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Muswell Hill mid-year applications

(18 Posts)
mummy2cheeky2 Tue 06-May-14 04:09:27

I've been trawling through pages upon pages of posts on primary school places and think I understand that moving during the school year does not bode well for finding placements in popular schools. My situation is as follows:

Currently living in Australia and it is very likely that we will be moving to London toward the end of 2014. Children are currently aged 4 and 8 and if starting school in September 2014, would be in reception and grade 4. We have no family or friends in the UK and will not have a vehicle so ideally we would live within walking distance of a school and get both kids in the same school. Because I don't have a social network I am really interested in living in a place with a nice community vibe, and hopefully with lots of neighborhood children for the kids to make friends with and go to the same school.

After doing an extensive amount of internet research Muswell Hill appears to tick all the boxes, and since we are already used to flat living and not having much room, we could afford to rent there. There seem to be a number of good schools there and if I were moving in time for school applications I would just make sure to live deeply within the catchment area for a school. However given that we would be moving mid-year, what would you recommend if we don't get in to one of the schools we prefer?

Because my eldest has already changed schools once plus had a few other changes (moving country, preschools), I would not want him to have to change primary schools once in the UK. I thought about just keeping him home until a place came up but am worried this would not be good for his social life to leave his friends here and then move somewhere where he'll be alone for months or more. I don't mind holding my youngest back a little as she is a very young 4, very small, and in my eyes, not mature enough for big school yet.

I am also not keen on catching buses to take them to school as I have a health condition which although usually managed quite well with medication, sometimes flares and means I have trouble walking. Knowing school is 5 mins walk away would be a relief.

Sorry for the long post. I guess I am just very anxious about this possible move. It is not yet 100% confirmed so I can't really start calling schools, so I hoped mumsnetters might advise me on what to do. BTW, private schooling is not possible, and we also can't do religious schools. Perhaps we should delay the move until 2015 although that would likely mean living away from DH.

Markmyplace13 Tue 06-May-14 08:42:43

Hello, I live in Muswell Hill and my dd starts reception in Sept. I can only recommend that you find a property as close as possible to the primary that you would like. I live 0.024 miles from Muswell Hill Primary and the furthest distance offered was 0.023. I also missed out on a place at all of the other local schools. I live very central Muswell Hill. It is a lovely place to live and the schools are all outstanding hence the battle to get a place.
Have a look at the Haringey council website-school admissions,2014 statistics and maybe work from there.
A three form entry might have a little more movement in year and both Rhodes Av and Coldfall are excellent. It might be the case that you have to wait it out until a place comes up. Your dd doesn't legally have to start school until the term after she turns 5 and there are lots of activities, great libraries etc to keep her busy in the mean time.
Unfortunately we will have to travel by bus to the school we were offered. You could have a look at Crouch End, very similar to Muswell Hill and fantastic schools but again you need to live on the doorstep.
Best of luck with the move. Keep in touch if you could do with a friend when you get here smile.

nlondondad Tue 06-May-14 17:56:29

While markmyplace's advice is good, an extra feature of your situation, which could actually work to your advantage, is that you also have an older (Year Four in Autumn 2014?) son. Even well regarded, oversubscribed at reception primary schools in this area not uncommonly have vacancies as you go up the school. This is because there is a net outflow of families from central London, mostly due to the housing market. Also in this area you sometimes get parents moving into the private sector "State till eight" So finding a school with a vacancy in year four as of this Autumn is possible. Once you get your son into such a school, then your daughter has sibling preference for the school, which means they go to the top of the waiting list.

However be advised that, as far as I know, you cannot make an in year application until you have an address in UK. You could rent a falt in the area on a six month let, and from that base get in touch with all the schools you fancy to see if they have a year 4 place, distance in practice irrelevant, and once you have your place move closer to the school. But you may have a bit of an interval before your daughter gets in.

if education your absolute priority, and with schools in London often close together, you could get your son into school A. Put your daughter on the waiting list, knowing you will be at the top, and then move into a flat near the not far away school B and put her on THAT list where distance will put her near the top....

pyrrah Tue 06-May-14 22:13:11

One thing to note is that we don't have secular schools in the UK - some non-faith schools can actually be a lot more religious in tone that some faith schools.

The council will not take your feelings regarding faith schools into account when offering places - I know more than one militantly atheist family who ended up with their children at a full-on Catholic primary. If the council offer a place and you reject it, they will regard their duty as done and expect you to either go private or HE, they won't offer another school.

