Moving to Birmingham and registering for primary school

(65 Posts)
Goodish Fri 08-Sep-17 11:57:42

Hi Everyone,

I am a single parent with a 10 year old daughter currently living in Cardiff, but have accepted a job in Birmingham University. I'm looking to move by the beginning of October to Edgbaston, to be close to my place of work.

I had a conversation with Birmingham council over schooling (as I'm not familiar with the school system in England) and was left in tears.
Apparently, all schools in that area and neighbouring areas are oversubscribed but I have to apply anyway in order to get a rejection and then be referred to the council. I will have no say where my daughter will end up and even then the registration process can take in excess of 3 weeks, during which time, my daughter has to stay at home, without any schooling at all.

As a single parent working full time, I need my daughter to be in a school near my place of work so pick up and drop off will not impact on my working hours. I also need breakfast club and afterschool club facilities but apparently I'm not guaranteed anything and they can't implement different rules just because of my circumstances.

I am at a complete loss. Any help and advice on schooling or alternative schooling (such as private schools that are more likely to offer scholarships), would be very much appreciated.

Many thanks

OP’s posts: |
Didiusfalco Fri 08-Sep-17 14:04:44

I used to sort out school places for people moving into Birmingham as part of my job sometimes (this was a few years ago). I think you could get it sorted in less than 3 weeks - that sounds like a pessimistic estimate. If I were you I would get a map out and start phoning all local schools to find out who has spaces in year 6 and then hope they are still there when you get to Birmingham. At least you will have the information. If there are waiting lists you could put her on waiting lists without consulting the council (or you used to be able to). Year 6 is not the worst for spaces - it isn't like reception, but there were some high birth years and provision is stretched. I wouldn't bother with private if you can help it.

SellFridges Fri 08-Sep-17 16:55:43

Have you asked which schools do have places? Edgbaston is a strangely large area and actually doesn't have a whole lot of schools in it. There are several private schools in that area. Also, presumably you'll be applying for secondary this year so any hassle with getting to school would be pretty temporary.

I would be looking along the Cross City line. What about the schools in Selly Oak (where the University actually is)? I know they have movement due to the large number of academics in the area.

GoodMorning1 Fri 08-Sep-17 17:01:23

Could you deal with the three week gap by using up any leave in your old job and moving there two or three weeks before you start your new job?

RB68 Fri 08-Sep-17 17:16:23

I would also think about living further out and having a short commute - e.g. Warwick sounds miles away but only 30 mins on train to centre. But there is Solihull, Dorridge and areas surrounding a bit further out and where there is less pressure on schools. Unfortunately I know that the current yr 6 is a bulge yr in the Warwickshire area so likely the same in Bham. First things first sort some accommodation possibilities and then as suggested start ringing schools or emailing for information so you have information to hand

RB68 Fri 08-Sep-17 17:16:27

I would also think about living further out and having a short commute - e.g. Warwick sounds miles away but only 30 mins on train to centre. But there is Solihull, Dorridge and areas surrounding a bit further out and where there is less pressure on schools. Unfortunately I know that the current yr 6 is a bulge yr in the Warwickshire area so likely the same in Bham. First things first sort some accommodation possibilities and then as suggested start ringing schools or emailing for information so you have information to hand

BackforGood Fri 08-Sep-17 17:26:45

Agree with others - Edgbaston covers a multitude of housing and some very different types of areas but there are a lot of private schools in the vicinity.
Have you bought a property, or signed a rental agreement?
As, if not, folk here could suggest other areas.
There are schools close to the University, but traffic wise, if on the 'other side' of the university from you, might be more tricky to get to than ones a bit further away.
Tiverton for example or Raddlebarn are both close to the university (where most of the 2nd and 3rd yr students live and walk into University from), but wouldn't be convenient if you are living nearer to Bearwood or Edgbaston reservoir side.

KingsHeathen Fri 08-Sep-17 17:26:50

The Y6 cohort is huge- 2000 more children than usual.
Unfortunately, there is only one state primary school in Edgbaston ward (Chad Vale) and despite doubling its intake it's still completely oversubscribed (and in any case is essentially geographically in Harborne).
The majority of people resident in Edgbaston send their children to independent schools, many for the wrap around care provision.
None of the academics I know can afford to live in Edgbaston, they commute into university from Moseley, Kings Heath, Bournville, and their children are educated in those areas, or at fee-paying schools near the university.
Do you know exactly where you'll be living? Bournville, Cotteridge, Northfield are all on direct train line to university.

KingsHeathen Fri 08-Sep-17 17:30:50

Bournville Juniors does have an allied wrap-around service across the road, but getting into that school is nigh-on impossible. Wrap-around care ends at 6 in most places.
I am somewhat surprised you didn't research the options before interview if I'm honest. Birmingham is well-known to be completely over-capacity in its schools, has been for years.

KingsHeathen Fri 08-Sep-17 17:36:15

Anyway, if you haven't signed an accommodation contract, I'd hold off until you've investigated secondary places... that's even trickier as many schools in Birmingham for some bizarre reason are single sex.

KingsHeathen Fri 08-Sep-17 17:37:39

And if you are living in Edgbaston, be aware, there are no secondary schools at all, only fee-paying schools.

Goodish Fri 08-Sep-17 17:41:03

Thank you all for your advice. I'm selling a house in Cardiff but renting once I sign the contract of employment in Birmingham.

I have been warned that traffic heading into Edgbaston (where my department would be) during rush hour is rather horrific and for that reason, I am opting to stay in the area until I know the city a little better.

