Are Sutton/ Bexley Grammars 'do-able' from SE26?

(31 Posts)
sydenhamhiller Tue 17-Sep-13 22:27:05

I'm hoping some local MNers will take pity on me, as the secondary school issue is starting to turn me into a gibbering wreck. (I was super calm over the primary thing, what's the matter with me?)

We live in SE26, closer to the Victoria line than the London Bridge line. Our nearest state schools would be Forest Hill boys and Kingsdale. DS is achieving quite well at school and I had dismissed the Sutton/ Bexley grammars as too far away, but a couple of people have said "Oh, it's not that far..."

I travelled over an hour, 2 buses, in a brand new foreign country when I was 12, so I'm not super precious about this (I think). I know the grammar school issue really divides people, so I can't have this conversation in RL: if it's a reasonable commute to a grammar, and he got in, think DS would love it. But if it's nearly 1.5 hrs there, 1.5 hours back and 3 different buses/ trains, I'm not sure if it's worth that? Is it?

<Goes back to tfl.gov website>

legallady Tue 17-Sep-13 22:43:41

DS has just started at one of the Sutton grammar schools. So far we have met boys who come from as diverse places as Battersea, Walton on Thames and Hampton Court.

That said, I would seriously consider the length of the journey (which you obviously are!) My DS has what should be a relatively easy commute (10 mins in car to bus stop and then half hour on a direct bus). In the first week of school we have had the bus not turn up twice, we've had accidents in town centres causing buses to be on diversion and he's been late once and almost late twice.

Although I know things will settle down, I do wonder whether getting up at the crack of dawn and potentially having stress filled travel to school every morning is worth it? My DS could have gone to a perfectly decent comp ten minutes walk away but we decided the school would justify the travel. I really hope that that proves right in time, but I must say that I do envy the local children their lovely short journeys to school.

An hour and a half each way seems a very long time to me. All you then need is bad traffic or a missed connection and you may well then be looking at a two hour journey hmm

basildonbond Tue 17-Sep-13 22:54:31

No school, however fantastic, is worth that kind of commute IMO - how would your ds cope with homework, extra-curricular stuff/outside school clubs etc if he was having to deal with 3 hours of each day travelling? Not to mention the fact that his friends would come from all over the catchment area which could make socialising tricky

If I were you I'd either move if I thought my ds would definitely thrive in a grammar setting, look at the independent options and have a really good look at your local achools

longingforsomesleep Wed 18-Sep-13 05:42:04

Too far! We live 4 miles from our kids' school, on a direct bus route, and that seems too far to me at times! Apart from the issue of hauling heavy school bags, games kits, musical instruments etc backwards and forwards, it would make socialising with school friends really difficult.

My kids have got a few friends who live as far away as you do from the schools you are considering. However, they either get lifts every day or they live on a direct bus/train route.

sydenhamhiller Wed 18-Sep-13 07:42:20

Thanks all.

I feel guilty that we are not considering moving-- it just seems like such a wrench/ expense, we love being in London (no disrespect the 'burbs) and it's not like the local school are bad - 'good' with outstanding features. It could be a lot worse!

Back to the drawing board...

SubliminalMassaging Wed 18-Sep-13 07:48:20

Way too far! It's unfair to put that on a child. One missed connection and he could be catastrophically late and the school will not be remotely sympathetic if it keeps happening - which it will. Plus it will be very difficult for him to bond with his schoolmates if he cannot realisitically do things outside school hours with them due to travel constraints. Unfair all round.

SubliminalMassaging Wed 18-Sep-13 07:49:05

It's not the time or the distance so much but the convoluted journey that makes it totally unworkable.

VestaCurry Wed 18-Sep-13 07:52:15

Could you do the move though? The travel time does need to be sensible and so many people decide moving out of London is the only way to do it. If you are thinking of moving, check the admissions policy of the schools you are interested in. Some will now only consider your application if you have been resident in their catchment area for well over a year.

