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Bath seconday school help

(5 Posts)
lisec Sat 04-Aug-18 14:32:44

Hello , I'm new to mumsnet and am hoping some of you lovely people in Bath and the surrounding areas can give me some much needed advice. We're relocating to Bath at the moment for work and for a better healthier lifestyle ( I've recently been diagnosed with MS and really want to live in a smaller , friendlier city ) . We love Bath but are really confused about which secondary school to choose for our daughter who's ten this year. I know the catchments for the popular schools are getting smaller and smaller at the moment. We had a look around Hayesfield Girls which we were impressed by but I've no experience of an all girls school and was worried there might be bullying . She's quite shy and sensitive and has had a few problems with a group of girls at her primary school so I was worried about more of the same happening . Also when I looked at the Ofsted it mentioned bullying quite a few times . We also had a look at Ralph Allen which seemed great on the open day and Oldfield school. Has anybody had experience of any of these schools and can give me some advice of which would be best for a more artistic sensitive child. Ofsted can only give so much information and there's nothing as good as the advice of other parents ! We've nearly sold our house so will be renting for now. Thanks !

Madcats Tue 07-Aug-18 17:48:41

Good luck with the house move. Hopefully your DD will meet a great group of friends in Bath. Certainly there is a quite a lot of movement in and out of school classes at Primary (thanks to unis and lots of people relocating); so children will try hard to welcome newcomers. If you can manage it, try to find a few clubs/extra-curricular activities so DD isn't dependent on a small group of friends from school.

Bath school admissions was not much fun for many families this year (for 2018 Autumn entry), not least because one of the schools in the southwest of the city has closed and and this has highlighted the rather unusual admissions policies each of the schools has. I don't think the 2019/20 cohort is as big, but I might be wrong. Certainly next term there are going to be a fair few children being bussed right across town to St Marks in Larkhall and a lot of children in Larkhall who wanted to go to Ralph Allen/Hayesfield/Beechen who are now going to St Marks. Do make sure you put plenty of "choices" on the application form.

We have friends with children at Ralph Allen and Hayesfield (wrong side of town for Oldfield - the former head teacher made the national news, but was replaced some time ago). I seem to remember both are doing 8x30 forms for year 7. Their children all seem happy, but doubtless there are a few families who don't have such a great time at school. I am sure that is the case at any school.

Spend the next few months figuring out what aspects of secondary education are important to you. Hayesfield might be walkable, but maybe Ralph Allen needs a bus at the start and end of the day (how do they travel if they have a club before or after school etc)?
Look at flexibility to do the sorts of GCSE's DD might hope to do/timetabling and the emphasis on subjects you consider important. Above all, visit the schools and talk to the teachers. If behaviour is important to you, engineer trips past the school at the start and end of the day.

lisec Tue 07-Aug-18 19:58:06

Hi Madcats , thanks so much for all that info it’s really helpful ! At the start of this relocation I thought the Bath schools admission process would be so easy compared to where we are but I was so wrong . The catchments are so tight and so many areas now seem to have no nearby school or obvious choice so like you said kids are being shuttled across Bath etc . That’s partly why we decided to rent to give ourselves some choice . It’s been so stressful trying to do it from such a distance that if I didn’t love Bath so much I’d have given up by now . I had thought at one point st marks might be an ok choice but everyone seems to be saying to avoid it ...even the estate agents said it’s S**t ( her words )

Madcats Wed 08-Aug-18 11:56:33

I have friends who consciously chose St Marks for this year (fairly sensible people with nice DCs) because they thought it was/is small and nurturing. It is a lot less hassle to be able to walk to school/drop off on the way to work rather than attempt to cross the City (thought I have friends that do it). It certainly didn't used to be well regarded, but I think that might have changed in the past few years.

Lots of DD's friends have rented for the first year or 2 (often because parents are unsure whether to be central or more rural). Admittedly they had school places, but some Airbnb'd to check commuting logistics/local areas before signing up for a rental.

lisec Fri 10-Aug-18 10:38:38

Thanks again ! That’s really good to know about St.Marks actually . My first thoughts when we were thinking about moving to Bath were to live in Larkhall / Camden and choose St. Marks as I thought it must be improving . So many people I met were so down on it I changed my mind . Logically though with the other catchments so small now people from that area don’t seem to have another choice . Or maybe they go private ? The small intake definitely appealed to us .

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