ha ha there is a lot that i recognise in all your posts.

We are not near family. It is a pain. Crime and schooling are not great in our local area. Our area is terribly diverse but studies show that people are happiest when surrounded by people like them! We are well embedded in our local area and know lots of people after 12 years here.

Part of the attraction of staying here is that we can work part time and are not motgage slaves (not much anyway!) without time for the kids. Trouble is to move to a good catchment we would lose that flexibility. I would rather leave london altogether - it may not be our choice tho! - and i certainly do not want to spend ages commuting.

It would be good to hear from those who are at the secondary stage or tho. Also those who just went to the local comp which was average or worse.

irisjohnson Tue 20-Nov-12 18:13:41

The worst thing about staying in London is that when your children are in about yr 2 or 3 loads of their friends leave. But it's OK because most of those who are still around by secondary age are the hard core stayers.

Everything else about having children in London is great.

getagoldtoof Tue 20-Nov-12 19:34:35

Never realised there would be an 'avalanche' of people leaving London. If so i think they're mad. I grew up in London, and have had a great state education, have a masters and am in a professional job. The same goes for the majority of my friends from school, most of whom i still see often.

I live in south london, and would never move (except to the Caribbean, but that is a long way off). No other city can match my London. I hope your children love it as much as i do if you decide to stay.

I simply cannot see the positives of moving away. A bigger house provides space, but why do we all need so much space? We don't need to collect as many belongings as we do, and we can
learn to share space well. And as for spending time outdoors, i watch the seasons change as much as anyone else. I can access woods, parks and even the beach easily from my home on cheap and reliable public transport.

tricot39 Tue 20-Nov-12 20:28:00

getagold - i dont think that people who move are mad. They mostly didnt grow up in london and so have family and friends from all over. Without those roots there is a lot less reason to stay and is the way london has been in post industrial times - a good 100 years or so at least. You are lucky that the choice is easy for you.

I have been in london a long time. I know the good and the bad. I dont need to be convinced to stay. But i dont know about the state secondary schools. You turned out ok but how was the ride? How did you get on with fellow pupils? Were you scared of them? (i didnt. I was. I worked to get away. I also have a masters. I would prefer the dc to be able to work without the hassle of low achievers/expectations as that was a real drag.for me). Do you keep in touch with many school friends? How was that side of things?

BsshBossh Tue 20-Nov-12 22:01:07

We're happily raising our daughter in London despite DH and I being raised rurally. Very few of our friends here with DC in DD's primary want to move either but this is because the school is outstanding. We're Catholic so have a good choice of outstanding secondaries too later on. This has helped solidify our decision to stay.

getagoldtoof Tue 20-Nov-12 23:19:46

Yes, you're completely right. If my family weren't here, life would be much more difficult for me and my dh.

It is really hard for us to say how we would have experienced our childhoods in another setting, isn't it? So I went to a same-sex school and was scared of some of the girls. I moved schools within the borough and was a lot happier in a mixed setting (probably because it was a better school, too).

I keep in touch with many friends from the second school and some from the first. The ones who were in school on time, who were encouraged by their parents to work hard, who had support at home are genuinely doing well. One is a set designer for hollywood films, and one is a bar manager (and everything inbetween from nurse to artist.) Some others have struggled, although now in our mid-20s, most are sorted.

One of the main benefits to being brought up in London for me has been the ingrained ability to rub along with different people. I can have a conversation with anyone about anything, and often do. A lot of people i met while away at university did not have that skill so innate to all my pals from home. Looking back now, nothing shocked me. I think that cultural acceptance is a part of emotional intelligence.

I apologise for being hasty and not considering your situation, but the thought of anyone feeling a London upbringing is a second rate experience (i'm not saying you were saying this!) makes me sad. I struggled at times growing up, but that wasn't because of where I was. I am really happy being here now, and hope that if you do decide to stay, you feel happy and at peace with your decision.

