Ashcombe school and good primaries in dorking

(24 Posts)
Crummymum Thu 28-Jun-12 10:50:34

Hi,
We are moving to Surrey to be nearer DH's new job. I've been doing some research on the internet and Ashcombe school looks excellent. Does anyone have any personal experience of this school they could share? It's very difficult to get a real feel just from the website.

Also can anyone recommend any good primaries in Dorking, which are also in the catchment area of Ashcombe school(though from what I can tell, the catchment area for Ashcombe is quite large?). I have two children and they will be in primary to start with but not long before oldest will be going to secondary school, so all a bit of a rush!

Thanks a lot of any information you can give smile

titchy Thu 28-Jun-12 13:43:52

Ashcombe still good afaik. Don't know about primaries in the area but catchment looks large because it serves the dorking villages - not very large population of kids in dorking itself.

Kez100 Thu 28-Jun-12 13:57:57

A friends children go to Ashcombe sixth form, having bee there for their GCSE years too, and have done very well indeed.

westcottcitizen Thu 28-Jun-12 14:11:44

Namechanged from my usual name.

I have 2 boys at Ashcombe (yrs 7 & 9) - very pleased with it. The catchment area varies greatly. I am in Westcott - village on A25 just outside Dorking. When applying for my first child we got a place at Ashcombe, but I know of other children further in to the village who didn't get a place. However, last year Priory was oversubscribed and I know of children in the village who were given Ashcombe instead. Once you have one child in, it is simple as sibling preference is given before distance to school.

Primaries - my boys went to village first school and then moved on to St. Martin's in Dorking in year 4. This has now changed as village school is now a full Primary school. I loved St. Martins - it had a bad Ofsted report this year. I think this was mainly because head was overall head of 2 primaries. Since bad report she is now just back to St. Martins and I'm sure she'll bring it back up. She is a fantastic, enthusiastic head teacher.

I have 2 children at Surrey Hills (Westcott) which I am very pleased with. Not sure about other primaries in Dorking. I never liked St Pauls - bit rigid for my liking. St Josephs is catholic, so I wouldn't have got a look in there - meant to be good. Powell Corderoy - I know of a few unhappy parents. Again, when looking for eldest I didn't like the head, but head has since changed. St John's is a bit out of town - used to be the school no-one wanted to go to.

PM if you want to know anything else. I love Dorking!

Crummymum Fri 29-Jun-12 10:14:37

Thanks to everyone who's replied. It's so encouraging to get such positive feedback on the school. I was looking through the newsletter archive last night and I was so impressed with all the cultural and musical activities and foreign language/ exchange trips. I really would like my children to go to a school where it's cool to learn (for want of a more cool way of putting it grin).

Thanks for the offer of Pming you, Westcott citizen. I might well do that a bit later or over the weekend, if that's ok. It might well be starting with 'what's Westcott like as a place to live?'. I don't know Dorking at all!

dorkingcockerel Fri 29-Jun-12 12:17:17

Have also namechanged for this. Dorking is a lovely place to live. Most people feel very fortunate with the choice of schools at primary and secondary.
I do not yet have children at Ashcombe but it has an excellent reputation and those who have children there seem very happy with it. After siblings, the first priority for entry is "nearest" school. So if you are moving to Dorking and want to ensure your children get into Ashcombe, I would buy a house to the East of Dorking, in Westhumble or in Brockham (Brockham is higher priority than the western side of Dorking town although people tend to get in from the western side of town anyway) . This year and September 2013 entry are low birth years so people will get in from further afield. However after that the birth rate rises and there are also new houses being built so I imagine there will be more pressure on places.
The primaries are:
St Pauls - C of E Aided, very good outdoor space, several newish classrooms and has new music and cookery rooms. Hall could be bigger but they can fit the whole school in for assembly. Very good academically and has a few male teachers (not always the case at primary level). Does well in inter school sports competitions. Often oversubscribed but you might strike lucky if your eldest is in a low birth year.
St Martin's - C of E but funded by LEA. Has a huge field and also does well for sport. Seems to be very good for languages and clubs and they keep chickens etc! Problems in KS2 at the moment after the recent Ofsted but will probably be a good school again within a year or so.
St Joseph's - strong academically and very catholic. Main drawback is the lack of outdoor space (has playground but no field) but people with children there seem very happy with it. Single form entry so good for those wanting a smaller school.
Powell - nice location at the edge of town with plenty of outdoor space. Not a church school so a good choice for those who don't want a church school or want a smaller school. Probably has fewer pushy parents than the three schools above!
Then there are the village schools.
North downs - used to have a fantastic head and was always oversubscribed. Have struggled to replace the old head who retired a few years ago. nevertheless it has great outdoor space and a swimming pool and is in a nice village so would be worth a look.
Surrey Hills - Head has a very good reputation and those with children there seem very happy with it. An unknown quantity in terms of KS2 Sats results as it has recently moved from an infants to all through school.

