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Farnham or Winchester - which better for schools and living?

(37 Posts)
vanloadtovenice Fri 16-Jan-15 20:21:57

So, we need to relocate further south. We've narrowed it down to Farnham or Winchester - I know both pretty well as grew up nearby.

Would love any feedback on schools in South Farnham and near the station in Winchester. Also how friendly you find it - open or closed?

Coming from Oxford, which we love, but the state secondary schools are not very good really. Three children, so would need infant, junior and senior schools - help!

Thank you for any words of wisdom, am really stuck!

Bellsnwhistles Fri 16-Jan-15 20:49:39

South Farnham Junior School regularly tops the league tables I think. Houses in the catchment area are more expensive because of this. There are other good primary schools in Farnham too - not everyone likes the one that tops the league tables. Sorry I know nothing about Winchester schools.

eatyourveg Fri 16-Jan-15 20:54:56

Winchester definitely - schools nearest the station would be St Bedes and Western the latter is bigger and has the better reputation. I assume you are talking primary. A little further out you would get Weeke (Winnal and All Saints would be on my stay clear of list but may have changed a lot since I lived there) My choice would be to move out towards St Cross and go for St Faiths.

Secondary if you are in Fulflood (behind the station) you are within the catchment for Westgate. St Cross was in the Kings catchment years ago but I think the catchment changed recently

schoolclosed Fri 16-Jan-15 20:58:22

There's loads of stuff on here about Winchester schools. The difficulty is that the good ones are rather full. Close to the station the primary school catchments are St Bede, Western and Westgate All Through. Westgate only has years R and 1 and the senior school - they're filling up the new primary as they go along. Western took bulge years (and therefore has spaces) in Y1 and possibly Y2. If your infant child is in Y1 this may well be your best bet. Once the infant child is in, your junior child will be an in-catchment sibling and move up the list. The catchments are uber-complicated and over-lapping for the three schools I've named, so concentrate hard when house-hunting. St. Bede is fullest, by reputation, so I think you'd have to live on top of the school to stand a chance of getting high enough up the waiting list to get in. I've met parents who moved into St Bede catchment and waited years and never got a place.

All three senior schools are excellent and I reckon you could just pick the one which is first to offer you a space. Kings is the most popular (and it appeared on some dumb list about posh state schools, possibly in Tatler or some other twaddle).

schoolclosed Fri 16-Jan-15 21:01:06

eatyourveg is right. Avoid Winnall. There is something very odd going on down there. I wouldn't even try to get into St Faith's. You need to live in the same street as the school and go to church in St Faith's parish church for years (exaggerating slightly, but not much). And if you can't get into St Faith's the catchment school is Stanmore, which has a 'good' OFSTED but struggles with its results, and many middle-class people reject it for that reason.

schoolclosed Fri 16-Jan-15 21:02:05

Are you Catholic? St Peter's has a good rep and runs minibuses so location starts to matter less.

vanloadtovenice Fri 16-Jan-15 21:21:03

Not Catholic. Youngest currently in Reception. Prefer the general philosophy of Westgate to Kings, and understand results are similar?
Have heard Western good, do you know how the Westgate all through is doing? THanks so much!

TalkinPeace Fri 16-Jan-15 23:04:36

If I was in your shoes I'd choose a nice house and know that the catchment boundaries flex and none of the schools are too bad at primary and all of the secondaries are good and the 6th forms FAB

Sodasyphon Sat 17-Jan-15 00:30:34

Farnham is a lovely place to live and South Farnham School is great. My DS has settled really well at age 7, as have his friends from infant school. There is an infant department too, but you would be lucky to get a place on in year admissions. A feeder system operates for entry into South Farnham at 7. You need to live very close to the junior site (around 1km last year), and be in a feeder to gain a place. Weydon for secondary school has a great reputation. I understand it can be difficult to get in year places there too. Commute to Waterloo is around 55 mins.

schoolclosed Sat 17-Jan-15 14:31:53

No idea how the all through school is doing objectively. People are actively choosing it, though. And they seem to be recruiting staff with good reps from neighbouring schools.

I think all three Winchester secondaries are comparable - just pick the one with the philosophy you prefer. And then afterwards Peter Symonds will do a great job of prepping kids for uni if that's what you need.

You probably need to start talking to schools about spaces so you can make up your mind what to aim for.

ANewMein2015 Sat 17-Jan-15 14:34:55

I'd love to move to winchester but out of our price bracket! Fantastic schools smile

TalkinPeace Sat 17-Jan-15 15:17:28

You do not need to live in Winchester to access their schools - I saw the Kings School bus dropping off in Portswood, Southampton the other day.

The 6th form college buses cross the county like a drunken spider
from near here there are buses to Symonds, Barton, Tauntons, Totton, Fareham, Itchen
until Stagecoach viciously cut of public transport to the Test Valley villages
it is SO SO wrong that a private bus company can cut off ALL public transport to a village and there is nothing anybody can do about it

Lemonsole Sat 17-Jan-15 16:12:17

Some out of date advice here. St Faiths was undersubscribed this year, and advertised to fill its 20 place. Stanmore is full and, by the number of boards advertising its Christmas Fair on Sleeper's Hill, increasingly a successful school with a really good social mix. All Saints is also oversubscribed, and will have a PAN of 30 from Sept 2015, with two new classrooms to meet demand from throughout its whole catchment.

There are no bad schools here, but some are more socially mixed than others.

Lemonsole Sat 17-Jan-15 16:14:04

HCC are actually failing in their statutory duty here, Talkin. - they're meant to ensure that students can access post-16 education, by subsidies where needed. But that's another thread.

