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Choosing the right area HELP!! Moving from US

(30 Posts)
Ohiomom2 Mon 19-Oct-15 00:50:11

Hi everyone we are relocating to London next month from the US. We have two boys, one in reception and the other one will be in reception next year. We need help understanding which is the best area to look for houses considering that we aim at sending our children to a state school non religious - next year of course as I understand it's impossible to get an in-year place at a good primary. We are now considering North London and in particular N10, N6, N7, N19, NW3, NW5 but open to consider anything else that is a good compromise between relatively affordable housing and good state schools. Another question is if my youngest gets a place in reception next year, will my oldest be guaranteed a place in the same school as well? I would appreciate any help and any feedback you want to give us. Thanks

BananaPie Mon 19-Oct-15 01:12:06

If your oldest will turn 5 before 31 August 2016, you'll have to have him in full time education this year. You can't just apply for a place for him to start next year.

In terms of areas, London is a big place. Where will you need to get to for work? That might narrow it down.

Ohiomom2 Mon 19-Oct-15 01:41:10

My oldest will turn five this coming December. For this year I believe I have no choice than go private with him. I will be working in Fitzrovia that's why we were thinking North London. Hubby will be in Canary Wharf but he has a much more flexible schedule than I do.

Fuckitfay Mon 19-Oct-15 01:51:58

Once your second gets into a school your eldest may be top of the waiting list or close to top with sibling priority (other siblings living closer may be ahead on the list) but he will not get a place unless one becomes available if the school is full which means someone leaving. You may need to look at private education for a bit longer than one year unless you can find a school that isn't full.

Fuckitfay Mon 19-Oct-15 01:57:08

Would you consider living outside London and commuting in? Much cheaper housing and schooling much easier? You would have an easy commute from a town with a mainline train into euston or kings cross (lots of decent towns within around 30-40 mins on the train) and your husband's commute would probably be another half hour on top. You would need good wrap around childcare though but sounds like you'll need that anywhere you live.

Ohiomom2 Mon 19-Oct-15 02:02:24

Anyone has experience with the Montessori institute in Hampstead, the Avenue in Highgate and Eden in Muswell Hill? Those are the ones I am considering for private this year or until we get a place in a state. Thank you all for your answers.

Ohiomom2 Mon 19-Oct-15 02:05:10

Fuckitfay unfortunately I can't. I have to be within 30 minutes from work when on call

Fuckitfay Mon 19-Oct-15 02:25:53

Oh gosh that does make things tricky. Will you be renting or looking to buy ? Is budget for housing an issue? Sorry no experience of those schools but I'm sure someone will come along in the morning. May be worth starting a new thread with north London primaries in the title

SofiaAmes Mon 19-Oct-15 02:33:56

ohiomom the UK school system is the opposite of the us system. If you are looking for a non-religious school then you have to go private. The best public/state schools in the UK (particularly in London) are based on a religion and part of the acceptance criteria is that you attend your religious institution and prove that you have done so. As an atheist, I found this prohibitive. I had no objection to my dc's attending a school associated with a religion, but I was not willing to pretend to be religious myself to get them into a school.

SofiaAmes Mon 19-Oct-15 02:39:06

Also, unlike here in California (not sure what it's like in Ohio), you are not automatically entitled to a place in your neighborhood public/state school.

Ohiomom2 Mon 19-Oct-15 03:10:57

Same in Ohio SofiaAmes that's why I am struggling so much.

SofiaAmes Mon 19-Oct-15 06:35:43

I actually moved back to the USA when my eldest became school age partly because I realized that it would have been virtually impossible for me to get him a good state school education under the english system. We had in the end applied to and gotten into the American School, but at the time I really was hoping for a public school education.
Having said all of that, it probably doesn't matter for the first few years of elementary school. I would suggest finding a house in an area that has a decent school that has places (they do exist) and rent there to begin with and see how it goes. As it turned out, my DS struggled where ever he went and my DD would have excelled in any school on the planet.

