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Moving to Birmingham (University) with three small boys(12 Posts)
First time posting so please forgive any lapses of etiquette.
My wife will be starting work at the University of Birmingham next September. We have three boys aged 3, 6 & 9 who have never lived in the UK before... so I would really like a school that's not going to be too much of a baptism of fire.
I'm looking at areas around the University (Edgbaston, Bournville, Moseley) and also looking at areas that have direct rail links to the University (for example Bromsgrove, Worcester & Sutton Coldfield) but would really appreciate some local knowledge.
I've been to Birmingham a handful of times but I don't know any of the areas well, so any help or advice would be very welcome on the following:
A) Nice areas for families
B) Good state schools
C) Schools admissions
I look forward to anything you've got to say.
Excited and scared.
Just noticed no replies.
I was a student in Birmingham many years ago and it was fab.
Hopefully somebody will be along soon to help with what life is like with a family.
If you don’t get any replies it may be worth posting in Chat where there is more traffic.
Good luck with the move.
I don’t know much about Moseley so I can’t comment
Edgebaston can be very expensive. It will depend on what your price range is whether buying or renting as to whether you can afford this area. It is a good area though. Lots of space, big houses, lots of private/independent schools (if you want to go down the route for secondary). Closer to the city centre as well.
Bourneville is a nice family area. Lots of green space and parks. They have a very good primary school - bourneville primary (not to be confused with bourneville school) but you have to be in catchment for this school and it is extremely oversubscribed.
I’m aware that your eldest is 9 so you will need to be considering secondary schools as well while you’re looking. If your eldest is year 5 (born between September 2009 and August 2010) you will need to be applying for secondary in September.
There is lots of variety in Birmingham for secondary education, there are Boys Schools, co-Ed schools, comprehensives, schools for many different religions eg Catholic, CofE, Islam and more, grammar schools (you need to register around May of year 5 to sit the test), and independents. I would really consider this when you move as secondary schools can be vary variable in what they offer.
As for primary school, you need to have an address to apply. You can apply directly to the school or, best thing to do, apply through the local authority (LA).
If I were you I would either;
Decide where you want to live then look at schools
Or look at schools then find the house nearby
However you want to play it, you are unlikely to get the school of your choice if you want good/outstanding schools which produce good results and have lots on offer (although this depends on what you prioritise in a school). Birmingham schools are oversubscribed. You may have to accept any school that you are given and get on the waiting lists for the ones you want.
The above link will help you to find schools in the areas you are interested in. Just type in the area eg edgebaston or bourneville if you don’t have a postcode and you can see what’s close by.
I would advise against putting too much faith in OFSTED. Some outstanding schools haven’t been inspected in over 10 years, also OFSTED doesn’t necessarily give the information that parents want. Doesn’t mean you should ignore them though - definitely worth a quick glance.
I would widen your search for where you want to live as well. Look at which bus routes go to the university and where they go though. You might find something perfect along the bus routes (you don’t really want to be driving if you can use public transport).
Good luck with the move and welcome to birmingham. It’s a lovely city, despite what others might say, with lots to do and many people to meet. I’m sure you will love it.
Sutton Coldfield very family friendly, huge park,lots of childrens activities, very good schools and excellent secondary provision.
Ill second that, I don’t know Sutton Coldfield well because I’ve always been in the south of the city but I have extended family over theres and it’s lovely. They seem to like it and the schools are brilliant there.
Can’t comment on the transport links to the city though. (Always driven over there later in the day and traffic was fine about 30/40 mins ish from the university in the car I would say with good traffic)
What is your budget? If it’s not massive then consider Stirchley - you can walk to the uni/get the train from Bournville. King’s Heath is also popular and cheaper than Moseley. For me, Edgbaston lacks amenities - it’s a bit strange in that regard. Harborne is also popular with people working at UoB or the QE hospital.
Wow. Thanks so much everyone, particularly @Neim, this is phenomenally useful. Plenty to get on with!
Anyone with further thoughts on living outside Birmingham and commuting to the University would also be welcome. Are the schools in Sutton Coldfield (or other satellite towns) as oversubscribed as in Birmingham?
Thanks again for all the input. Keep it coming if you have any more thoughts. I'm all ears.
Glad I could help
This is a link to the Birmingham city council schools website.
Hopefully it can give you all the information you need about all of Birmingham’s schools. The sections for primary and secondary schools have booklets you can download which give you information about the schools admissions criteria, how many applied for places, contact details and location. Although useful for information, you will have to make an in year application based on the ages of your DCs so that section may be more useful to you.
I didn’t mention it before, but after rereading your original post, I wouldn’t worry too much about a baptism of fire. Birmingham is pretty multi cultural and this is reflected in (most) schools. Your DCs will be fine if that’s worrying you.
Last thing, I would say go and actually look at the schools your interested in, speak to the teachers and pupils make sure they are happy and you will be happy. Make sure the school is the sort of place that will cooperate with you (some don’t).
Bromsgrove would give your boys (especially the older one) time to settle into the UK before having to cope with secondary. Bromsgrove has the three tier system, so they start middle school in year 5 (age 9) and don't go to high school until year 9 (13). It allows them to grow up a little more slowly.
The middle schools in Bromsgrove all have a pretty good reputation (except maybe Catshill but I may be out of date?) but I think St John's is the most sought after. The only issue you'll have is you'll have missed year 5 entry, so you may just have to accept wherever there is a place for your 9 year old.
Bromsgrove is very different from Birmingham though - not multi-cultural at all really. It's a pleasant market town, not very exciting, but it depends what you're after.
Thanks @crazycrofter and thanks again @Neim.
Interesting what you say about Bromsgrove. Fur us, multiculturalism is one of Birmingham's great assets, so that helps clarify things.
A spring reconnaissance trip Birmingham looks imminent!
@Neim has offered lots of really good information.
Housing immediately around the University is really expensive - unless your wife is being offered a Chair, or you have a considerable amount of Private / Family funding, you probably aren't going to be buying / renting immediately around the University.
Harborne is nice, and good for Primary schools but lacking in secondary.
In most parts of the UK, children move to secondary school the September after their 11th birthday (Worcestershire is different, as explained above).
Hold in mind that, from July this year, Birmingham is introducing a Clean Air Zone, and certain cars will be charged £8 every time you drive into (incl 'through') the City Centre. Maybe your car(s) will be new and not charged. Maybe you will only use the train, but worth mentioning.
This is really difficult to answer without knowing the kind of budget you will have. Yes, Sutton Coldfield is considered nice, and all the schools are considered good there, but then house prices are more expensive than in many other areas of the City.
The other thing here is that most areas of the City have very different areas in the same postcode / suburb...... Edgbaston has multi million pound houses as well as parts that you really wouldn't aspire to live in. Mosely is the same. So is Kings Norton - some beautiful areas and some really deprived areas all come under 'Kings Norton'.