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When to move house for a better secondary

(16 Posts)
mydoorisalwaysopen Wed 15-Jun-11 12:11:18

I have two DS aged 7 and 4. Local secondary is one of the worst in the area in terms of exam results and CVA. I am thinking it could be a good idea to move to get into the catchment for a better secondary school. DS2 about to start school in September, DS1 going into year 3. Should we think about it soon to allow time for kids to settle in, make new friends? Obviously, because our house is in the catchment for a not so good school it is not worth anywhere near as much as houses close to good schools and I'm finding the idea of moving to not so nice house difficult (selfish icon). Local schools have had the same relative performance for years and years so I think it's unlikely for our school to get a lot better or the other school to get a lot worse over the next few years.

This kind of migration happens a lot in my town. Arriving in Y6 is fairly common; gives time to apply for secondary place, plus a year of friend-making.

At the start of Y6, I mean.

When we did it, oldest DC was going into Y3, so she had the benefit of spending the whole of juniors in the same cohort that went on to secondary.

It's a compromise between finances and a settled primary school experience.

PotteringAlong Wed 15-Jun-11 12:23:34

your youngest child won't start secondary until 2018 - it could be a completely different secondary school by then; new head, new senior management, new ethos. Remember that pupils in a school completely change every 5 years and that can make a big impact. Is your current local secondary schoool improving? it's got another 4 years until your eldest goes - that's lots of time in terms of education.

I don't think I'd migrate for a secondary school this far in advance

mummytime Wed 15-Jun-11 12:37:10

I know people who have accepted council houses sight unseen because it was in the right catchment here. Go and look at the schools, don't rely on hear-say. I would also get on Estate agents lists and start looking, but do make sure you know the entry requirements and keep up to date with any changes.

circular Wed 15-Jun-11 13:04:54

Not convinced it is worth it before year 5.
In the current climate, there are so many changes happening.
Outstanding / good schools becoming academies which means they can set there only admissions criteria.

You could pay loads to be in a catchment of a good school only to find the admissions criteria changes.

mydoorisalwaysopen Wed 15-Jun-11 13:29:05

Thanks for all messages. The current secondary is improving in that it has just come out of special measures but it's relative performance to other schools in the area has stayed the same (for GCSE about 50% getting the 5 A-C including english and maths as opposed to about 70-75% at other schools, CVA at under 100, other schools CVA 105-110. Hadn't thought about the issue with schools becoming academies as in this area it seems only failing schools become academies but I suppose that will change.

I went to the (bad) secondary school thirty years ago and the schools all seem to have about the same reputation they did then!

ShellingPeas Wed 15-Jun-11 13:57:33

TBH 50% A-C including english and maths for a 'bad' secondary isn't that dire. Okay, the others get better results, but the bad secondary in my area gets 25% and the good comp only gets low 60s. And it's not a deprived area either!

I'd wait and see what happens at this stage - a good head can turn a school around dramatically.

mydoorisalwaysopen Wed 15-Jun-11 14:16:09

The head has been there quite a while (about six years) and I have been to some public meetings when the school was put into special measures. She told us that the school would never compare favourably with other schools in the area due to the nature of the catchment area. I don't like this attitude but don't know whether I am just being a bit naive. The catchment includes quite a large local authority estate. I don't want to send the kids to a school where children can be written off so readily. If the CVA was high I would not be so bothered but the low CVA suggests the pupils are being let down.

cubscout Wed 15-Jun-11 15:55:14

It's not just failing schools becoming academies. Two outstanding secondaries in my town have become academies and rumour is that in a couple of years time will be selective only, so for people who have moved to be in the catchment, thier children will have to sit a selection test. Academies can set their own entry rules.

Don't move too soon - a lot can happen in 2 or 3 years.

Isitreally Thu 16-Jun-11 09:30:42

50% is considered average to good for a secondary school. A "bad" school will be way below 30%

There is a lot of change planned for schools at the moment. Some outstanding schools will become academies. Some failing schools might be taken over by more successful teams. If the sole reason for a house move is school catchment, I would do it when your eldest is in Year 5. Before then it is too soon to tell.
What may have been static for many years under one government might suddenly be turned on it's head by the new Government. Also there are proposals to give priority to children from very poor families to go to the best state schools so you might need to think about how much closer you need to be to the school to get a guaranteed place after siblings and families eligible for extra help get their priority places. There is such a lot of unknowns at the moment and you are in a good position to wait 2 years and see how it pans out

circular Thu 16-Jun-11 13:07:03

Isn't the national average for 5 A* to C's including English & Maths around 50%?

I generally refer to DD1s school as an 'average comp' - typically gets 50 to 60%. Classed by Ofsted as 'good with many outstanding features'.
Non-selective, about to become an academy. In an affluent area where quite a few kids go to selective private schools.

mydoorisalwaysopen Thu 16-Jun-11 13:49:04

Yes it is around about the national average.

LadyWellian Thu 16-Jun-11 14:07:11

You know your town OP, but I have to say it's not always true that higher house prices = better schools.

We moved when DD was in Y5 from an expensive area where our nearest school was 49% A-C (6% EBacc), though the CVA is quite good. For £20k more than we sold our flat for, we bought a whole house in the catchment of the school she will be attending in September, which has 70% A-C and 38% EBacc, and the CVA is still positive.

Now obviously as EBacc was a 'surprise' you can't judge schools too harshly on this year's tables, but 38% (the highest in the borough for a state school) would seem to suggest that they aren't just upping the A-Cs by letting everyone do GCSEs in childcare and typing (or whatever the non-academic options are these days).

Sorry, wandering off topic a bit. We actually left DD at her original primary. It has gone downhill so spectacularly in recent years that she probably would have been academically better off moving, but it did give her some continuity in terms of not having to move schools twice in two years.

admission Thu 16-Jun-11 22:01:08

An issue that has not been mentioned is that for your second child the infant class size regs will be relevant at many schools. This does not apply for year 3 onwards but by then your eldest will be in year 6.
So I would suggest that you start looking now because you need to find a school with places for both children or where there is a reasonable chance of winning at appeal, that is a school that does not have an admission number of 15,30.45.60, 75 or 90. There is in reality no chance of winning an infant class size case when you are joining midyear.

erebus Sat 18-Jun-11 21:06:06

Depends on your DC. My eldest, DS1 moved primary to do the last half term in Y5 and all of Y6 in a feeder primary to our desired secondary (planned house move). There was no place for DS2 at that stage so I drove him 3 miles to his old junior school. He got a place at the beginning of Y4 at the new primary, ie in the September.

DS1 has always been a bit shy and reticent about friends. The Y6 thing was good but he didn't really make any friends as such. I wasn't kicking myself for a couple of reasons: The catchment Secondary of the old school would have been low on my list of choices; His gang from the junior consisted of a girl, whom I knew he'd drift away from (and who is now at another secondary altogether!) and the other 2 boys are basically heading on a different life-trajectory to DS1 so they would have parted company by the end of Y7 anyway.

DS2- well, by and large he could have been at this primary since YR. OK, there are some largely mummy- engineered friendships DS2 can't crack as well as he might were the playing field level, but he has a new gang (and, luckily, still sees the old gang at Cubs every week!) and is perfectly happy.

The other thing is once they hit secondary, that mum-at-the-school-gate thing just doesn't happen any more. You can't encourage friendships along like you could in primary, it's up to the DC. So it's a bit easier if you actually know a couple of other mums before they go to secondary.

So my advice is: IF you're going to do it, do it sooner rather than later.

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