You can still go on waiting lists, but given the legal requirement to have your child in school, the advice is always to accept the offered place and hope that something comes up on the waiting list game and then move. Once you get one child in, the sibling should be very near the top of the waiting list, but you may well end up with two different schools initially.

Unfortunately your mobility issues will normally not be taken into account. If the school offered is more than 3 miles or over an hour each way, then the council will pay for a bus ticket for the child and in some cases taxis.

mummy2cheeky2 Wed 07-May-14 03:33:21

Thank you everyone for your answers. It's a relief to hear getting my eldest in might be a little easier which will also help with the younger child.

To be honest I find the situation with state schools and catchment areas in the UK incredible. Here every home is included in a catchment area and as a rule of thumb you go to the school nearest to you though of course if you are on the border of a catchment you may find your allocated school is not the closest one, but it should still be very close. Requesting to go to a different school is not that difficult and I can guarantee that even at the most desirable schools, the situations I've read about in some of the mumsnet posts (e.g. parent doing drop off is in a wheelchair; child has cerebral palsy and can't walk long distances; mother has three kids in three different schools) will definitely be more than adequate to get your child a place at the school that will better serve your needs.

To think that a tax-paying member of the community could miss out on the state school nearest to them while someone else living a few metres closer can get in... It doesn't seem fair. That said we have a pretty dismal situation in secondary education where the rise of state selective schools has meant that regular state schools lose the brightest kids and tutoring your child for the selective school exams in year 6 has become the norm.

Markmyplace13 - sorry to hear your child missed out on a place at your preferred school. Are you on a waiting list? I hope travelling to the new school is not too difficult for you. Thanks for the offer to connect once I'm there :-)

nlondondad - are you saying that for year 4 entry being within the catchment area is not as important? On an unrelated note, is 6 months the standard rental contract there??

pyrrah - wow I was really surprised to read that non-faith schools can be religious. We certainly have scripture here but parents choose whether their child does protestant, catholic, orthodox, muslim or non-scripture which is now an ethics class (being trialled). We are not atheists, just non-practicing so we prefer not to have formal religious instruction.
In regards to having to accept a place, what happens if you don't? Are you taken off a register or something? Can you still be on waiting lists for the schools you like after rejecting a school? I would rather homeschool (can't believe I just said that!) than have to chop and change.

nlondondad Wed 07-May-14 10:12:39

In Haringey, Islington and Camden, which are the boroughs whose rules I know for certain, so be warned other London boroughs may be different, non church schools do not have catchment areas. If there are more applicants than places then children are selected in this order. looked after children (which recently was extended to include adopted children) then children with a staement of special needs which names a particualr school (rare) then siblings, then everyone else. The "tie breaker" is distance from the school.

Each year the boroughs publish the furthest distance from each school that a child was admitted, on distance, in the previous year. This gives an "admissions radius" which varies from year to year. This circle is often referred to as a "catchment' by people like estate agents, but it is not accurate, cos they vary and so confer no entitlement.

(Church schools can, and often do, use other criteria than distance, such as church attendence. They may also give preference to children from a particular parish, which can then look like a catchment)

After the annual admissions season is over, and the Autumn term starts, each school will maintain a waiting list which is ranked in the same order and will then fill any vacancies that occur off that list.

For a year 4, in year admission, the waiting lists are usually really short, often enough with no one on them! So if you ring a school about year four, if they have a vacancy they will be very glad to hear from you, and if you are the only current applicant they have, well then distance irrelevant.

I know of a school near me currently with vacancies in next years year 5 that anyone who came along now could just walk in this way.

mummy2cheeky2 Sun 11-May-14 02:31:00

Thank you so much. My husband will be in London for a few months so should be able to get a better sense of things. Since my original post i have found out that his office may end up being in the south or south west which will make it too far for Muswell Hill. I've read about Wimbeldon, Putney, Fulham, Greenwich but they don't sound as nice as MH. Other places mentioned by his colleagues are Guildford and Crawley which sound even less appealing. Have i got it wrong?

christinarossetti Sun 11-May-14 02:41:18

At this stage, I would concentrate on finding somewhere to live that is easily commutable to your dh's work and well-connected in general.

Then work out schools around that.

