Help! Moving to London w/ 8 year old! Info needed for Hotham/West Hill/John Wolfe/Kingsgate primary school

(33 Posts)
WhatADayCremeBrulee Wed 25-Apr-18 00:11:56

Hello there!! We're moving to London from California this summer with 8 years old daughter. We're nervous and excited! She will start Year 4 in September.

We're in the middle of apartment/school hunting, and appreciate any info about following schools (I know it's all over the place..):

Hotham (Putney)
West Hill (Putney)
John Wolfe (Greenwich)
Kingsgate (Hampstead)

My questions:

Diversity at school We prefer schools with racial/cultural diversity - I'm sure we can get enough of that in London smile but curious about situation of each school.

Attention to individual students Do you feel your kid is getting enough attention/support/encouragement from teachers when needed? My current concern is math - I noticed the UK math curriculum and what they cover is quite different from ours and my daughter might be a bit behind when she starts.

Teaching approach/focus I'm not sure how STEM education is a big thing in UK but how is your school in that department? I'm also curious if any schools are trying different teaching approaches - e.g., project based, new math methods like Singapore math

PTA/parents involvement How active is your PTA? What kind of activities or volunteer opportunities do you have? Are they actively involved in the classroom too? (art docent, classroom helper etc)

Communication with teachers How do you get informed about what's happening in classroom or about your child? Do you feel communicating with teachers is easy?

After school care/extra curricular activities What's the afterschool care situation? Do you have onsite care, or what's other option around you? Also, what type of extra curricular activities offered, what's popular?

Overall feel of the school Overall how do you describe your school? Traditional? Strict? Open-minded? Inclusive?

Conflict resolution How do they deal with conflicts, any sensitive political/racial issues (maybe it's just here in the US..but we're started seeing more of these since last year, well you know why hmm)?

Overall feel of the school community I think I am more nervous about getting into the new parents circle! As a parent how do you feel of the parents community of your school? Friendly? Laid back? Demanding? Cliquey? Indifferent?

Ok I stop now but I really really hope I can get some insight about those schools. I'm pretty clueless about UK school system!! Thanks in advance, any info appreciated and please feel free to DM me too!!

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Wigeon Wed 25-Apr-18 21:52:58

I don’t know about those schools but it might be worth posting in the relevant “Local” sections of Mumsnet?

Wigeon Wed 25-Apr-18 21:55:05

Here’s the board for Putney: although it doesn’t seem very busy...

Wigeon Wed 25-Apr-18 21:56:43


Sunshine5050 Wed 25-Apr-18 21:59:13

OP, have you spoken to local estate agents and the local authorities to find out if there are spaces in these schools? In the UK you can only apply for a school place once you have a postcode & have signed a rental agreement. You then find out if you have a space or are on the waiting list, hence many people moving to the UK will have a private back up school place, see the thread for the lady from Ireland moving to London with a 6 year old girl.

WhatADayCremeBrulee Wed 25-Apr-18 22:57:17

Thank you Wigeon for sending me the right direction! I will try those boards too - I'm so new to mumsnet as much as I'm new to the UK life! grin

Sunshine5050 Thank you! Yes we called around to check the vacancies and we're trying to locate ourselves based on the info. Really can't afford private schools and we're really hoping to avoid that option!

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FourFriedChickensDryWhiteToast Wed 25-Apr-18 23:04:15

tbh as sunshine pointed out, you cant apply for a school place in London without an address.
Therefore it might be better to decide where you want to live and find a short list of schools in that area.
Most schools in London will be pretty diverse. However Hampstead and Greenwich, for example, are very different kinds of area.
After and before school care/ after school clubs - the provision varies wildly.


WhatADayCremeBrulee Thu 26-Apr-18 02:10:43

FourFriedChickensDryWhiteToast Thank you! Based on my husband's commute (to Canary Wharf) we're currently looking properties in Putney/West Hampstead/Greenwich area. We called the local school board for the vacancies and we've got lists - so far we liked Putney/Greenwich more, and we found some potential places -- but putting all the pieces of together - good apartment/good school which has vacancies are so hard! My husband just flew to London and some schools agreed to do site visit, so hopefully he will get some direct insight too...

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oncemoreunto Thu 26-Apr-18 03:18:20

We moved our dc back to UK after time overseas.
We found a class of 30 a shock as we were used to smaller numbers.
They had one class teacher who covered everything including a language she really didn't know.
There was some additional support for different maths etc but we paid for a private tutor to plug the gaps after a while, wish we had done this sooner.
Most parents work so school socializing wasn't that full on but there was an active PTA.
There was some class volunteer roles but they and trip volunteering was oversubscribed.
I think I would describe our school as gently positive about multi culturalism and most other schools seem similar.
Primary schools aren't going to be very political places but coming from US you may be initially surprised by things like complete acceptance of universal healthcare as a basic right.

oncemoreunto Thu 26-Apr-18 03:21:54

Most decent schools in London will be full. The schools have ofsted ratings which will give you some idea. There are published ratings.
You may need a private backup.

oncemoreunto Thu 26-Apr-18 03:24:53

The school system isn't the same as the US moving into a good area won't get you a place in the good school, you may well be asked to travel to a school with spaces out of area. There is no requirement to put your child in a school in your area.

helloallllll Thu 26-Apr-18 07:45:34

I will pm you later about schools in Putney but I wouldn't worry about schools being full. There is a lot of movement especially around Year 4 as people move, change schools etc. There will be spaces in Hotham school and also it's likely spaces will come up in the smaller schools as well.

