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Cambridge Area -- South Cambs, Herts, Beds?

(18 Posts)
Spalva Wed 12-Dec-12 16:57:57


We moved to the UK in August but do not feel settled in the area we chose (we had ten days to find something and this is what we found). Our rental contract is up in February and we are hoping to move up north. My husband works at Old Street. This move has been a major strain on our family, so dh is saying I can find something fairly far and perhaps he'll get a room during the week.

Cambridge seems like a good choice for us. The children could attend Saturday school at the Alliance francaise there. I can't afford Cambridge Int'l School but being around there might be nice if there are other expatriate families (or if they offer scholarships, which I'm enquiring about). We don't have a car, so depend on bus and train, bicycle, etc. And the rent prices seem okay. We need something under 900 pcm -- and I would really, really love to have three bedrooms...and a garden.

I've been reading about some of the villages around Cambridge. Some of the village colleges seem like they might be a good choice for dd1, who is in Year 8. She really needs a small school atmosphere, good languages, laid-back kids, etc.

I like the idea of being in a village setting as long as there is good access to Cambridge/London (for husband and for the Saturday school).

But I've also been looking at Letchworth Garden City, especially at the school in Baldock as it seems to have a strong foreign languages program (read a comment by the French teacher who is from Brittany, where we own a home).

And then, I've also been looking at the lovely rent prices in Bedfordshire villages. And I like the middle school concept as I think it's nice for 13 year-olds to be kids and not all grown-up with the big kids (and so does my dd).

Does anyone have any ideas about these areas? Good secondaries?

ChoccyJules Wed 12-Dec-12 17:13:05

Hi, I live in Cambridge itself and there are lots of families from overseas due to the massive teaching hospital and the University. At our coffee mornings DD was the only British heritage (not necessarily British born) child there and her nursery experiences have been similarly wonderfully multicultural.

It is expensive to live here though. The villages are perhaps better (I would have preferred to live out of town but DH wanted town for once). Cycling is a way of life and the cycle paths are plentiful (compared to other British cities). What's great is the train is 45 mins to Kings Cross.

Beds and Herts also seem nice though will let others comment.

EssieW Wed 12-Dec-12 17:19:06

If you're interested in the Baldock school, then you'll need to live in Baldock itself or one of the villages like Ashwell or Weston to get in. I can't comment on the foreign languages programme (though I did A-level languages there myself but that was a long time ago) but it is a good and sought after school. Also strong in music, drama. There are good trips in the language programme. I don't know that much about secondaries in Letchworth itself.

MrsLyman Wed 12-Dec-12 19:30:04

I used to live in Cambridge the commute to Old Street is fairly manageable due to the fast train into Kings Cross. Village wise you could take a look at those in the Impington Village college catchment, which back in my day was, Histon & Impington, Girton, Oakington and Milton. IVC 6th form has the international baccalaureate, so should have strong languages teaching although not sure how this feeds into the lower years.

overmydeadbody Wed 12-Dec-12 19:38:40

Well al the Cambridge city schools are full of international families and the city secondary schools are pretty good. Chesterton Secondary is very good.

In the villages Impington Village College has a good reputation, as does Comberton (which is very good) and Cottenham Village COllege is also a good secondary (the people I know who's kids go there are very happy with them)

Beds and Herts would definately be cheaper though, for rent. Cambridge's prices are highly inflated.

overmydeadbody Wed 12-Dec-12 19:41:43

Have you really found 3 bedroom houses with gardens to rent in Cambridge for £900? shock Really?!?!?

Spalva Wed 12-Dec-12 19:49:15

Overmydeadbody, no. That's why I'm looking in surrounding areas. I have found flats we could afford in Cherry Hinton. But, no, just soulless modern 2 bed flats, I'm afraid.

Thanks for the tips everyone. I've heard of all those villages, just wanted to confirm that the schools are good.

Spalva Thu 13-Dec-12 12:35:11

Anyone in Huntington or Sawston? Yes, they are on opposite sides. Just wondering what they're like (good rental prices).

