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Help with deciding school and How to get admission

(31 Posts)
Aneeliyo Mon 21-Sep-15 06:04:47

Hi.. I will be relocated by my company from Thailand to Uk. My office is at Kings Hill, West Malling, Kent. I have 1 boy 12 years now in Grade 7 and a Girl 9 years in Grade 4 here in Bangkok. I will be moving in April/May 2016. Which part of the Kent should I live keeping the safety of my kids. I am ready to commute for 30-40 minutes. Can anybody advise of any schools and how get admission as I have heard that the school admission starts early this year. I cant come there until April 2016. Any advise/suggestions would be highly appreciated.


SavoyCabbage Mon 21-Sep-15 06:15:18

Hi. I don't know anything about that area but I am in a similar sort of position myself so I know a bit. Kent is not a dangerous place though, so don't worry about that.????You will be applying for schools with an 'in year admission' as you are applying outside of the normal times for school. So it will be a different form probably. So there will be no deadline or date. These are only if you are applying for the first year of primary or the first year of secondary. ????You can't apply until you get there and have an address. You can phone schools and see if they have a place but they can't hold it for you or anything like that. ????The year your children will be in depends on their age. So for me, my daughter is in grade three here but she will be in year four in the uk. ????

shouldwestayorshouldwego Mon 21-Sep-15 06:19:03

For your dc the admissions will be in year as neither is at a natural boundary in Kent schools (age 11 by September 16 or age 4 by Sept 16). You will be allocated the nearest school with spaces (unless there is one further away with spaces that you prefer). You should though consider whether you want either of them to go to a Grammar school (top 20-25% of ability). If so then you might want to do some past papers with them (English, Maths, Verbal Non verbal). Your ds would need to take it before admission to a grammar school (if there are spaces in one, or to go on waiting list for one) Your dd would need to sit it in the September that she is 10, but you need to register for it in the June before the academic year that she will be 10. I don't know the specific schools in that area to advise on those. I would tend to go South & West though rather than Medway direction.

WildStallions Mon 21-Sep-15 06:22:45

You will be applying for an in year admission, not a normal admission, so the April date does not apply to you.

Here is what you have to do:

Basically for your younger child it's easy. Any school you select, which has a vacancy, will take her as soon as you arrive. For your older child it's slightly more complicated because you need to decide if you want him to go to a grammar school (selective on academic ability) or not

I'd start by emailing the council for a list of grammar or non grammar schools which have a space in his year group.

SavoyCabbage Mon 21-Sep-15 06:23:36

Sorry about all of the question marks. They aren't supposed to be there!

My thinking on the schools is that as I can't do anything about it until I get there, there is no point in worrying about it until I get there. Is your company providing you with a place to live? If so then at least you will have an area to focus on. And if not then they could put you in a hotel when you arrive and you can look at any schools in the area where your job is.

shouldwestayorshouldwego Mon 21-Sep-15 06:33:48

I forgot about Cranbrook - that is a day and boarding State Grammar which accepts applicants at 13+ so your ds could start there in Sept 2016 with everyone else if he passed the entrance exam. I am not sure how he would fit within the entry requirements and whether you would need to have a more local address. He would need to come over for an entrance exam though. It might be possible for him to apply as a border and transfer to day pupil once here. Might be worth an email to the school.

Aneeliyo Mon 21-Sep-15 07:10:50

Thanks to all for the inputs. Which place should I decide to stay as I have no idea. The company approved 2 trips (1 for hunting house and school and 2nd the final move) there. @SavoyCabbage , yes the final move few days we will be in hotel till we find a place suitable . Our priorities is kids school. My son is 12 years now and in Grade 7 so next year he will be into Grade 8 and daughter is 9 years in Grade 4 and next year she will move to Grade 5. or if anyone can suggest good place and surroundings to live so that we can start communicating with Schools. We are thinking to rent the property for 6 months before deciding to buy one. Any help from friends here to which area provided its safe.

shouldwestayorshouldwego Mon 21-Sep-15 08:30:41

Here though as Savoy says they would currently be in year 8 and 5 respectively. As I say I would probably go south or west. Do you think that your children are likely to pass entrance exams? If so then you would want to be in catchment areas for Grammar schools or if very academic might find that Judd or TOGS would suit them and you could live slightly further away. If you think not looking for a grammar then you will want somewhere with better 'comprehensive' schools.

