Moving to Wiltshire(23 Posts)
Moving in the summer to Wiltshire. Been to see Malmesbury School and Hardenhuish school as possible choices for DS (16) and DD (13). Very impressed by both. Will rent at first so can locate in catchment area of either. Have no idea what either Malmesbury or Chippenham are like to live in, go to school in etc. Any insight into which of these would make the best choice for teenagers?
I can't be a great help as I don't really know Malmesbury - but have had friends with children at Hardenhuish and they were always very happy with the school, and both children achieved great results. They have always lived just outside Chippenham in a village though. I'm pretty sure both places are on the smallish side, both would probably be described as 'market towns', and my friends children definitely spent more time in Bath as they got older as it is in fairly easy striking distance! This may be a something worth thinking about. I think Malmesbury would be closer to Swindon - and I'd definitely prefer my children out in Bath! Hopefully someone with better first hand knowledge may be able to help you. Good luck with the move.
I don't like Chippenham, but In terms of young people, I think it Is a better option than Malmesbury due to its transport links.
I can't comment on Malmesbury school, but have worked with Hardenhuish in a professional capacity and found it to be very good.
Malmesbury came in the "Top Twenty" places to bring up a family- but as always it depends what you are looking for.
Malmesbury & Hardenhuish schools achieve similar results academically. Friends with children of Sixth form age in Malmesbury tell me that the academic higher achievers are well catered for through a range of A-levels but there is no vocational provision. However Cirencester Sixth Form College (subsidised bus from Malmesbury) provides A levels and also a range of vocational courses. I believe a few children also bus to Stroud Sixth Form Grammars about 30 mins away. I am not very familiar with Chippenham schools but know that Hardenhuish is more sought after than Sheldon.
You are moving with teenagers who may find Malmesbury a bit too quiet- especially the 16 year old. Malmesbury is essentially a rural market town on the edge of the Cotswolds, with impressive historic buildings in the ancient centre, surrounded by attractive countryside. There is one small Co-op supermarket and a good but small leisure centre with swimming pool. Public transport is limited to 8-6pm Mon to Sat with hourly buses to Cirencester, Swindon and Chippenham- so you may have to provide evening lifts. On the plus side (or perhaps not) it is a relatively small and friendly town so you are more likely to know what your children are up to and know the parents of their friends.
Chippenham is probably three times the size of Malmesbury with at least three large out of town supermarkets, retail parks, a large leisure centre, a small hospital with minor injuries unit and importantly for older teens a train station providing access to the bright lights of Bristol, Bath, Swindon even London! The traffic around Chippenham ring road during peak hours can be frustrating. I don't think you will find many tourists taking photographs in the centre of Chippenham.
The choice will depend on the lifestyle and leisure activities you are comfortable with/ want to provide for your family. You may have guessed I am heavily biased towards Malmesbury but it doesn't suit everyone
I would agree with everything other posters have said.
If you are looking at Chippenham, it might be worth looking at Sheldon as well. It does very well on the league tables, and a friend whose DS moved there for 6th form had been very impressed by it,
If you are looking for a small town like .malmesbury, but with the all important rail/bus links for teenagers, you might also want to consider st Laurence School at Bradford on Avon.
Basically, the 2 Chippenham schools, Malmesbury school, St Laurence, and St Augustines are all broadly comparable. And each gives you the opportunity to live in a lovely area if you look at their catchments.
Good luck, Wilts is fab
Thank you so much for all your advice. Sorry I'm so long getting back on here..events. My DS and DD are used to getting a bus to school and would love the independence of not having to do this, which would make the move more attractive for them, although I have always liked the fact that they had to consult us before staying on after school etc. DS is not as academic as his sister, so warning bells are sounding about Malmesbury, especially as I got this impression during my visit too. Staff there also mentioned Cirencester as an option for 6th form, but that is getting further away from Swindon. This all gives me plenty to think about. Now to find a house!
