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returning to the UK after few years

(10 Posts)
phr1 Wed 30-Apr-14 23:06:16

We will be returning to the UK this summer after a long stay abroad.
I have two kids, 5 yrs old and 9. I believe they will entre Year 1 and Year 5 but not entirely sure.

We would like to move back to North London, where we use to live before relocating.
I understand we have missed the registration to a primary schools but also we do not have an address yet. We will need to rent a house on our arrival.
How do one go about securing a spot in a good primary school in this situation?
We looking at Muswell Hill as it looks like there are a lot of good schools around, in particular thinking about Secondary which my son will be attending in two years from now.

We are planning to return in early July but if I have to I am willing to fly in for a few days this month to sort things out, not sure if there is any advantage in doing so?

Anyone can comment if finding a rental as close as possible to the school of your choice is recommended as a strategy? Would July too late for renting near the school?

I feel like I don�t know much about the school system as we were away for so long. Any tips, advice, names of schools you recomend to look into would be much appriciated.

How to return to the primary school system with no address and get into a good school and keep an eye on secondary at the same time?


tiggytape Wed 30-Apr-14 23:44:12

There is no strategy that will absolutely guarantee you a choice of schools but moving close to one you like will usually put you nearer the top of any waiting list which helps get a place eventually (as long as a place comes up).

Good schools tend to be full in London. If you can identify one that isn't, that has vacancies in the correct year groups at the time you move, then that would be easy because the spaces would be yours just by applying. But assuming the schools you like have full classes, you would not be given a place no matter how close you moved. You would either have to appeal for a place (go before an appeal hearing to set out your case for a place) or wait on the list for a place to become available.
Spaces are not saved for newcomers and there is no automatic entitlement to be given a space at your closest school so people applying late generally have to slot in where spaces are available at first.

In terms of visiting, you cannot apply for schools until your UK address is sorted out and the children are living here. If you are visiting to research the area anyway then looking at the school and housing situations together might help pinpoint where to aim for but otherwise, you can probably get all the information you need by emailing the council and won't be able to do more until you have moved.

exexpat Thu 01-May-14 00:05:00

I was in that position a few years ago (returning to the UK mid-year, short notice, with an 8yo needing a school place and a 4yo needing a reception place for the next September), and it was a nightmare of juggling potential houses and potential school places.

My first move was to call the local authority and find out which schools (if any) had places in the right year group in areas I was willing to live in. Then I contacted letting agencies to find empty properties as close as possible to those schools.

Then I had a week in the UK of visiting schools and houses before I managed to find a place at an acceptable school and a (rather over-budget but quite nice) house within a few minutes' walk, and quickly signed the rental contract (starting about 6 weeks before I actually needed it) to show the school, so that they could officially offer me the place and I could accept it, in time to put in DD's application for a reception place at the same school before the deadline.

There is probably no point in coming over this early in terms of getting a school place, as they wouldn't hold any empty ones for you until September, but it might be worth trying to find somewhere to live so you have proof of an address as soon as possible, if you can afford to pay rent for a few months before you actually move back.

Even if there aren't any places immediately available, with any luck there should be some movement in London schools over the summer, so if you pick one or two schools you like and find somewhere to rent virtually on their doorstep, you shouldn't be on the waiting lists for too long.

sotiredtoday Thu 01-May-14 11:12:12

It will be easier if you want a private school but you may find that there are state school places for Y5, unsure about Y1, as there is more demand for younger children in state schools. For the state schools will need an address before you can make an application to the local authority.
This pretty much sums it up!moving-to-london/c1wue

TheInvisibleHand Thu 01-May-14 13:46:28

there are a couple of big (3/4 form) entry state primaries in the Muswell Hill/Crouch end area e.g. Coldfall.,Coleridge - I would have thought you have a better chance of turnover and getting places you need if you target one of these larger schoola

slowcomputer Thu 01-May-14 13:50:00

Lots of good schools in Muswell Hill though many of the children in them are also extensively tutored from about year 3 for the 11+, just something for you to be aware of.

phr1 Sat 03-May-14 04:06:08

sorry, what exactly the 11+ test is all about?
Is it only for private school admission or everyone takes it regardless?
Why in your opinion the tutoring is an issue? Do you think my kids may be in disadvantage academically?
By the way, for year 1 entry, what are the expectations for reading? In Canada they only just starting to read so for my daughter yr 1 might be a bit of learning curve.

slowcomputer Sat 03-May-14 07:34:43

11+ is for entry to private or selective state schools only. But Muswell Hill is a funny place and people tutor to get their child into the top set at some of the state secondary schools, particularly Fortismere, too. Tetherdown, a primary school that was very oversubscribed, recently moved from OFSTED outstanding to good because it was felt they weren't stretching the bright kids and relying on them being tutored.

phr1 Sat 03-May-14 14:37:13

Would you say with a 9 year old entering yr 5 it is wiser to position ourselvs at this point in time as near as possible to the secondary school rather than focusing on primary? I guess that is more difficult to figure out. It looks like there are a lots of good primary schools in Muswell hill but only one secondary. If the secondary school is the priority that narrows down my flat hunting to a very small area.
Anyone have an experience with Alexandra Park secondary?
Between Fortismere and Alexandra which one you recommend and why?

SLM Wed 21-May-14 14:50:23


I have a child at Fortismere and another still at Tetherdown. Places do come up in year at both schools, but you may have to wait and would be lucky to get 2 places at the same time.

Im very happy with Fortismere. Fortismere is strong academically and from my experience pushes children of all academic abilities to achieve. It is strong on discipline with a strict detention system. APS also has a very good reputation. Both it and Fortismere have recent outstanding Ofsted reports. Friends whose children attend are very pleased. It's pastoral care is meant to be very good. It has a uniform whilst Fortismere doesn't.

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