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Where to move to from Islington for schools

(55 Posts)
RelocationHelp Sun 16-Dec-12 10:44:23

I have name changed for this as I may be recognised in real life from this post.

DH and I currently live in Islington. DS is 18mo so we have a little time before we need to be too concerned about schools. While I would be happy for DS to be educated through the state system, I'm not happy with the nearest state schools we would be allocated (high EAL, FSM, etc). I'm also not very happy with the private schools locally - Miss Gower seems to have a bad rep and The Children's House only goes up to age 7. I don't want to have to make the run up to Hampstead (or into the City for a school without outside space).

We want to move in the medium term so we figure we might as well take the plunge before school admissions start. I'm looking for inspiration as to where.

DH works in the City (Old Street) and I currently work in Westminster(although my offices are likely to relocated in the next 3-4 years probably to the City / Holborn). We both cycle around London, so would prefer to take a folding bike on a train and cycle at each end.

We are very fortunate to have a comfortable budget of about £1.5m.

We would primarily be moving for schools, and also to gain a bit more space and a bigger garden.

We would ideally like to live in an area with good state schools, but I am concerned about paying a premium for a good catchment area. I know there is no guarantee of a place when factors like siblings are taken into account and admissions criteria can change. We may well go down the independent school route, so would ideally like to live fairly close to some good ones.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Pyrrah Sun 16-Dec-12 11:07:24

Is it just the FSM and EAL that worries you about the state primaries? You are going to find that pretty much anywhere you go in London. What are the SATs results like at KS1 and KS2? Have you been to look round the schools? One of the best primaries in London has well above average for both.

It is a definite that you will pay a premium for a good catchment area- good schools are very high on most people's wishlists and house prices will reflect this.

RelocationHelp Sun 16-Dec-12 11:18:59

The ofsted report for our nearest school raises concerns about the ability of the school to stretch the more able children. Obviously I don't know how bright DS will be, but I hope he would be fairly bright. The school is very near the bottom of the league table in Islington.

I suppose my point about catchment areas is that we don't want to pay the very high premium to get into the catchment area of good state schools like Yerbury or in Muswell Hill in North London. We would prefer to use the money to pay for indepedent schooling.

Inclusionist Sun 16-Dec-12 11:27:55

Do you want to stay in London? If not then Windsor? On your budget you could afford to buy something from which you could walk into town which I would love! Windsor is fab!

Either (state) St Edwards First & Middle then Windsor Boys or (private) St Johns Beaumont/ Lambrook/ St Georges, Windsor/ Upton House then St George's Weybridge or boarding.

I have to say though, many of those school combinations involve you being ok with Catholicism! They are good schools though.

Inclusionist Sun 16-Dec-12 11:29:42

Upton House is girls btw- I was thinking if your DS ended up with siblings!

BadgerB Sun 16-Dec-12 11:31:43

Further out of London is probably the answer. Here in the Peak District £1.5 would practically buy a country estate with acres rather than just a garden. And schools both state and private, generally outstanding and not overcrowded. I do realise that it would perhaps be a commute too far though

breatheslowly Sun 16-Dec-12 11:32:20

Would you like to be near grammar schools? Chelmsford might suit for that and you DH's work location.

APMF Sun 16-Dec-12 11:43:38

The Harpenden/St Albans/Radlett area has some good state schools and is 15-30min into St Pancras. £1.4m will get you a very nice big house (by my standards :-) ). It also has some highly regarded private schools if that is your thing.

RelocationHelp Sun 16-Dec-12 11:52:53

Thanks all - this gives us a starting point. Unfortunately the Peak District would be a bit far for DH (much as we would just love it).

I'm hoping by moving out of London the schools process might be a bit less stressful, although I'm beginning to realise it is not necessarily the case.

We had thought about Hertfordshire but hadn't considered Windsor or Chelmsford. Off to google now.

Inclusionist Sun 16-Dec-12 12:01:23

For example, if you bought this, the Great Park would literally be your back garden!!

