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Relocating to London in June

(23 Posts)
AmericanmominLondon Wed 12-Feb-14 17:37:20

We are an American family with kids who are 6 and 8 and we will be moving to London this coming summer. I would like to find a great state school to send my kids to but I am realizing that we might miss the entry cut-off if we move in June. Is that correct? I have found a lot of school information on Ofsted and but I am not sure about the application process. I am scared that we will move to an area for the schools and then find out that they are all full.

Any tips or information would be super appreciated!

mary21 Wed 12-Feb-14 18:05:12

As your children won't be starting school at a standard age 4/5 or 11 the cut off dates don't apply. What you need is an address in the UK. The you apply to schools. It depends if they have space. The local education authority is obliged to find you space somewhere but it doesn't have to be a good school or closest to your house. It is therefore a good idea to find a property in an area with lots of good schools. Then the odds of space coming up in a good school is much higher. Under 7,s have a maximum class size of 30 which makes things harder at this age.
However in London people do move around. Thereare lots of ex pats so whatever people say about over subscribed schools places come availible.
The cut of date for a year group is 1st Sept.. what age will they be then.
Richmond has lots of good schools but its an expensive area

pyrrah Wed 12-Feb-14 19:44:13

Agree with mary21 to try and find an area with lots of good schools.

Unfortunately many parts of London are incredibly oversubscribed, so be aware that you may well not get places in the same school for both your children (although getting one in will put your other child higher up the waiting list should a place become available in their year group). Things like not being able to get children to two different schools at the same time, or having problems getting to a job because of time needed to get to a school are not things considered when allocating school places.

The local authority HAVE to find you a school place, but this could be up to an hour each way (this is considered a reasonable distance). If you reject the place they offer then they are under no obligation to offer you anything else. Better to take the place and get on every waiting list you can.

You will need to be in the UK with an address before you can apply, but it's worth ringing LAs in areas you'd like to live to see what kind of movement they have in their area and what places are available.

If your children have turned 6 and 8 since the 1st September 2013, then they will be going into Y2 and Y4 respectively, if they will turn 7 and 9 before September 2014 then they will be going into Y3 and Y5.

AmericanmominLondon Thu 13-Feb-14 13:51:22

Thanks Pyrrah and Mary, that information is very helpful! So if I wanted to find out from the local schools what our chances are of getting in, would I just contact the school via their website? Is there an application date for all schools or is each school different?

I think we will have to have my husband go over early and get our rental locked in so that we can apply to schools.

Huitre Thu 13-Feb-14 14:50:10

There isn't really an application date, unless you are applying for a place in Reception or Y7, which you won't be. The application date is basically whenever you and the children have arrived in the country, have an address and you ring the council/schools to ask where there are places. In the first instance you could ring round schools now and ask what their previous turnover has been like at that time of year. If you move in June, this is just before the end of the school year (around 20th July, usually) so you would only be getting your children into schools for 6 or 7 weeks at most. That could be a good time to do it, though, as once you have started the process you can ask to be put on waiting lists if the school you get isn't convenient for you. We have a lot of expat families (including a fair number of Americans) in our school and they do often move at the end of a term. It depends how disruptive you think starting a new school and then maybe moving again would be for your children and how they would cope with it - as well as changing countries! Consider also how long you will be here for - if you get a school you're not that keen on but it is only for a year, perhaps it won't matter too much?

If your children have turned 6 and 8 since the 1st September 2013, then they will be going into Y2 and Y4 respectively, if they will turn 7 and 9 before September 2014 then they will be going into Y3 and Y5.

This is quite important as up to Y2 there is a limit on class sizes of 30, whereas in Y3 and up a school may take on additional pupils if necessary. I don't know how that works or who makes the decision. I would ask the council about that, in your situation.

I am near Richmond and would agree that there are no bad primary schools round here. In my local area, they are all rated good or outstanding, though some are more popular than others. I'd suggest getting to the UK and going to see potential schools asap as they are all very different in feel and I imagine that's the same anywhere in London.

And good luck!

AmericanmominLondon Thu 13-Feb-14 15:31:08

OK, so I didn't realize your school lets out so much later than ours in the summer. Our school year ends June 5th which is why we planned to go over in June. I wonder if we would have a better chance of getting into our choice school if we apply in June and do one month rather than applying for the following fall? I don't think my kids would be too keen on going back to school for a month after they had just started their summer break smile. When does school start back up in the fall?


TeenageAdvice15 Thu 13-Feb-14 15:37:31

Schools usually go back from around the 5th-10th September

allyfe Thu 13-Feb-14 15:37:35

Schools start back at the beginning of September.

You could always tell your children that the advantage of starting school in July is that they might meet some children they could see over the summer holidays?

I don't know much about in-year admissions to schools, so I can't help on that front. What areas of London are you considering moving to?

AmericanmominLondon Thu 13-Feb-14 16:04:31

We are looking at Wandsworth, Hampstead and possibly Richmond or Haringey. We just started doing our research last week so I am just collecting information at this point.

The idea of making friends before the summer break is a great one! I think that would definitely be a good thing and I believe they would both go for that.

allyfe Thu 13-Feb-14 16:35:37

I love Hampstead - I grew up near there. But I think you'll find that the primary schools are quite mixed - which means you could end up in a good one or a poor one.

AmericanmominLondon Thu 13-Feb-14 16:44:43

Thank you for that information about Hampstead, I definitely do not want to risk ending up in a bad school. We are leaving an amazing school here and I really want to ensure that we end up in a good school. I am guessing that if we went to Richmond or Haringey we would have the best chance of ending up in a good school since there are so many good schools in those locations...

