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trying to find school w/places in 3 years around Northwood/Herts/Buck
Hello everyone, would very much love your advice if anyone can help!! We used to live in Cambs, two of my three children were born there. Loved living in the UK and would love to move back! We've been in Belgium for the past 2.5 years due to DH's career. It looks like we may have the chance to move back to the UK after the summer, DH would work in Northwood if it happens.
I have spent the past 3 weeks talking to schools and council people in Northwood as well as lots of different towns and villages around there within commuting range by car, rail or tube. It seems completely impossible to find one school that has places for all three (we'd need spots in Year 6, Year 4 and Reception after the summer). We can afford private but only up to a certain point as there are three to pay for; even so I've not been able to find anything.
I realise this is a reality many have to deal with and the solution is to put one child in another school and put them on the wait list to get them all in the same school. However moving back into the UK education system after being taught in French for the past 2.5 years is already going to be such a shock to the system that I'm not sure we should try to go the multiple schools route.
I guess my question is, is this idea of finding one school that could take all three a complete pipe dream? Should I just give up and accept that we may not be able to return to the UK because of this? Does anyone have any ideas of areas I could still look in? Alternatively will you help me out of my misery by telling me it's simply not going to happen? I'm beginning to think it's not but it would help to hear it from those in the know and familiar with the area... thanks very much!!
Thanks for reading if you got this far!
Getting all three straight into one state school is so unlikely that I'd forget it as a possibility. Assume three schools and then if you manage less than that it'll be a bonus.
Your eldest will be doing secondary school applications in the autumn and only have 1 year left in primary so I wouldn’t worry so much about that place being with the others. Focus on being in a area where you are happy with the secondary choices for them and get them into a school with a space in the meantime. See if you can get the others in together, but you may struggle with a reception place as they have just been allocated. You may be best off getting the year 4 in a school and putting the reception on a wait list, as a sibling they should go to top of the waiting list and hopefully you won’t need to be waiting too long. Also if you go for a bigger school (2-3 classes in a year) a space is more likely to come up than in a small school. It’s a good time to move back if you are thinking of being back longer term as you will be just in time for secondary applications and the others should follow that place as siblings on the future.
This is the information that can help you focus your search:
Have a look at Berkhamsted. 18 miles from Northwood or about 35 minute drive. All of the schools are good or outstanding and the comprehensive is great (although check last admitted distances vs any prospective new house).
It’s a small town and the schools are close together so even if you can’t get them all into one, the logistics of two different drop offs are minimal. Two schools are infants only and then they move to another school for Y3. There’s a walking bus provision I think and plenty of options for breakfast and after school. Thomas Moore and Greenway share the same site.
There’s also Berkhamsted School right in town (independent, although entrance test to get in) or Westbrook Hay a five minute drive away which usually has spaces in most years.
Your biggest problem is going to be reception though.
How old is the reception child? If a late summer birthday you could find a place then defer it until say after Christmas which would give you a breathing space hoping for a waiting list place to come up.
As others have said, focus on finding a place to live with your secondary child in mind so check catchment areas carefully.
If you can then get one of your y6 / y4 into a school you like you can then appeal for the other one to get a place and put the reception child on the waiting list.
Only the youngest is subject to the class limit (30) so if you find a primary with a reception place, they may be able to take the older kids too. The eldest switches schools next year do you may prefer to concentrate on where you want him to attend (state or private) as they are more competitive than primary
Saint Jerome C of E primary school is bilingual... but as a newer school only has R-Yr3 places currently ( increase a year at a time). French and English in Harrow.
I can assure that many schools will not exceed their admission limit. Where I am a governor, we never do. We would for a child in care or with a Statement naming us, but in general, it is a "No". Appeal panels have upheld that position. There are schools with vacancies and children are expected to go to them.
However, decide if you want grammars in Bucks (check registration date) and if not, then are you have to be happy with a secondary modern school. If you are, live in catchment, because some a sought after.
For other areas, and indeed for Bucks, look at the admissions web sites that the Councils maintain. They often have up to date vacancy lists. It is very difficult to find vacancies in all years except in schools with difficulties that no one else wants.
Have a look around Rickmansworth, Croxley, Watford -
Met line to Northwood is very simple from all three stations;
You won't be throwing your Year 6 into the nightmare of 11plus in Bucks (Herts schools are part selective, and take most on distance). Honestly, I can't stress how huge the secondary transfer nightmare can be if you're not prepared.
Bucks have updated their list of schools with places today! So very up to date:
PS - It's worth remembering some of the infant schools have linked junior schools (usually obvious from the name e.g. Bedgrove infants, Bedgrove junios), so worth checking both infants and juniors