Moving to London - School Help!

(39 Posts)
hvf04 Thu 27-Dec-18 14:39:19

Hi all,

I'm new on here - and very overwhelmed! There is a very high chance that my family and I will be moving to London this summer from Texas. Husband and I lived in Wandsworth when we were newlyweds, straight out of university, so we are familiar with living in London. However, this time we have 3 children (ages 10, 8, and 3), from what I gather, in September this would be Year 6, 4, and Reception.

We are looking in the Wimbledon area, and I am completely overwhelmed with trying to figure out what schools I want to be near. State, public? I understand that we can't apply for anything until we actually have an address, so I'm trying to narrow it down by location, so I can find housing near the catchment zone for those schools. I don't think we want to pay for public, as we'd still like to take holidays. They are very bright kids, top of their classes at their current schools. Will I be doing them a disservice by putting them in state schools? From what I've read, I'm pretty sure the education system in the UK is better than what we've got in the US, and they are in the equivalent of state schools here, but then I read about all these public schools (Wimbledon High School) and well, they lure you in, don't they?

Also, with the 10 year old, she'll be moving from Primary after one year, so would it be worth it to put her in a school that runs through 11+, so she doesn't have to move again after one year?

Basically, I want them to have the chance to get into top universities (either back home in the US or abroad) should they want to do that.

Any advice? smile

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Zodlebud Thu 27-Dec-18 15:26:55

Check out

The blogger moved from Texas to the U.K. with two kids last year. It will be much easier to get all three children into the same school if you go private instead of state. There are some great state schools in London but you may well find yourself with three different schools miles apart.

hvf04 Thu 27-Dec-18 15:39:07

Thanks - I'll check it out.

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missflippy Thu 27-Dec-18 16:07:24

Hi. Definitely try Wimbledon high. Or maybe hall school? Do you just have girls or both?

LIZS Thu 27-Dec-18 17:35:59

With UK state schools you are not necessarily allocated the nearest or catchment school, rather the nearest school with a place available in the correct year group. There is a real possibility your dc will be offered different schools, as before year 3 there is a class limit of 30. Fees can rise sharply at independent schools, year on year and as pupils progress up the school, so do your sums carefully before committing.

hvf04 Thu 27-Dec-18 17:39:11

@missflippy 10 and 3 are girls, 8 is a boy.
@LIZS - how accurate are the reports of schools being over/under subscribed?

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LIZS Thu 27-Dec-18 17:41:53

What reports are you looking at? Intake is at reception and sometimes year 3 so statistics may be based on those times, not in year applications or subsequent changes.


bsc Thu 27-Dec-18 17:43:00

Beware that if you try for independent schools, the exams will be held almost as soon as you arrive, and your DD will not be prepared in any way.

hvf04 Thu 27-Dec-18 18:28:37

@bsc - if that's the route we take, should I have her do some kind of review/preparation before we go so she's not completely out of it?

Starting to feel like I'm setting my kids up for failure. confused

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lljkk Thu 27-Dec-18 18:41:00

People move to London regularly & find school places for their kids. It's not impossible, but it can be a headache.

sanam2010 Thu 27-Dec-18 21:50:03

you should know that Merton (the council where Wimbledon is) publishes lists of state primary school vacancy in the different year groups, these lists are updated on a monthly basis. Even good state primaries tend to have places in the highest year groups, and then the little ones become siblings. It's still not easy but not impossible either.
(scroll down to primary vacancy checker excel file).

This blog / article will also prove helpful:

Best of luck!

MoveOnTheCards Thu 27-Dec-18 21:55:22

We’re in this borough. We went private as the state primaries range from ok (just) and ‘full’ to excellent and massively over-subscribed (lol at the idea of ‘being in catchment’!), which is saying something when you can have 60-90 kids in a year group. Private schools here are excellent.

hvf04 Fri 28-Dec-18 00:31:00

@sanam2010 - I didn’t know about the vacancies list - that’s helpful!

@moveonthecards - it’s the idea of 45k a year for 3 kids that makes my skin crawl! Unless my husband can work it in his contract, not sure we’d be able to afford that for them. When we lived here earlier in life, kids weren’t in the picture, so it wasn’t ever anything we needed to worry about, as far as contracts go.

