Primary school dilemma - Relocating from London to Cheshire.

(27 Posts)
Tigerdragon Thu 08-May-14 00:31:37

Out of the blue, we are likely relocating to Cheshire due to my husband's job but we have a 4 year old son starting primary school in September. He has a place offered at our nearest school in London, rated Outstanding. It's put a real spanner in the works, as if we have to move it will have to be quite soon and before my son starts school so we'll have to give up his offered place as it stands.

Does anyone know how local schools in Cheshire would treat this situation if we applied for a place for him if they are already fully subscribed for the new reception year intake within the catchment area? How do they consider cases like this? It feels like a real dilemma because a) we are unsure where exactly to move to not knowing Cheshire at all b) the schools part of the equation is a major factor but also c) I'd want to move to an area that feels right, as well as being commutable for my husband (the job would be in Northwich). I am nervous about the idea of moving to an area that's very quiet and feels cut off from amenities.

Any advice on the schools front? Or suggestions of areas we could try?

Thanks! X

Voicesinmyear Thu 08-May-14 19:57:45

Sorry but I don't know how Cheshire LEA deals with this sort of situation but know that sone very good schools are undersubscribed. Both Brereton Primary School and Smallwood seem to do very well. If you fancy going private Terra Nova school is excellent smile

Unfortunately I'm not at that end of the county either so can't advise on the nice areas around Northwich, but do love Knutsford smile

What sort of things are you worried about missing out on?

hockeymama Sat 10-May-14 19:23:00

I work in a mid Cheshire primary school. If it is full it is full and all you can do is get him in somewhere and appeal for a place to be provided at the one you want which would look at the distance you live from the school as number one reason to let you in. Schools that are full up will already have a waiting list from those that were furthest away or had it down as a second choice and their first choice was full up. NEVER make a decision on Ofsted reports! My school is the most caring, dynamic place and yet not yet outstanding...there is more to a child's experience than numbers on a report. Our visitors are often taken by surprise and say they don't want to leave! So pay those other schools a visit before you right them off. Cheshire IS quieter than London - that is not a bad thing. I've had 3 teenagers with a range of interests but they all found activities. Its not all fields, it is safe and friendly and healthy. Cheshire schools are fantastic and the high schools have high results as well. There are plenty of fee paying schools..depends where you live. The Grange in Hartford buses in pupils from about 30 minutes distance and is prestigious. Any more advice ...just ask, and good luck.

Voicesinmyear Sat 10-May-14 20:41:48

Agree with everything hockey says about Cheshire smile. Also agree with looking at the school rather than the ofsted report. Our local preschool has outstanding yet the lack of care is often talked about, I wouldn't let them look after my dog, never mind my child!

hockeymama Sun 11-May-14 00:16:05

You would be better phoning the County Education office and asking them where the places may be available because they have already confirmed places to parents for this year. I know a family who have been told their appeal result may not come through until the end of the month so appeals have not been finalised yet but are in the process.
where are you moving to? Where is the job ...transport by road is quick but public transport...forget it!

Voicesinmyear Mon 12-May-14 10:06:44

Think we need to get some meet ups organised soon smile

CheshireEditor Mon 12-May-14 11:10:17

Would you like to try Voicesinear? There is a Mumsnet ambassador scheme if you would like to know more details about it email and I can send you some info.

There are two who have already tried but not have much luck in the past few months (Poynton and Stockport) but it is worth having a go in your local area.

CheshireEditor Mon 12-May-14 11:16:48

I am in Knutsford and all four schools are great, Egerton is small and they struggle with places for everyone, 14 siblings alone last year who get first admission. Whereas Bexton is a double intake. As for admissions as Voices said have a chat with Cheshire LEA who could give you clearer and correct information.

As far as I know until the process has been done and completed ie: applications submitted and places offered or declined they won't know if there are any additional places available.

I moved from London over 10 years ago and had worries about being cut off from things, but it could not be further from the truth. You may think to drive 15 miles somewhere would be a no no, but in London you'd never do this as it would take an age with the traffic and parking etc, but here it can take 20 mins and free parking! So it is a whole different ball game!

And agree with HockyMama public transport pants but driving is easy. If you need any other help please email me a

Hollerback Mon 12-May-14 13:34:05


We moved from London to Cheshire 12 months ago. DS was part way through Y1 when we moved.

I can talk you through the process we went through, just be aware that there will not be a school place waiting for your child on the day you arrive.........

