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Danish family moving from USA to Surrey - Recommended areas?

(28 Posts)
cdk178 Mon 27-May-13 22:07:06


We are family of five who plan to move to Surrey next summer after having spent 10 years in the States. Before the move to the States, we lived in Loughton, Essex for 8 years. All my children were born in London but spent only a little of their childhood in Loughton. (my oldest daughter was 5 years old when we moved).

I would like to relocate to Surrey but need some advice with schools and recommended areas to live, as I am not so familiar with South West. A friend of mine used to live in Guildford and I absolutely loved the town for its qualities and village feel, easy transportation link to London, and the beautiful surrounding countryside. But I am open to areas with similar qualities. I would like to live in a place where we are less dependent on a car and be within walking distance to local shops. Safety is very important and I would like my oldest and eventually my other children to be able to walk or use public transportation.

My children are 15/13/11 years and we will rely on good State school and possible grammar schools with no religious affiliation. Both my son (13) and daughter (11) are doing very well in school and are taking classes at advanced level but my oldest daughter is struggling a little more academically but has great artistic talent.

Neither my husband nor I will depend on commuting to London for work but would like good transportation (train/tube) link to London.

Can you recommend areas with good State schools in Surrey?

Would it be enough time to register for school if we move in July/August into our future rental house, as my children do not finish school before the end of May in USA?

I am concern about effect the move will have on my children but feel in my heart that this the right move for my family. I tried for many years without success to make USA as my base and home. However, I have missed living in UK for a very long time and I have always felt it as the right place for my family to live and to be closer to our family in Europe.

farnhamflowerpot Tue 28-May-13 16:12:22

I live in Surrey, nearer Farnham than Guildford. I would recommend Farnham for its town; its about an hour from London by train, and has everything most people would need, and some rather nice architecture!

For schools, there's South Farnham and Weydon which are both good and regularly come top (or near) the league tables. For the Grammer, you have Guildford Grammer for Boys, and several good (but private) girls schools around (Guildford High, St Catherines in Bramley, Priorsfield near Godalming)

Hope that helps a bit

TheCampbells Tue 28-May-13 16:12:24

Hi there,
I can recommend Reigate and my daughter who is 13 goes to Reigate School (state) which is rated outstanding by ofsted.

lena6033 Thu 30-May-13 12:58:52

I am a Danish mum to a 2 year old and I have lived in Reigate for 10 years. I have a Danish friend who also lives in Reigate with her two kids aged 6 and 7.
Reigate has got great schools and a beautiful park with never ending sport activities taking place for kids and adults. We have a lovely high street with nice shops and restaurants and there is a direct train line to London (30 min) and Gatwick airport is a 10 min drive away. Reigate is very friendly and very safe and there are plenty of options to live within walking distance of both the town and the park.

Good luck with your move and do keep in touch should you move to the area.


LIZS Thu 30-May-13 15:28:32

Your 15yr old may find it a really difficult point to join a UK school. Most GCSE courses start in Year10, or before, which is the academic year in which they turn 15 (September to August) and I suspect she'll join at Year11 at the end of which exams are taken . You probably won't get much choice of school in the end so worth ringing Surrey County Council to discuss where may have vacancies in your dc's year groups although you can't apply until you have a confirmed local address (ie a signed lease). There are few state grammar schools in Surrey (Reigate Grammar, for example, is fee paying as is Royal Grammar in Guildford) and those are mainly in South London Boroughs. Good luck

cdk178 Mon 03-Jun-13 02:02:33

I really welcome your thoughts. I did some research on Reigate and it looks like a wonderful town to live and raise a family. We are going to visit Surrey this summer to look at the different areas and Reigate will definitely be on our list. However, my only concern is whether the Reigate School is oversubscribed and whether it will be difficult for my three children to get a place considering that we will not have a lease for a house before June due to our relocation situation. Do you know how tight the catchment area is? Do you plan to have your daughter attend Reigate Colllege for sixth form?. Thanks you so much for your input!

cdk178 Mon 03-Jun-13 02:30:10

Sorry all but I am new to this website and the message above was referred to "TheCampbells" smile

Bekabeech Mon 03-Jun-13 06:15:22

I would suggest that you contact the LA, moving a child of 15 into the English state school system will not be easy, as that is right in the middle of the exam years. If they are 16 before the end of August it will be easier as they can go into sixth form, although they may be required to do some GCSEs.
I think Guildford is a great place to live, the secondary schools range from very good to good, although their intakes vary quite a lot.