PimmsOclockisNow Wed 18-Sep-13 08:14:18

The other option is the grammar school Croydon way I think St Olaves. Apologies if that's wrong. Train I think is 40 mins to Orpington and then 10 mins walk. Lots of kids on the train. The other one is to look in London itself.

longingforsomesleep Wed 18-Sep-13 09:44:25

St Olave's is super-selective and the OP's ds would probably have to be achieving more than "quite well" at school to get in. There's a very rigorous entrance exam for which most applicants are heavily coached.

I'm starting to come out the other end of the secondary system with my kids and grammar schools aren't the be all and end all. Certainly not worth moving house for! I think success is very much more to do with the individual than the school. My eldest, for example, went to a grammar school. He's very intelligent but wasn't interested, never applied himself and has left at 18 with mediocre GCSE and poor A Level results. His girlfriend didn't pass the eleven plus and has just left school with straight A*, A*, A at A level. The difference is she is organised, disciplined, proactive, independent etc - DS isn't!

The other crucial ingredient is parental involvement and support. Take an interest in what your ds is doing at school, support him wherever you can, encourage him to take up extra curricular activities (esp sport and music) and make sure you know who his friends are!

sydenhamhiller Wed 18-Sep-13 12:34:23

longingforsleep thanks for that-- that is how I feel, but feel guilty when all these people move house for their kids, and I'm not!

Especially when our local schools are absolutely fine. DS is level 5 (at end of Year 4), so perhaps naively I think he might be 'grammar school material' <sound like my father>. But he is very conscientious and I don't want him to be in too pressurised an environment, I just want him not to get stick for being 'geek' and 'know-it-all' anymore.

Ah this parenting malarkey...

gazzalw Wed 18-Sep-13 12:50:33

Hi, DS is at one of the Sutton super-selectives and although we live just over the border in a neighbouring borough, the journey (door to door) takes him an hour each way. That is long enough methinks and that's assuming there's not some type of accident on the road-route of the bus/roadworks or some type of flooding...

He did have his heart set on one of the others in Sutton Borough but thankfully was talked out of that one: it would have meant a two-bus journey - the more parts to a school-run journey the more room there is for major delays etc....Even he admits that a longer journey would have been beyond him for the entirety of secondary school!

Some of DS's friends do live very close the school and he does sometimes envy them.

I think you also have to think about the logistics, as a parent, of attending school-related functions. We are one of that rare car-free breed. Even though DS's school is only one bus journey away, it's far enough. Yes, you might have a car but many school functions coincide with the tail-end of the rush hour and it can be time consuming with all the travel-time...

I wouldn't feel guilty or as if you are short-changing your DS by not moving. I think it's a huge pressure to put on children quite aside from being costly!

Good luck with your decision making though....

tiredaftertwo Wed 18-Sep-13 14:09:18

I too think an hour is the maximum - and then it should be a straightforward journey. I can't tell from your post whether you have worked out the journeys from where you live? The times can be surprising if you are on fast train lines. And I think one bus ride lasting 45 mins with a short walk either end is quite different from managing changes or busy stations. Have a good look around at all the selectives and sit down with a train map.

Assuming it is not do-able - if you put mostly your local schools down, and one of the grammars, and he got in - would you consider moving then (even if only to be on a good train line)? If not, I'd scrub them and focus on options that are do-able, will mean he can participate and contribute and you can all enjoy school events.

IMO, journey is a major factor - I would only want my dc doing a long one if the school was much better - both academically and pastorally. A lot of the factors that affect secondary schooling are more to do with hormones, subject choices, friends etc, common to all schools (or at least you can't tell in advance which school will work best).

Also, look hard at the local schools and their setting policies - if what you want is for him to be taught in an academically ambitious environment with other clever kids, then the top set or stream of your local school may be just that - the stats overall will be worse but the kids in that group may be doing as well/having as much fun as the GS children.

motherinferior Wed 18-Sep-13 14:14:08

FHill Boys is fine. (So is Kingsdale, but I know FHB better.)