WoodRose Sun 16-Dec-12 12:23:57

Muswell Hill? Outstanding state private & secondary schools, lots of green space, gorgeous Edwardian Houses & close proximity to Ally Pally station (overground line direct to Old Street; goes to Finsbury Park where you can change on to the Piccadilly line for Holborn. £1.5 million will get you a very nice 4 or 5 bedroom in catchment for good schools.

breatheslowly Sun 16-Dec-12 12:25:07

I would be investigating all commutable Grammar school areas, this shows where they are. Obviously if you want a less stressful time of education then grammar school entrance wouldn't be a good idea. North London and up into Herts has a good range of independent schools.

Inclusionist Sun 16-Dec-12 12:31:49

I forgot to add that Hampton School has a bus from Windsor so there is a non-Catholic Senior option (we might go for this if DS does not want to board when the time comes).

RelocationHelp Sun 16-Dec-12 12:45:27

Breatheslowly - maybe Grammar school areas would be a good bet. That link is very helpful. It's difficult as we don't yet know how academic DS is likely to be.

We have looked round Muswell Hill and I did like it, but I think we would prefer to move out of London.

Inclusionist - that location would be incredible. Just what we are after! There is not much chance of the the Great Park being developed for housing...

Whirliwig72 Sun 16-Dec-12 12:49:01

Blackheath has good state primary schools - John Ball / Booklands as well as a good selection of private preps. Easy commute to Charing x, Victoria or London Bridge.

Inclusionist Sun 16-Dec-12 12:50:50

I know. I would buy that house in a heartbeat if I had 800k. The houses in the terrace have back garden gates that open onto the Long Walk. DH and I have looked at them wistfully many times whilst eating our sandwiches in the Park! Sadly, as a pair of Teachers, I don't think we'll ever be moving there!

Windsor is a great place for little folk.

I would say look carefully at individual Grammars. I live next door to one but we won't be using it. No facilities and the results are actually NOT that great.

JoanByers Sun 16-Dec-12 13:51:11

If you have £1.5m to spend on a house, you shouldn't be considering state schools.

Grammar schools get significantly inferior results in terms of Oxbridge etc. than the top private schools.

And if your DS turns out not to be grammar school material, then a good private school will get him much better grades than the local comp would.

The differences start at 4 and 5, so don't think that you should wait till 11, a prep school will have one teacher per 8 children and will be ensuring that all children leave Y1 able to read and write, and by the time you get to Y6 the difference in academic expectations/achievement will be large compared with state primary.

I would agree that you want to get well out of London. Lots of private schools in Surrey, about a third of all children in Surrey educated privately.

You can get an (old, but still a good starting point) Good Schools Guide here: for £1.98

Don't treat it as gospel, plenty of good schools not listed, especially at prep level, but it will give you some ideas to visit schools.

Prep schools that do boarding will tend to feed into boarding senior schools, such as Eton, whereas day prep schools will feed into local day schools, which you might prefer.

Worth noting that with two working parents a private school is likely to provide better child care options at no or nominal extra cost, so that may reduce the effective cost.

RelocationHelp Sun 16-Dec-12 14:33:19

JoanByers - thanks very much for your thoughts. I hadn't realised the differences were so stark between state and private schools.

I've ordered the Good Schools Guide you listed (I have an online subscription but find it hard to follow).

I think we don't want to go down the boarding school route, but DS might want this when he is older.

One thing that concerns me is my commute if we move out of London, but that's a whole separate issue!

Farewelltoarms Sun 16-Dec-12 16:16:09

JoanByers is expressing an opinion rather than gospel fact about just how far ahead private school pupils are. Success rates for applicants to City boys same for state as for private pupils. Plus my friend who teaches at St Pauls says if anything she finds those girls coming from state schools to have been slightly better taught and more intellectually curious.
But then I would say that as an Islington dweller with children at a state primary with high ESL and FSM...
Anyways... when my first was 18 months there was lots of earnest discussion about moving out of London, worrying about schools, wanting a kitchen that opened out directly into the garden (the latter was a near obsession). And some did move and some stayed, some went private, some went state. And do you know what, all the children seem to be doing really well and academically much of a muchness. Do move if you don't want to stay in London, but don't do it just for the schools. I have a friend who keeps bursting into tears every time she has a drink because she misses her children so much because of her new commute (near Sevenoaks). I'm not sure what school is worth both parents seeing their children for three less waking hours a day (this despite their much said mantra 'it's only 40 minutes on the train' - yes, and 15 minutes to the station etc, etc). She had also intended to scale back work but moving out of London has proved really expensive - nanny/cleaner/school fees exactly the same as in London; higher heating bills; need two cars; horrendous train fares; station parking. It's costing tens of thousands extra...

