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WWYD? Relocating with DC in Y1 to Hemel area

(14 Posts)
MurderOfProse Wed 19-Sep-12 10:53:45

We're planning a relocation very soon. Due to school admissions and DD2 due to start school next September, we're planning on moving around Christmas time, most likely into rented, so we're in place for catchments etc for decent schools in mid January. Later on next year we'll probably buy our "forever" house but we don't want time pressures and so on and it's easier to find a decent house when renting. All well and good.

However DD1 is in Y1. She's currently at an "Outstanding" school, albeit in a deprived area, and doing very well, not wanting to stealth boast but she's well ahead in most areas and we don't want to lose that momentum. It seems unlikely she'd be able to transfer immediately to whichever school we're siting ourselves near for catchment purposes as they're surely going to already be oversubscribed with waiting lists. We're moving sufficient distance (SE London to the Hemel area, probably Boxmoor but possibly Berko for local sorts who may have extra insights) for it to be impossible to commute.

DD1 does not like change, although she does adapt and is very sociable once she stops being shy! She's currently a popular child, although I was bullied horrendously at school and we have similar personalities so I do worry.

Obviously we're hoping that next September when her sister starts at whichever school it is that DD1 would be bumped up any waiting list due to sibling priority if she hasn't got in already. But that's still most likely at least two terms where she'll need a school and even then there are no guarantees at all.

It's probable a school within the distance rules will have a space in the meantime, but whether that school is any good or not is obviously out of our hands - most likely not if the good schools are popular. It's not the end of the world if it's a rubbish school but I have vague concerns over a rubbish school doing more harm than good, especially if it's somewhere that bullying is rife.

We're left with the decision then of either sending her to a less than ideal school then hopefully swapping her over at some point, which she could well find disorientating. Three schools in two years is pretty bad, isn't it? Or homeschooling her.. which isn't ideal either as although I fully support the idea of homeschooling, I don't know how good I'd be at it and I have two other DC - DD2 and DS1 who is currently 16 months.

And of course all this assumes we're able to get DD2 into a decent school at all when it comes to admissions time, and then that a space ever becomes available for DD1 at that school. I can just see myself needing to be in two places half an hour apart at 3.30pm each day confused

Your thoughts are all very welcome!

ReallyTired Wed 19-Sep-12 14:14:08

I think that you will find hard to find a primary school within boxmoor. Southill is very over subscribed, Boxmoor Primary is currently in special measures and you have to be Roman Catholic to get St Roses. South Hill is a very good school, but unfortunately has very large classes in keystage 2.

There is a real pressure on places in the Boxmoor/ Berkhamstead area and there is a real danger that you could be allocated an unpopular school like Chauden. (Chauden has very low results because it has a speech and language unit. I have a friend who took her son out of Chauden because of low expectations.)

I have a friend who is pleased with Gade Valley School, but again it is very over subscribed.

The difficulty you have is finding a decent school with places. I suggest you visit Broadfield Primary. It is a large two form entry school and although it is very popular, places are more likely to come up as people often move out of Adeyfield. Broadfield has a particularly strong anti bullying policy if you are worried about bullying. It also has a fanastic range of cheap after school clubs if you are in the difficult position of having two children at diferent schools.

Broadfield is just about walkable from Boxmoor. It would be quite tiring though as its mile from Boxmoor and involves walking up a steep hill.

Other schools with good repuations are the Hammond, Hobbs Hill, Two Waters and Tudor. If you have a car then you could take your children to one of the primary schools in the viliages. (Ie. Gadesden Row, Potten End or Great Gadesden)

The only thing you can really do is visit these schools.

ReallyTired Wed 19-Sep-12 14:27:55

This is a very good pre school.

MurderOfProse Wed 19-Sep-12 21:47:34

Thanks ReallyTired. The aim is to get DD2 into an at least average if not decent school initially. And then move in DD1 when there is a space in the year group.. if it takes a few years, it takes a few years I guess. I truly believe a few less than ideal years at primary school won't affect her that much in the long term, especially if we support her at home like we do currently. Surely it will be easier for her to transfer in once she is in KS2 and infant class size regulations no longer apply and she has a sibling, albeit younger, already there..

Definitely not going to bother with any religious schools, the concept is against my religion wink

We do a lot of walking, we're a big walking family so that's really not an issue even if it is up a steep hill!

I'm thinking it may be an idea for me to ring round all the reasonable schools (thank you for that list!) and ask what the waiting lists are like and the likelihood of a place within a year or two for DD1. Then go over and take a look at the ones that might work out. Then choose a rental property based on proximity to the favourite in order to stand a reasonable chance for DD2's admission. It's a bit of a gamble but there's not much else we can do really short of not living anywhere near where we would like to.

