I am getting a bit fraught now. We need to move from our tiny flat in SE4. Want to buy house for max £320k in the catchment area of a nice school. School wish list: small, friendly, emphasis on being good comrade rather than top marks, but also teaching Maths and English too. Would also be handy if they had after school activities as we both work full-time. I have been compulsively checking property websites for nearly a year now, and it seems that we can no longer afford anywhere nice in Brockley or Ladywell. Have been looking at Catford but Sandhurst won't give us a tour before September, only giving us 3 months to move before having to register in Jan. Sheesh. I have looked at John Stainer school - love it - can't afford to live near it Gordonbrock - love it too - can't afford to live near it either. Before I start another research project on a school and surrounding area, I hoped you dear MN'ers might give me your personal experiences of your own schools. Pretty please?
I have been looking at Forest Hill this evening, but am a bit overwhelmed by another new area to research. Any specific schools you had in mind sprogger Will look up Dalmain sleepingbunny is it surrounded by reasonably priced spacious houses?
I don't know if we'd be close enough to Gordonbrock there though * plantsitter*, but I have been looking there too. Going to look at another house on that road on Saturday, but there aren't many houses on the market at the moment.
Have a look at the se23.com forum, other threads about areas and primaries that might help. Also Sydenham forum (but not as much traffic on that forum). Obviously looking at my name you can see I'm biased, but it is a nice area in Forest Hill. Good links with the new overland East London Line, nice coffee shops, the Horniman museum, good shops just down the road in East Dulwich, and lots of lovely parks nearby.
Very hard to get into primaries in my corner of SE26/Se23 (Eliot Bank, Horniman, Fairlawn), you have to live within about 300 m to be sure at the moment I think, but that's just because these primaries are flavour of the month at the mo. (When my DC1 got in to Eliot Bank 4 yrs ago, we were 700m away - would never get in now.) Ask Lewisham for their Primary Admissions booklet: in there, they list for each school the distance of the furthest applicant (if that makes any sense). There are other nice primaries: Stillness, Ivydale (though tight catchment again), Kilmorie etc etc. Good luck!
Of course I wasn't suggesting that there aren't other great primaries in FH/Syd (in fact it seems a veritable hotbed of them!) just dalmain is the only one I have personal experience of so far. Been round lots of others - they all looked good and very different. Bit shocked at this school that won't let you see it for months - most of the ones I saw were really open to visitors, either with weekly open days or easy to make an appointment with the Head. Sydenhamhiller has mentioned most of the ones I know of - but I'd also mention Rathfern (lots of good feedback at the moment) at the Catford end. St Michael's in Sydenham, where friends are v happy. Incidentally we have friends on Manwood with kids at Gordonbrock - don't seem to have had problems getting in and v happy with it.
I know SB the first thing I noticed on the Dalmain website was the weekly open day <sigh>. It's really annoying tbh because I don't want to buy a house in the catchment area of a school I might not like, and the houses on the Corbett estate in Catford are lovely and pretty cheapish too. Sydenhamhiller I will definately look into Forest Hill though, as it is a few stops up from where we are now in Brockely. I will also look at the forum too, thanks everyone
Fairlawn, horniman etc, but beware, tiny catchment areas. Also, if schools have had a "bulge class" in this or last year, the catchment areas may well shrink even further due to more siblings from the bulge classes being admitted in subsequent years.
Stuff on these schools and education in se london on the east dulwich forum and forest hill forum. How about renting?
Thanks Dozer - good suggestion but I don't fancy renting - I would like to keep this as painless/positive/exciting as possible for 'first born', and she will require a pink bedroom wherever we move to . Will check out the two forums too. I think I will have to look seriously as Crofton Park schools, as we will have to keep getting her to her Telegraph Hill nursery until she starts school in Sept 2012