Lots of people do the Cirencester to Swindon commute for work- about a 15 mile drive. Cirencester would probably be a more popular choice with teenagers than Malmesbury- a larger range of shopping, leisure facilities & clubs, coffee shops etc. Well regarded secondary schools/ sixth form college.
Cirencester is lovely.
Malmesbury also lovely but v peaceful.
Have you considered Marlborough? School is excellent.
Chippenham is grim. Apologies to those living there - there are some nice houses and some nice people but it is still a parochial, small-minded place despite its Pizza Express ( )
It's the kind of market town that is neither sufficiently urban nor sufficiently rural to be anything much and always used to be dreadful for drugs (it might be better these days I suppose).
I would look at somewhere between Chippenham and Bath, and look at schools in both Chippenham and Corsham. On a bus route so the kids can get into Bath for a bit of life. Parts of Corsham are very pretty and I like some of the pubs and little shops, but I'm not sure what it's like to live in.
malmesbury is a much more attractive place to liv and spend time in than Chippenham.
OTOH, chippenham has good transport links - you can be in Bath in 15 mins and London 1h 15mins by train.
Have to agree with Jena. Schools have good reputation though , I know kids from Marshfiled come to Chippenham schools and Marshfield is lovely and close to Bath and M4 motorway. Malmesbury is not so convinient for commuting though.
Now beginning to look at Cirencester because of the excellent College there. How would that compare with Chippenham for lifestyle, commuting, etc?
Where are you commuting to?
No train station in Ciren, nearest is Kemble about 5 miles away.
DS1 is due to transfer to Cirencester College in September and we've been really impressed with them so far. If they can coax my little ray of sunshine to A Levels, I will forever be in there debt!
My husband will commute to Swindon. Glad you have had good experience so far. It looks ideal for DS too.
So glad you are looking at Cirencester- my DC thrived at the College and I have nothing but praise for the institution and the staff. I don't live in Cirencester but a few miles outside and atm if I could move my current house into Cirencester I would do so in a flash! The thought of not having to rely on the car for shopping/ evenings out and transporting teens is so attractive.
What about the presence of students from the RAC at Cirencester? Are there areas where there is a concentration of students living and lots of noise at night?
Cirencester and Marlborough are both lovely with good schools and easy distance to Swindon, they are a bit cliche market town though.
At the risk of confusing you even more, I'd like to throw Royal Wootton Bassett Academy into the mix. Two DDs there, and I think it's a fantastic school - it had the highest ofsted mark in the country not so long ago.
Thanks! I did contact Royal Wootton Bassett Adademy, but they are oversubscribed in my DD's year. I think that means she could go on a waiting list but there would be no guarantee of a place. Not sure what the alternatives would be like.
I live in Malmesbury and have a child at Malmesbury School (Secondary) and two more on their way there. Would definitely choose Malmesbury over Chippenham. However I think Cirencester may be worth a look.
On the whole we have been happy with the school (but not ecstatic). It streams fairly early for maths and mine is in the top stream - that has been good. I am slightly more concerned about one of my other kids that may not be in the top stream. It does seem to have good results though.
To be honest I think one of the main issues you may find is housing. It is really very difficult to find a family home in Malmesbury. Many seem to exchange hands off the market. It is a lovely place to live... and it is great that the kids are extremely safe. It is also extremely quiet and very rural - the supermarket is very poor - so you have to drive to get anything (Tetbury - Tescos, Cirencester - Waitrose/Tescos), Chippenham (Morrisons/Sainsburys). However there are good local butchers, bakers and a health food shop.
Cirencester has a bit more to it.
Oh yes and Stroud grammars are a possibility for sixth form. Good bus service - would need to take a test.
That's very interesting about Stroud for grammars. My DD, who is 13, is presently in a girls' grammar, having scored very well in the entrance test. I wonder if she could transfer there if we were in the area. Having said that, she does not really want to go to an all girls' school any more as there has been considerable peer pressure which has amounted to bullying at times. She wants a change from an all girls' environment.
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