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Secondary Schools in SW London

(26 Posts)
tazer1 Fri 03-Aug-12 13:15:02

Hi smile

My family and I are moving to SW London from Australia (yep another one) for two years in January 2013. I have been trying to get a grasp on the school system over there - but it seems quite different from ours. I have a DD(13) and a DS(11). They have always attended state school in Australia (non-fee paying) but I am beginning to think that this will not be a possibility in London. I have contacted IPS and HSW which seem to be the only ones that will let them sit a late exam. It is difficult as we are not able to visit the schools to get a feel for them so I thought I might rely on fellow Mums. Can anyone recommend either of these schools or any others that we might have a chance of getting into? Are there any state school options or would waiting lists be too long? Sorry for all the questions. Any help greatly appreciated. We are hoping to live in the Putney/Wimbledon area.

Needmoresleep Fri 03-Aug-12 13:41:37

Have guessed IPS, but what is HSW?

tazer1 Fri 03-Aug-12 13:46:11

Oh sorry!! Hall School Wimbledon smile

Needmoresleep Sun 05-Aug-12 11:01:56


SW London is a very big place. Do you know exactly where you plan to live as it is important to be able to access schools by public transport.

There is a lot of movement in London so I am a bit surprised by your statement that state schools will not be possible. If you have a choice of where you live it ought to be possible to ensure you live in the catchment of a good school.

Ditto with private schools. There is movement, so as long as you have a list of options and liaise closely with the relevant registrars places ought to come up somewhere. Private schools can vary a lot. Some cater for the very academic, some take a broader range. Some have a reputation for being sporty, others musical etc. The biggest problem you will face is that you only plan to be in Britain for two years, which may rule you from consideration by the more selective schools, who may prefer candidates who plan to go all the way through.

First it is probably worth deciding what your children will want to get out of the next couple of years. Are they bright, sporty or musical. Where are you likely to go next. Are they likely to stay in the British system. (If your older child stays two years he will have to start, but probably not complete, GCSEs.)

Then buy a copy of the Good Schools Guide, or an on-line subscription. If you know where you are likely to live then stick the post codes into TFL's journey planner. You may be surprised that it can be quicker to take a train out to Surrey than to negotiate your way across London and several outer London schools offer daily bus services.

Ibstock Place is often used as a fall-back school for those hoping to get into more selective West London schools. DD knows several very nice children who go there, who all seem happy. It ought to be a good option. I dont know the Hall School Wimbledon - there is a more famous Hall School in North London which is very academic.

There will be other alternatives. However you will need to contact registrars and explain your circumstances. Relying on passing an entrance exam could be difficult as London kids tend to be prepared for secondary school entrance exams so coming in cold would disadvantage them, unless the school is ready to make allowances.

EdithWeston Sun 05-Aug-12 11:19:45

The school year runs from September here: so I'm assuming that you're looking for an in-year place in year 9 (girl) and year 7 (boy) (unless one of them has a birthday before 1 Sept, as that would put them a year above).

You cannot apply for a state school place until you are resident in UK. As year 7 is a main admissions point, there may still be some shake down in who turns up where in September, but any spare places in the more popular schools will be snapped up. What is left by January, and in year 9, is likely to be in a school you would not necessarily choose. If you email and find out what, if any, schools in the area are undersubscribed, you can then look at their OFSTED report (should be linked to school website) to see what the school is like. No guarantee it'll still have places when you arrive, though.

In the private sector, you are mildly unlucky, in that year 7 and year 9 are main entry points in the independent sector and the admissions round has finished. But there is always some churn in London, and schools can quite often fit in extra pupils. The entry for UK students is competitive and exam based, but the school has the freedom to use whatever criteria it likes for ad hoc entry. You will need to ask.

Do you want co-ed, or would you consider single sex. Wimbledon High is an all girls GDST school you might like to consider. Also, the Dulwich foundation schools run an extensive Bus network across south London, so it might be possible to try JAGS, Dulwich College and Alleyns. The schools in Croydon, like Whitgift, might also be a possibility. Ores to look at might include Emanuel and the Harrodian.

It really might come down to which school/s have places, rather than a hunt for a perfect match, and which have a more open-minded attitude to a non-standard application.

tazer1 Sun 05-Aug-12 12:25:31

Wow!! Thank you so much for the information! I have been reading sooooo many forums and school websites and I feel like I am going crazy!

I got the feeling that state schools were religious or hard to get into. So maybe this is an option to look into.

We are hoping to rent in the Putney/Wimbledon area. Hubby needs to be able to get to Waterloo. The kids both do well at school (A's and B's) and love their sport - I would probably describe them more as "all rounders" rather than academic geniuses smile My daughter has just turned 13 and some schools have suggested she goes into Gade 8 as the languages are a problem. However our preference is to keep her in Grade 9 as it will be better when we come back for her to do 11 and 12 (our senior years). Son is 12 at end of October so right for grade 7 I think.

I guess the problem is that I have actually contacted quite a few schools in the area and these are the only two that seem to be a possibility. Everyone else has been a flat out no and a few have suggested trying international schools.