For what it's worth, i have had this discussion with dh. He got involved with crime as a teen. We don't want the same for our son. But on the other hand, we don't feel anywhere can offer us what london does. We feel it is down to us, not our environment to safeguard him from making poor choices.

Good luck with making the decision/coming to terms with your decision. Its bloody hard work being a parent anywhere, thats for sure!

Gravenwithdiamonds Wed 21-Nov-12 15:14:28

We are leaving London because our house is too small (we can't afford a 4 bed here and we have 3 children). I crave space and really do think my family would benefit from a bigger house.

My children go to a fab primary here but the secondary options are very limited (wandsworth) and I just can't face the scramble for spaces, the assessments, the tramping round the open days etc. It's possible my three children could end up at three different schools, all miles away. I went to a rough state comp (in the north-east) and it was fine and i achieved well academically - we were all streamed etc but there wasn't the problem with truancy that our local schools here have (as local kids tend to go private so the comps take children from miles away, hence the poor attendance).

I think London is great for children in many ways but there are disadvantages and advantages to every place. The schools plus property prices means we will go. There has also been a flood of local families leaving in DD's year (year 4).

tricot39 Wed 21-Nov-12 19:03:22

This thread is doing nothing to shift the idea that there are probably not that many parents who just opt for the local comp if they think it is average or worse? Or is that just me?

Gravenwithdiamonds Wed 21-Nov-12 19:21:13

I'm not worried about a school that isn't great academically. But I don't want my children attending a school that is falling down, has no playing fields, is massively undersubscribed and has very high truancy rates. I also prefer a non-church school that is mixed, which rules out many of our local state schools.

Also, the kids in DD's class will be going to all different schools, for various reasons, so there's no link between her primary and the local secondary.

If it was just a question of schools, we would stay, but as we also can't afford a big enough house plus we want to move closer to family, these are strong inducements to go. But I do love London and think it's great for children in many ways!

lalalonglegs Wed 21-Nov-12 20:15:50

I think that might be the demographic on MN rather than a London thing, tricot.

Graven, I am in Wandsworth too - it's a big borough but I am over the Clapham Common end and I'm feeling quite confident about schools. I'm trying to work out where you are.

Blu Wed 21-Nov-12 20:58:13

Average comp fine by me. Better schools in my area of Lambeth than my brother can choose from in idyllic outdoor low-crime Norfolk. I'm not convinced that the choice of schools outside London is any less of a postcode lottery than it is in.

To be clear I think DS's school is probably a 'good comp', but we were happy to have 2 others on our list that were more average - to - good.

I don't live in a leafy expensive area, either.

Blu Wed 21-Nov-12 21:00:22

Ah - no playing fields at any of the schools on our list. But DS isn't a footballer, there are 3 games periods a week, he can do fencing, capoeira, boys dance, and a host of other sports, and enjoy some massive local parks after school and at weekends.

Gravenwithdiamonds Wed 21-Nov-12 22:09:35

Other end to you lala - border with Richmond (our closest school is in Richmond). Most people go private here which we won't ( and couldn't anyway).

True Blu - relatives also in local Norfolk and their local comp is not up to much but at least all the local children do go there so all the kids from primary go up together

tricot39 Wed 21-Nov-12 23:00:29

I'm not convinced that the choice of schools outside London is any less of a postcode lottery than it is in. Here. Here. Well apart from selected/expensive middle class ghettos where the balance is not upset by high enough incomes to go private, areas of deprivation or state grammars. Hhmm that doesnt leave many places to choose from!

Gravenwithdiamonds Wed 21-Nov-12 23:09:35

Though where we're moving too (small town) there is only one local high school. Likeise for where my sister and brother live - also small towns. Though perhaps that is unusual these days. Where we live, about 80% of parental chat seems to revolve around school places, private and state - another reason why we're leaving London.

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

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.