Muswell Hill and Crouch End are to some peoples' tastes and not others (not mine, for example, although I live close by). You can't decide that you like a particular community from the other side of the world!

MadameDefarge Sun 11-May-14 03:02:51

You might want to consider Hackney. Very vibrant, same kind of thing with with schools, but not quite so harsh in primary, with great secondaries.

The primaries are pretty good on the whole, check ofsted for the outstanding ones (though take into account one persons outstanding is another persons exam factory) Ask here about specific schools.

Easy access to the city, good overland links, though poor tube ones. Very mixed borough, though most in London are mixed socially, even the desirable ones. Lovely housing stock. Stoke Newington very prosperous. Other areas becoming equally so, so like Lower Clapton and London Fields, and very very arty and designery. With a massive wodge of city/lawyer types.

mummy2cheeky2 Tue 13-May-14 07:39:57

Thanks for the recommendation MadameDefarge. I'll definitely look into it, and I will ask about schools. There's no way my eldest could survive in a school that's all about cramming for exams!

Christina I do agree it's not that easy to choose something when you're not there but this research is really relevant as it will help decide where to set up the office. It's a startup and they are discussing whether to set up inside London or outside - money is obviously a consideration. Complicating things further is that some of the partners would prefer to live outside of London whereas we want to live inside. I definitely want the London experience rather than living in suburbia. At least for now.

Iamfree Tue 13-May-14 20:18:35

To be honest, Muswell Hill is suburbia. it is also really busy lots of buses, weekends are also noisy as there are lots of clubs around (some have generated significant problems with local residents and still do)
I thought about MH and then I inspected the Broadway on a Saturday night and decided not to bother. also, Haringey council is amongst the worst in the UK. with rental prices going down, why don't you consider Hampstead, West Hampstead or maybe Maida Vale?

christinarossetti Tue 13-May-14 20:37:20

Depending on your budget, there are PLENTY more places to get the London experience (what is that btw?) than the insular 'burbs of Mussels Hill.

LegoWidow Thu 15-May-14 13:46:21

Markmyplace13 - do you mean 0.024 or 0.24? 0.024 wouldn't even be out of the playground I dont think?! (It's still pretty narrow even if 0.24!)

Markmyplace13 Thu 15-May-14 20:13:03

Lego- Whoops! I meant 0.24. Yes we would have been living in the playground otherwise smile. We are 1st on list now apparently but have accepted another school in the area and very happy with it.

I agree Muswell Hill Broadway does get busy with traffic etc but we live only a street away and it is amazingly peaceful.

Mummy2cheeky2- Keep an open mind with the rest of London. I work with Hackney schools and both their primaries and secondary schools are great and getting better and better. The areas you mentioned in South West London -Wimbledon/Putney/Fulham- have a similar village feel to Mus Hill and are just as expensive. Most standard shorthold tenancy agreements initially run for one year with a get out clause for the tenant at the six month mark.

Good luck with wherever you decide.

LegoWidow Thu 15-May-14 21:43:04

Markmyplace - ah that's good that you got another place - do you mean a school in MH? Or the one that were originally offered that is a bus journey away?

pinkdelight Fri 16-May-14 09:45:14

"Wimbeldon, Putney, Fulham, Greenwich"

Are all very nice, don't worry. Like all of London, there are less nice bits, but I definitely wouldn't discount any of these areas just because they're not Muswell Hill. As someone has said, they're still expensive and catchments are still tight, but you might find better options by casting your net across these areas instead of limiting to MH, which is one of the most competitive areas for school places.

AliceAnneB Sun 18-May-14 15:02:12

I'm an expat too and we live in Muswell Hill and love it. We lived outside london for awhile and I really didn't like it one bit. I really wouldn't call Muswell Hill suburban at all. It has a good selection of shops and great open spaces. I found the comment about night clubs a bit odd. There used to be one that I can think of that's now shut? It's certainly not a clubbing kind of place. It is however kid central. If you would like more info please feel free to PM me. Good luck!

susannah32 Tue 29-Mar-16 16:28:33

Hello ladies,

I'm in the process of moving back to London, Muswell Hill after 2 years in Berkshire! I have a 3 year old who will start primary next year & then secondary thereafter.

Is the schooling situation as bad as everyone says in terms of how difficult it is to get into schools? do you literally have to live next to the schools to get in?

any help massively appreciated as i'm in the process of buying a flat now & am a single mum so can't afford to get it wrong!

Than you

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