You also need to understand that for state schools even if you mive next door to a perfect school there is no guarantee that they could go there straight away. If there is no space then they could be allocated one a few miles away, even if you ring now then you can't secure a place until they are ready to start. We moved dd's school - literally accepted a place on the Friday and she started Monday morning.

Alternatively you could look at private schools, might be easier to get a place but there will probably still be some sort of entrance assessment.

Aneeliyo Mon 21-Sep-15 08:49:47

@shouldwestayorshouldwego , Ok I got it. So when you say south or west can you please name few areas to be more clearer for me to hunt for house and school and what would be an average rent in these areas for flats and how much an average cost of living (I know it depends on individual lifestyle) for a family of 4 for a decent (above average) life style.

shouldwestayorshouldwego Mon 21-Sep-15 11:18:14

I'm not sure about prices but probably best to look on rightmove at different areas. In terms of towns Sevenoaks is nice - but lots of London/city commuters. It currently doesn't have a grammar school so children travel to Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells. Tunbridge Wells is also naice and good for grammars or if you are church attenders, but otherwise school choices are more limited. You would want to live fairly centrally at least until your dd had secured a secondary place, but after that living further East would be good as the traffic is heavy. Tonbridge and Paddock Wood aren't quite as expensive or exclusive but still ok places to live and would be an easier commute. Tonbridge has good grammar school options but other secondaries not quite as great. Paddock Wood is not in a Grammar School area and the fortunes of Mascals the secondary tend to go up and down a bit. Kings Hill itself is an option - has a bit of a Stepford Wives reputation. I don't know the secondaries there. There is a newish secondary at Hadlow which sounds intersting - has it's own farm, if your dc are into animals.

Medway (Strood, Gillingham, Rochester) tends not to have such a good reputation in terms of school choices or environment, however someone might come along and say that it is less stuck up than other parts of Kent. Maidstone is not as nice as further West but there are still some great villages around. Tunbridge Wells and Sevenoaks are more expensive, and you might be able to find somewhere nice in a village for less and put the money into private schools. I wouldn't say that there are any parts of Kent that I wouldn't feel safe going to in daytime so I wouldn't worry too much about that.

It is a catch 22 though as until you decide on an area you can't apply for schools. I wouldn't worry too much about primary school as your dd will only have about a year there before she moves up anyway. I would try to decide whether you are aiming for grammars/ private/ other secondaries and take it from there. Most children are tutored either at home (example papers on amazon etc) or paid for before the entrance tests (in my experience) so that is something that you would need to consider for both children if you decide to go down the grammar route.

Aneeliyo Mon 21-Sep-15 11:42:08

@shouldwestayorshouldwego, many thanks for the detailed information. As you rightly said I am more concerned for my DS and I am confused within Grammar School and other. As I checked KCC site, the entrance date does not suit us as We are here in Bangkok and It would be difficult to move as DC are currently doing there school here . Earliest we can reach there is 1st week of April 2016. As you mentioned earlier, In Year Admission does that apply to Grammar schools too? Should I am email them now or maybe January 2016? To be honest I am still confused with Grammar/ Other secondaries/Private school concept. Do you have any link apart from KCC site to get more info about these types of school? As per your suggestions I am narrowing my hunt to Tunbridge Wells and Sevenoaks . Before I had plant for Maidstone ( queens road, loose road etc) . You haven't yet mentioned anything about cost of living? Once again thanks so much

Aneeliyo Mon 21-Sep-15 11:43:54

@shouldwestayorshouldwego once more questions, does Grammar school have specific entry grades? As I was told by someone who lived there 8 years ago that the admission to Grammar schools are in grade 7 and 9?

lougle Mon 21-Sep-15 12:03:59

Unfortunately, unless you are in the forces then you can't apply for a school place without a UK address. So you will have to move to the UK first, or at least have a written tenancy agreement with the address, then apply for a place.

Aneeliyo Mon 21-Sep-15 12:08:20

@lougle do I have enough time or will I be late if I am there for 2 weeks during April 2016? My final move out from Thailand will be 1st week of June as DC school ends here in May

lougle Mon 21-Sep-15 12:16:01

There's no such thing as late for in-year applications, but it does mean that you can't plan where to live based on having school places. It's the other way around.