Lasize Mon 19-Oct-15 06:59:08

There are plenty of good/outstanding state schools that are not religious (and some that are). We live in a London commuter town and of the 10 excellent primaries all but 2 are non-religious. Might be more of an issue in certain parts of London but not all.

AliceAnneB Mon 19-Oct-15 07:21:20

I'm an American living in N10. We previously lived in NW3. N10 or Muswell Hill is a lovely area for families but you won't be within 30 minutes of Fitzrovia. It would be more like 45 minutes. There are great non religious state schools here but an in year place will be almost impossible. Of the 3 schools you mentioned, Eden is in fact a religious (Jewish) state primary. Both the Avenue and Montessori are great but I'd contact them now as I think you will struggle to get in year with them too. The jump from Montessori to state primary for your oldest even if you did get a place would be tough. What's your budget like for housing and what are you thinking of? Flat/house?

If you want Muswell hill then make sure you move within .2 of the school. If you email Haringey council the address of the property they will give you the distance from the state schools you ware considering. Don't measure yourself on google maps. They have their own software and the distances are different. There will be huge pressure on reception places but in year 3 it tends to ease off as this is the common point to move to private. I'd get your youngest into the school you want and budget to pay private for three years for the oldest. Happy to help if you have more questions.

LIZS Mon 19-Oct-15 07:40:00

The local authority are obliged to allocate your DC a place in Reception once you are in situ, however unless you are lucky it will probably be at a less popular school and not necessarily local. You can then apply for your dc2 in January for next September and put dc1 on the waiting list for the same school where he would get a sibling link once dc 2 starts. If you do find a private place you need to allow for the costs of paying a full term's fees ( or potentially almost 2 if a term is already underway) in lieu of notice should a suitable state place come up, as you'd be expected to take it up straight away.

In the meantime presumably you area also looking for nursery/preschool/daycare for your younger child. That would almost certainly be private at this stage but you would be eligible for some funding in most cases.

lostintoys Mon 19-Oct-15 10:43:45

SofiaAmes is not correct. There are numerous outstanding non-religious schools – many of the most sought-after in Camden, such as Eleanor Palmer. If you want secular, don't choose a Catholic or Cof E school. There is absolutely no need to worry about the religious aspect in most schools.

lostintoys Mon 19-Oct-15 10:46:00

And Kentish Town is within 30 minutes of Fitzrovia (about 10 minutes by bus), and many fantastic non-religious schools. As for property, it depends what you consider affordable....

AliceAnneB Mon 19-Oct-15 11:13:42

Another thing to be aware of is the difference in class size in London state schools vs. most of the U.S. You're looking at your child being in a class of 30 kids at age 4. Ultimately most of the American expats we know haven't been happy with the class size and have opted for private but the expense is huge! If you're coming on a relo package you could always try for the American school in St. John's Wood. I know two of teachers there and and it's lovely.

mummytime Mon 19-Oct-15 12:52:01

Okay - some basics.

Unlike the US, you don't get your child a place in some school for the time being and then in September there will be a school place opening up.

Reception is for children who are 4 before 1st September of that school year. Parents apply for a reception place for their children by the preceding January.
Once you have a school place, you have that place even if you move away, as long as you get your child to school regularly. There is no system of reapplying each year. So once you have missed that deadline - you will be an in year applicant. Even if applying for a place at the beginning of year 1 or year 2.
You only apply again for senior schools, when you apply in by October of the year before entry (at age 11+). The only exceptions are if the first school is only for Reception to year 2, when you will have to apply for Junior school (years 3-6); or in areas with a middle school system.

So even if you are applying for a school place for September - that will still be an in year application .

Next: all state schools in England are supposed to be "broadly Christian" unless they are aligned to another faith (Jewish, Muslim, Sikh etc.). All schools are supposed to offer a daily assembly which is "broadly Christian", and all schools have to teach RE to age of 16.