Spalva Thu 13-Dec-12 12:41:39

And what about Foxton, Melbourn or even Royston?

Tingalingle Thu 13-Dec-12 12:47:58

Big fan of Sawston village college here. It's not a 'small' or very international school though, so might not fit your criteria. Two years ago it took on our bullied, stressed, angry 12-year-old when he needed a change of school and has given us a fairly laid-back teenager who says his school is 'fab'.

Tingalingle Thu 13-Dec-12 12:49:18

Do I recall that your DD is having a tough time of it at present with some very un-inclusive kids?

Tingalingle Thu 13-Dec-12 12:51:43

Slightly outside budget?

Access to station in Whittlesford? but check which side of the major road it is!

Lilymaid Thu 13-Dec-12 13:07:26

You could also consider Bishops Stortford if you could get your DC into Hockerill Anglo European School - a shorter journey on the Liverpool St line than Cambridge/Whittlesford.
Also consider Saffron Walden County High School (commute from Audley End) or Newport Free Grammar School - (commute from Audley End or Newport) which are very good schools in Essex and Saffron Walden is a lovely town and still within easy reach of Cambridge for the Alliance Francaise.
Sawston/Whittlesford for Sawston VC and Whittlesford Station would be a solution for non drivers.
You will be doing well to find really good MFL provision in a school, though. The level of language proficiency required for GCSE is very low.

Tingalingle Thu 13-Dec-12 15:55:18

Saffron Walden IS lovely but the County High is enormous -- isn't it nearly 2000 students?

guineapiglet Thu 13-Dec-12 18:34:16

Hi - we lived in Meldreth for some years, good links to London, has a little station of its own. All primaries in the area are good as are local colleges at Melbourn and Bassingbourn, plus excellent 6th form colleges in Cambridge - about a 20 minute drive on a good day!

Spalva Thu 13-Dec-12 22:00:44

Tingalingle (great name!) -- Thanks for the advice about the school -- good to hear. Must be a huge relief for you. Yes, you remember right -- thank you for that; dd is at home for the moment, and very lonely. The house in Whittlesford is on the right side of the M11, I believe. The other one, yes, is out of budget due to added tranportation costs (how I would sell the house in France right now). I can't move out of here till February so can't really look till then but need to research now. Thanks for all your help.

Lilymaid -- We stayed in BS for ten days while looking for a place this summer. We did not like the narrow sidewalks and general lack of pedestrian friendliness there -- besides the airplane noise. We were minutes from Hockerill. Anyway, Hockerill has no places and probably never will (according to them). BS people are extremely friendly, though. I would loooove Saffron Walden but I can't get a handle on how big of a walk it is to the station. I really should visit. I'm not sure we can really afford it. And when I first started researching our move here I think one of my first bookmarks was Newport Grammar. I think I got confused at some point about the grammar in the name and gave it up. I think Sawston/Whittlesford is getting up high on my list. I see what you mean about the MFL provision. Dd spent four weeks in the local comp and, yes, it was far below anything she had ever done. Really, everything was -- found that surprising.

Guineapiglet -- Thank you. Meldreth doesn't seem to have a big rental market.

DuchessofHaphazard Thu 20-Dec-12 17:36:56

Well, we're leaving our 3-bed semi (80ft garden) on Newmarket Rd in February...we currently pay £760 a month (paid £725 until this summer), so 3 bed for under 900pcm is possible. Having said that though, you don't really want to live where we are - especially re secondary schools, and it's cheap for a reason (needs massive updating, on a very busy road, not great schools etc).

I really like the south cambridgeshire villages (where we're moving), but not sure what the secondary MFL provision is like - you could look at Bottisham / Balsham / Fulbourn / Linton?

GrendelsMum Thu 20-Dec-12 19:59:48

Saffron Walden doesn't have a station - you need to go to Audley End which is nearby, so I think you may find that a difficult option.

Impington Village College is supposed to have a good reputation for languages, but then you're on the wrong side of Cambridge for your DH's commute.

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