State schools(29 Posts)
Hi everyone, I'm a mother to 3 kids girl 14yrs and 2boys 11yrs and 2.7yrs. We will be moving to London in 3months and I'm searching for the best place with state schools. My work will be in Piccadilly and I don't mind living in the suburbs as long as there are good schools. I also need to know the difference between comprehensive, grammar and independent schools.
Comprehensive = mixed ability
Grammar = selective
Independent = got to pay for and cost goes from quite a lot to eye watering. Some are mixed ability some are selective.
You need to decide first of all whether you want to pay for private education or use state schools.
Selective schools. Appreciate if someone can help me understand the difference between these 4types of schools.
Well I think if I find good state schools I think I will go for this option
You mean to say that grammar schools are stronger in terms of education.
Comps- all types of students go here from genius to special needs. They cater for all (unless there is a severe special or medical need)
Grammar- students are tested and only the very able are admitted. Depending on the area you find different numbers of grammar schools available, different entry requirements, different standards of teaching.
Confusingly, the word "grammar" in the name of a school doesn't necessarily mean it is a grammar school. It may be a left over from earlier status, and the school now be either comprehensive or independent. I can't think of a comprehensive still called 'grammar' in London area, but there are several independents with 'grammar' in the name. It's abundantly clear from websites what sort of school you're looking at.
State schools have to follow their published entrance criteria; which will also be on the website. For in-year ad hoc admissions, your LEA will have to find you a state school if you apply for one, but it will be the nearest one with a space; not necessarily the school of your choice, though you can both appeal for a place or go on waiting list (in which case, how well you fit the usual criteria for entrance to the school will determine your position on the waiting list),
'Selective' schools are those which select on specific ability/potential for their intake (some state schools in London are partially selective, which means a mix of academic and ordinary community places). It is tested by exam in the run up to entry, and usually refers to academic ability, though there are also specialist performing arts etc.
Is your 11 year old in year 6 or 7?
There is an additional type of school - church. What religion, if any do you follow? If you are religious, would you be able to provide letters from your priest confirming regular observance for the last 2 years? If not then about a third of the most sought after schools are much more difficult to get into (as a generalisation - each religious school has its set of entrance rules).
Re selective schools, what level are your DC working at? If top of the class (and the 2 year old seeming reasonably well advanced) then maybe think selective, if more middling then you'll want an area with good comprehensives.
Ooh yes, when was 11 year old's birthday? - this is vital.
Muswell Hill - outstanding state primary & secondary schools. Fabulous family friendly place to live - lots of green space and lovely Edwardian housing stock. Plenty of children sit entrance exams for selective state grammars (Henrietta Barnett, Latimer, & QE Boys), but as these are "super selectives" - ie hugely difficult to get in to - they have a minimal impact on the intake of the local comprehensive schools. Muswell Hill doesn't have it's own station, but can get to Piccadilly via bus to Bounds Green (Piccadilly Line) or bus to Finsbury Park (Piccadily Line). Downside is that it is £££, albeit a bargain compared to neighbouring Highgate!
So Yr6 then. The Grammar and selective independent school exams have been sat already I think.
So he's 10 now, not 11? What's your housing budget?
You have unforunately missed the deadline for Year 6's to apply for a school place. The deadline was last October. This means you will be a late applicant for DS1, an in-year applicant for DD and your youngest will probably be looking for a nursery place (which is a bit different and probably more flexible).
Being a late / in-year applicant, your DD and DS1 can sit grammar school exams but will not be offered a place unless they pass the tests and a space comes up. Virtually all grammar schools will be full with people who applied on time (they are massively oversubscribed as a rule and not all children who pass and apply on time get offered a place). If they score very highly, it is possible they could get a place by jumping to the top of the waiting list with a very high score but this is a longshot and you'd need to sort out late tests with each school once you had moved.
Being a late applicant and in-year applicant also puts you behind all the rest in terms of popular state schools. They will all have allocated their places by the time you move. The best thing to do is decide which ones you prefer and then try to get to the top of their waiting lists by moving as close as possible to them (or submitting faith forms if faith not distance is their priority for admissions. Most state schools use distance but some use faith or other criteria so you'd need to check on each school website)
Being a late / in-year applicant for private schools is less of a problem. If they like your child and have a place, you can join at virtually any time. But you do have to pay and the fees around London can be very high.
Overall, once you have decided upon an area, you have to resign yourself that it may not be possible to get a school of your choosing straight away. The best you can do is move close to the schoosl you like to bump your waiting list position as high as possible and then be prepared perhaps to wait it out at a less popular school until a place becomes available.
You also have the option to appeal for a place which entails going before a panel to argue your case about why you want a particular school. Some appeals succeed but you normally need good reason or evidence to support your case.
Thank you so much for making things much clearer. But I need your advise as to which area in London could have the best schools. I have been surfing the Internet and I just got more confused. An advise would make a big difference.
Nermine, it's not just about which schools you like, more importantly at this late stage, is which schools are likely to be able to offer your DC a place in the school.
Or as tiggy says, you will need to accept that DC may not get a place and will have to go on a waiting list. Then until, and unless, a place becomes available they will have to attend a school that you have not chosen but is the only one with spaces. Unfortunately, thus could be at the local "sink" school.
Nermine, I think you assume that London is a city with some distinct areas with good schools. London is 32 different boroughs and all of them are mixed, with some areas in a borough having more good schools than others.