We are in Cheshire West and Chester so had to follow their process: You can either apply for a school place through your own LEA prior to your move (but the application is not looked at by Cheshire until the day you complete or your rental agreement starts. If your LEA has a backlog, your application will probably be sent to Cheshire after you have moved. Or you can apply direct to Cheshire the day you complete or your rental agreement starts.

We applied to Cheshire direct (online) the day we completed as our London LEA had a backlog of cases (due to so many schools being oversubscribed and high turnover of pupils).

Beware, it may take a few days/weeks for Cheshire to process your application depending on their backlog (especially at busy times eg when next years places are being announced).

The application form asks you to state 3 school preferences. Cheshire call the first one, await a response, if no place they call the 2nd one etc. It can take time for the schools to respond - especially if over a holiday period when there are no admin staff in the school. IMHO this is a daft way of doing things, why not just email all your choices at once?

You can state more than 3 preferences (we put 6!).

So in our case, there were no Y1 places available at our 6 preferences (our 6 nearest schools, we were not picky!) and Cheshire said they would find him the nearest available Y1 place. However, by the time the 6th school replied, a place came up at our first choice. All in all this process from application to being given a place took 6 weeks so I had to keep my DS at home during this time.

This was not a bad thing as we took the time to discover our new surroundings and sort out the house! DS settled into his new school straight away, no issues with being away from school for so long!

Our plan, had DS not got into a local school was to keep him at home and on the waitlist for several local schools until a place came up. We didn't want to send him to the school Cheshire allocated only to have to remove him once a closer place came up.

FYI in our bit of Cheshire, they have the "feeder" school system - each primary feeds into a specific secondary and this gives you an advantage when applying for a place at that secondary - might be worth looking if there are any decent secondary schools and which primaries feed into it.

Sorry for the essay but I wish I'd known more about the bloody process when we moved!

PS Cheshire is great and there is absolutely loads to do for kids, don't worry about that!

Hollerback Mon 12-May-14 13:45:06

Ps, forgot to say that we were really pleasantly surprised by how good all the schools are here. It's not like London where I would have never sent DS to most of local the schools.

Tigerdragon Mon 12-May-14 22:53:52

Thank you all, it's all really helpful.

I spoke to both Cheshire West & Chester and Cheshire East last week and they both said the same ie if its full its full as hockeymama said. The issue I have at the mo is not knowing any areas or schools at all in Cheshire and so not sure at the moment which ones to pick! Had a few days up there last week and can see why people like Knutsford for example, just need to do some more homework on matching our budget to what/where we'd like. We obviously need more time I think to have more of a look around and approach the authority/schools we want to apply to as well as consider the private school route as a short-ish term possibility. I did speak to admissions at The Grange (we can't afford Tera Nova!) and they said they have also offered all their available places for the new intake but may have spaces available if they don't all get taken up. Didn't even consider that there would be a school bus which does make it easier to look at different areas to live. I'll enquire about the bus.

Hollerback and CheshireEditor thank you, your words have calmed down my mild to medium state of panic and I now think we'll just work through it one step at a time and it'll come together. Hubby says if it means letting DS start at school in London in Sep and move the family later, so be it if it gives us the time we need to get to know the area better, decide where to live and get a school place we're happy with. But I think it may not come to that.

Voices mentioned some meet ups, I'd love to do that once I'm up there - will keep you posted! CheshireEditor thanks for your email address, I'll drop you a few questions at some point as I start to think it all through more.

I welcome any more feedback that you think would be helpful. smile

Voicesinmyear Tue 13-May-14 11:25:04

Glad your panic has eased a little smile

Not sure what the commute would be like but have a look at Sandbach, Nantwich, Holmes Chapel and Alsager too. All are lovely smile

CheshireEditor Tue 13-May-14 13:48:06

Yes moving stressful enough without added stress of new school. I stayed in London for 4 months with my youngest, whilst my husband started his job in Manchester, we could not sell our flat (we did twice but it fell through) so in the end we rented it out and rented in Cheshire, luckily after 18 months our tennant wanted to buy and we wanted to buy our rental, so it all worked out well!

There is Yorston Lodge in Knutsford, plus a bus from Knutsford to The Grange.

Tigerdragon Tue 13-May-14 22:39:49

Hi Voicesinmyear

I'm drawing up a list of more areas to look at next time we get a chance to get up there again, dragging our 2 DS with us, lol (the other one is 18 mo).