TalkinPeace Sat 17-Jan-15 17:08:17

HCC are fighting Stagecoach at the moment but there is no money for the subsidies, Stagecoach insist on running big buses and then complain that they are empty.
They play very hardball with user numbers - the latest shenanegins with the S46 is a case in point....
and councils are barred from laying on the buses themselves as that would be "anti-competitive"

Love the fact that kids from Sleepers Hill are now using Stanmore. smile

Shannaratiger Sat 17-Jan-15 17:14:49

My dc's go to Winnall, it is improving - confirmed by Ofsted. My friends moved to Stanmore year 3 is def. full.

Draylon Sat 17-Jan-15 20:38:25

Save yourself the in-catchment/out of catchment shenanigans in Winchester altogether and but a bit further west in either Thornden or Mountbatten's catchments. The vast majority of these school's catchment primaries are very good/excellent; the secondary schools themselves are very good. In terms of 'best in County', Thornden pips Kings; but that is neither here nor there. Personally, I chose (ready to move where necessary) Thornden over Kings as K felt like a grammar school to me, which is fine if your DC is in Top Set for everything. They are very 'set' oriented; but less 'fine' in Set B, C, D... Whereas Thornden effectively doesn't set yet has, to date, the best academic results in the county. Thornden's catchment is, however, vair MC!

Most academic sixth form heading DC from Kings, Thornden and Mountbatten go to Peter Symonds, but there are a wealth of alternatives around here. And you get a better house for your money away from Winchester, yet we are 7 miles/20 mins from Winchester station.

Tbh, I love the look and feel of Winchester but I struggle with the people. A lot of Londonesque entitlement; unearned wealth, bankers' bonus cash being thrown around, sahm smuggery, snobbery. At the middle to upper income level, it really is another London commuter suburb with one person (father!) leaving home at 6.20am every day, returning at 7.30pm to get to The Money in London. It's obviously a lifestyle choice and one that works for many, many families- I get that; but it wasn't for us so heading a tiny bit further west was the solution!

Lemonsole Sat 17-Jan-15 23:19:28

It's not aaaallll like that. wink

You can avoid the bits that are by watching closely to see where ex-Londoners tell their mates to move to. And then go somewhere else....

TalkinPeace Sat 17-Jan-15 23:23:27

TBH Draylon I have lots of local friends who live in and around Winchester and do not recognise your description.

BrendaBlackhead Sun 18-Jan-15 13:06:44

Winchester is increasingly an exile for South Londoners - they are the only ones who can afford the house prices. Most of the estate agents aggressively market the houses in London.

On a Saturday there are quite a few gruesome families swanning around - braying dads in weekend gear and massive double buggies blocking up the passage with that coffee shop in (can't remember name) that they think is the "in" place.

Otoh there are lots of different types - the intellectuals, hippies, country sorts (posh and not so posh) who still make the place interesting.

vanloadtovenice Sun 18-Jan-15 17:53:03

Oh gosh! We moved from London to Oxford ourselves, but are looking for a friendly open community with plenty of interesting sparky people - oxford is like this, quite international. My fear is that Winchester/ Farnham will be unfriendly and closed. I'm already sensing division! Please reassure if you can that newcomers are welcomed rather than avoided. I fear being isolated as a sahm, as have so many great friends I rely on here (some with amazing careers!).

Mintyy Sun 18-Jan-15 17:56:36

Are you really sure you want to live in Winchester? It is achingly middle class and up its own arse.

TalkinPeace Sun 18-Jan-15 17:57:41

you'll be fine
those in both areas who are welcoming snigger at those who are not IYSWIM

IHeartKingThistle Sun 18-Jan-15 18:04:20

Farnham is lovely but I live in North Farnham and we are definitely looked down on by South Farnham! I personally prefer the mix of people we have up here. I'm glad we moved here though.

I have a friend who moved to the road next to South Farnham school last year to get her DC in this year and didn't succeed as every place went to siblings of existing pupils.

VentaB Sun 18-Jan-15 21:44:27

Long essay:

I’ve lived in Winchester all my life, and I’m old enough to remember when it was all mostly fields around here. The thing about Winchester is that it’s always had intermittent influxes of new people, and they’ve been mostly middle-class. Mostly that’s been a good thing, because they’ve been sure of themselves enough to push for better community facilities. But, in the past, most of them also worked in Winchester.

Nowadays, people who work in Winchester often can’t afford to live here, and now there’s an influx of people who can afford to live here but only if they commute to their London jobs. Sure, they will be interested in schools, etc. But I think there’s a kind of growing disconnect between the people who are here during the day (and go home elsewhere) and the people who aren’t here during the day (but come home at night).

Certainly the road systems are under increasing pressure. This is a medieval city in origins, and the roads inside the city are only two vehicles wide. Driving from somewhere on the outskirts to somewhere else on the outskirts often can’t be done except by driving through the city itself.

Winchester has always been a small market town. We do have some entertainment facilities, but they’re all small, because if there was ever a space big enough to build something interesting, it’s used for building housing.

Like some other places, it doesn’t do well as a London commuter town. The kind of properties that London escapees want to buy are limited in supply, which will push the prices even higher. But Winchester doesn’t and can’t offer the London lifestyle, no matter the influx of upmarket restaurants.

I still love living in Winchester, and it does have good schools, etc, and I can walk into town, or get a train to London/Southampton/Oxford; but it’s not for the “intelligentsia” or the upper-class snobs, who we Wintonians always ignored anyway – those are the up-their-own-arses that Mintyy so lovingly described grin and who I can recognise from a mile away. The rest of us are mostly ordinary and mostly friendly.

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