However I would strongly suggest you go to the Education boards on the main mumsnet site to investigate more on educational alternatives for your 15 year old.

cdk178 Tue 04-Jun-13 05:34:39

Thanks Bekabeech. I appreciate your thoughts and suggestion. And yes, I am mostly concern about my oldest daughter. She will finish freshman next summer (May 2014) - first year of high school in USA when she is 16 years old. I have only been exposed to primary school in UK so secondary school and sixth form is relative new to me. Please explain to me what LA stands for?

LIZS Tue 04-Jun-13 08:10:23

LA is local authority ie Surrey County Council. If your eldest will be 16 before August next year she would start 6th Form (Year12) in Sept 2014 which could be A level courses, BTEC, NVQ or similar vocational courses, IB or a combination. She could enter 6th form at a secondary school ie. Reigate School, a 6th form College such as Reigate College (which is particularly strong on art) or a Further Education college (such as NESCOT or East Surrey College), depending on which offers the type of courses and atmosphere which may interest her and whether she meets their entry requirements. For the latter 2 I think applications are made direct to the colleges itself , only schools go through LA . There is a lot of movement at 6th form entry so she wouldn't feel so unusual wherever she ended up.

Bekabeech Tue 04-Jun-13 09:38:39

For sixth rom you apply to the school directly not via the LA (Surrey). If you move to Guildford that could be: George Abbot, St Peter's, Godalming Sixth Form College, Guildford College (including Merrist Wood for "Outdoorsy" subjects) or Farborough College. It would be a much better time to move for her.

Helensita1 Tue 04-Jun-13 22:56:57

Hello there, I can recommend coming to live in Epsom. There are good schools here (check out Rosebery School for girls) and lots to do for families in town and the surrounding area. It's a friendly welcoming place. I'm the local Mumsnet Ambassador by the way so organise meet-ups for Mums every 4-6 weeks for coffee and a chat to get to know other Mums and swap ideas, tips and advice. Good luck with your move. Helen

ButtonBoo Thu 06-Jun-13 06:33:19

What about Godalming? A friend has just moved there and it's gorgeous. A lovely/pretty little town about 10 mins from Guildford but has enough to do for a Saturday stroll around the town without having to go into a big town/city like Guildford.

It's quite a quaint town with historic building. Great parks along the river. Great community spirit and lots of young families.

About 45 mins into London.

Bekabeech Thu 06-Jun-13 09:46:59

Sorry but I do find Guildford being called a "big town/city" very funny, only in Surrey!

ButtonBoo Thu 06-Jun-13 16:08:15

Indeed Beka

GTownGal Fri 07-Jun-13 20:44:43

George Abbot is a good state secondary school in Guildford which has great provision for creative subjects and sport as well as academic stuff. To be in the catchment area you are probably looking at Burpham or Merrow - good access to the A3, but it's a bit of a way from the train station.

Guildford County is quite a good school too. I have friends with kids there who are very happy with it. And Onslow Village is close to the mainline train station.

King's College/Manor (not sure what it's called these days as it's changed names a few times trying to escape a bit of a bad reputation) is traditionally the sink school for the area, but has recently developed links with George Abbot and they share an executive head. It serves the Stoughton area to the north of the town.

Best of luck with the move!

cdk178 Sat 08-Jun-13 06:11:08


Thank you so much for taking the time to guide and advice me. I have really been amazed by the support I have received through Mumsnet. It has been very encouraging.

Do anyone of you know if there is website that tells you the catchment area for each school? Or is it something I need to ask LA or the individual school?.