I read a few comments about Ibstock on here but couldn't find much on Hall School Wimbledon. It doesn't seem as academic as others and I think they finish at Year 10 which would be a problem for my daughter who would need to do a term of Year 11.

Sorry for long post - I am starting to stress about disrupting their education and the logistics of moving sad We will also be bringing our dog and read some worrying threads about trying to rent with pets!!

Thanks again for your help smile

tazer1 Sun 05-Aug-12 12:29:30

Sorry forgot to mention that kids prefer coed as they like being together but I guess we might need to be flexible smile

tazer1 Sun 05-Aug-12 13:01:54

Oh and after more research have discovered that UK goes to Year 13 (Australia to Grade 12) so Hall School Wimbledon does go up to Grade 11 which is good. Sorry for being so confusing. Should probably stop watching the Olympics and get some sleep grin

EdithWeston Sun 05-Aug-12 13:18:04

I think for private schools, you just have to ring them all up, and see who might be flexible. If any have vacancies (or late drop outs) you might strike lucky. And the schools which are more ready to look at individual circumstances might also prove more willing to exert that same flexibility to help your DCs settle and integrate into a different curriculum.

Despite the current Olympic performance (sorry, couldn't resist!), it's always worth bringing up things like sporting achievement (or dance, drama, music etc) if you get into discussion with private schools. They can, if so minded, take that into consideration as well as academic performance.

Also, look at transport routes from where you are likely to live: you might find an easy journey to a more distant school - eg Emanuel is by Wandsworth Common, but has a direct bus route to Putney. School children are free on all London buses (after the one off admin charge to get them a photo Oyster card).

tazer1 Sun 05-Aug-12 13:37:04

lol EdithWeston re the olympics - GB is doing fantastically!! The media gives our athletes such a hard time over here - some of it well deserved for their antics outside the Olympic Village though!

I have had definite "no's" from Latymer Upper, Emanuels and one other whose name escapes me at the moment. A few haven't responded (probably due to holidays) but not hopeful as they seem very selective. I have written to most that were suggested though.

Anyone have any inside info on HSW???

blackwattle Sun 05-Aug-12 20:27:00

Have sent you a PM

Needmoresleep Mon 06-Aug-12 09:44:03

I suspect that the lack of enthusiasm wont be a "selection" issue. What schools are probably telling you is that if places come up they expect to have other candidates who are likely to stay in the school through to the end, and perhaps not needing help with the transition to the English system. Given that private schools are commercial enterprises these candidates are probably more attractive. Socially too a school works better if there is not too much coming and going.

Ibstock is a relatively new school and it takes a while to build a reputation which is why it may have places. My perception is that it is growing in popularity. The kids we know who go there are nice, sporty and bright enough. (There are one or two schools in the area who specialise in the lower end of the ability range - Ibstock is not one of these.) They seem happy. It is also a school that takes children from the local area, some of whom will go all the way from 4 to 18. In short though it is still growing so may have in year places for expat children it has the advantage of a settled and established cohort - in contract to some of the international schools where the chances of your best friend leaving at the end of a school year are quite high.

If you were planning to stay for the duration you might well prefer Wimbledon High, the Dulwich schools, Kingston Grammar, Emmanuel, or Latymer, but honestly Ibstock is fine, especially if they will take both children. Which is why it is often used as a fall back for local kids who dont get the more selective schools at 11+. As it becomes more established and a proven track record it will grow in popularity, particularly give the shortage of co-ed private schools in the area.

One thing to watch for is that Ibstock is quite difficult to access by public transport. (Another reason why it may not be over-subscribed.) The advantage is that it is in a particularly leafy bit of Roehampton so space and a lot of green. It you are renting you should make sure you are close to the right bus route.

tazer1 Mon 06-Aug-12 11:29:23

Thanks for the info Needsmoresleep - I appreciate it smile

Ibstock is looking like the a very viable option at the moment (provided they do OK in the exam). We did prefer the Hall School Wimbledon (going by their website) but just can't seem to find any inside information. Not sure if this is a good thing or bad thing! Might have to take the risk.

I am not really looking for a "top" school as such. We move every two years (army life) in Australia and the children usually end up at the local school close to wherever we live. Some schools have been pretty average but the kids have always performed very well in our national testing. So I am not too worried about the academic side - I guess I am after a nice school with a good "community" feel, happy kids and a decent education. Hope that makes sense.

Thanks for the tip on needing to be close to the bus route for Ibstock though. We were given the advice to choose a school and then to find a house close by. Easier said than done smile

Thanks again for taking the time to respond - you guys are awesome.

basildonbond Mon 06-Aug-12 12:25:24

I know a couple of children going into Hall School Wimbledon this September - it's a small, non-selective school which seems good on the pastoral side and has a big emphasis on outdoor education

It seems to do very well by the children but its pupils are definitely not high achievers academically so it might not stretch your children enough - would be worth asking them how they differentiate

tazer1 Mon 06-Aug-12 14:03:14

Thanks basildonbond smile

That is helpful to know - although the website does say they stream the kids (I think - I have read so many). It would be so nice to be able to visit the schools but since we well get there on the 3rd of Jan it doesn't leave much time before school starts! sad.