Anyone have any thoughts on whether it's better to homeschool a KS1 child for a few terms rather than disrupt them with multiple schools?

kw13 Thu 20-Sep-12 13:25:01

Nothing specific - but a vote for it doesn't do as much harm as you'd think to change schools that often. I have a friend whose DS was in School A - it all went horribly wrong, so she moved him to School B, they then moved house so he was moved to School C. All in the space of 3-4 years. I was horrified when I heard this, especially since I had always thought he was a sensitive soul; however, she said (and so did he) that it had all been fine. Clear explanations were given at all points, he was (as much as he could be) part of the decision making process, and they have never looked back. Good luck with whatever you decide!

ReallyTired Thu 20-Sep-12 14:22:35

I personally would not home educate. Although Hemel does have quite a few home educators. None of the schools I have listed are bad. I think the social side of school is quite important. I did work at Southhill several years ago and although it is an excellent school, I think my son's school is better. (Or at least it is for him.)

I think that going to school in a new area is a good way to make friends. The schools I have listed all have different good points. I doult there is such a thing as a perfect school (at least in Hemel). I think you need to look at the temperment of your child to decide where is best. Do you prefer a small school or a larger school with lots of activites? How important is after school care for you?

When you buy your forever house I would consider the catchment areas of secondary schools and not worry about primaries too much.

clam Thu 20-Sep-12 19:09:18

Now you see, that's interesting. All those years when South Hill was top of all the league tables for 100% SAT results, I wouldn't even put it on my list (and we would have got in on locality as it happens). Yes, Boxmoor is struggling at the moment - it's not in Special Measures, but 'Causing Concern' which, let's face it, uunder the new Ofsted framework, most schools could find themselves shortly. There's a new Head there this term, so it could all change very quickly. I think you and I, reallytired might have surmised recently that it had been coasting for a while anyway.

I wouldn't say Broadfield is a viable walk from Boxmoor!! Although I have to say that we went to visit (albeit 12 years ago for ds!) and, despite people being shock about some of its 'clientele,' it was one of the most impressive we saw. Calm, interested kids who were all on-task. Lovely Head. BUt these things can change of course.

Two Waters had a dodgy couple of years a few years back. Lost the entire Senior Management team (illness/maternity/promotion) at once and, not unreasonably lost its way for a while. Think it's back on track now, though.

Bovingdon is Outstanding, and has been for a long while too. The Head is one of those superheads who supervises other schools, but even though he's out quite a lot, he has a very strong team who run the school like clockwork. It's two-form entry as well, so more movement likely. I got my kids in there, despite not living in the village, so it's not always full. Check it out. Be careful about catchments for secondary schools up there though.

MurderOfProse Fri 21-Sep-12 10:24:36

Thanks all!

kw13 - That's reassuring to hear. I'm always very open with my DCs over any subject, and DD1 is quite mature for her age so hopefully she'd understand. She seemed to when I was telling her yesterday, but there's a world of difference between a discussion and something actually happening!

ReallyTired - all good points. We're not really after league-table busting schools necessarily, although it would be no bad thing. I think the most important aspect is that she is challenged enough i.e. we feel it's more important for her to learn how to learn, rather than the learning itself. I was rarely stretched at school and as a result I tend to be a bit of a procrastinator these days and also suffered at university when I had no idea how to deal with something I found difficult and requiring prolonged hard work. But yes, I'm definitely considering secondary schools as more important - we'll probably aim for the Hemel school all things being equal.

clam - Very interesting! On paper obviously South Hill does look good, but it's all about the actual school and how you feel there. Thank you for the other information about the other schools, duly taken on board smile

Curiously enough, despite living in a crappy part of SE London in an area of official deprivation, somehow DD1's school has results comparable if not better than most of the schools in the Boxmoor area. I never realised this until I started playing with league table comparisons. If it wasn't for the fact we really do HAVE to move for non-schooling reasons, we might have been reconsidering. Having said that I feel DD1 is not being stretched right now either, and the level 4s (excellent) and level 5s (below average) bear that out - I think her school is amazing for getting normally low-achieving due to circumstances children up to standard, but less good for actually excelling that standard. So it's not really a good fit for her.