It is my understanding that it changes sometimes during the years and some schools have a smaller catchment area than others.

LIZS /Bekabeech I feel much better now for the adjustment of my oldest daughter. Thanks you!

Helensita1 I would prefer a mixed school since this is what my children have been used to. If they had started in a school for girls/boys, I think it would have been a different story. I saw that there was another excellent school for boys in Epsom (Glyn School) but my concern would be to be in a catchment area that would serve both schools. But I will definitely add Epsom on my list. Thanks Helen for the information and support. I hope to talk/meet you one day after my move.

ButtonBoo Thank you. Will add it to my list smile

GTownGal I have been researching secondary schools/sixth form and house rental and that this moment it seems that there is a greater availability of houses for rent in Guildford in the catchment area for George Abbott. However, that can all change and it also depends on our impression on the different towns in Surrey we will visit this summer. I really appreciate your input on Guildford County as well to keep more options open.

Bekabeech Sat 08-Jun-13 08:01:56

Surrey schools on the whole donor have fixed catchments. This is because it has a mobile population and is quite rural in parts. However if you live pretty close to a school you will probably get in.
After you have looked at areas you like post again and we can give more advice, for example if you fall in love with the villages East of Guildford (the Horsleys) there is an excellent school in that area.

LIZS Sat 08-Jun-13 08:06:01

Not all areas operate catchments, Reigate doesn't for example. Instead they prioritise based on distance to school as one of its criteria. Sometimes sibling link is ahead of this, so if one of your dc got a place then the other/s would move higher up a waiting list. Do bear in mind though that your dc would not have a free choice of school wherever you go as you will not be able to participate in the main secondary admissions procedure for entry at Year7. So you will be offered wherever relatively nearby has a place in their year group, as In Year applicants. Therefore catchments etc are largely irrelevant to your circumstances except for establishing position on a waiting list.

Bekabeech Sat 08-Jun-13 10:16:44

Sorry there was a word missing (I blame the iPad). "Surrey schools on the whole donor have fixed catchments. "
Should read : Surrey schools on the whole donor don't have fixed catchments.

Dededum Sun 09-Jun-13 16:40:13

My son is at Guildford County yr 7, it is half the size of George Abbott. I so far have been very impressed by the pastoral support and communication. It is a music school so if your kids are musical or want to learn an instrument great place. For instance they run a very successful boys choir. A new head starts in September who has a very good reputation. The area directly behind the station has some good family houses, closer to the A3 is university student land. Onslow Village, bit further from the station is a family area.

Dededum Sun 09-Jun-13 16:41:22

Guildford County has a sixth form as well, can recommend Godalming College.

cdk178 Mon 10-Jun-13 01:53:35

Bekabeech Thank you for being so helpful. We are visiting the Surrey area in the last week of July so I will definite post again with update for areas of preference after our visit. At this moment, I really like Guildford based on the choices of schools and because of my past experiences visiting the town.

LIZS Thank you for the clarification smile

Dededum It very nice to hear some personal feedback from Guildford County. My son plays viola and my youngest daughter is very involved with choir at her school so it definitely a big plus that the school is music orientated. Thank you so much!!

LIZS Mon 10-Jun-13 07:19:10

Unfortunately schools will have broken up by then so you may not be able to view them.

nonnative Tue 11-Jun-13 08:34:36

Hello! My husband has just got a job in Old Woking so we are moving up from Devon - have to organise everything in 6 weeks shock so I am beseeching all for suggestions and possible help in finding somewhere to live/ general advice about the area. We do not know the area at all -bar Camberely / Aldershot- oh is ex army but that was limited to getting drunk in those locations over a decade ago! We're looking initially to rent a two bed house (we have an 8month ds) as cheaply as possible near to where oh will work, which is Old Woking. However, if that area is dreadful, then we're willing to look up to a distance of about 10 miles from there.

And that's not even beginning to ask about childcare options for when I do find a job/ baby groups.. aargh! I'm not usually easily daunted, but I have to admit to being a little bit by this.

Thanks in advance grin

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