So your feedback means a lot smile

bizzey Mon 06-Aug-12 17:38:55

Hi ...I don't know much about the schools personally ....but I do know the area well as I live Putney/Roehampton border.

For IPS....
From Wimbledon near station the 493 bus stops on Roehamton Lane with ?5/10 min walk but can sometimes be 20 ++ journey on bus depending on traffic and it goes all around the back streets .....

I can always help you out on adresses as I have lived here all my life so very familliar with it all !

remum Mon 06-Aug-12 20:29:22

Not sure if this helps but Ibstock run a free shuttle bus service from Barnes mainline station in the morning and after school between 4-6pm. I am not 'in' the school but my daughter is due to start in Sept. My experience of looking round the school on a normal school day and for an open evening is that it feels like a happy local community school with masses of facilities. The registrar is very friendly and efficient and very kind to my daughter who had to sit the exams/interview on her own.

tazer1 Mon 06-Aug-12 22:23:06

Thanks Bizzey and remum smile

I think Ibstock is looking like the one if we can get in. I asked the lady about what preparation the kids could do and she didn't seem worried. Your system may be a higher level than ours so I guess if they don't do well enough to get in on their own merit then maybe the other school is a better option anyway.

Thanks for the offer with addresses Bizzey. I have had a quick look at Foxtons around Putney/Roehampton/Barnes/Wimbledon area and it looks promising. Will probably contact agents a bit closer to moving time - hope it's not too hard to rent with our doggy! Maybe the promise of guaranteed tenants (good ones) for two years will go in our favour. Is it ok if I PM you a bit later on?

Thanks again for your help in deciding smile Now they just need to learn French and German lol

bizzey Tue 07-Aug-12 06:29:58

tazer of course you can pm me !!

blueyonder22 Tue 07-Aug-12 09:44:13

Have you tried harrodian, prospect house, the hurlingham, kings house (boys), putney park and st Catherine's twickenham (both girls). Unfortunately a large number of the schools in this area are selective, the ones I mention are more flexible....

Needmoresleep Tue 07-Aug-12 10:04:36

You could start a thread about estate agents of SW London! A form of education in itself. Foxtons have a reputation for being efficient but rather aggressive and quite expensive, with commission hungry agents who seem to work 12 hour days and 7 hour weeks. I will not be alone in having experienced a certain amount of "economy with the truth".

As well as looking at the big chains and their glossy websites, it might be an idea to get suggestions for good local agents who specialise in family houses, and then to email them so they can keep an eye out. Putney in particular has an astonishing number of estate agents. There are about 10 in a row on one street.

Normal notice periods are two months so landlords may well know three months in advance that their tenants are leaving. Families tend to start looking quite early, whereas sharers leave it to the last minute.

Families letting family homes often prefer to let to other families rather than sharers (not least because there are some complex health and safety rules about letting properties to multiple occupants) so are likely to accept a dog - though worth stressing that it is well behaved etc. Often apartment blocks have rules about not keeping pets so a flat would be harder.

My understanding is that the London rental market is being driven by two factors. Reduced demand from expats as a result of a slowdown in the world economy, but an increase in demand from young sharers who cant get mortgage funding to buy. In short less demand from families, more from singles.

Education and housing are two London nightmares, so I dont envy you. Transport and cost of living are others. Still it should be fun to live here for a couple of years. London is a great city.

My guess is that schools will welcome your relaxed and sensible approach to education and that this will be to your advantage. There is a lot of anxiety in this bit of London about whether one school is better than another and which is the best. Generally as long as the teaching is sound and the children happy, they should thrive.

bizzey Tue 07-Aug-12 11:03:47

needmoresleep ...I have pm'd you !!!grin

tazer1 Tue 07-Aug-12 11:35:12

Thank you all soooooooo much!! I am getting so much info that you just can't get from google!!!! The real estate advice is great!

It's funny because over here we constantly hear how expensive it is to live in London. Then at the beginning of last year the hospital I worked at employed a sonographer from London. He came out with his young family and lasted 6 weeks and then said he was going back as he couldn't afford to live here anymore!! He said our lack of public transport was an issue as they needed two cars and that house prices were ridiculous. He also said that groceries that were costing him around 80 pounds back home were $170 here. We have a shortage of housing in Australia which has kept house prices and rents high throughout the GFC, although they have dropped slightly this year. It is a no win situation really - young people can't afford to break into the housing market but with exorbitant rents they can't even save for a deposit. But anyway......getting off track smile

blueyonder22 - I did try Harrodian but haven't had a reply yet. I think it is just bad timing with summer holidays and lots of the offices are closed. Will wait and see though smile

bizzey - thanks, I will definitely take you up on that smile

I will keep you posted with which school we end up at - I may hear back from a few more over the couple of weeks.

I must say that if you guys are anything to go by then it certainly is a friendly place!!

tazer1 Thu 01-Nov-12 10:53:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NotQuintAtAllOhNo Thu 01-Nov-12 15:05:52

For good quality small cottage type properties that wont break the bank, try the Dover House area of SW15. Walking distance to Ibstock.

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