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returning expat - getting into secondary after the cut off date

(12 Posts)
joochiat Sun 06-Jan-13 16:25:26

HI, has anyone had experience of getting kids a decent secondary school place just a few months before Year 7 starts? After 5 years overseas we have just been told we have to return to UK, this time to London. DH will work in Euston area; I was looking at Bucks, Harrow, Richmond areas for good secondary schools. WE've missed the Oct application date and we won't have a UK address anyway until June, needing to find a place for Sept!
I've been told my best chance is to rent as close as possible to a good school and hope....
So does anyone know of people who have done this late in the year and actually managed to get their kids into a reasonable state secondary?
We also have younger kids needing primary and nursery but thats another story.
Any advice most appreciated, its looking like a we have a stressful year ahead.

Copthallresident Mon 07-Jan-13 23:11:14

If Richmond is on your list then I have always found the advisors in the Education Department to be very honest and helpful. There are good and improving schools in the borough. The good schools are heavily oversubscribed and I would imagine your best hope is a last minute place, sometimes people prevaricating between state and private hang on to a place to the last minute (a high proportion of pupils in the borough are educated privately). Admissions arrangements changed this time from preference being given to linked primaries to distance, it has opened up the possibility of a place at the most desired schools to a much wider group so what the catchments will look like is uncertain. The council has invested a lot of money in three schools which were not previously popular and may well have spare capacity after the allocations process, you would need to decide for yourself whether you have faith in their improvement strategies.

We returned from abroad when DD1 was due to start Y7 moving back into our house at the start of Aug and since we couldn't apply before we moved back, and we were as we expected well down the waiting list for the local schools, both less than a mile away, when we did apply , we went private. A place did come up at one school three weeks into term, however that was a few years ago, and pressure on places has increased further.

Education strategy is a big issue in the borough, especially the pressure on school places. The New secondary schools for Richmond thread on here runs to 1000s of posts!

Copthallresident Mon 07-Jan-13 23:13:23

The pressure on primary places is if anything worse, though I think a thread of late appliers on here did all get sorted eventually

joochiat Tue 08-Jan-13 14:46:55

Thanks copthallresident...yes Richmond would be great but I get worried that its just too popular! I looked at the thread you mentioned but it seemed to be about the White Paper and the disadvantages to Catholic families - I think they've already done away with the linked primaries now anyway? So which are the three schools they've invested in - I tried to google but it wasn't obvious. Just looking through the Ofstead Orleans sounded nice. Teddington probably just too oversubscribed for us as late comers.
By the way is the noise from Heathrow really as bad as sometimes reported; I mean does it really affect your enjoyment of the area?
Other than that we're thinking of trying Bucks but probably not the grammars as that sounds like a lot of stress for a kid whose been enjoying the PYP (IB) for the past few years and never had to sit an exam before!!

Copthallresident Tue 08-Jan-13 23:16:26

You probably started at the beginning of the threads, there are 4 threads, 3 of a 1000 posts, so more recent posts have centred on the improving schools. In a nutshell Richmond Park and Twickenham Academies are the improving schools that may have places based on the way people made their preferences in the October admissions (those stats are on the latest thread somewhere). Both have new buildings and extensive investment (as has a third school Hampton Academy - not Hampton School next door, that is private -but that is likely to fill) Richmond Park on the face of it has the most improved GCSE results and the most impressive leadership team, as endorsed by Ofsted. However it has been least successful in persuading people to make it first preference and most likely to have places. I think that is partly that those people who moved to Sheen did so knowing that there wasn't a decent local state option and so there is a culture of finding other school options, also it is more affluent than Whitton, the community traditionally served by Twickenham Academy (confusing bit of rebranding!). Twickenham Academy had more first preferences but there is also a feeling amongst some parents that it's leadership team do not inspire as much confidence as RPA's, and scepticism about it's educational methods, or at least it's suitability for all children.

Orleans (the local school, with Waldegrave, we couldn't get into, it was at Orleans a place came up 3 weeks into term) is as oversubscribed as Teddington on first preference and the primary school in the east of it's catchment, serving East Twickenham and parts of Richmond Hill did not have links, so it is assumed there will be an increased pressure on places from applications from there. However you will find LBRUT the best source of advice because they ought to have an idea of how the preferences are going to translate into allocations, obviously those making RPA and TA lower preferences may have made unrealistic first preferences (quite a few for the Tiffin Grammars for instance) and end up taking places.

Airplane noise is worst over Sheen and Old Deer Park and Whitton which are under the flight path for planes landing in prevailing winds, but you get used to it. The rest of Richmond and Twickenham only gets noise when planes are taking off in this direction, and then only those whose flight path is in this direction. This only happens when the wind changes but annoyingly this tends to be when the weather is nice and you are outside / windows open! It is harder to get used to because they are sporadic. All the Royal Parks, river, historic buildings etc and general quality of life more than make up for it.

joochiat Wed 09-Jan-13 13:59:14

Thanks for all the fab information. I guess we'll just keep an eye on rentals that come up there. Not much else I can do until I'm in the country. But I really appreciate the background...

joochiat Wed 09-Jan-13 13:59:43

Thanks for all the fab information. I guess we'll just keep an eye on rentals that come up there. Not much else I can do until I'm in the country. But I really appreciate the background...

mummytime Thu 10-Jan-13 05:56:21

Also don't panic, I have known people get into good schools when moving at the end of year 6. Also do be prepared to appeal, you have a reasonable chance.

Amerryscot Thu 10-Jan-13 18:06:00

We moved from the USA when DS1 was about to enter Y7. I contacted the nearest school as soon as we knew about the move (April). They had a long waiting list despite being average-to-poor, and directed me to thr LEA. The person I spoke to said there weren't any places. When I queried this, he said there weren't any places we would want to go to.

We ended up with a place in the 13+ prep school in our town, to which we also sent our Y5 DS. After getting over the shock of paying school fees, it really was a blessing. Both boys settled in fabulously and were very happy there. They went onto an independent senior school.

After two years, I gave up being a SAHM (because I was becoming unproductive at home), so was able to earn enough to bring my DDs into the system.

DoodlesNoodles Sat 12-Jan-13 22:10:58

If I were you I would get a list of all the local Local Education Authorities in the areas you are looking and start phoning every single one of them. I would be prepared to phone them numerous times until you get the answers you need. Once I had some ideas of possible schools I would start researching the schools.
I had to do this in a different area (for three DCs). I got there eventually. Some LEA admissions people were great others couldn't have been any less helpful. We rented a house based on the school.

joochiat Thu 24-Jan-13 14:12:34

Thanks everyone..I think private is not an option, but we've indentified various areas/ schools/ Of course they're the same schools that everyone in those areas wants so they are very overdub. Maybe I'm just deluded but I intend to turn up in June, base my final decision upon which of the good schools has a suitable house for rent very close, rent it and then keep badgering the LEA. I hope it works...quite a lot of stress if we can't get a places anywhere good!

jimgodfrey Sat 15-Aug-15 17:30:24

Hi - I know this post hasn't been active for a while, but wondered if you had an update on how you got on? We are in a similar position - returning from the US for the start of secondary school for our eldest, but having to deal with unpredictable timings which mean we may miss the October date.

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