Welovecouscous Sun 16-Dec-12 16:28:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

JoanByers Sun 16-Dec-12 16:51:38

Need two cars? On what planet do a couple working in London and commuting by train need two cars?

Station parking is optional - get a bike (the OP has already stated that they want to cycle), live close to the station.

School fees are definitely on average cheaper outside of London. Childcare slightly lower too.

You can expect to fork out around an extra £5k/year on transport (for two), but tens of thousands extra is cloud cuckoo land.

It's true that kids from state primary do get into good senior private schools, but on the other hand you can't argue that at 18 private schools are a long way ahead - the best private schools send close to half to Oxbridge, while state schools struggle to get over 10%. Why? Probably because they have at least twice the annual budget of state schools.

£1.5 million buys you this (after 'modernisation') in what is practically Dalston:

Even in somewhere expensive like Walton-on-Thames, you can get a LOT of house for that money.

Or at the end of the Central Line:

JoanByers Sun 16-Dec-12 16:56:18

Ofsted Outstanding Schools are often very exclusive in terms of the size of catchment area and cost of moving within it.

I wouldn't assume you will mix with all types at such a school.

RelocationHelp Sun 16-Dec-12 17:03:15

I appreciate that this is a topic on which views are fairly polarised! We do want to move anyway, so simply want to time it before school starts.

Farewell - can I ask what Islington school your DC are at?

Couscous - how do you manage the commute from Herts and after school care? I only work part time but it is something we would need to think through carefully before taking the plunge.

I went to a fairly awful state school, in an area of economic deprivation (ex mining area). Although I did well academically and went on to study law at a good Russell Group university, I hated my school days. I was always bored, as I was not at at all stretched. From about age 10 I began to feel like a bit of an outcast because I was studious - academic achievement wasn't encouraged at any point. It got a million times worse at high school, where there was a lot of problems with drug abuse. I didn't have many friends and feel my confidence suffered for years afterwards. DH was privately educated and loved his schooldays.

We would like to avoid my experience for our DS.

Inclusionist Sun 16-Dec-12 17:49:06

It is a fair point that prep schools tend to have more built in childcare.

My DS is going to go to Lambrook (one of the schools I mentioned to you) and right from Reception he can (if necessary) be there from 7.30am - 6pm. To start off with that involves the school's own pre-prep after school club but in the upper years the school day just runs late and it is all 'proper' school (with a million hours of rugby a week grin ).

Some state schools have this degree of wrap around care, but tbh, not that many and the after school clubs are often run by external companies who may or may not be of the same quality as the school.

However, if you will regularly need care before 8am or after 6pm maybe an aupair would be the answer.

Farewelltoarms Sun 16-Dec-12 17:59:17

Hello I don't want to name my kids' school, but it's in South Islington has at least twice the national average FSM and EAL. And then probably about 100 times the national average of Oxbridge educated parents living in million pound plus houses, so it's pretty atypical in all regards. Certainly you wouldn't get anywhere like that outside a v urban area.
JoanByers, I agree why would anyone have two cars (we don't have any), but they drive to the station as it's quicker than biking and they're desperate to get home to their children as they have so little time with them. Then the (live-in) nanny needs a car to drive the children to school and back.
Also agree that the best private schools have amazing records of getting kids into Oxbridge, if that's your aim, but they are a breed apart from the majority of schools both private and state. My crummy private school struggled to get up to your 10% figure. And those best performing privates are mostly either boarding or in London.
Re. commute, I just think it's something that has to be examined very closely. There was some great research about how people have a mental block when it comes to weighing up the advantages of a bigger house vs a shorter commute. Everybody can see how nice it would be to have a large house and garden, but it's very difficult to 'feel' what you'd feel in that extra 30 minutes travel or whatever. I can't find it, but it's really interesting. I'm not saying it's wrong to move out, for lots of people it's absolutely the best thing that they ever decide. But I think it has to be researched very thoroughly including actually doing a dry run of the commute for a few mornings to see how long it really takes and how it feels.
As I say, I think moving out of London can be a brilliant move if it's something for the whole family, but not if it's only for the sake of education.

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