TeenageAdvice15 Thu 13-Feb-14 17:00:09

have you thought about moving a bit further away from london closer to teddington/twickenham? Stanley, collis etc are all very good primary schools as it teddington secondary

AmericanmominLondon Thu 13-Feb-14 17:17:48

I have not looked into that area, what direction from London is Teddington? My husband wants to try to keep his commute into London under 45 minutes if possible so that is why we are looking at areas closer in.

Huitre Thu 13-Feb-14 17:19:15

Teddington is near Richmond but a bit further out. It's very nice - I grew up there. Where would your husband be commuting to?

TeenageAdvice15 Thu 13-Feb-14 17:57:37

yes it's about 30-40 mins on the train from teddington to waterloo

TeenageAdvice15 Thu 13-Feb-14 18:44:24

How much are you thinking of spending?

pyrrah Thu 13-Feb-14 19:22:57

You might have a problem if you try and apply for schools before you and the children are physically in the country - if places come up they expect you to take them quickly.

I got a Reception place for my DD at our 1st choice school 3 weeks into the first term. I heard on the Thursday morning, had to go and sign the forms on the Friday and they wanted her to start on the Monday - I basically picked her up on the Thursday afternoon from the school she was at and she didn't go back. They had 4 places come up at the same time and all 4 new children started on the Monday.

Regarding school terms, the autumn term runs from early September to just before Christmas with a week off for half-term in the middle. The Christmas holidays are 2 weeks long. Spring term runs from the second week in January till the first week in April with a week for half-term (next week). Then another 2 weeks holiday for Easter. Summer term starts at the end of April until almost the end of July with a week off towards the end of May.

One thing you might not be aware of, is that there are no 'secular' schools in the UK. All schools, by law, must have a "daily act of worship of a broadly Christian nature". What exactly this entails is basically down to the Head - some just talk about being kind to other people etc, others are full on prayers and hymns.

We also have a lot of faith schools - mainly Church of England and Roman Catholic. Getting places at good faith schools involves a lot of jumping through hoops in London - letters from the local vicar/priest are required along with attendance at church at least twice a month for the last 3 years, extra brownie points for doing the flowers etc and in many cases for the RC schools they want baptism before 3 months.

If a faith school would be your kind of thing, it's worth getting your local priest to give you letters detailing the extent of your commitment to the church as this might help any application.

When you're looking at possible schools, look at how their admissions work (not all schools are the same). Generally it's 'Looked After Children' (kids who are in care or who have been adopted from care), then children with a Statement (medical or educational needs that specifies that particular school), then siblings, then distance from the school gate (can be straight line or walking route which will be different). On the local authority website you will be able to see the last distance offered for previous years. Some schools will have large distances, very popular schools could be as little as 150m from the school gate.

This information is very important - some areas can be 'black-holes'... just outside the last-distance-offered for pretty much every school in the area.

Waiting lists don't work on first come first served, it's all done on how you score on the admissions criteria, so if you love a school try and find a property as close as you can to that school as this will move you up the list.

AmericanmominLondon Thu 13-Feb-14 19:33:55

Thank you, I think I must try to book a trip to visit schools in April and then we can have my husband move out in May and we can start the application process and submit them once my kids have finished school here the first week of June. Then we can move and see if they can enter a school of our choice for the last few weeks of school before summer break. All the information provided thus far has been very helpful!

werenotreallyhere Thu 13-Feb-14 19:48:19

Hi OP, where is your husband's job located?

Quangle Thu 13-Feb-14 21:57:08

Teddington is not the place to be if you want to get anywhere in under 45 mins (unless you want to be at Waterloo). Grew up there and have spent many a miserable hour waiting for those trains...Schools are good though. Might be better to go for Twickenham or Richmond for the commute - just slightly closer in but more fast trains. I thought Hampstead was good for schools but perhaps I am out of date on that.

I would have thought Camden borough a better bet for schools than Haringey but that may also be out of date (I know some good Camden schools but I'm sure it's very dependent on catchment).

Saracen Thu 13-Feb-14 23:23:36

Don't forget that if you don't like the schools you are offered - or if they are impractical, for example if you are offered different schools for your two children - you don't have to send your kids to school at all. You could home educate while waiting for a better school place to become available.

The requirements for home education in England are straightforward to meet. You don't need permission from anyone. You can use any curriculum or none. You can choose your own hours and term dates, so if you and the kids feel that they should have a holiday starting in June then that is fine. There are quite a few home education groups in London, so they could meet up with other kids during school hours if they want.

AnnaVR Fri 14-Feb-14 12:24:53

I know schools are important but the areas you mention are very different in character so I think a good starting point would be picking an area you would enjoy living in and then working out the schools situation.

nlondondad Fri 14-Feb-14 17:41:19

A lot of sound advice on this thread, and not really possible to add to it except to say that for more precise information you do need to dsclose where in London exactly (is it near waterloo for example?) your husband will be commuting to as that has a big impact on where you could choose to live to be within 45 minutes commute. So, for example, if he is going to be close to a mainline station then 45 minutes out by surface from that station can be a long way, if you want.

The other info is what age your two children will be on the 1st September so as to determine exactly waht years they will be in.

I think I know of a school, rated OfSted good, near Crouch End which I think would have a vacancy, probably for your eldest, and for your youngest, who would then get preference of course, there are also a number of schools in the area, rated good, one outsatnding so the chance of gettin a place for them, even if not in the same school would be quite high. PM me if you would like more detailed information.

And then you need a place to live.....

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