Primary Schools in Tunbridge Wells(5 Posts)
My son will be turning 4 this November. We are planning to move to Tunbridge Wells in September of this year (renting) and primary school placement is a whole new ball game for us. I've done a bit of research on primary schools in the area and we are looking to put him in a non-denomination school.
The schools that fit this criteria are Claremont, Langton Green, Pembury, Bishops Down, and Broadwater Down. I have a few questions about the whole primary school process and would really appreciate the help of mum's in the TW area.
1.) What do you think of the above schools? Are all of them good for primary school. I know the OFSTED ratings but wanted more of a parent experience. I really like the Pembury area - the default option there is Pembury school. Is this a good school that children and parents are happy with? How about in terms of academic performance in Years 1,2,3 etc?
2.) Given that my son will turn 4 in November of this year, when is the earliest that we can submit his name for a placement at a school?
3.) How hard is it to get a placement in a top school like Claremont in Year 1 or 2, if you don't get into reception?
4.) Is living close enough to a school (i.e. Within catchment) sufficient to get you a place in the school? My son is the eldest so no other kids in school yet and faith based criteria doesn't come into play with our school selection.
5.) what are good/bad and expensive/reasonable areas to live in TW?
6.) Another mum mentioned that placement in grammar schools depend on your primary school? I'm originally from Canada, so am completely ignorant of the school system here. What does this mean? Is there a primary school that is particularly suited for placement in grammar school?
7.) Any other info or tips would be a huge help!!!
Tunbridge Wells is a lovely place to live. If you son turns 4 in November then you will need to submit an application later this year. The application usually opens in November and you can put down three schools in order of preference. All the schools you have listed are good.
You need to be very careful where you live to make sure you will get a place. Catchments vary each year and have been very small for most of the schools on your list due to the effect of many schools being forced to take bulge years. This has meant more siblings and less places for the rest. Siblings at all the schools you listed will take priority and then places are offered depending on distance from the school measured on crow flies basis.
Claremont is a very good school but you are best off securing a place in reception unless you plan to move next door to the school.
You can also apply for all the faith schools as apart from St Augustines the criteria for entry is the same. as the other schools - faith plays no part in their selection process. St James is rated outstanding as is St Peters. St Johns is also very good. They are all in nice parts of town. It really depends on your budget and house requirements.
Pembury and Langton Green are villages just outside TW and it is worth bearing in mind that the traffic is a nightmare.
The secondary schools are not linked to primary schools in any way. The children can sit 11 plus at the beginning of year 6 and if they pass can choose to go to grammar school. For boys there is the boys grammar and Skinners school. If you go to church then Bennett Memorial is a mixed comp with faith based entry criteria. There is also Skinners Kent Academy which is the only non faith comp in town.
Good luck in your search. It really is a lovely place to bring up children.
I live in the St Johns area and my DD goes to Bishops Down. When she got the reception place the school were doing bulge classes, i.e. an extra class of 30 children. Three years ago they stopped doing the bulge classes and the intake is now back to 30. From where I live if I was applying to Bishops Down this year I wouldn't have a hope of getting a place. Siblings have priority and the sibling numbers in reception have been as high as 100%, I think this year's prediction is 50%. In other words to get a non sibling place you would have to live very close indeed.
You don't put your name down for schools, instead you fill out a form stating your preferences. Everyone does this at the same time and the form has to be submitted to the local authority by a cut off date (normally sometime in January). Your allocation of a place will depend on where on the list you come, so most schools will prioritise siblings first, then distance from the school. You may not be allocated any of your preferences depending on numbers applying. There are lots of threads on the subject of primary school admissions on here, it would be worth reading a few to get your head around the whole system.
Admission to grammar school is based on 11+ results and nothing else. If you are catholic and your child attends St Augustines you will get a place at St Gregory's secondary, afaik that's the only link between state primary and secondary schools in the area.
I'll be honest, as the previous poster said TW is a good place to bring up children, and that's also one of its biggest problems. So many people have moved to the area in the past few years to raise their families pressure on schools to find places for all these children has become immense, and it's now starting to knock onto the secondary schools as well. Do your homework really really well. Contact schools and ask where the furthest away child from the school got in from last year. Consider what you would do if your child was offered a place at a school you didn't like or was impractical to travel to, as that's what happening to people I know this year.
Sorry if some of that sounds negative but if it was me I'd rather know the situation than move here and find out then.
Skinners and Judd are superselective grammar schools (you need a high score to get in, not just a pass).No catchment area although last year Judd introduced an 'inner' and 'outer' area score.
Tunbridge wells boys grammar is catchment but it's a pretty big area.
Then there is Bennett, St Gregs and Skinners Kent academy (which is doing very well now).
The 11plus forum has a Kent section which is quite useful.
There is no such thing as a catchment for a TW school (other than for St James' which I think publishes roads within its catchment). It is purely down to last admitted distance - so do your homework VERY carefully. Almost every school in TW is oversubscribed and getting places at Claremont and Bishops Down (in particular) has been extremely challenging for some time. TWFS is also non-denominational by the way, but you would need to be on the doorstep to get a place - probably in the new development.
The 11+ may seem ages away but be aware people start tutoring earlier and earlier - Y3 is not unusual, and the private schools all sell themselves on their "11+ pass rate" so competition is fierce. Skinners' scores went up quite a lot this year because Judd are now operating an inner and outer ring (like TGS), which meant that local boys with a Skinners score (last year) are being sent to Judd in September (madness!). If you have a daughter, bear in mind that you will be out of catchment for TWGGS if you are in Pembury and probably Langton Green, so will either be sent to Maidstone or Tonbridge if you go down a grammar route...
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