WhatADayCremeBrulee Thu 26-Apr-18 17:40:10

oncemoreunto - thank you! Just ordered British math book for Year 3 and wow, they're already doing division and fraction! We're trying to catch up as much as possible while we're still here but hiring a tutor during summer sounds like a good idea! My kid is in 2nd grade in the US system, and they just started multiplication. Before that, they were learning 8 different methods (!) of addition and different from how we used to learn math..

So far most of the schools we found with vacancies are "good" in ofstead - I guess I shouldn't worry too much if they are "good" but not "excellent"..?

Yay to the universal health care! grin ..and yes, we're in the very politically sensitive time here - we talk a lot about inclusiveness, gender and racial equality at school and in the community (and there are lots of debate going on among parents how to address those issues). Some older kids at DD's school even organized walk-out against gun violence. To be honest I'm relieved that we'll be in UK for a while and we won't have to worry too much about things like school mass shootings...confused

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WhatADayCremeBrulee Thu 26-Apr-18 17:47:17

hello helloallllll! I'm relieved to hear that about vacancies! We found there are some vacancies already in some schools in Putney, but I guess there will be more at the end of the school year? Why they change schools a lot around Year 4? Do they switch to private? It will be absolutely wonderful to hear from you about your experience, thanks in advance! <3

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jeanne16 Thu 26-Apr-18 18:07:24

Tbh Hotham is not a particularly sort after school in Putney. It is common for people to move their DCs to other more popular schools in Putney as places become available there, such as St Mary’s or Our Lady of Victories or to Independent schools. Also people move out of London freeing up places. Having said that, I have friends with DCs at Hotham and they were quite pleased it.

helloallllll Thu 26-Apr-18 18:10:46

Promise I will PM this evening when the obligatory after school activities have finished!

oncemoreunto Thu 26-Apr-18 18:43:43

Good should be fine as a rating.
We've recently done the swap the other way but kept in UK system. There will be no more lockdown drills for your DC, just an occasional fire drill where everyone has to go outside with their class and be checked off a clip board.
There will be a uniform of course but often this is reasonably informal in primary school.
School day in UK for us was 9-3:30, which I mention because our US school starts at 8am but I don't know how usual that is.

BeachyUmbrella Thu 26-Apr-18 18:50:27

Putney to Canary Wharf is a pig of a commute..... Blackheath or Greenwich a lot easier.

Helspopje Thu 26-Apr-18 18:53:31

Greenwich to cw is dead easy - other options def not!
James wolfe is a great school
May also be worth looking at schools in blackheath

Helspopje Thu 26-Apr-18 18:54:23

Just saying, but there is definitely a y3 spot at an outstanding school in blackheath......

helloallllll Thu 26-Apr-18 18:59:27

You can get the riverboat to Canary Wharf from Putney- lovely way to commute!

Rumpleteezer Thu 26-Apr-18 19:25:52

Brandlehow school in putney is excellent and may well have a place for your 8 year old. Worth giving them a call for a visit. Catchment is very small so I'd ask which roads to look in for rentals if you do get through to them.

helloallllll Thu 26-Apr-18 22:29:23

Op- I have sent you a PM. Hopefully it worked!?

Solasum Thu 26-Apr-18 22:34:29

Greenwich would be far far preferable from a commuting point to of view than Putney. Riverboat commuting sounds idyllic, but would take a looooong time

WhatADayCremeBrulee Fri 27-Apr-18 01:55:34

jeanne16 hello! do you know why they are not popular? Is it just because other schools are relatively "better" (whatever that means)? I found mixed reviews about Hotham and I'm a bit confused about it, although it's nice to hear there are happy Hotham parents!

helloallllll yes I got it. thank you!!!! :D

oncemoreunto yes daughter's very excited about school uniforms - "am I going to dress like Harry Potter?!" haha

BeachyUmbrellaHelspopje**Solasum hello hello! Yes, I'm so torn about Putney vs Greenwich. Hub started his job already and now staying in Greenwich, and commuting seems like a breeze. He's been to Putney to check properties several times and he doesn't mind the commute (less than hour) though. I see Greenwich is pretty big too - he first stayed in Charlton and the commute was a bit pain. He likes Cutty Sark area, seems there are bigger and newer properties, not sure how family oriented the area though (I never been to Greenwich area). We also don't want to own a car for a while - will that be possible in Blackheath area?

Rumpleteezer I hear nothing but praises about Brandlehow, although I don't know specifics...we found no vacancies at Brandlehow as of now, and heard there is a waitlist (one of my friend is about get a spot after year+ wait). Sigh, moving with kid is like orchestrating a perfect solar eclipse! Balancing commute time+budget+nice flat+nice school in absolute perfect timing!

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