BanoffeeSplitz Wed 18-Sep-13 14:28:21

"But he is very conscientious and I don't want him to be in too pressurised an environment, I just want him not to get stick for being 'geek' and 'know-it-all' anymore.

Ah this parenting malarkey..."

Don't necessarily stop looking at grammars, but that sounds like he would be fine somewhere like Kingsdale (or by the sounds of it Forest Hill though no personal experience).

motherinferior Wed 18-Sep-13 14:37:11

There are some extremely bright, able boys I know who've gone there...

MrsSchadenfreude Wed 18-Sep-13 14:45:55

That's an awful journey. I wouldn't do it, or inflict it on my DC. My DC's last school had a coach journey of 45 minutes, which was fine until they had after school activities, and didn't get home until 6.30 or 7.00. My friend's daughter went to one of the Surrey super selectives - she scraped a place, really struggled, hated it and left after GCSE to do 6th form elsewhere. I don't think she did any better in her GCSEs than she would have done had she gone to any another school.

motherinferior Wed 18-Sep-13 15:01:18

The other thing is - and this is something that was flagged up to me when I briefly thought about DD1 applying - is that not only do you have that journey but your friends are really far-flung. Whereas if you go to a local school you are able to engage in the time-honoured pursuits of Getting Home On The Bus, Hanging Around Faintly Pointlessly On The Way and - in the case of FHB, which finishes early on a Friday - Loitering Around In The Hope Of Meeting Girls.

Blu Wed 18-Sep-13 15:02:56

Longing: The Sutton grammars are also super selectives.

Marmitelover55 Wed 18-Sep-13 15:19:14

I did a long commute to and from school between the ages of 12-15. There was a 5 minute car ride to get to the train station, an hour on the train and then a 20 minute walk from the station to the school. I hated it. In fact the return journey was worse as school finished at 3.55pm and the train left at 4.12pm, which meant I had to run with all of my stuff. If i missed this train there was a later ond at 4.32, but this involved changing, which I didn't like. I did do homework on the train which helped and some girls would be on the same train part of the way, but I was alone for a while.

My DD1 has just started at secondary school and I am so pleased that she only has a 20 minute walk which she does with friends.

NynaevesSister Wed 18-Sep-13 16:17:30

I don't know about FHB but while Kingsdale might be a close school to you it doesn't make any difference. Anyone at all can apply, then all names go in a hat and are chosen at random. There are 10% of places allocated to those gifted in particular areas but competition is fierce.

So if those are the only two schools close to you that you would consider I think you are making the right choice casting the net wider for your other four choices.

Bumblequeen Thu 19-Sep-13 14:11:22

Anything more than an hour is too far for an 11 year old.

I agree that when you are taking two to three modes of transport and there are delays, it throws your whole journey.

Also agree that it makes socialising challenging as school friends do not live locally.

Dd's preschool was in between home and work. All birthday parties were at least a 30-40 minute drive. I am so pleased she now attends school within 5 mins drive of home.

gazzalw Sat 21-Sep-13 08:02:54

I agree about friends not being close - DS has friends who live as far away as Woking....

Ladymuck Sat 21-Sep-13 08:11:53

It's the Sutton selective eligibility test today.

They're expecting approx 3,000 boys to sit in 5 locations. There are approx 1,000 year 6 boys in the borough of Sutton, fewer in Kingston, probably a few more in Croydon. But, assuming not every single year 6 boy is sitting, it is safe to assume that many will be coming some distance!

gazzalw Sat 21-Sep-13 10:09:10

Oh I think you'll find plenty come from West London/Berkshire/Harrow and as far away in a more southerly direction too...

I am not sure what I think of this two tier test.....It's a bit of a 'one bite at the cherry'/all-or-nothing approach....If your DS is having a bad day today he will be well and truly 'stuffed'....

Good luck to anyone whose DS is doing the test today.....!

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