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Beaconsfield/Gerrards Cross (Davenies / Thorpe / Gayhurst / state schools? etc??)

(21 Posts)
kpauley Mon 24-Apr-17 10:46:09

Hello and thanks in advance for any advice. We currently live in London (Portobello Road area; not the posh Notting Hill bit) and have been here for 6 years and don't even have a car (will actually need to sort out getting a license; had one in the US but it doesn't transfer here -- I've never driven over here, so that will be an adjustment).

Anyway, husband now works out in Bourne End and has been commuting a 1.5 hours each way so we are looking at moving out (which, to be honest, is stressing me out as I really love London and the walking and the markets, so it is very important to me to be an easy/quick train ride back in, which seems to indicate either Beaconsfield, Gerrards Cross or High Wycombe). I'm an author for children/teens and usually spend my days with my writing / crit group at the British Library or out at cafes. Stereotypical sounding, yes, I know, but I never get much writing done at home as there's always laundry...

Son currently goes to a mixed private school here in London that offers loads of extracurriculars though the facilities are lacking (it's London, after all). He is in year 4 now. He loves swimming and fencing and cricket, not so much football.

From what I've read, it would be hard to get him into one of the good state schools for September? Is that right? So I'm looking at the independent schools like Davenies, Gayhurst, Thorpe House. For state schools, maybe St. Mary & All Saints in Beaconsfield or Gerrard's Cross C of E? (we're not very religious at all, so I would also love to hear how heavily religious they are). Honestly, I just want him to have an easy transition as possible if we do this. He loves his current school. Any advice on schools at all? He's not a particularly sporty kid, but he does enjoy sports. He's very into computers.

Also any advice on areas / neighbourhoods? I really prefer walking but know that I'll have to buckle down and drive at least some of the time.

Other info: We're American Expats who have no intention of ever returning to the US (we have Indefinite Leave to Remain right now and will apply for citizenship next year). I am half-Chinese. Son sounds 80% Brit, except that he uses the word "dude." We're not particularly posh at all or snobby but, at the same time, we were walking around Wooburn in a park this past weekend and were rather shocked at a gaggle of kids that ran past us around my son's age who were throwing the F word out all over the place.

Apologies for the length. I'm having a bit of a crisis. shock

Sarahhello Mon 08-May-17 20:06:00

There is an open morning at Thorpe tomorrow 9.30 - 12 Tues 9th May 01753 882474
Gayhurst open morning Sat 20th May 9 - 12 tel 01753 882690

Sarahhello Mon 08-May-17 20:09:45

Trains from Marylebone (London) to Gerrards Cross fairly frequent - possible to walk to both schools each about 10-15 mins from station.

kpauley Mon 08-May-17 20:31:57

Yes, we're going to both of those :-) We took a walk around the town as well and thought it was quite nice (though small).

intuition Mon 08-May-17 20:39:21

Open day also tomorrow at Davenies from 9 to 1030.

Both my sons have attended Davenies from age 4. It's fab. They have had a very well rounded education and the older one is now at a top public school and the younger one will be following him in a couple of years.

Beaconsfield and the surrounding villages are a great place for families.

kpauley Mon 08-May-17 20:56:54

Thanks for that! As we don't have a car yet, I'm not sure we'll be able to hit both Thorpe and Davenies tomorrow, but D said I could schedule a visit on another day if we couldn't do the Open Day.

Couldashouldawoulda Mon 08-May-17 21:14:36

I've seen all 3 schools recently. Tbh, if you can only do one tomorrow, I'd say see Davenies. Thorpe House seemed very small and a bit shabby, and the staff seemed extremely disorganised when we were there. Not for us at all. Gayhurst and Davenies are much more comparable.

kpauley Mon 08-May-17 22:35:04

That's interesting you should say that! I sent off the requests for the open mornings for Thorpe and Davenies on the same day. I heard back from Thorpe right away confirming. Didn't get a confirmation from Davenies until today (the day before). I did call in between when I didn't hear anything and asked to see if they even had a place for year 5 in September (Thorpe as well, who confirmed for me on the telephone right away that they did). Davenies said they would find out and call me back and no one ever did. I guess I'll have to visit both and see how they appear in person as so far I wasn't very impressed with Davenies, though they looked good in reviews/websites.

Froginabox Tue 09-May-17 19:30:11

It's a really nice part of the world, I grew up in beaconsfield/ seer green and have returned to GX for family after a long time in London. The schools are all excellent and I know lots of people who went to those and did very well. GX has the quickest links to Marylebone (19 mins), it's more of a pain getting in from Bourne End but it's a nice village, as is Cookham and surrounding villages. I wouldn't recommend High Wycombe.