Being a single parent, I couldn't commute any distance as I am solely responsible for drop off and pick up and being point of contact for emergencies. The council have said that in the Harbourne and Edgbaston areas, year 6 classes are oversubscribed. I have no annual leave to take as my current contract has finished.

Getting her into a school is only half the battle, I still need to make sure that she has childcare between the hours of 8am and 6pm, for the full 5 days. Apparently schools with such provisions are even harder to come by sad! Plus what on earth do I do with her whilst I am at work for that 3 week period.

I don't why I'm currently feeling like it's impossible. I shall certainly contact the schools direct, I have a list to go through but I'm not hopeful as, according to the council, each school has a waiting list. If anyone knows of a school in the area that definitely has a space, please do share.

OP’s posts: |
Goodish Fri 08-Sep-17 17:47:24

KingsHeathen, when you are a professional single parent and having attended several interviews, the only job offer that came up was in Birmingham, I could not turn it down due to insufficient schooling.

At the end of the day, me remaining in employment would also be of great benefit to my daughter in other ways.

what I can do however, is ask the lovely folk on mumsnet for some advice ;)!

OP’s posts: |
KingsHeathen Fri 08-Sep-17 17:55:13

I really, honestly think you'll get a place anywhere near, and you cannot apply until you have an address.
You need to focus on secondary now, as applications will be soon, deadline is end of October. If you're looking at independent/bursary then their entrance exams are over the coming months, but your DD would need to be super-selective tbh. The grammar school entrance exam is this weekend so you've missed that, though they do have a late applicant sitting in January, but I don't know how many actually get places that way.
KEHS have open day in September and usually cut-off for exam entrance is 4th Friday in September- they have a comprehensive website, including details of fees/bursaries. It's across the road from the university.
EHS have their exam in October, as do priory school, again their websites have lots of information on.
You may find it easier to get an au pair or a childminder to do the childcare tbh, as schools with Y6 places will be some distance away from the university, so with travel you'd not make 6pm pickup (assuming they have after school care).

KingsHeathen Fri 08-Sep-17 17:58:09

V sorry- that was " you'll not get a place anywhere near" the universitysad I'm very sorry. There's St. Edwards, probably the closest, but they're v strongly Catholic and heavily oversubscribed. Or Tiverton, or watermill, but AFAIAA neither have any wrap-around care.

Goodish Fri 08-Sep-17 18:07:29

Many thanks for that. That's really useful information. Just a shame with the timings of things sad! I am just compiling a list of schools at the moment and you never know......

I will certainly post the outcome, hopefully a positive one. It's certainly nothing like sleepy Wales! It's all so straight forward there!

Many thanks for all the advice, lots to think about.

OP’s posts: |
BackforGood Fri 08-Sep-17 18:42:50

Trouble is, Birmingham is a very 'young' City. Can't remember the numbers now but a massively high % are children. The authority tries to keep up with demand for places in purely a number way - ie 300 000 children in the city, so we need to provide 300 000 school places. Of course, if the one place available is a 25mile / hour and 3/4 drive from where you live, it doesn't work out logistically.
Agree with Kings Heathen though that you really need to be aware of secondary schools now, as the open evenings are usually last couple of weeks in Sept and applications certainly used to have to be in by 1st October (mine are older, might be slightly different but you need to find out). Coping for 10 months of Yr6 is one thing, but you don't want her not to have the right place for secondary.

KingsHeathen Fri 08-Sep-17 19:38:28

Closing date for secondary applications is 31st October (I think that's for the whole of England btw)

SellFridges Fri 08-Sep-17 19:52:29

Agree you should definitely focus on secondary. You could look in the Selly Oak area around the Sainsbury's there. St Mary's may have a primary place and you'd be in catchment for the University secondary school there.

Post the list of schools and we can advise.

KingsHeathen Fri 08-Sep-17 20:00:20

Unless you know differently sellfridges, I personally couldn't recommend UoB school.

SellFridges Fri 08-Sep-17 20:09:43

I don't actually, I'd heard it was in demand with some parents being annoyed about the catchment zones but beyond that I'd heard nothing. Was just thinking it was pretty close to the uni.

KingsHeathen Fri 08-Sep-17 20:14:21

I haven't heard anything good from pupils or staff. They changed the catchment zones in the second year of admissions, to increase the numbers from the area it's in rather than the nodes...

SellFridges Fri 08-Sep-17 20:20:29

Interesting, I didn't know that. I run half the pupils over on a daily basis because they walk across the A38 without looking but that's a different topic!

BackforGood Fri 08-Sep-17 21:52:11

She won't get in to University of Birmingham school from Edgbaston. The catchment area from the school is measured in metres, not miles.

If you can let us know the area your new home is, we can let you know what we know about schools. If you are living in Edgbaston, then us suggesting schools in Selly Oak won't really be helpful. However, if they have a place at Watermill or even Paganel, then you could cycle (or a long walk) in from there, if you live on that side. If you are Five Ways end, or heading towards Bearwood, then that wouldn't work.
Traffic is very heavy around the University (being, as it is, the same site as The new QE hospital, + the old QE + the Womens + the Med School), but parking is at a premium too. If you haven't signed a rental contract, then my advice would be to rent somewhere on the cross City train line and use that to commute.

SellFridges Fri 08-Sep-17 21:56:26

Agree with you BackForGood - that was kind of my point. Don't live in Edgbaston if you can help it OP!

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