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Desperately need advice - moving to London from Edinburgh

(31 Posts)
AuldReekie2017 Sat 11-Aug-18 23:10:29

Hello Darlings,
My first post here, so please bear with me.

Our family has been living in Edinburgh for the past decade and we've been raising our three kids here as well. Sadly, my husband recently lost his job in the financial sector and there's little hope of finding something similar in Scotland due to the ongoing trend (mergers/acquisitions leading to the job cuts). He's been exploring opportunities in London as the next best option, and was lucky enough to get a couple of solid offers.

As such, we started thinking about moving down south as a family, with housing and schooling emerging as two biggest concerns. I'll park the former for now, and focus my questions on schooling.

Everybody loves Edinburgh's independent schools, and that's indeed one of the greatest things about living there as a family. My three kids go to George Watson, and are starting in P6 (boy), P4 (boy) and P1 (girl). We're quite happy with the school and appreciate the fact that they go to the same place, i.e. co-ed. Both boys are doing really well academically, and were awarded "best pupil" awards in their classes last year.

We figured that upon moving to London will go down the independent root as well, even though it's notably pricier compared to Edinburgh's school fees. The obvious difficulty is finding the right school and, obviously, getting accepted. Whilst we'd much prefer co-ed with all 3 children going to the same school, we're opening up to the idea of separate schools as well.

After doing some research, the school that is coming on top of our list is Alleyn. It seems to be ticking all the boxes (good school, co-ed, academically strong), although I realize that getting there won't be easy. Our oldest boy can apply for the 11+ admission next year (2019/20), and our youngest can apply through the 9+ option, although, again, his chances would be slimmer due to smaller intake. The problem is that leaves our little girl hanging - she'll be 6 next year, and will have to wait another year before going through the 7+ program. That means she'll have to be somewhere just for a year which is less then ideal....

Another option we're looking at is Dulwich College for boys / JAGS for a girl, but that leaves the same problem open, as the girl will only be 6 next year (after finishing P1 in Edinburgh).

You can tell that we sort of like South-West, albeit we're open to moving to any other part of London if we manage to secure a good school arrangement. Hence we looked at some other options, like Ibbstock Place...

Long story short, I would really appreciate some help from this forum:

- What independent schools in London would you suggest us to consider?
- What other general advice could you give in our situation to minimize the disruption and ease the transition for all 3 children?

Thank you so much in advance!
Trust me, I've had enough sleeples nights thinking about our situation, so any advice you could give would be hugely appreciated

LIZS Sat 11-Aug-18 23:50:01

Aren't those schools SE London rather than SW? Emanuel might also be worth investigating and the Whitgift foundation schools in Croydon which offer 10+/11+/ 13+ entry. Prep schools which go up to 13 might be worth a look as an alternative , in order to get them all into same school. You could also look at gdst schools for your dd.

AuldReekie2017 Sun 12-Aug-18 18:07:07

Thanks for your response - see, I'm already getting lost in London even before moving...Of course, it's South East smile Appreciate your school recommendations as well.

sydenhamhiller Sun 12-Aug-18 22:55:42

Hi OP - I did my PGCE training up in Edinburgh, and my placement at GW's friendly rival GH! I live in SE London, and know the schools you've mentioned. I'll pm you.

CruCru Mon 13-Aug-18 09:40:34


Depending on where you are living, you could contact St Paul’s Cathedral School. It is co Ed and goes to 13 (although quite a few girls leave at 11). If you would be travelling into the City, the kids could be dropped off before work.

IceCreamFace Mon 13-Aug-18 23:28:15

Sydenham high GDST is lovely for a girl - particularly the junior department. Bishop Challoner has a nice reputation particularly for pastoral. Are you committed to living actually in London? For more school options you might want to consider commuting from Kent (excellent school in Sevenoaks) or further along the high speed line (Canterbury for example) obviously you'd get a lot more for your money housing wise and there are some excellent schools (St edmunds, Kings school, ashford prep).

AuldReekie2017 Tue 14-Aug-18 10:31:04

Thanks to everyone who either responded here or pm-ed me

AuldReekie2017 Tue 14-Aug-18 10:33:47

What schools in Kent would you recommend to look at? A couple of people suggested this option, so going to look deeper into this

wurzelburga Tue 14-Aug-18 10:47:42

Depending on how far out of London you want to be, Junior King‘s in Canterbury would probably suit and you would probably be able to get places for all your DC. Newish Head is also from Edinburgh I believe.
Most students go on to senior King’s but others move to Sevenoaks, Lancing, Kent grammars etc. You also have a boarding option if required. Not cheap for 3 children - but your housing costs would be much lower. Takes an hour on the high speed from Canterbury to London.

wurzelburga Tue 14-Aug-18 11:12:22

Otherwise I would second the advice to go for a London prep which will advise on the best choice of secondary and prepare your children. It is hard to get places at schools like Alleyns from outside London however bright your DC.
A 5- 13 prep would cater for all your DC. They always have places for boys at 11+ because some leave for other secondaries at that point. Since your other DC will be entering at non traditional points you may find it relatively easy to get occasional places for them.
I only know SW London. If that is where you are looking Newton Prep, the Eaton House Schools on Clapham Common and Northcote Lodge/Broomwood on Wandsworth Commonmight suit. Lots of City workers around there. I am assuming there will be nothing at Thomas‘ for the forseeable future because of the Royal Family effect.

