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Which Primary Schools are the Best in Tunbridge Wells?

(35 Posts)
ginajacques Sat 15-Mar-14 08:03:17

I'm really worried, my son is 4 due to start Primary school in September, we have him in the best school on the Wirral but my husband's moved to Kent for work so we have to follow. We'll be living in Tunbridge Wells but have no idea which catchment area to move to. It took me a while to sus out the best school in the area I've lived in my whole life, talking to other mums, I don't think ofstead reports are as good as parent recommendations.

I'm looking for a school with good behaviour, discipline and results. Hope someone can advise!

grovel Sat 15-Mar-14 11:48:23

My nieces all went to St. John's. I don't remember any particular positives or negatives from their parents but all three passed the 11+ and were happy kids.

ginajacques Sat 15-Mar-14 12:15:15

Thanks Grovel! was it catholic or protestant? hope I get some more responses! x

clam Sat 15-Mar-14 13:18:22

St John's is C of E.
St Augustine's is RC.
Claremont always used to be highly recommended, not sure if it's still the case, although I suspect it must be.

ginajacques Sat 15-Mar-14 13:29:33

Thank you Clam! I'll research claremount x

ginajacques Sat 15-Mar-14 13:29:51

Claremont sorry!

clam Sat 15-Mar-14 13:31:55

Bear in mind, however, that if it is still very good, it will be hugely over-subscribed (same applies to other outstanding schools) and property prices nearby will have even more of a premium on them than usual (which is saying a lot. TW is not cheap!). Getting a child in after the initial Reception place allocation might prove well-nigh impossible.

ginajacques Sat 15-Mar-14 13:39:37

Oh no! What can I do then? I'm don't mind living in a smaller house the places were looking at are only 3 bedroom, they're in our budget. I'm worried now!

ginajacques Sat 15-Mar-14 13:41:21

Camron is due to start school September this year he's only in pre-school. So if we move in a couple of months, he won't have started yet.

clam Sat 15-Mar-14 13:45:34

Well, check it all out (as it's a while since I applied for Primary and the dates have probably changed - there are a fair few threads about it on here though), but don't you have to apply for Reception well in advance? Think the allocations are sent out shortly?
But surely it must be the same in your current location? Have you applied for anything there yet?

clam Sat 15-Mar-14 13:48:07

Just checked Kent's admission site, and it says applications closed on 15th January and "offers" day is 16th April.

ginajacques Sat 15-Mar-14 14:08:57

Yes that is why I'm worried because I've applied locally and pretty sure he'll get in the best school in our area, he's in their pre school, were catchment he's catholic and it's a catholic school. But my husband is finding it too hard coming home weekends and Camron missies his dad so we are going to have to re-locate but it's all a bit late for his school sad Thank you for the advice and researching for me, I'll call Claremont, St Johns and tell them my situation and see what they say! I've emailed them. So we'll see x

clam Sat 15-Mar-14 14:12:12

I think school admissions are run by County, not individual schools, so they will probably direct you there.

LovingKent Sat 15-Mar-14 17:58:18

Hi ginajacques. Whereabouts will you be living in Tunbridge Wells as that will probably dictate partly where your DS goes to school? Do you want a Catholic school *that's easy - there is only one!) or don't you mind. Is your DH working in Tunbridge Wells or commuting to elsewhere? A lot of people here commute to London by train so live around Tunbridge Wells station (in the area called the Village which is pretty expensive) or High Brooms station (which is ok). Car can be a pain as there are only 2 main roads in and out of town (A21, A26) and they get rammed resulting in people using a lot of the back roads to cut through.

Catchment for schools varies from one year to the next (the only school to list the roads that are in catchment is St James'). School places have been tight here for the past few years so the council added extra classes to some schools for a few years but some have now gone back to 1 or 2 form entry as they do not have the site space to continue at 2 or 3 form entry. You will probably be looking at getting him into any school then moving him nearer to where you live once a place comes up.

The 2 best schools here at the moment with outstanding OFSTEDs are Claremont Primary and Bishops Down Primary. Neither of these are affiliated to any particular religion. Both of these are in very expensive parts of town (Claremont in the Village area near Tunbridge Wells station where a 3 bed house can cost anything from £400k) and Bishops Down in the Culverden area of town. Both have had several years of doubling their reception intake but Bishops Down is now back to 1 form entry (30 places) and this year 24 are already taken by siblings. Claremont I think is taking 60 but again at least half are taken by siblings this year. I've heard better things about Bishops Down than Claremont.

There is only one Catholic primary which is St Augustine's in the St John's area of town. The only things I know about it are that 10% of their curriculum time is spent on religious education and they have a new head this year. To apply there you have to fill out a form signed by your priest (called a SIF form) as well as the normal application form as they prioritise Catholics over distance from school.

Otherwise you have St John's C E , St James' C E, St Barnabas C E, St Peters C E, Southborough, Broadwater Down and St Mark's C E. Both St Matthew's at High Brooms and Temple Grove Academy in Sherwood are in special measures so you may want to avoid them! There is also a free school called The Wells. It only opened in September this year so I don't really know what people think of it yet.

Application is through the County as clam says not the schools directly. details here. Primary school offers are being made on 15th April so the schools won't be able to tell you anything at the moment other than to book you in for a visit. I'd contact the County council and ask for their advice. There should be a list of all the schools here on the their website and there is a booklet for you to read to apply booklet here.

Sorry that's a bit of an essay grin but hope it helps. PM if you want - I've lived here for a while now and my DS is going to school in Sept so have just been through the process myself!

clam Sat 15-Mar-14 19:08:10

I've read on here before about 'The Village' area. It makes me smile. I grew up in TW (many years ago) and my mother wouldn't let me walk home from school/town alone through the Grove because it was considered dodgy!
Times change, I know. I walked through there recently and it's certainly poshed up.

