Getting into Valley Garedens Middle when you live (just, I mean just!) off catchment

(8 Posts)
FrecklesAreOut Thu 10-May-12 20:01:53

I'm stressed! We live about 4 houses off the boundary and due to the popularity of Valley we are doubtful of getting a place and we REALLY want it over Marden Bridge.

First DC in our family to go to Middle, so no sibling link. Currently in Yr3 at Coquet Park First and most of his friends will go off to Valley as they are on catchment. We've always known our street is a Marden street despite Valley being closer to us 'as the crow flies'. When we moved into this house we didn't think it would bother us, but now the application process is fast approaching, it does bother us!!

We will be applying this Oct and just wondered if anybody has any advice or experience of this common Whitley Bay dilema! What are our chances!?


mrs2cats Mon 14-May-12 09:56:16


It's difficult isn't it? Fortunately we're well within Valley catchment and our second child will be going there in Sept. It'll really depend on how big a year group there is for next Oct.

All I can say is that it's worth putting Valley Gardens down as your first choice anyway. What have you got to lose? It's not like London where, if your child doesn't get into the first choice, then they risk being sent miles and miles away. If you don't put Valley down as first choice then I think you really don't stand a chance.

Our second child is going to Valley in Sept and from what I've seen, if you're close to Valley borders, there is a good chance of getting in. Both my children have friends who live over the boundary line and have got in. In some parts of Whitley Bay, Valley really is the closest school even if it's not the catchment school. When you make your choice I would put down that you're choosing it due to distance from home.

Good luck!

OuchApproaching40 Tue 15-May-12 21:38:02

Thanks mrs. It's the chat of it in the school yard that is driving me mad. Although it is strange as I have heard a lot of negatives about Valley too (incl my neighbours who did get in). We are 1.1km as the crow for Valley and 1.2km for Marden - we are the North end, near the pool.

OuchApproaching40 Tue 15-May-12 21:41:26

Also we love our house and street and scared if we move we have done it unnecessarily are we might get in anyway!!! - have heard of that happening too.

mrs2cats Wed 16-May-12 10:09:12

Hi Ouch

You're not too far from me then. I know plenty of children who've got into Valley from that end so, fingers crossed, you'll be OK too.

I haven't heard negatives about Valley but I'm sure there must be some. I think they've changed a couple of things from when DS started (he's currently year 6) so it'll be interesting to see what happens when DD starts in September.

From our own experience we've been pleased with the school. Yes, there have been some issues but, in our case, they were dealt with promptly by the school. With a school that size there's bound to be a lot of things come up and we've always felt reassured that the school actually dealt with them. DS is really happy there.

The school yard smile - yes, that drove me mad before the last application. I started getting all confused despite the fact that we're Valley catchment, already have a child a Valley and our experience (as well as everyone that we know) of the school has been good. Just go with what you want and what you feel is best for your child. Have a look at the schools and decide for yourself. Although I must admit that the last Valley open evening was terrible compared with the other 2 middle schools (Marden and Monkseaton) and left many parents unimpressed. If I'd had to choose on open evening alone then Valley wouldn't have been top choice. When I'd gone with DS 2 years previously it was a much better evening. Don't know what went wrong last time - whether Valley feels it doesn't need to impress parents or whether it was just sheer weight of numbers (they were overwhelmed by visitors)...

If there's anything else you want to know/ask, just let me know.

OuchApproaching40 Wed 16-May-12 16:50:59

Thanks again mrs - we are an in-betweeny (!) street, some years the children have got in, some haven't. We are the 'wrong side' of Ilfracome Gnds grin so it must just depend on the numbers on catchment that year. I think we have a high chance. Yes, have heard about the open night and people judging a school on that. I wouldn't let the personality of a headteacher put me off - I teach, it means very little! Some of the roughests schools will put on an 'all singing all dancing open night' but i sit would put my DCs there!

OuchApproaching40 Wed 16-May-12 16:51:43

sorry, I mean 'still wouldn't' !!

mrs2cats Wed 16-May-12 17:20:10

Like in any occasion or workplace etc, you'll find you get along with or like some people better than others.
I like Mr Homer and I've seen him in the corridors and classrooms chatting to pupils really nicely. DS also thinks he's nice and says that he always says hello when they pass in the corridor and sometimes stops for a chat. Many parents of Valley children remember him teaching them a few years ago - and he seems to remember quite a few of them too.
I liked the fact that when they did a music evening at the Playhouse, Mr Homer was up on stage playing his guitar too grin.
But it is difficult to judge a school and a Head on the basis of one evening. We chose Valley (OK we were in catchment anyway but we could still have a choice) because we felt the school was right for our DS (he needs a little pushing and encouragement sometimes) and their attitude was the kind of attitude we wanted for DS. From our experience, it's right for DD too - she doesn't need as much encouraging but there will be loads of opportunities opened to her there.
Hope all goes well for you and your DC.

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