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


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

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

Gravenwithdiamonds Tue 27-Nov-12 22:31:00

I went to a comp that sounds similar to yoursme. As a very spoddy child, who was desperate to learn, what helped me was :
-streaming - all the academic subjects were streamed from year 7, which meant my classes were with like-minded children and discipline was less of an issue
-parents who were involved in my school (governors) and very strict re. school discipline and performance (I was expected to get As for effort in all subjects, they were not worried about academic performance so much)
-home environment that encouraged and supported learning etc eg, lots of books (not necessarily high-brow), parents who are interested in learning themselves and encouraged stuff like learning an instrument
-some excellent teachers with a real enthusiasm for their subjects - this directly influenced what subjects I did well in but is something you don't have much control over as a parent.

Coconutfeet Wed 28-Nov-12 11:18:38

Sorry I haven't had time to read the whole thread.

Tricot - You helped me a few months ago with recommendations for surveyors and you mentioned the area where you live. Not sure if your dcs are boys or girls, but my nieces both went to primary school in your area. They then went to the girls' school and thrived there socially and academically. They have both turned into well rounded young women.

crazyhead Wed 28-Nov-12 20:34:33

Interesting thread.

I went to an average comp like you tricot, without much culture of learning and not something I'd particularly want for my son. Although there are loads of people on this thread who actually did really well in an average school so perhaps we should have more confidence in the system!

However, my comp was in the Home Counties where I grew up, and what bugged me (and what I'd like to avoid for our boy) is how beige and boring a lot of the kids were - about one non-white kid in the whole school, hugely conservative. I really struggled with it.

The bad thing about London is that we all get very anxious and achieving a decent standard of living is getting harder all the time, but let's not forgot that the good side is that at least it is diverse and interesting, and a broader experience of life.

Also, my OH and I are really well educated, so I'm sort of assuming that having us around more because we aren't commuting is going to provide him with at least some educational benefit.

CarlingBlackMabel Wed 28-Nov-12 20:53:13

As far as I can see from the Ofsted league table, London's secondaries are 80% either Outstanding or Good, and London has the highest proportion of outstanding seocndaries in the country.

Bad teaching, and bad attitude would be a worry to me, but on the experience of our local schools I see neither a high level of FSM nor EASL as being factors to beware of per se.

Schools aren't (necessarily) the bear pits of our youth, and schools need their academic pupils to do wll, in these target dependent times.

If I were you I would make the decision on your lifestyle preferences and work prospects, not schools.

EldonAve Wed 28-Nov-12 21:01:28

our local secondary is "outstanding" but the staff do spend a good 30 mins every morning rounding up pupils from the high st

RCheshire Wed 28-Nov-12 21:13:41

Ofsted Outstanding only tells you so much. I've looked at a couple of 'outstanding' primaries which were highly rated largely because the outcomes wre great relative to the average child's entry capability.

However I'm not commenting on whether London schools are good or bad - I don't know.

shartsi Wed 28-Nov-12 21:32:19

I live in London and was worried about schools too. However a friend of mine told me something that really helped. She said that it did not matter which school her child attended because "any child of hers will excel academically because she will make sure of it. It will not matter how bad the school is but her input as a parent will make up for any shortcomings of the school.
I hope to do the same.

CarlingBlackMabel Wed 28-Nov-12 21:56:13

"I've looked at a couple of 'outstanding' primaries which were highly rated largely because the outcomes wre great relative to the average child's entry capability."

Well, exactly - that shows you that the standard of education is good. If they get good results but hardly make any progress relative to the child's entry capability it shows you that the parents are doing all the work!

Presumably a school that gets great outcomes relative to entry ability are offering that standard of education to ALL children and stretching high ability ones, too?

