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Help! Moving from California... Where to live with three kids?

(79 Posts)
SaturdaySunday Thu 02-May-13 18:11:07

We will be moving to London from California this July/August. Have a ds (15) will need secondary school, dd (5) need primary school and ds2 (2) home with me for now. Cannot afford independent schools so need to live somewhere with good state schools and reasonable chance of getting in.

Our criteria for schools: no uniforms, smaller size, ethnically diverse, great teachers and happy kids.

We can afford up to 2500 for 3 bedroom. DH will be working in Shoreditch (Garden Walk) and up to 40 minute commute okay, less is better. Want village-like feeling, safe, and access to great parks.

Our shortlist for now is: Greenwich, Islington, Canonbury. Any info on primary or secondary schools in these areas? Or other areas we should consider?

A lot to ask, I know! Thanks for any tips and thoughts you might have... This is an exciting move for us but very daunting digging through all the school and neighborhood info. Other similar threads I have seen are a few years old and assuming things might have changed. Thank you!

PatriciaHolm Thu 02-May-13 18:18:10

The great majority of UK state schools have uniform, I'm afraid, so you will probably have to drop that criteria! Some don't, and I'm sure someone here will know if there is one near where you need to be, but the chances are your DD will be offered a place at one that do. Secondaries sometimes get more lenient at 16+.

titchy Thu 02-May-13 18:41:38


titchy Thu 02-May-13 18:45:53

Oops! When is your ds 16? If after 1 September then you'll be joining half way through GCSEs which will make life difficult.... If 16 before then you'll be looking at 6th form places which might be easier although kids in UK usually go to 6th form with qualifications.

newgirl Thu 02-May-13 18:47:32

£2500 a month? You need to be looking outside of London eg St Albans.

SaturdaySunday Thu 02-May-13 18:53:49

He'll be 16 in mid-September. How difficult are we talking here, titchy?

Yes, I know we'll have to compromise on certain things but I've been surprised and found a handful of schools with no uniforms. At least for primary.

newgirl Thu 02-May-13 18:59:34

Our local sixth forms are mostly non- uniform. Only primary without are private Montessori.

ArabellaBeaumaris Thu 02-May-13 19:03:40

Any chance of delaying your move a year? Arriving in year 11 will be really hard academically.

amidaiwish Thu 02-May-13 19:05:00

I don't know any state schools without uniform.
What's so wrong with uniforms?

FairPhyllis Thu 02-May-13 19:12:40

Is that renting at 2500/month or buying at 250000?

Very little chance of schools with no uniform until DS finishes yr11.

SaturdaySunday Thu 02-May-13 19:23:20

2500 pounds a month to rent.

Nothing wrong with uniforms! Our ds has been in very "hippie" school until now... we are in california, mind you. smile so just wanting to help her transition smoothly. not really worried about that so much with older ds.

We can't delay move. Any tips to navigate year 11?

ArabellaBeaumaris Thu 02-May-13 19:25:46

The issue is that pupils start the gcse curriculum at the start of y10 so she will be a year late, I have no idea how much she is likely to have covered in the us but would assume there is a lot of variation in curriculum.

californiaburrito Thu 02-May-13 19:29:38

Is your DD just starting school or will she be in year 1? I'm not sure how much you've looked into school admissions but arriving in July or August and getting a reception place in London at a good school will not be easy.

I would also consider looking south from Greenwich on the overground line. Maybe Honor Oak? Near Fairlawn Primary- good school, no uniforms. I can't be too much help with secondaries.

And what sort of house are you looking for? A three bed Victorian terrace might be much smaller than you are used to....

ThreeBeeOneGee Thu 02-May-13 19:36:34

Most GCSE courses start in the beginning of Y10 (the September after the child turns 14) although some schools start some subjects earlier. The courses last for two years, and often the final grade is decided by assessments that take place over the course of the two years. By the beginning of Y11, most schools will have covered more than half of the course already.

Unless your son can start GCSE courses from the beginning, I would consider entering him into an international school or finding an alternative.

Farewelltoarms Thu 02-May-13 19:38:00

Actually I don't think it will be hard to find a good primary in July or August because there's so much movement over the holidays. And lots of people hold on to state places intending to go private in reception so I think you'll be fine.
I think the bigger issue is your older one. It's a tricky age. I don't know if it's possible to go straight to A levels (she's about two weeks younger than the cut off date for the academic year)? I'm sorry I've no idea as mine are younger.
I live in Islington, which I like, but I also really like Crouch End which has a nice secondary called Highgate Woods and a fair few primaries. Not sure about the commute.
Also Stoke Newington has a good secondary which is an easy peasy bus to Shoreditch. It's villagey and has nice park called Clissold.

Farewelltoarms Thu 02-May-13 19:38:51

Sorry referred to your son as a 'she'.

tuttavia Thu 02-May-13 19:40:33

Our local state school doesn't have a uniform (it's a primary school, though). School is diverse, and kids are very happy. It's a fab school, but secondary schools in this area are pretty dire.

We live in Blackheath, and to get into the school of your choice you do need to be living very close to the school (ie, within about 400m as the crow the flies).

We pay 2000 for a two bedroom house.

californiaburrito Thu 02-May-13 19:47:27

Sorry, silly me I see that your DD is five already, I think you'll have a bit more luck getting a year one place.

SaturdaySunday Thu 02-May-13 19:50:09

DD will be year 1. Is that harder than reception to get into?

Just trying to get a short list so my DH can fly over in June to visit schools, neighborhoods, etc. Being so far makes the research challenging and our criteria are a tall order, I know.

Any other neighborhoods we should consider with decent commute to Shoreditch and good schools?

Timing is what it is, I guess. Big leap of faith and fingers crossed.

californiaburrito Thu 02-May-13 19:52:30

Can I ask where you live now? What about it do you like? How long will you be in London?

ThreeBeeOneGee Thu 02-May-13 19:58:20

To expand on the point I made above, in our local secondary school, most GCSE courses in core subjects start in the January of Y9. The pupils then have seven terms/semesters of study in each of these subjects, including assessments which count towards the final grade, followed by a short period of revision and then some final exams in the May/June of Y11. A pupil joining the school at the beginning of Y11 would have missed five sevenths of the course.

SaturdaySunday Thu 02-May-13 21:09:08

Sounds like my DS might have to repeat a grade- start at year 10- to be on track.

@Californiaburrito- we are near santa barbara/ventura now but have lived in marin and san francisco all in the past five years. with exception of SF, all have been fairly quiet towns and we are ready for more urban life but we still appreciate the benefits of small town living - safety, access to outdoors, good schools, etc. we are typical california cliche i guess- organic foods, family bikes, progressively minded, etc. that reads like "annoying" but hopefully not. smile

amidaiwish Thu 02-May-13 21:26:15

You'd like Richmond! Bit of a trek to shoreditch though I think.

Artichook Thu 02-May-13 21:32:42

Have a look at Stoke Newington. It has more of a Californian hippy vibe and lots of organic shops on Church Street. I think there are some v good primary schools there but I don't know about secondaries.

dyslexicdespot Thu 02-May-13 21:41:25

I have not read the entire thread so please excuse if these neighbourhoods have been mentioned.

Telegraph Hill in New Cross SE London in a lovely area with some great schools. Waller is an outstanding primary that does not have uniforms. You should be able to rent a nice flat/house within budget.

Your DH would be able to take the overground to Shoreditch.

Good luck!

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