Good luck in your property and school search!

Crummymum Fri 29-Jun-12 18:49:25

Thank you for all that very helpful information, Dorking cockerel. I had been feeling quite daunted at the prospect of up-ing sticks and moving, but I've had such an enthusiastic, positive response from Dorking people on here, I'm beginning to feel really excited about it (though remind me of that in a few months' time grin!!!).

happygirly Sun 12-Aug-12 20:44:57

Hi all

Can I just hijack this thread with a question please? We are thinking of moving to Dorking next June (2013) and my eldest will be starting school in September.

Are primary schools in Dorking generally ok to get into or are they oversubscribed? We won't have an address in Surrey until June so presumbably won't be able to apply until then?

Thanks in advance!

dorkingcockerel Tue 14-Aug-12 16:09:02

You would give yourself a much better choice of primary schools if you move before the application deadline. Even if you apply at the normal time you may not get into your first choice. Is your child starting school this september or september 2013? Do you have a primary school in mind?

happygirly Sun 26-Aug-12 20:23:10

Hi we can't move before then unfortunately. DS1 starts school in September 2013. Not sure which school yet.

springrain Mon 27-Aug-12 01:02:09

happy

Primary applications have to be made by 15 January normally. You should apply at your old address so you have an on time application and also in case your move falls through (plus becuase if you obtain a place at a popular school then you have something your LA will want to reallocate so may be more interested in helping you).

Late applications that are due to house moves and other "valid reasons" are accepted up to 15 February, so if you were to have an offer accepted on a house before then you can change your application and still be treated as being on time. Or if this is still not possible at that stage, you can change your application after then but you will not be considered until after on time applications have been dealt with.

The policy that sets this out on SCC's website is here
SCC admissions coordination

Also the following doc shows actual offers of schools in Mole Valley for 2012 - so gives you an idea of where people lived and got in from this year. Several of the Dorking schools have faith based criteria, so if your child is baptised or you live in the correct parish they are higher priority. So it is important to know how this impacts you.

SCC 2012 Mole Valey Primary Allocations

I don't live in Dorking so no local knowledge but from the looks of things from SCC figures the schools in Dorking appear to be full at the initial application stage. However, if you do end up applying later than 15 Feb, if you do this before approx the end of April then the wait list will not have been allocated to yet. So you would join the wait list in the order of admissions priority, not based on the timing of your application. While the schools look full initially, most schools will have 1 or 2 families move/decide to go private so there will generally be 1 or more places allocated from the waiting list.

Your best chance if you are late in the process is to aim to live near (and meet the admissions criteria) of a larger school as the probability of a place being declined is higher there - so from the looks of things that would be St Paul's CoE as it is 2 form entry. The distance figure for this is for those living outside the parish - if you lived in the parish this year as a late applicant then you would be 1st on wait list.

One more thing you could do is to call SCC admissions team now. Explain you are thinking of moving to Dorking and will need a reception place and ask where there are still places available. Would give you a feel for what would have happened this year if you were a really late applicant, and so give you an idea of the worst case outcome.

happygirly Mon 27-Aug-12 20:35:32

Thanks springrain that is really helpful. We are in Hampton Hill now with great but very oversubscribed local primaries, but renting, hence our hands are tied with when we can move as we have signed a contract until next June. We were in Dorking again today and really like it, but it's all a bit daunting especially as where we live now is in a good spot for getting into the school we would want round here. Things are so bad here now (Richmond borough) that some people I know didn't get a school place at all for this year to begin with.