RCheshire Wed 28-Nov-12 22:01:47

No, what I meant was the outcomes ok to good in absolute terms, but great relative to starting points, so that doesn't tell you whether those starting at 'good' are going to reach 'excellent' at that school. They might well do, but the results didn't show that.

ellerman Wed 28-Nov-12 22:04:02

London is a great city, as is Paris, Tokyo, New York but the sheer effort of working (in a median waged job) to afford to live well with children in these cities is not worth it. I have lived in the south east but for me its no contest! Edinburgh is a wonderful city, free museums, you can walk everywhere, its cosmopolitan, beaches and countryside are less than 30 minutes away, the Scottish school system is less stressful. Over subscribing at primary school level is very very rare.....I wouldn't even worry about that. There is absolutely none of the angst I hear about regarding secondary school places, if you go to the primary within the catchment you get into the local secondary. People often chose to go to the local catholic secondary school rather than non-denominational as they often have better reputations. ( that's allowed!) .

Taking 5 Scottish Highers allows young people to study at depth and breadth rather than limit it 3 A levels. Good quality education at secondary and tertiary is well established here, and its free of tuition fees.

In fact it takes so long to travel across London, in the same St Andrews - all within 90 minutes or less, and you get to see the rest of Scotland.

You also miss out on the (daily or twice weekly) time with grandparents. I know of 2 sets of grandparents who have moved here from the SE and SW to be near growing GC.

Leave and breathe! Seriously I don't envy your decision, but when I lived in the SE I was astonished at people's myopic attitude towards the rest of the country, and almost shocking ignorance of the treasure that is Scotland!!

ellerman Wed 28-Nov-12 22:05:36

Sorry it should have said in the same time it takes to cross London you can see all the museums and cultural sights of Glasgow, Stirling , Perth, St Andrews

CarlingBlackMabel Wed 28-Nov-12 22:08:16

oh, I see, I think!

If you look at a school on the Dept of Education website tells you how many high, medium and low ability students are in each year, and how they perform (as a group, not individually) against entry level ability.

The overall average result tells you very little about the prospect for one individual child in a school, for better or for worse!

RCheshire Wed 28-Nov-12 22:09:44

Ha, very passionate ellerman. I worked for 18 months in Edinburgh (living in the New Town) and agree that it's the city I feel has the most going for it out of all those I've lived in/spent time in. Unlikely to be somewhere we'd ever consider for family reasons but I understand where you're coming from.

RCheshire Wed 28-Nov-12 22:14:45

CarlingBlackMabel, you've just reminded me about those DoE website pages, which I had looked at, but forgotten about! Thanks.

Yes, my only point really was that Ofsted Outstanding doesn't tell you everything in itself, but I suspect everyone knows that

To be honest I think most people (myself included) spend too much time comparing schools when deciding where to live. My OH went to a secondary which was the pride of the town. Within 12 months the head and several teachers had left, and it experienced a subsequent steady decline.

(of course if your school sees a pupil knifed every 6 months you might be right to think again...)

CarlingBlackMabel Wed 28-Nov-12 22:28:47

DS is in an outstanding secondary with the best results in our borough, but is not enjoying the teachers of his 2 favourite subjects, and is becoming disenchanted with them sad.
I went to a very academic private school and it took me 3 years at Uni to clear the stuffiness out of my mind and think creatively and bravely.

Where can you find the narrative about the provision in different councils - this new Ofsted report?

Woodlands Wed 28-Nov-12 22:31:37

Ooh Tricot I live in t1he same area as you, I think. We are just moving house within the same area so we are definitely settling in for at least primary age (our DS is 2).

tricot39 Thu 29-Nov-12 22:12:11

"Ofsted Outstanding only tells you so much. I've looked at a couple of 'outstanding' primaries which were highly rated largely because the outcomes wre great relative to the average child's entry capability."

Quite rcheshire. One of the schools we were looking at in Scotland had an inspection report that said that their teaching was good but not outstanding and that they did not do enough with their intake. Their results were 3 times the national average but the inspectors thought that the mc professional intake kids should be doing better!

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