Moving to Reading - please help me get enthusiastic about Reading life!

(34 Posts)
saskipops Wed 22-Apr-09 21:42:36

I'm relocating to Reading and was slightly worried when a chance encounter with a Reading based mum left me with the distinct impression that there is little for young kids (2&4yrs) to do by way of activities eg sports, music, drama. To make things worse she dismissed all the local secondary schools to the North of the city, (where we are likely to be based) as "hmmm adequate".
Please help instill me with some optimism and enthusiasm for our move to Reading - what delights await us, beyond shopping at the Oracle?!

Many thanks

PS We aren't yet commited to living in N Reading - so if you agree with her comments and think we should be considering a move somewhere else with decent access to Reading/Slough/Windsor your thoughts also welcome!

tellyaddict Sun 26-Apr-09 21:35:09

Hi Saskipops,

I moved to Reading many years ago and still absolutely love it. How many places have so much to do, are so multi-cultural, have easy access to an airport that you can fly to anywhere in the world from? I disagree that there isn't much for little children to do. When my older two were little there were numerous toddler groups and pre-schools to choose from (now there are even more) there are loads of really nice parks and walks along the river in nice weather, two massive indoor soft play areas (plus all the sports centres indoor activities) in bad weather times. I also have a toddler and we are never short of things to do with other friends and their toddlers. We are not yet at the high school stage so can't comment on that, but again there is a massive choice of schools.

Feel free to CAT me and ask specifics if you like, I'll give you an honest opinion based on my experiences or those of my friends if I haven't got direct experience myself!

lobsters Mon 27-Apr-09 14:22:53


Not sure quite where you mean by North Reading, if you mean Caversham/ Emmer Green then you can't move for things for young kids to do. There are play groups, rhyme time at the library, music classes, rugby classes for 2 year olds. There's all sorts to do. Apparently the area has the highest birth rate in Reading and it's definitely full of parents looking for suitable children's activities.

When the weather is good it's also lovely to walk along the river, there are lots of play grounds. My DD is not at play ground age yet, but I can think of 3 within walking distance of my house.

They've also just built a new children's centre, it only opened a couple of weeks ago so I don't know yet what it offers.
I don't know about secondary schools, we're a long way off that. But there are state grammar schools in Reading that are supposed to be excellent.

Let me know if you have anymore questions

f1nut Mon 27-Apr-09 15:48:39

totally agree with other ladies, there is alot to do, we moved from london to caversham 2 years ago and its the best move we ever made, lots for kids to do, classes, swimming, lots of parks and open spaces, loads of toddler groups, and reading mums (compared to london mums) r very friendly.

theres some fab schools round here but yes some cruddy ones aswell (cant be perfect) as for secondary schools, have a 10 yr old so looking into that now, so far, looks good

saskipops Mon 27-Apr-09 16:14:59

phew - thank you for the blast of enthusiasm!

Yes I do mean Caversham - although we are also looking in the Earley area as better for commutes and the Maiden Erleigh school's reputation is constantly cited at us over the Highdown/Chiltern Edge choice. (Also heard about the grammars but also know how competitive they are, so figure we can do without that pressure of expectation in our four and two year olds' lives!)

If anyone happens to know more about the state schools in the area - I'd really appreciate any views/comments. One house we are looking at is in the Hill catchment, but its full we may wind up in Micklands. It think they then go to chiltren Edge or Highdown. Another house is near Maiden Erleigh. Argh the responsibility of parenting!

lobsters Mon 27-Apr-09 17:15:20

In terms of primary schools there are some excellent ones in Caversham, Caversham Primary, Emmer Green, Caversham park, although as you might have spotted the catchment areas are slightly odd due to Reading council logic, and you're not necessarily in the catchment of the geographically nearest school.

I don't know much about Highdown, although all the children near me go there, they all seem like perfectly nice kids. I do know some teachers there and they seem to like it, certainly none of the horror stories or poor moral I get from some other teaching friends (outside the Reading area).

