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Moving back to the UK after being abroad

(6 Posts)
MammaK78 Mon 29-Feb-16 20:35:19

Hi all,

I was wondering if anyone could shed some light on how it works when you apply to primary schools in the UK (particularly the Wimbledon and Richmond areas) when you've been living abroad. We've been living abroad for 2 and a half years for work reasons and will be coming back to the UK in the summer due to needing to look after a family member.

I was told that we couldn't apply for a UK school place for my daughter and son until we were physically in the UK. We have a permanent UK address though. Also, and this is the bit that upsets me the most, is it seems that we are at the mercy of what's available at the time we move back which - although understandable - is still quite upsetting.

Does it work differently for different boroughs? Or is it all the same? I know there's been a clampdown on ensuring that places are only for those who are living in the relevant boroughs as there have been people who have tried to manipulate the system...

I'd appreciate any advice on how to negotiate this minefield.

Thanks so much in advance!

mummytime Mon 29-Feb-16 22:12:57

Most LAs will not allow you to apply until you actually live in the house (I know Surrey has this policy, I'm not sure about the policy of Richmond borough). If you apply for an "in year" place which is what you wil be applying for, then you are expected to take up the place within a matter of weeks of being offered it.
There is enormous pressure on school places in this area, so when there is a vacancy it tends to be filled very quickly.
If there are no places for your children then the LA can force a school or schools to accept them. But you don't have a say in which school the LA decide can best cope and meet your children's needs.

Exceptions are: if you are overseas as part of the Military or Crown Agents. Then you can apply whilst overseas.
If your children are in year 3 or above, you have a chance you might win an appeal for a place at a school which you have applied and failed to get a place. You are unlikely to win an appeal for years R to 2 if it is deemed to be an "infant class size" one.

However in my experience most primary schools offer a very good standard of education (even ones that have Ofsted RI grade). So don't panic too much.

MammaK78 Tue 01-Mar-16 15:29:12

Thanks so much mummytime- I really appreciate the advice.

I have subsequently called the two local authorities we can easily move to and both say the same thing. We need to be there. There really isn't anything more to do but like you say, primary education of a pretty good standard.

The other issue I have in deciding where to go (Richmond Borough vs Merton Borough) is the secondary schools. My DD is going to be going into Year 6 in September which means we need to have a little foresight into where the best secondary schools are...

So far my research has shown Richmond Borough... Have you had any experience with this?

mummytime Tue 01-Mar-16 18:24:29

Secondary schools is probably the best starting point. Get a list of schools, and check their entry requirements, along with OFSTED results and the dfes performance tables [] and so on. Borough's cannot discriminate against people from another borough, but may have catchments which are very close to the borough boundaries (Woodford County High has a catchment that is almost but not quite the same as the boundary for example).
Most places use distance as a way of ranking applicant, but they may have preference for a wide range of other criteria, and some test (and its not always just the brightest who get in).
Don't rely on: hearsay, estate agents or one website which shows schools "most children from that road go to" - I know it is very misleading for my road (almost all children at present go to one school, but they are siblings, got in on appeal, from waiting lists etc. new students would be unlikely with rising birthrates to get in from here.

Oinkyoinky Wed 02-Mar-16 12:03:37

Richmond insist that you have a permanent address in the borough before they will allocate you a school place. There is still a fair bit of movement in primary schools in the borough of Richmond even at the end of year 5, especially in areas like Teddington & Twickenham & Richmond, where there are a fair few expats and families moving out of the area for various reasons. My advice would be to rent a house slap bang next to a 3 or 4 form entry primary school within the borough of Richmond - chances of getting a place in my opinion would be pretty good (but of course not guaranteed!). And make sure that whichever primary school you choose, that it's well within the catchment for your favoured secondary.It's tough, but if you chose house & school wisely then it will make it easier!

Oinkyoinky Wed 02-Mar-16 12:04:27

*It's tough!

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