PollyField Tue 28-Aug-12 13:09:31

Priory School yet again beats Ashcombe for exam results. Rather shocked by the Ashcombe's A level results as only about 66% were grade C or above. Whereas at The Priory, they had 77%. The Ashcombe's GCSE results are not published yet, but The Priory's were pretty amazing, with about 66% getting Grade A-C, and if you don't include English or Maths, 96% of students got 5 or more Grade A-C GCSEs.
The Ashcombe is definitely losing its reputation for being the more successful school academically in Dorking.

As for primary schools, they vary greatly, but most are oversubscribed so you do need to be living as close as possible to the one you want to get in.

Best wishes

pinkladybird Fri 14-Sep-12 23:14:44

happygirly - we too are in Hampton Hill and considering move to Dorking. We love where we live but we can't afford a bigger place in our area. We have two DC school age and one pre-school so interested to read all the primary school details on this thread.

happygirly Fri 12-Oct-12 08:55:15

Hi pinkladybird, we've put our plans on hold for now. Would be interested to hear how you get on though!

milliecat Wed 20-Mar-13 21:52:55

Hi - we are just about to try and buy in Westcott, thinking that our children will get into Ashcombe no problem, but looking at these posts from 2012 it seems maybe not?? I rang Surrey LEA and they told me that last year everyone that applied putting Ashcombe as their first choice got in - does anyone know anything?? Our main motivation for moving is the secondary school, so to move and not get a place would be a bit of a disaster! Thank you!

westcottcitizen Thu 21-Mar-13 10:15:04

Namechanged to my alter ego!
milliecat - I live in Westcott and as far as I know, everyone got what they wanted in choices this year in the village.

Are you already living nearby? I have 2 younger children at the village school and they are very happy there.

Basically, there are 2 decent secondary schools in Dorking. We prefer Ashcombe - ds2 is musical and Priory don't have an orchestra (or didn't when we looked round a couple of years ago), so this was a deal breaker for him. Yes, Priory got slightly higher 5 A*-C results than Ashcombe last year - 65% to Ashcombe's 63%, but if you look at the English bacc statistics Priory only have 21% to Ashcombe's 47%.

holidaysrcoming Thu 21-Mar-13 10:22:56

how old are your dc? last year was a blip low birth year rate, and I know lots of children got into other local secondaries - Howard/George Abbot who would otherwise not get in. Next year (eg current yr 5) is a huge birth year.
Ring the local primaries and speak to their admissions officers they should have a good idea.

westcottcitizen Thu 21-Mar-13 10:25:43

I had no idea next year was a big birth year?! The year 5 at village school is quite small!

holidaysrcoming Thu 21-Mar-13 16:03:53

we were told it was ! maybe only mole valley/gford ?! certainly is at my local primaries. I've thought that maybe people got married in 2000 then had children in 2002 !!

Sallster Thu 21-Mar-13 16:15:42

I went to Ashcombe 1986 - 1988, it was definitely the best State School in Dorking at that time, and I would have stayed there had my parents not moved me to a Private Girls School in Reigate! I remember the music/drama dept was fab, our music teacher wrote his own musical based on the Prodigal Son and it was great. Sports not so strong, but i expect it's changed now!

I've since had 3 cousins go through (one is still there) and they are lovely, normal children with good all-round educations and social skills.

westcottcitizen Thu 21-Mar-13 17:08:17

holidays I'm sure you're right, I just hadn't realised. Thinking about it, the village school was still in transition to full primary and I think a few left worried about how it would turn out. Your reasoning sounds spot on.

newgirl68 Thu 21-Mar-13 17:41:25

Hi, we're thinking of ashcombe for our dd. Does anyone on here have children there now? Wondered what its like for sport, art & of course academics. Have heard its a good school but not from anyone who has kids actually there now!

muzzybee Thu 21-Mar-13 18:40:24

Milliecat - Ashcombe was undersubscribed last year due to very low birth year and possibly some people choosing the Priory instead. This year Ashcombe is oversubscribed but people from Westcott have still got in - look at Surrey county council website to see the distances for offers of places. The year group applying next year (yr 5) is definitely bigger than the current year 6 lot so it will be harder to get into Ashcombe in future years unless there are a large number who opt for the Priory instead. You will probably still get in from Westcott but those living in Dorking, Brockham and Westhumble will be higher up the list.

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