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Relocating to Buckinghamshire

(28 Posts)
Ladywebster Sun 15-Jun-14 09:55:38

Hi everyone, looking for some information on schooling around Buckinghamshire....primary and secondary. My son is 8 and will be going into year 5 in September, we currently live in Devon and looking to relocate to Buckinghamshire in December of this year. So far looking at High Wycombe, Wendover and Aylesbury. Understand about the 11+ exams which we don't have in Devon, my son struggles academically so any advice on Secondary schools would be great.

toomuchicecream Sun 15-Jun-14 13:31:44

That's a pretty big search area!! I've heard it said more than once that there are no bad schools in Bucks. Which of course isn't true - but on the whole Bucks primary schools are very good. Whether that's due to educated and supportive parents who want their child to get through the 11+ is a whole other debate...

Anyway - it sounds as if you need to be picking your area based on the non-grammar secondary school you want your son to go to. I'm no expert in secondary schools at that end of the county, but I consistently hear good things about Waddesdon so that would be my starting point. My understanding is that it's heavily over-subscribed so you'd need to choose where to live quite carefully.

High Wycombe is very very mixed socially and I THINK many of the non-grammar schools struggle - an acquaintance told me she'd returned to work so she could pay for private school if her daughter was allocated Cressex as there was no way her daughter would be going there. And I know there's masses of new housing going up round Aylesbury. A huge new primary school has been built but I haven't heard anything about new secondary provision, which presumably means that the existing schools will be very stretched.

Wendover - the John Collet school had a rough Ofsted last summer but I heard on the grapevine that the majority of the school is absolutely fine, it's just Science that let the rest of the school down, as in common with many schools round here they struggle hugely to recruit science teachers. Science is a core subject so the whole school was down graded to match the assessment of the science department, even though there was extremely good practice in other areas of the school. However, the leadership are now under huge pressure which is being passed on to staff. I've heard (don't know how accurate this is) that Holmer Green secondary (not far from High Wycombe) is in a similar situation, although I don't know the reasons for Ofsted down grading them.

The problem with being in a grammar school area is that although the grammar schools are very good, the majority of children who don't go to grammar school are more likely to be placed in a struggling school as many of the brightest, most motivated pupils have been creamed off. On the fringes of the county many parents avoid this by sending their child over the border to the comprehensives in neighbouring counties. So Lord William's school in Thame might be worth a look as Thame isn't that far from Aylesbury. Or if you are the other side, Tring would be worth a look (but I know absolutely nothing about schools there).

The other two non-grammar schools I've consistently heard good things about, with parents actively moving to be near enough for a place, are Chalfont Community College (Chalfont St Peter) and the Amersham school. Neither of which are in your search area, but I thought it was worth mentioning them!

Good luck. In your position I'd start by looking at Waddesdon for secondary. Once you've sorted out the secondary you fancy, then you can look at primary.

Ladywebster Sun 15-Jun-14 17:22:38

Thankyou toomuchicecream, that's all very helpful. I will defiantly look into Waddesdon and Chalfont. Ultimately the area I would move to would depend on the school I choose. I don't know Bucks too well but as a single mum I'm wanting to start afresh. Thanks again for your advice smile

RiversideMum Sun 15-Jun-14 18:22:47

Why have you chosen Bucks? You may be better off school wise to look at surrounding counties if you think your DS is not a grammar school prospect.

ipadquietly Sun 15-Jun-14 18:39:02

Thame is a very good idea, as is Waddesdon. If I had my time again, I would never, ever have a child educated in Bucks.

ipadquietly Sun 15-Jun-14 18:39:38


Ladywebster Sun 15-Jun-14 18:44:01

I've got a sister who lives in bucks and want to be closer to her, plus I just like the area. She doesn't have any children so can't really advise me on schooling.

Wanted to get some opinions from mums who know the area and know more about the schooling.

toomuchicecream Sun 15-Jun-14 18:50:43

Where in Bucks is your sister?

CharlesRyder Sun 15-Jun-14 19:01:52

I agree that you don't want a grammar school area if you don't want a grammar school.

Maidenhead is a great place to live. Maybe have a look at Holyport College. I drive passed the build site every day and it looks amazing!

Ladywebster Sun 15-Jun-14 19:09:39

My sister is currently in great missenden but looking to move to amersham. It's not that I don't want a grammar school, I think if my son got into one that would be great but there is no guarantee he would pass the exams so I'm looking at all possibilities.

bronya Sun 15-Jun-14 19:12:19

The Amersham School is good.

BeanyIsPregnant Sun 15-Jun-14 19:19:28

The misbourne is gt missenden and is pretty good, holmer green is currently failing, but by the time your son gets there it will have had an injection of money and probably be performing again, Ramsey is consistently performing well.. Your looking at hazlemere/ holmer green/ great missended really for decent secondaries!

toomuchicecream Sun 15-Jun-14 21:04:50

Please don't be offended by this, but have you looked at how expensive housing is round here? I know some parts of Devon are eye-wateringly expensive, but Bucks is even worse. As is Maidenhead. At least there's no shortage of work...