There are nice cafes in GX to write in, and in Beaconsfield. Very easy to get to the British Library from here - I wrote my thesis in there and found plenty of nice places to write in round here, try the memorial centre, the library, lots of quiet pubs with cosy corners!

Froginabox Tue 09-May-17 19:35:30

The C of E isn't too highly faith based don't worry - more of assembly & a couple of prayers than having to attend Church weekly to get a place!

kpauley Wed 10-May-17 09:07:08

We spent all day yesterday in Gerrards X after the open morning at Thorpe and it's growing on me. We looked at some houses as well and think we may have found one. Everyone we've talked to has been very friendly, which is nice. Now just need to figure out how to meet people and sort out all the normal things -- where to go for swim lessons or a pool for the boy (he loves swimming, so even though the schools have it, he'll be even happier if there's a pool he can go to sometimes), finding a cleaning person and a dog walker and a doctor!

I'm coming around. It helps that the crime on our street in Kensington has noticeably gotten quite a bit worse in the last year and new neighbours moved in that are horrid. Will be nice to have a detached house again!

Froginabox Wed 10-May-17 11:51:06

I'm glad it's growing on you smile there is a tennis club on the dukes wood estate side, a leisure centre with pool in Chalfont St. Peter, a David Lloyd gym & pool ten mins away at woburn green, a Nuffield gym towards wexham, a small but lovely pool/gym/spa at Wave in the GX Plaza hotel. Lots of activities at the GX youth centre by the memorial centre.

Calcott centre at Chalfont st Peter is a great medical centre (NHS), there's a good NHS tooth booth dentist in beaconsfield. Plenty of private options for both around too. Try facebook local pages for cleaners & dog walkers?

kpauley Wed 10-May-17 13:51:14

Thanks for all that smile I appreciate it! We've found a house we like, so crossing fingers, it looks like we're taking the plunge!

Gxmummy Wed 10-May-17 14:41:15

I second Calcot Medical centre. Also I think Thorpe is good.

kpauley Wed 10-May-17 15:00:14

I think we're down to either Thorpe or Gayhurst. The house we found is on South Park, so easily walkable to the town centre and the train station.

My son really liked Thorpe. They've been very friendly and responsive so far. I'd say the facilities were both good and so-so (the science labs looked great, as did Art and D&T, but some of the classrooms were a bit run down). The head seemed nice. We'll see how he likes Gayhurst on the 20th.

If anyone has any recommendations for clubs, etc. in order to meet people, that would be lovely (for me, I mean, and the husband). I'm a writer but I also love to paint and generally make things (I'm a wizard with a glue gun). ;) Or if anyone would like to meet for a coffee come September! Looks like we'll be moving in mid July. It's going to be a bit of culture shock after London, I think!

Froginabox Wed 10-May-17 18:59:43

Ah we're a friendly folk round here, lots of groups and activities held at or advertised at the memorial centre

Pm me if you'd like and would be very happy to meet for a coffee when you move in smile

Froginabox Wed 10-May-17 19:06:15

And congrats on your new house! I bet you'll be very happy here, even if it takes you six months of gasping to Marylebone every week to get your London fix! If you don't know Marylebone well, you'll find the high street has nice cafes to sit in and write, and also the Wallace collection & the landmark hotel if you're feeling fancy.

kpauley Wed 10-May-17 19:15:27

Yes, love the Wallace Collection smile Always like to go there when writing anything involving armour!

We've been in London going on 6 1/2 years now. I know West and Central well, though am a bit dodgy with my knowledge of the East. I'll definitely take you up on coffee later on. The Jack & Alice place (I think that's what it was called) looks nice. Or The Grocer? My son already loves the toy store (they have Pokemon cards).

Froginabox Wed 10-May-17 21:54:29

Jack & Alice, and the Grocer are both lovely - you did a good tour on your one day! The cinema is lovely too. And the pubs & restaurants in the area are great smile

Sarahhello Sun 14-May-17 15:43:46

If you are looking for houses & have a car Denham, Farnham Common, Stoke Poges, Hedgerly, Penn, Seer Green, Chalfont St Peter & Chalfont St Giles are all fairly easy villages to commute to Gerrards Cross or Beaconsfield. Some have more amenities thank others and varying property prices. Great parks Black Park, Burnham Beeches, Denham Country Park among others. Look up what to do & clubs on mumsnet for the area - lots of places locally to do swimming lessons. Try South Bucks & East Berks also fairly near as we are nearish the county border

Sarahhello Sun 14-May-17 15:47:30

I meant to say most private schools do offer a trail day for the children to go to see how they like it - also my tip is to ask to do a visit on a normal school day - not an open day to get a true picture of the school if it a close thing between several schools.

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