Would you be able to say what's nice about the areas you mentioned above? And would you know whether they are as or less/more expensive to live/rent/buy in as eachother? At the moment I'm looking at the map and seeing what's near the M6 as we're (ie me) finding the thought of getting so far away from family a little traumatic, so it will be nice to have quick access to the M6 whenever we plan trips back down to visit (train links seem to not be a great option). eg I see on the map that Holmes Chapel is quite close to the M6.

Thanks x

Voicesinmyear Tue 13-May-14 22:49:07

Holmes chapel and Alsager are both very close to the m6. From alsager its about an hours drive to the m1, might be a bit less actually. All of them have a good community feel and great schools. Holmes chapel has direct rail link to Manchester and London. There's more shops in Nantwich and its bigger. Some people from Holmes a Chapel send their DC to Brereton as it is usually undersubscribed and is very good. Sandbach is lovely too. It has 2 high schools, one for girls and one for boys, they are both very good, in fact quite a few children go from the surrounding towns. I could live in Sandbach, its lovely smile

Charlene1 Tue 13-May-14 23:08:07

Hi, I used to live in Northwich, and a good area to live is Hartford - edge of Northwich town, but a village feel to it - good rail links - other stations are Greenbank and Northwich linking you to Chester, Manchester, Crewe, Warrington etc easily. Excellent schools (including the Grange if you want to go private!!), and really lovely houses - Mornant Avenue and that estate there is good, and it is great for getting on the main link road (A556 to Knutsford / Chester etc.
School info is here -

Hartford info -

Charlene1 Tue 13-May-14 23:18:45

Also highly recommend Wincham, which is just outside Northwich, but again near to J19 of the M6 - absolutely lovely village, primary school and people - quiet but not cut off!! smile

hellsbells99 Tue 13-May-14 23:34:35

Have you thought of looking at Chester? Direct trains to London, lots of good schools and main road to Northwich.

Voicesinmyear Wed 14-May-14 15:13:56

Forgot to say that Alsager has a train to London it's just not that quick smile

hockeymama Wed 14-May-14 16:58:39

Sandiway/Cuddington village has 2 schools that feed to good high schools but I know both schools are often full. Its 10 mins to M6 and M56 with a station for the Manchester -Chester- north Wales route. I like Knutsford for an afternoon at the country park but wouldn't live there because of being on the airport flight path- the planes often appear as if they might fly through your window! The villages along the A49 and A556 are lovely and the route between Chester and M6 is 25-30 minutes. M56-Cuddington is 10 minutes. Tarporley has excellent local schools but is rural outside the village. I know at this stage it is a long way off but if you plan to stay here check out the high schools before you commit so that you integrate with friends for your child and you are given priority on the waiting lists for high schools. Weaverham High was excellent for my 3 and Sir John Deanes sixth form college is outstanding along with St Nicholas and The Grange. Believe me 11 years will fly by! 5 mins from the M56 is Appleton which has excellent schools for all the ages. Chesire is rich for fantastic schools but its also important to live where you feel most at home so.. we came up for weekends, jammed 25 house viewings into the first 2, decided and revisited for the 3rd weekend and bought one which we have lived in for 23 years! It is worth asking local opinions but at the end of the day only you know what you want in a house. Let us know 5 priorities for the village and I am sure we will all suggest places - but they may not all be the same!

Voicesinmyear Mon 19-May-14 11:52:20

Have you been up again Tiger or researched any of the places mentioned smile

maddening Thu 22-May-14 23:14:15

Tarporley is nice and has a good high school, Chester is a lovely city, Knutsford is gorgeous and close to wilmslow -lots of lovely villages, frodsham and helsby and nice, lots of nice villages round chester - christleton with good schools, tattenhall has a fab but much sought after primary, Saighton, alford and farndon are lovely. Towards chester you are an easy drive towards wales with snowdonia an Anglesey in easy reach.

Cheshire is a lovely place to live with dc imo

maddening Thu 22-May-14 23:20:05

Also - can you name the town your dh will be working as cimmute is a key factor in the area you can choose from.

CheshireEditor Fri 23-May-14 10:47:41

Good idea Maddening, as they vary so much!

I always drive to Crewe when I go to London vian as it is quicker than Macclesfield or Wilmslow with more trains.

Getting into/out of Manchester is hard a certain times of the day!

Voicesinmyear Fri 23-May-14 23:19:17

We usually drive to Crewe if we are going to London too. Last time it was just 1 hour and 25 mins and I've heard it will be less than an hour once the if the high speed rail link is built.

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