PettsWoodParadise Tue 14-Aug-18 19:02:15

If considering SE London, perhaps slightly further out and more leafy part of Bromley. You could consider Bickley Park School for the boys which goes up to year nine i.e. aged 13 and for the girls Bromley high school whichh is very nearby and which goes all the way through from reception up to secondary. Bickley Park places boys at the like of Sevenoaks, Dulwich, Eltham College (another choice for your boys), Alleyns

IceCreamFace Wed 15-Aug-18 13:18:14

In terms of schools in Kent as PP mentioned King's is good prep school until 13 then transfer to the senior. There are also smaller prep schools (e.g. Lorendon or Spring grove that will prepare kids for both kent test for grammar and also private school entrance.). Tonrbidge school is very good but for boys only.

Waterdropsdown Wed 15-Aug-18 13:27:27

St Dunstans SE London (close to Alleyns) is co-ed all the way through from pre school to 18. We don’t have school age kids yet but lived in Dulwich for past 5 years so know the area and of the schools.
What’s your housing budget? Probably best to decide if it’s proper London you want to live in or have the commuter life then hone in on schools.

Waterdropsdown Wed 15-Aug-18 13:30:12

Lifestyle wise living in actual London is very different from commuter towns such as Sevenoaks. You probably should go visit and see what place suits you. Some people would turn their nose up at Sevenoaks/Kent while others would have the exact same reaction to zone2/3 SE/SW London.

KingscoteStaff Wed 15-Aug-18 14:04:47

Put all 3 at Newton Prep and trust their superb 2ndary advice.

NeedingCoffee Wed 15-Aug-18 14:10:14

If the London schools pressure is too much you could also consider living west of London on the new CrossRail route. Absolutely no issue with getting into good independent schools in most of those areas and much cheaper housing too.

marmaladecats Wed 15-Aug-18 14:24:36

Sorry no advice on schools but friends were in a similar boat and the husband commented to London by train/plane on a Sunday night, worked 3 days in town and then 2 days at home back in Edinburgh. It was meant to be a short term thing but he's been doing it a couple of years now and seems to work for them.

marmaladecats Wed 15-Aug-18 14:24:51

Commuted not commented...

howabout Wed 15-Aug-18 14:30:55

Was just coming on to say same thing as marmaladecats. The Edinburgh planes used to be full of City commuters and still seems to be quite common. I would wait and see if your DH can negotiate this if you are happy in Edinburgh rather than rushing to uproot.

AnotherNewt Fri 17-Aug-18 10:26:19

If you decide to live near Nappy Valley, then there could apply for all 3 DC to go to Newton Prep to start off with (it goes to 13, so that would provide a place for DC1 should the combined effects of the move and the change of school knock his 11+ performance a bit). Also, the head is former head of Dulwich College Junior school and her advice in suitability for the 3 schools in that group can be relied upon.

Although the Dulwich schools have SE postcodes they are easily reached by public bus or school coach service from quite a lot of SW London.

If you do decide to try Alleyns, then you can enquiry about an ad hoc place for DC3. There is no Admissions round, but if they have a vacancy (maybe a family moves away) then they would still seek to fill it. Be aware that the sibling policy is not terribly strong at these schools - each child needs to meet the entrance standard (but if near the cut off, it would count in their favour).

Other schools to look at would be the Harrodian (Barnes) or Ibstock (Putney).

Emanuel starts at year6, and is changing the way it handles Admissions because it was so oversubscribed (you now apply in a set window, and they no longer guarantee to interview every candidate). The new head came from KCS Wimbledon, and the rise in exams results is expected to continue.

Zodlebud Fri 17-Aug-18 18:36:16

We moved out of London when we had kids as the schools thing was so pressurised. We now live a 30 minute direct train into Euston in a town where, according to the estate agents, 90% of all house sales are people moving out of London.

There are some great co-ed preps in leafy Hertfordshire. Beechwood Park (3-13), Berkhamsted (3-18), Edge Grove (3-13). You’ll find pockets of places like this all around the M25. You might get exactly what you want if you are prepared to live just a little bit out of town.

My friend’s daughter got FIVE waitlist places at 11+ in the area of South London you are thinking about. Thankfully she got a place just before schools broke up for the summer, but it was the most stressful three months ever for her. There are plenty of great schools but they can be very picky - go into it with open eyes and you’ll be fine. Be unprepared and it can break you.

chemenger Fri 17-Aug-18 18:40:20

WILLIE - works in London, lives in Edinburgh, so common it has an acronym! My DH did it by train, first train of the day on Monday is full of commuters.

RicStar Fri 17-Aug-18 18:43:59

There are co-ed preps within shout of the dulwich schools Oakfield and Rosemead are two - might have spaces for your younger ones - less stress as Oakfield at least is not selective. Of course there are also many excellent state schools in Dulwich and neighbouring postcodes - so you could even potentially some cash. Dulwich will be much cheaper to buy or rent in than nappy valley proper in sw London.

WickedGoodDoge Fri 17-Aug-18 18:49:12

I was also going to suggest the commuting option. My DC are also at GWC and they would be far from alone at having a commuting parent- DH works for a consultancy and while he’s based in Edinburgh right now, this will likely change in the future.

Would your DH consider this, even short term?

RiverTam Fri 17-Aug-18 18:50:34

I know people who are sending their DC to St Dunstans and a friend’s DD didn’t get on at JAGS so has moved to Colfe instead.

A friend’s DC is at Alleyn’s, it is highly academic, she is down if she gets 85% as ‘everyone else got over 90’. She does enjoy it though.

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