Bobyan Fri 21-Sep-12 21:20:31

Try Harpenden or Tring, having been to School in Hemel I'd avoid it.

mummytofive Fri 21-Sep-12 21:37:07

you will find your choice of schools for a yr 1 child very limited in hemel. I believe at the beginning of sep only 4 schs in hemel had places for yr 1.

really tired- what right have you to say 'Chauden has very low results because it has a speech and language unit. ' you clearly know nothing about the criteria it takes to get a child into a unit. the results of a school is not down to a unit, in fact i would go to say that is damm right offensive. my ds3 has just got a place in this very unit you are talking about, after nearly a year of us fighting for this right. a child who attends this unit has to be off average or above in their cognative levels. but their verbal levels are low- my son's speech is on the 1st percentile line HOWEVER HIS I.Q LEVELS PUT HIM ON THE 98TH PERCENTILE, higher that 98%of kids?! how the hell will that bring a schools sats results down? infact, most children in this unit will go back to their target school by yr 2 in infants and yr 5 in juniors, so wont be at the school for the sat years. what a shame that such ignorance is shown from someone who actually worked in a school. thou i must say, south hill did not rate high on my list when i was looking around for my 1st child.

op, when you move to the area, look around the schools that can offer your dc a place and you will get a feel when you walk into it if it is right for your child. trust your view, and to be honest, you wont have that many schools to look at anyway.

ReallyTired Fri 21-Sep-12 22:59:51

Places come up all the time in schools as people move in out of areas.

mummytofive SAT results are not intelligence tests. Sad to say childen with speech and language problems often do under perform in these stupid arbitary tests.

Both the chauden schools have substantially worse results than Pixes Hill which is virtually next door. How would you explain both the Chaulden schools have such dire results inspite of a reasonable catchment area (compared with Adeyfield or Grovehill)

Chaulden Infant School and Chaulden junior school (which incidently doesn't have a speech and language unit) has some of the worse results in the whole of hertfordshire. Neither of those schools have failed their OFSTED, but they are extremely unpopular schools and do not attract middle class families.

It is a sad fact that having a speech and language unit makes chaulden infants unpopular. Whether this is right or wrong is irrelevent. Many people avoided the Chaulden schools even when Chaulden Infants got outstanding in its OFSTED.

Under subscribed schools tend to get more than their fair share of chaotic families who can't be arsed to fill out a schools application form on time. It is these families that bring down the SATs results of a school as much as anything. Also undersubscribed schools tend to get more excluded children.

In a primary school it only takes a couple of children to seriously bring down SAT results. It is why league tables are bit artifcial.

clam Fri 21-Sep-12 23:39:28

Pixies and Chaulden haven't quite got the same catchment areas though. Pixies takes from the newish, privately-owned Chaulden Vale estate. None of those kids would be likely to go to Chaulden from there. Pixies is closer to them.

mummytofive Sat 22-Sep-12 09:17:44

so if the junior doesnt have a unit then and yet has such bad results then why is that down to the units children? you have stated chaulden has low results because it has a speech and language unit. have you any idea how that makes me feel? it is an awful statement to make, unfortunatley you are just reinforcing peoples views that speech problems are caused by bad parenting skills.
as clam says, you cannot compare pixie hill with chaulden, pixie's catchment is the new estate, and all the children in boxmoor who didnt get into boxmoor. chaulden catchment is chaulden, and going towards warnersend for those who dont want micklem.
as you say, no school has failed its ofsted. my other children attend a different school and when my dc is ready to move back he will. but this is due to being 3 miles nearer, nothing to do with the school.
my argument with you is that this attitude is what causes people to think my son has a learning or behaviour problem or comes from a family who have stuck him infront of re-runs on terminator. when in fact he is a credit to anyone who has overcome more problems than most people endure in their life. the sat results are not due to the speech and language unit, most are not there in those years as they either have transfered back to their school or the parents are sadly fighting our lea to get the child the correct help inorder to become a law abiding tax payer in future years.
i am not arguing the results for the school are lower than the average, i guess some schools do have to be lower in order for there to be a higher, but that is my opinion as a mother.
i am now off to feed my boy hot dogs and smarties to keep up with the image that so many people have off special needs kids. be carefull you keep your kids away from mine, he might be contagious so remember to keep standing away from him in the playground as you do and heven forbid, dont invite him to play or to a party.

MurderOfProse Sun 23-Sep-12 22:32:33

Thanks everyone!

Current plan is to ring the council and ask how big the waiting lists are for a variety of schools - will they tell me? Guess I will find out anyway! If needs be I can ring round the schools too.

Then we'll look for a rental property as close as possible to one of those schools (based upon a mixture of shorter waiting list/do we like it etc) thus maximising DD1's chances of getting into Y1 as presumably most children on the waiting list are competing on distance (and not time on the list). Obviously sibling priority presumably comes first, but if DD2 then gets into that school in reception next year then that'll help too so hopefully they won't be at different schools for too long. Depending on waiting list position we'll decide whether to homeschool or send her temporarily to a less ideal school in the meantime.

Obviously this plan isn't ideal, but it's the best I can come up with really. It's all horribly complicated <sigh>

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