Your kids are very young and Maiden Erleigh, Highdown and Chiltern Edge could all well change a lot between now, and when you're kids are going so I wouldn't worry too much.

saskipops Mon 27-Apr-09 18:04:52

good advice Lobsters... but sadly I am one of life's long distance planners [read worriers], which means that while I should be joining in on the playmobil knights verses plastic duck battle currently ensuing in my kitchen, I am distracted by nagging concerns about secondary school catchment areas!

Picante Mon 27-Apr-09 18:15:01

Hi Sas! I live in the University area although sadly just outside the Maiden Erlegh catchment - from everything I hear it really is a good school, so much so that I intend to move house before ds is 11 (he's only 3 so I have a while...!). We only miss out on catchment by a matter of yards and I wish I'd investigated it before we bought the house.

Caversham is known as the posh part of Reading!

RustyBear Mon 27-Apr-09 18:26:10

Picante -it's quite likely that the catchment areas of all the Wokingham secondary schools (and Maiden Erlegh is a Wokingham Borough school) will change before your DS is 11 - they are still thinking of moving Emmbrook out to the south/west - so I wouldn't be too quick to move! grin

The state grammars Reading School (boys) and Kendrick (girls) are very competitive - DS got in, DD didn't, but she's just got 5 As at A level.....

I live in Wokingham; if that's not too far south for you to consider, you can find my thoughts & those of some other locals about Wokingham/Winnersh/Earley on this thread and this one

saskipops Mon 27-Apr-09 18:27:01

ohh not tooo posh I hope. We were also looking at wokingham - which has fab schools and people are very complimentary about life there - but does have quite a high pony count from what I gather!

saskipops Mon 27-Apr-09 18:33:50

dear rusty bear - our postings crossed. I do hope you are not offended by my pony count comments!

RustyBear Mon 27-Apr-09 18:40:51

Don't worry - I don't get offended that easily!


saskipops Mon 27-Apr-09 18:47:01

damn - I'll try harder next time wink

Picante Mon 27-Apr-09 18:51:23

Winnersh is nice, as is Woodley.

MrsJamin Mon 27-Apr-09 18:59:45

woodley is not that nice, picante, it's so suburban it makes me crazy. caversham is nice, posher than earley but you need to think about the commute if you need to get to the m4 heading east - town can get crazy traffic at rush hour, and if you look at a map you can see how large an area is north of reading and the fact that there are only 2 bridges joining it to the rest of reading - quite a bottleneck! I have no ideas about schools as DS is only 1 and we live in (pretty rough) West Reading.

saskipops Mon 27-Apr-09 19:14:31

urgh rush hour - what time does it start? the one blessing of early start to work (8am windsor or central reading) but 5.30/6 finish means that possibly you can miss the worstbut maybe I'm being optimistic hmm

MrsJamin Mon 27-Apr-09 19:20:11

I can't imagine choosing to live in Caversham if you drive to work needing the m4 eastbound, to be honest. rush hour in reading starts pretty early and lasts for ages.

Picante Mon 27-Apr-09 20:05:03

Yep MrsJ is right (I rarely say that, she's my sister), you want to be looking at Earley / University area. I'll show you around!

saskipops Mon 27-Apr-09 20:15:33

thanks for the warning! The DH will be doing the commuting (and only east twice a week, the rest into central Reading) and I'll be the one spending 99% of my time in the area we live so its balancing travel with a family friendly neighbourhood!

LongDroopyBoobyLady Mon 27-Apr-09 20:23:34

Earley's rush hour starts at about 7.30 but there is the Waterloo line at Earley station (and the car park is only £1 for the day although it is full up very early!)

Maiden Erlegh is a great school and has been for the last 25 years although the 2008 KS3 SATs were a little disappointing. But with the closing of Ryeish Green in 2011 (I think it's 2011 but might be 2010) I think there will be a big shake up in catchment areas.