When I was growing up (70s!! blush ) three of the "best" primary schools were considered to be Claremont, St Mark's and Bishops Down, so only one change there. St Mark's had a change of site (due to previous Victorian church building in Frant Rd being deemed unsuitable any longer) and its fortunes seemed to change from then on, and I notice it's slid way down the list of schools that are thought desirable nowadays.

Menolly Sun 16-Mar-14 03:03:11

St Matthews and Temple Grove I would avoid, a lot of my friends from secondary school have children at those two schools and I haven't heard anything good about either of them, just lots of complaining about them and I know most of my friends children are on waiting lists for other schools.

St Augustine's is a good school and as your son's catholic he'd hopefully be quite high up the waiting list.

As others have said Claremont has a fantastic reputation

ginajacques Sun 16-Mar-14 09:58:16

Thanks so much Loving Kent! I really appreciate you taking the time to write and the info on St Johns, my son's been baptised catholic because our family is and the catholic schools are the best around here, I'm quite shocked it's not the same down there. I don't mind particularly that he's not in a RC school, the education and discipline is most important everything you've said is so helpful I'm so grateful! St Johns's ofstead looked good, so surprised at that, that's why I prefer parental advice rather than ofstead!

We've not got a house yet, husband is commuting to Canterbury, Ashford, dover and Margate hospitals but I didn't particularly like any of those areas, I may be wrong about them but I have few connections in London and would prefer to have food transport links to the city but still in a lovely town, like where we are now, in Hoylake I absolutely love our town and so would only sacrifice our friends family and camrons school to move somewhere better, DH is staying in hotels ATM and coming home weekends, it's killing him all the travel, he wants us to make the move so I thought I better get a rental address near the best school and sharpish! I've had a look and my house in TW in the catchment area of Claremont will be a third of the size of my current house but it's what we'll have to do as DS's education is the most important thing!

Thanks every one St Augustines got 3 in it's last ofstead and reports on here aren't the best so I'm hoping eventually some way he'll be in claremont! x

ginajacques Sun 16-Mar-14 09:58:40

that's brilliant thanks so much for the advice!

ginajacques Sun 16-Mar-14 10:00:09

aw it sounds like a lovely area Claremont is the one I'm hoping for thanks for all your help i'll keep you updated smile x

clam Sun 16-Mar-14 12:26:34

Hang on, St John's (CofE) and St Augustine's (RC) are two separate schools, although St A's is in the same area of town. I haven't read any poor reports about St J's.
There isn't a North/South divide about whether RC schools are good/better - there are many 'down here' which are considered excellent - it may just be that St Augustine's has had a bad run recently.

I do think you ought to look for alternatives to Claremont, too. If you've missed out on the allocation process on dates, then I would think it highly unlikely that a place will come up anytime soon, if ever, however close your house is to the gates. It really is heavily over-subscribed, and the infant class size limit puts the kibosh on any leeway being given.

ginajacques Sun 16-Mar-14 12:43:21

what's the next closest school to Claremont is that st johns?

clam Sun 16-Mar-14 13:00:14

No, St John's is right in the north of the town, near Southborough. Probably St Peter's? No idea what that's like either. There aren't that many on the south side of town, IIRC. There's Broadwater, again don't know what that's like these days. Or St James is not that far.
Think you'd have to look on a map. Shame 'Upmystreet' doesn't appear to be around anymore. With that site, you could plumb in any address and it would tell you the exact distance to every school around. Useful.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Mon 17-Mar-14 18:59:31

You do know that the commute to some of those hospitals from TW will be horrendous don't you? You'd be much better looking in East Kent...

LovingKent Mon 17-Mar-14 19:47:21

Wow that's quite a commute for your husband. Margate is a good 1.5 hours from here and Canterbury must be over an hour (and that would be without any traffic problems on any of the motorways which is rare) . I don't really know that side of Kent although Broadstairs (near Margate) is lovely.

clam is right - St John's and St Augustine's are 2 separate schools but both in the St John's area of town which is probably where you got confused sorry.

St John's has a good OFSTED and reputation as do Southborough, St Barnabas, St Peter's and Broadwater Down. Size wise St John's and Southborough take 90, St Barnabas 30 and I can't remember for Broadwater Down.

The next nearest to Claremont is St Peter's but it is tiny (I think it takes 20 pupils per year) which obviously means you need to be very near to get in. Quite near Claremont are St James (helpfully lists the roads which are in catchment) and Broadwater Down. I suggest you try and come down and visit them before you decide which one to go for. Claremont certainly has an outstanding OFSTED but having had a couple of extra classes added for the past few years now has half the playground space it did have as that's where they put the new classrooms and I have also heard parents complaining their children are rushed through lunch (in the same hall which now has to accommodate the extra 60-90 children they have had to take in the past few years) so everyone gets to eat in time for lessons in the afternoon. I agree with clam - I wouldn't pin all your hopes on Claremont. I have friends who are less than 400m from the door of Claremont who may not get a place this year and are wondering what on earth they will do if they don't. Its very popular and as a result there is a lot of moving / renting in the village to get a place there. St James did have an outstanding OFSTED but not sure it does now. Its another school that took extra children for a few years. St James also exists as 2 separate schools - an infant school and a junior so you would have apply to the juniors when your DS gets to Year 2.

clam - funny to think of the Grove being somewhere to avoid when you live here. I can't imagine that now!

clam Mon 17-Mar-14 21:31:20

It was just the park bit. Was a bit of a druggie hangout. I know it's been gentrified now, though.

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