However the LA is obliged to find you a school place, and there is a lot of mobility in London so you may be lucky. Class sizes will be 30 (and are limited to 30 for this age range - which causes some of the problems with getting a school place).

LarkDescending Mon 19-Oct-15 17:27:43

You may also wish to consider Islington/Highbury: N1/N5. Highbury & Islington station is on the Victoria line (for e.g. Warren Street Station - Fitzrovia) and also the Overground (orange line) for good connections to Canary Wharf.

There are some very good (and some not so good) local state primaries in Islington. Plenty of threads on here about them.

"Relatively affordable" re housing is, well, always relative! But you say you're considering NW3, so presumably the budget isn't all that tight.

Threeunderthree33 Mon 19-Oct-15 20:16:48

The Avenue is well-like by parents, and seems a very friendly place. it is small, and you can see from the website that children leave each year for other schools such as Channing and Highgate. This means that places do seem to come up. It is private.

Have a look at Whitehall Park which is nearby and as it was set up recently may be easier to get into than other schools. It is a state, but not a church school -so free but not particularly religious. Children get in on distance. The strategy would be to move really nearby so you are first on the waiting list. Meantime have the children at the Avenue until a place comes up.

If you are near Archway station you could get to Fitzrovia in half an hour.

Ohiomom2 Tue 20-Oct-15 03:57:26

Thank you so much to all of you for all the information you gave me. I love this forum! We are not against religious schools but we do not belong to any church and I understand most of the religious school have this as a "requirement". We are not coming with a relo package unfortunately. The American school would have been perfect but the fees are two high for us. I spoke with Camden and Haringey. They both gave a me a list of schools with available places for an in year admission but none of them is even close to the areas we are considering. Eden and Avenue are full and I am waiting on Montessori in Hornsey to get back to me. Wish me luck. This school hunting is tougher than I was expecting to be.

LIZS Tue 20-Oct-15 06:50:37

It is unlikely you would be restricted by a religious requirement if the school has a place available. Might make application for dc2 more difficult without evidence such as proof of baptism or regular attendance though. That like distance, is used to order applications in the initial allocation at aged 4/7/11 or for waiting lists. You may find that religion is central to their school day , but in many cases it is largely funding tie with the occasional visit by parish priest, carol service/nativity etc.

AliceAnneB Tue 20-Oct-15 08:31:29

It might be worth applying to the American school anyway. They know the fees are high even by London standards and offer financial aid in the form of bursaries even if you are making what seems like huge salaries. If they need bums in seats you might get lucky. If you have boys try Keble prep. It's further out than you wanted but has good transport links. The school is lovely and has excellent pastoral care with good teaching in small classes. They have a non selective entry so you wouldn't need to be here for an assessment. Keble is most likely to have places. Also try Annemount. It's in the same vein as The Avenue. Another to add to the list would be Norfolk House. There's a few American families at NH that are happy with it and it has lower fees (mostly because it has very little space!). NH wouldn't be a bad place to park your kids while you wait for state school places. They have an AMI Montessori attached as the nursery. In Nw3, the ones likely to have places are Devonshire House and Northbridge. Don't be afraid by what you will read about them not being academic enough. They aren't top tier but you may not want a hugely pushy school for two kids adjusting to a new country. If you want more academic then move them at 7+. You will find places for them. It's madness and no expat can quite believe it until they go through it!

KJ99 Tue 20-Oct-15 12:25:34

Hi Everyone,
Please help if you can?
We are expats, planning to return to Yorkshire early next year. We have two boys (4&8), so we are looking for a good state primary within the catchment area of an excellent non selective secondary school.
We work in Bradford so we need to be within a 40 drive/train in, but don't want to live within Bradford. We love the dales, villages and the outdoor life. We love Harrogate, but would like to get more for our money house wise. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, i'd love to hear your experiences
Thank you in advance,

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