The Holt is a great state girls' school in Wokingham and Forest (boys' school) in Winnersh is good.

To be honest I think you are pretty spoiled for secondary schools in the Wokingham borough but there's a big difference in primary schools.

saskipops Mon 27-Apr-09 20:58:24

ohhh I feel more school research coming on. but if everything is going to change in catchment areas perhaps I should be just focus on primaries and leave the secondary stress for another decade!

thank you all for your invaluable help and advice and should we actually get near finding a home in the area I'm afraid I'll be back in touch for more advice! So probably 2012 given the state of the current housing market.

lobsters Thu 30-Apr-09 20:01:54

if you need to be in Windsor for 8, leave Caversham at 7, or poss 7.15 and you'll be fine. I used to drive from Caversham to the station and so long as I left the house by 7.30 I would be fine. Although the Windsor bit might be busy by then, but that applies wherever you live in Reading.

Getting into the middle of Reading from any side of it can be a pain, the one thing I found is that at times buses can be quicker than cars, and if DH doesn't have parking at work then it'll definitely be a lot cheaper

herbgarden Thu 30-Apr-09 20:21:53

I moved from London to Caversham 3 years ago. We had our ds who is now nearly 3 and then a DD. Personally I love living in Caversham - I was brought up not that far away but have family living near and lived in London for years and years (and was terrified about leaving !!) - The primary schools here are supposedly good and I second what others say about the secondary. With regard to toddlers, there is loads of stuff going on and you'll never be short of playgroups and other music type of activities. The Rivermead just down the hill has toddler sessions for softplay, Little Kickers for boys, swimming lessons and is very popular with local mums. There are tons of drop in playgroups where you can meet other mums. We've also got a costa coffee, a new bistro restaurant place and waitrose and butchers so you don't need to go into town to get your "local" shopping. I work in town and get a bus to work - I leave around 7.30 and can be in town by 7.50. There is no denying that the traffic in Reading is often dreadful but DH works off the M4 and if you leave by 7.30 you are fine. Get too near 8am and you are getting into busy territory.

School thing is always difficult. Be warned that the maiden earleigh catchment area is so popular it is reflected in house prices. A friend of mine recently bought a very nice house where there were 20 odd people after it and it went over the asking price (in this economic climate too) - it's in the catchment.

We have friends who lived in Wokingham for 3-4 years. They liked it but got fed up with it and have moved to Farnham now. I'm not sure there's much in it to be honest unless the school situation suits you better?

Honestly though, I was sceptical but it is sooo conveniently placed. We still have lots of London friends who we easily see, family in London, family down on the South Coast and friends in the west country. Nowhere takes long to get to as you can always get to a motorway pretty quickly and you're off. I still pop into London in an evening to meet friends for dinner (yes, train fare expensive but at least I can do it if I need/want to).....

Docbunches Tue 05-May-09 11:40:29

As usual I've come late to this thread but, wow... can't believe so many mumsnetters live in the Reading area!

I live in Earley and my sister and parents live in Caversham. My nephew goes to Micklands and is doing really well (he got L3s in KS1 Sats last year, so it can't be that bad). I'd have a look at Micklands, you may be pleasantly surprised, for example, lots of green space that Caversham Primary doesn't have. Also, it has to improve because more parents will be forced to send DCs there when the more popular schools are full to bursting. My nephew is set to go to Highdown in a few years, which is definitely on the up, I would say.

I love Earley - we may not have the lovely shops, pubs, etc like Caversham, but there are plenty of other things going for it.

Maiden Erlegh is fab as already mentioned and best primaries in Earley are Aldryngton and Radstock (results-wise at least).

LDBL - I'm sure your DD and my DS must vaguely know each other (poss both in same year at same school?).

LongDroopyBoobyLady Tue 05-May-09 14:38:30

DB my DD is in Yr9, how about yours?

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