Aneeliyo Mon 21-Sep-15 12:21:42

True.. Thats whar worrying me now

shouldwestayorshouldwego Mon 21-Sep-15 12:46:32

A private school is a fee paying school. At secondary this is likely to be between 18-30 thousand per year per child. There might be selection tests for entry, but generally not as rigourous as Grammar School (although varies by school). A high achieving child might be offered a scolarship to reduce the fees. Some private schools have entry at 11+(yr7 grade 6) others at 13+ (yr 9 grade 8). Even so it is likely that the application deadline will be before April. Being private though you don't need to live here to apply, indeed many children attend private schools while their parents live abroad. If you think that your job might move again, and you can afford it, and you want a continuity of education it might be a good option. Rather confusingly some private schools are called public schools, but the general gist is that you need to pay.

A grammar school is a state school, so on the surface free. You have to pay for uniform, trips and might have to pay for travel to the school (this is the same for all state schools). You need to be in top 25% of ability based on English, Maths and reasoning scores in an exam for some, others (superselectives) take the highest scoring children. There isn't a set pass mark each year, it is standardised to select the top percent of children. Even if your ds passes then there would still need to be a space to get a place in the school. There are usually waiting lists. The usual time point (other than Cranbrook) for entry is at 11+ - so going into your grade 6 (our yr7). Beyond this it would be an in year admission application, but that is the same for all schools. For your dd she would sit the exam in Sept 16 (registration deadline end June 16). She would get a place if she passes exam and is near to school.

Other secondaries might be single sex or mixed and could have a faith requirement. This can vary from just being baptised to needing to be attending a church for 3 times a month for the preceeding 3 years. Again you can only get a place if there is a vacancy, and again there might be a waiting list. As the highest performing 25% have been creamed off already to Grammar Schools their exam results might not look as good, but a child can still do well if they apply themselves and they sit the same national exams at 16.

The council do have an obligation to find you a school, but it might not be the school of your choice or the nearest school. If the nearest school with a space is more than ?3 miles then they will help with transport costs ( to state schools, not private).

Aneeliyo Mon 21-Sep-15 12:55:32

Ok i got it now. I wont be moving out of UK as I am moving on a local package so willing to settle down there. So now I am drained down as what should I be looking for? House? Or school? I wont be able to afford independent school though ..

shouldwestayorshouldwego Mon 21-Sep-15 12:57:05

Another option if you have an acompanying partner is that it is relatively easy to opt to home educate here. It is less popular at secondary level but certainly something to bear in mind if you need to. You would need to make it clear that you want to stay on waiting lists for your preferred schools. There is also the fair access protocol which means that you can force the council to offer you a place, but again that might not be at the school of your choice. You will get a place but obviously missing out on the main admission window at 11+ it might not be the one you want (initially) for your ds.

shouldwestayorshouldwego Mon 21-Sep-15 13:01:42

If you can rent that is probably more flexible. You need to be a little careful to keep a paper trail. Some parents rent near to a good school to get a place and then move back to a property further away. It won't be a problem for you as you don't own a house here but it is wise to keep a paper trail until your dd is in a secondary to prove that you haven't just rented nearby to get a school place.

Aneeliyo Mon 21-Sep-15 13:02:18

Thanks for the information will have to do lot if planning

Aneeliyo Mon 21-Sep-15 13:05:17

Yes will keep that in mind.. That was extremely thoughtful advice

Aneeliyo Mon 21-Sep-15 13:06:25

Paper trail? You mean letting contract?

shouldwestayorshouldwego Mon 21-Sep-15 13:20:02

Yes, keep details of move to UK, letting contract, offers on house etc. The key date for your dd is where you are living on October 31st 2015. That is the decider in how far you are from the school. Some parents have owned a house say 4 miles away, let it out to someone else and rented a house 0.5 miles from a school for a year and then moved back once they have secured a place in a school. That is considered fraud and the place can be removed. That is why you need to keep a paper (or email) trail of your move from Thailand, renting and then buying a property. You aren't doing anything wrong renting initially and then buying and probably won't need it but it is worth having it in case.

Aneeliyo Mon 21-Sep-15 13:28:56

Yes I dont want to do something fraud like even if I end up sending DC to the school of not our choice. I am in email contact with council they told me to move there and as you mentioned In Year Admission. They also emphasized on the place we rent/stay. Finally how would 70000 annually before tax would be? + DH would try to find job there too .

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