However, to reiterate what earlier posters have said, it's not about where there are good schools but about where there are good schools THAT your children can get into. For example, there are a number of very good Catholic schools, but if your children are not Catholic then they will have no chance of getting into them so they are not relevant for you. Similarly, at second level (starts September after child turns 11) there are grammar schools, which only take children that perform highly enough on an entrance exam, but unless your child is able to do the exam and perform highly enough to get in, they are not relevant for you.
For independent, i.e. fee-paying schools (and assume cost of minimum £12,500 per year per child for fee-paying school), location is only a case of how convenient it is to get from where you will live to the school. However, almost all state schools base admissions on distance, i.e. if more children look to get in than there are places, those nearest the school get admitted first (assuming also, in the case of a religious school, that they need the religious criteria).
Another poster has asked for your housing budget because obviously there may be areas of London that would simply not be affordable for you and that would also be ruled out.
There is a huge amount of knowledge on these boards and a huge willingness to help people, but there's no point in you asking again and again which areas have good schools, because it's not just as simple as that. The more information you can give the better people can advise you.
What is your housing budget and what is the length of time you are prepared to commute into work: 1/2 hour, 1hour, 11/2 hours. This will determine where can live and where your dc will attend school
On the upside, there's a lot of turnover in Central London, so if you can move extremely close to a large school you fancy within the next few months then the odds are high that someone who has a place will move or simply won't turn up on the first day of term to take their place, and if you are close enough to be top of the list then you will get that space.
But you do need to say what sort of school and what sort of area you want. Religion, mixed or single sex, and academics are the big three school issues.
Ok I got the point. I'm willing to commute from half an hour to 1hr to work and I'm looking for a 2 bed room apartment in a causy green area with a friendly neighborhood and I can afford paying upto 1.5k or maybe slightly more depending if I find a good school that requires to move closer to. I'm not looking for religious schools and I would prefer grammar schools. My kids are both currently studying at one of the sabis schools network which is a tough system and they are A graders and I would like to keep up the same level. They are also both athletes they are volleyball players each in his age group and I would also like them to play for their school or if their are any teams that they can join. I hope this info would help
Single sex and mixed schools are ok as well also depending on how good and disciplined the school is.
Nermine - the 11+ areas around London are: Sutton / Surrey borders, Kingston Upon Thames, Bexley and then the borders of Essex and Kent (I think that's all - I may have missed some as I don't know the other side of London so well).
For your money, you could certainly get a 2 bed apartment in most of those areas I am sure.
The chances of you getting a late grammar school place though are practically zero or very low. This isn't just because they are super competitive (many only take the top 2-10% of pupils) but because they will be full.
Thousands of children apply to them. Only 150ish get a place at each school and the waiting list can be hundreds long - full of children who easily passed the test but can't have a place because the school is too full for them. Any late comers will just be adding to this number of those waiting.
I know this is what you want but if you move to an 11+ area make sure that you are happy with the non-grammar schools nearby because this is most likely where you will be allocated, at least at first.
On the plus side, because grammar school places are so limited, it means that most comps have a grammar school stream and don't suffer from all the bright pupils going elsewhere. This may be less true in parts of Kent where they have more grammar places than London but in London certainly, most bright children don't end up at grammar as there isn't room for them all.
The top set in any comp will usually be on a par with the grammar school children, taught the same subjects and achieve the same grades. at GCSE and A Level. To give you an idea, it is perfectly possible for children from non-grammar schools to go to Oxford and Cambridge university later on.
Schools in Richmond and Kingston boroughs are considered good - areas such as Teddington, Richmond and Mortlake would be worth considering. There are grammars in Kingston which won't have places available but the alternatives are likely to be good. Your commute will be longer than an hour, though.
Here is a link to the latest Secondary League tables; you can browse by "local authority" which means London borough or county or city. I've put Sutton (south London) in as an example as it has grammar schools, comprehensives and an independent school. You can sort the tables to compare results in different categories, GCSEs etc. They give explanations for what they all mean! Good luck. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/special/education/school_tables/secondary/12/html/eng_maths_319.stm?compare=
Just to emphasise again - you won't get a place for your eldest at a grammar school because you have missed the application round and exams.
You probably won't get a place at any other very oversubscribed schools at this point either, because your application will be considered only after all the on-time applications have been received AND you don't have an address yet so your application will be REALLY late.
Best plan is probably to focus on a single, non-grammar school that is very good, and move in literally next door. That should put you top of the waiting list (as waiting lists are in priority order based on e.g, distance, not on when applied) and then you hope for movement before the start of the new academic year.
In the meantime, if there has been no movement, you take whatever place is offered, however bad the school, and keep on the waiting list for your preferred school.
OR you apply to a private (fee paying) school BUT you may well have missed application deadlines there too.
Sory, just realised it's your middle who is in the 'too late' band. You MIGHT get the 14 year old into a grammar as an in-year applicant sometime in the next couple of years IF they are brilliant AND you are prepared to sit on a waiting list for a long time (rules for in-year applicants to grammars vary from school to school - usually you take the exam and then sit in the waiting list at the priority given to youy by your test result, hence the need to be brilliant in order to come top of the waiting list and thus be able to take the next vacancy that arises). Again, living right next to a good comp (and I mean 20 yards away, not 0.5 miles) will maximise your admission-from-the-waiting-list changes.
And on a completely different note, are you really only looking for a two bed apartment? Are you going to share with your 14 year old? And your 11 and 2 year olds are going to share a room? It doesn't seem a happy mix.
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