Looking for London suburbs with good state schools(124 Posts)
My husband and I are considering a move to London from the US with my company from the states. We would both be working in central London but want to find a commutable suburb with good state schools for our children ages 10 (boy) and 8 (girl). The company will not pay for schools so the American schools are out of the question. Our kids go to amazing state schools here in the US and private schools combined with the cost of living in London is out of the question. We also have a big rambunctous dog that makes the thought of living in a tiny flat unbearable! any ideas on lovely suburbs that are within 40 minutes of London with great non fee paying schools? It seems from reading threads on Mumsnet that most people do private/independent schools beyond primary no matter where they are living - that is unless their children are bright enough to get in to selective grammar schools.
Thanks Maydaychild. We would be moving in August and my son doesn't turn 10 until December so I think he would have one more year of primary, right?
Ealing - great transport connections (central line in your case, but also district, piccadilly and mainline station in case of problems) and great schools.
If you look beyond London you could consider Bishop's Stortford - several good schools, pleasant small town, 45 mins into Liverpool Street, 30 into Cambridge and next to Stansted airport (handy for weekend breaks on Ryanair!)
Just a warning re grammar schools, the test date for the local boys one where I (Richmond) is 27th September and you will need to register before that which you will need to do it before you move over here. I imagine other grammars around the country have entrance exams for 2013 around the same time?
If you are considering Bucks, then what about Herts. Rickmansworth, Chorleywood etc are on the Met Line, and don't have grammers (although many of the secondaries are part selective).
Telegraph Hill - London SE14. Aim to get something as close to Haberdasher's Aske's Hatcham Academy as you possibly can - by which I mean a few yards away from one of the buildings. The primary schools are all OK round there and Aske's is one of the best state comprehensives in London. However, if you don't live very close indeed, you won't get in. We live well under a mile away and didn't get a place for my son - a few years back, admittedly, but I don't think it's any easier now. Lewisham Education Admissions office could provide advice here. I've heard they're very helpful.
Works for Chancery Lane as you can walk down to Nunhead station and get a train to Blackfriars, City Thameslink or Farringdon (direct or one change) - total time on the train 15-20 minutes. Not too bad a service, I believe. Or you could work out a slightly more convoluted route (but probably very little longer in time) from New Cross Gate station, which is one stop from London Bridge by rail and also on the Overground line from Croydon, passing through Canada Water which means you can switch to the Jubilee line.
Hither Green, Greenwich or Brockley are good choices transport-wise but not for state secondary schools, unless I am misinformed?
Ruislip, Ickenham, Northwood or Pinner(London Borough Hillingdon/Harrow)
Excellent state schools and transport links.
The problem you will have is that even if you do move to an area with good state schools there may not be a primary place available in your immediate locality.
So I would agree on concentrating on being in the catchment for a good secondary. That means a comp which has a strong education for high achieving children (as you say your DS is doing well) but also supports all kids to do what they can do.
I would forget Grammar entrance - a tiny proportion of children in and around London attend grammar or private schools, they just take up a disproportionate amount of space on Mn. Largely due to the immense competition to get in.
London west hampstead area - 3 outstanding church primary school - New UCL Academy opening for 2012.
out of london there is a large american community in cobham/esher/weybridge if you are also looking for that....commuting into waterloo fast and not unreliable. Easy to get a bus over the bridge to Holborn onto Chancery Lane, about 10 mins and very regular. But as anywhere if you like the area and a school be sure of catchment areas.
The Kingston/Surbiton/Richmond area is also a possibility. There are regular trains into Waterloo that take 20-30 mins, and then a bus to either the top end or bottom end of Chancery Lane is about another 10 mins, or 15- 20 mins walking.
Richmond upon Thames has a lot of good state primary schools but less so for secondary schools (for boys anyway). Sevenoaks/Tunbridge Wells are commutable to London and have excellent grammar schools in the area.
But what if one of the children does not get into a grammar? What are the non-grammar options like?
I will echo what Calmingmiranda said about finding best secondary school you can.
You need to be moved, registered with a place at primary for you son and two weeks after he starts, he will sit 11+. And all of this in August when the council go to sleep.
I think with the best will in the world, this would be really tough.
If you really do want grammar though, you can get papers online for some preparation.
Bromley has slightly better secondaries than Bexley and Kent because their grammars are super selective 5% whereas Kent and Bexley are 20%. But don't live on the border! All the Bronley bright kids still leave for Bexley or Kent Grammar
Kent is full of grammars that cannot achieve what a good comp like Watford can. Have a look at Watford boys and girls, there is also a tube line nearby. Primary choices also look plentiful.
There are non-super-selectives aplenty that can't serve their allegedly clever pupils as well as good comps, but Kent comes to mind because of their recent expansion plans.
Top quartile always seems far too low a threshold for academic selection, but that is not the point of such grammars, is it?
The UCL academy intake is not based on results - run by university college london/ so excellent science facilities - each child will learn mandarin - art is run by slade school of art experts - if you live near enough you get in.
Hampstead which adjoins with hampstead has a large american community - most of which live her for a few years then go back to america.W
Worth looking at - also Emmanuel school right in the heart of west hampstead will have a brand new school opening september 2012 - they now take half church/half local into each year group - there are spaces in classes further up the school, so you kids would be able to go - oftsted had rated it as outstanding for a good few years.
West hampstead itself has a lovely atmosphere, shops, hairdressers, restaurants a green - has a village sort of atmosphere - everyone knows everyone, west hampstead jubilee line station - take you into bond street/baker street in about 10 mins.
West Hampstead may have some good state primary schools (although you need to attend church to get into Emmanuel), but unless things have changed, there are no good state secondary schools.
Bromley has some excellent primary and secondary schools (including Langley Schools, Beckenham; Hayes) and there is the chance of the two superb grammers (although as was mentioned above, most children are tutored to an inch of their lives to get in because they are so super selective).
As i said Emmanuel has changed it's intake - so they now have 15 church places and 15 local/non-church places/. And there is a brand new secondary school - UCL academy that is opening for september 2012 on finchley road.
Kingston and Sutton worth looking into if your child/children are bright and likely to get into the selective secondaries.
I wouldn't go for west hampstead either despite it being one of my favourite parts of London. Yes, there are 3 good primaries but the rest are not great and you would be taking a risk getting a place in any of them and you may not want a church school anyway. The UCL academy hasn't opened yet and may a) not be very good and b) is a new option amongst a lot of poor options and will most likely be very oversubscribed given there is no decent alternative. You will then feel that you need to move again or else under pressure to pay privately which is upwards of £5k a term in that area. Also, the gardens in west hampstead, assuming you can afford a house at around £1M for a 3 bed terrace are tiny if you have a dog.
I would go for Pinner, eastcote, ruislip, northwood area or for London borough of Barnet which has a wide choice of excellent state primary and secondaries.
Guildford is excellent, and Waterloo line isn't any worse than others (and a darn sight better than First Capital Connect from St Albans, IME). Money generally goes further in terms of house and garden the further out from London you go, but season ticket price and commuting time goes up. Agree with working out the best journey (always trying to ensure that there is an alternative if possible in case the main one fails) then seeing where that suggests to live.
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