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MoveOnTheCards Fri 28-Dec-18 08:44:00

I know what you mean about the fees, we only have 1 to think about! If you don’t want to pay 3x fees from the get-go would you consider private for secondary? We’re not enthused by state secondaries around here (a fair number of the top private ones are selective).

Then you could focus your house-hunting based on securing a place in the best state primary you can get for your middle DC, on the basis their place will lead to the younger sibling getting a spot there too when the time comes.

hvf04 Fri 28-Dec-18 14:03:23

@moveonthecards that’s definitely a possibility. My middle will have 3 years at primary. Reception isn’t compulsory, right? So if we got the older two in a school and reception was full, it’s not the end of the world. What do people do if they don’t send kids to reception, but they need childcare?

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LIZS Fri 28-Dec-18 14:12:19

Reception is the first compulsory year (unless home educating) . If there are no spaces then , you need someone to leave the class to enter year 1 the following year and be top of the waiting list.

hvf04 Fri 28-Dec-18 14:36:14

Why do schools have so few reception classes if it is compulsory? If it’s required, like every other level, you’d think there would be just as many spaces. Obviously they didn’t ask my opinion! grin

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Zodlebud Fri 28-Dec-18 14:38:08

I would try and negotiate a relocation package that comes with at least a contribution towards school fees, at least for the youngest two. Then move slap bang next to a great comprehensive secondary school for your eldest which, if you time it right in terms of admissions, would mean they would be almost guaranteed a place. Catchment areas can be very small though so look carefully!!!!

Also, consider living a bit further out but still only a 30 minute commute into central London? Hertfordshire and Surrey have plenty of small towns with a London vibe (mostly because people have moved out of London once they have kids). Pressure for places at independent schools is generally less competitive the further out.

Moving abroad with kids is an amazing experience (I took mine to the USA). If you can sort out schools then the rest just falls into place.

Pandasarecute Fri 28-Dec-18 14:44:16

There will be as many reception places as in other year groups! So reception, year 1 and year 2 can’t have over 30 in a class, years 3-6 can go above 30 so there are potentially more places as children get older but very few children miss reception, and you could be unlikely to get a year 1place for a could who has missed reception if the schools is full. Does that make sense?

hvf04 Fri 28-Dec-18 14:59:32

@pandasarecute makes sense - thanks!

@zodlebud - what are some examples of towns/villages I should look into? Wimbledon isn’t set in stone, but we’d like a walkable area, close to transport to get husband into London. Honestly, we just started with Wimbledon because we knew the area (previously lived in Wandsworth) and I think there are a good number of people in the office he’d be joining that live in the area. I have told him he needs to check on getting education in his package, we shall see if that works. He’s in accounting, not oil and gas or banking, so I’m not sure how those packages work.

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Zodlebud Fri 28-Dec-18 15:07:12

In Hertfordshire there are St Albans, Harpenden and Berkhamsted, all a half hour train ride into central London (Euston / Kings Cross, with the St Albans / Harpenden lime going straight to Blackfriars). Sandringham School in St Albans and St George’s in Harpenden are two of the most sought after schools in the area. Berkhamsted has Ashlyns which is really on the up and catchment areas have shrunk significantly in the last two years. Primary schools in all three areas are good to excellent but again, be mindful of catchment.

Surrey isn’t my part of the world I’m afraid but I hear good things about Guildford.

bluefolder Fri 28-Dec-18 18:33:49

45k won’t be enough in London. Where I am in n London most private schools are closer to 20k than 15 for just feels then there’s lunch, uniform, trips etc.

LittleBearPad Fri 28-Dec-18 18:37:50

Where is his office? That’s the critical thing to know, then you need to figure out the commute and then where you live as a result. Will you be working - do you need to commute too?

hvf04 Fri 28-Dec-18 19:06:16

He’ll be near Blackfriars.

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hvf04 Fri 28-Dec-18 19:07:02

Also - I’m hoping to keep my current job, as I work remotely already. As long as my boss is up for it stil.

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