MillyMollyMama Sun 15-Jun-14 21:20:53

Waddesdon is the best secondary modern but it is C of E Voluntary Aided which means it has a tiny catchment area and many places are allocated on the C of E ticket. You would be fine if you went to live in Waddesdon and then you would have the Aylesbury Grammar schools as well. I know John Colet at Wendover very well as many friends have had children there. The latest letter from HMI does not make good reading and it is not just a science problem! It is a leadership problem primarily. The current Head also took her eye off the ball before. The 6th form was not up to par either. It will recover though. The Misbourne at Great Missenden also had a poor Ofsted a few years ago and that was a leadership problem too. It is now back on track and successful. Holmer Green has been sought after for years, unlike Sir William Ramsey which, for many years, was best avoided. Avoid High Wycombe for secondary schools.

The primary schools at all the places above are great but Great Missenden school is usually full. You may have more luck in Prestwood. Check catchment areas for the secondary schools and do not think you will get in if you live outside. There is quite a lot of yoyoing in the quality of the secondary moderns but the above named plus The Amersham school and Chalfonts are the best ones. Tring School is good and Lord Williams at Thame is possibly better. It is very large though.

zipzap Sun 15-Jun-14 23:41:03

I live in Milton Keynes which is sort of Buckinghamshire - it was before it became a self managed thingy and still ends up listed as Bucks.

There are some fantastic primary schools and although I haven't needed to use them yet, there seem to be some good secondaries plus kids can also take exams for both Buckingham and aylesbury grammars if you do want the grammar route.

There's also lots of stuff to do for kids - some free, lots that is cheap, some to pay for.

It's a nice place to live - easy to drive around, a growing jobs market, plenty of shops of all sorts, good links to London, Birmingham, Manchester, lots of stuff to do, lots of parks and green space,

Shout if you're interested and I'll list out different areas with good schools and more details.

fragolino Mon 16-Jun-14 10:44:57

charlesryder you must live near me as we pass it every day too and the annoying road works there!

fragolino Mon 16-Jun-14 10:45:46

Personally I would not live in HW perhaps surrounding villages, and I think Amersham and chesham much nicer areas.

MillyMollyMama Mon 16-Jun-14 11:44:06

You could look at the villages around Chesham. Ley Hill is perennially popular but the Chesham secondary school is not everyone's cup of tea and for many years Chesham people have tried to get into the Misbourne. Amersham has Chestnut Lane Infants and Elangeni Junior schools which are very popular (MUST live well in catchment!) and then the Amersham school or the grammar schools. I think Amersham, Chesham Bois, Little Missenden, Hughendon Valley, or any of the Chalfonts would be great places to live. Just depends what your budget is and what you want for your money!

Ladywebster Mon 16-Jun-14 13:20:37

Thank you all for your replies, its been really helpful. I've looked at living costs in a few areas, I will be renting and the rentals seem to be on par with Devon. So much to think of with relocating.

Zipzap if you could let me know some more information about Milton Keynes that would be great, definitely worth a look smile

ReadyisKnitting Mon 16-Jun-14 13:52:31

I'm in Aylesbury, and the schools here all ebb and flow in quality and demand. As others have mentioned the Colet is failing, but in time will rebound, I expect. There is also Risborough, which I hear good reports of from the school's senco, and will be looking closely at for ds. Quarrendon (the academy) has recently relocated to a new housing estate, and is improving. Waddesdon is a fab school, but unless you live on the doorstep you'll need to be a church goer. Mandeville (the secondary) is also failing, but already measures to improve have been put in place. I think it's not just down to the school's reputation, but also down to what your child needs in an education, different schools here provide different experiences, and what is great for one child is not for another. I know Lord Williams has a great 6th form, but don't know much about the lower school. Another school a lot of Aylesbury kids go to is Cottesloe, in Wing. I've heard quite a bit of positive about it, and quite a few chose it instead of the academy.

I don't know so much about the further out ones. The villages round here can be expensive, because of where we are, and the view. I've not heard much positive about schools in Wycombe, most of which is second hand.

If you want more info about this area, ask smile

kronenborg Mon 16-Jun-14 15:02:06

we are in waddesdon catchment, although current my oldest 2 are only primary school age.

we chose the area because there are good primary schools, its grammar school catchment, plus the benefit of waddesdon as a back up plan.

in addition, its much more "affordable" than some of the other areas you mention, plus we love being fairly rural, yet close enough to both aylesbury to the east, and bicester to the west (plus the M40 and train stations for commuting).

i don't know which property website you use to look for properties, but if you use rightmove, the details of the property you view will have a map with local schools, and you can usually check the ofsted report directly from there - but bear in mind ofsted ratings (as im sure you know) are only part of the picture, and may be outdated.

additionally, if you don't know which catchment area a property falls in, but you know the postcode, you can check it here:

kronenborg Mon 16-Jun-14 15:03:53

i should add, we moved about 6 months ago, and prior to that we were living a few miles outside high wycombe, and my children were in a tiny (but outstanding) primary school there you are definitely considering some prime areas!

bronya Mon 16-Jun-14 15:08:33

High Wycombe is good if your son gets into a Grammar, but not so good if he doesn't. Other areas (e.g. Amersham, Chalfont) have better options for children who don't pass the 11+.

Livvylongpants Mon 16-Jun-14 15:21:39

min that area though technically in herts. Dss is at tring school and doing well there

CharlesRyder Mon 16-Jun-14 16:52:10

We must indeed be neighbours fragolino. They have been the most annoying roadworks ever. They were not there today- I am daring to dream they are finished. grin

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