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Getting school placement during a summer relocation from US

(29 Posts)
spy8s Sun 12-May-13 21:50:54


We are new here but have been reading many threads over the past week which have been extremely helpful. My DH's company has just told us they would like him to relocate from the Boston office to the London office over the summer. We have 3 children DD 11.5, DS 10, DD 2.5. It seems to me our eldest will go into secondary school while the middle will need a place for 1 year at a primary. Private schools will not be a viable option financially. I am hearing how over subscribed the state schools are and am wondering if a summer move will make it virtually impossible to get my kids into a school. My husband's office is close to the District, Central, and Piccadilly lines so we have been looking at Richmond, Kew, and Ealing. But have recently found Teddington and while it may not be as convenient for commuting it seems to have a great looking secondary school. I found an old thread talking about Teddington School and it seems as though it has moved away from using feeder schools for placement and is now using catchment area criteria. Wondering if anyone has any advice on how to get the kids into a school at this time of year. Thank you, {Very nervous mom}

Starbuck100 Sun 12-May-13 22:12:43

We are in a similar situation as we will be locating to UK from U.S. this summer as well. We are heading for Cheltenham, not London, but I too find the school placement situation quite daunting. (We have 2 boys, ages ~10 and 7). I have sent some emails to a few schools and I did hear back from some. They all admit to being oversubscribed, but I was told that once we are there and have an address that we should file an appeal. According to one school, appeals are often successful ... especially if you locate as close as possible to the school you are looking at. Not entirely reassuring, but gave me a little hope. Good luck to you! (Another very nervous mom ;)

basildonbond Sun 12-May-13 22:19:19

Teddington is very oversubscribed and will not have any spaces in year 7 for September, plus houses in its catchment area are exorbitantly expensive

How long is the proposed move for? If your husband's company really want him to go, is there any way they will pay for your children to stay in the American system, especially if it's only going to be for a couple of years

scaevola Sun 12-May-13 22:27:53

Catchment area criteria do not mean that you have to right to a place in the school. It is a way of prioritising applicants. And if the school is oversubscribed within an admissions category then there will be a tiebreak criterion - usually distance from the school. And if the school is full (which it will be for year 7 admissions this September) then there will be a waiting list, ranked by how well applicants fit the criteria. So if you move right next to the cp school, you might go to the top of the waiting list, but will only be offered a place if another pupil leaves, creating a vacancy.

The Local Education Authority must however find you a school place in a timely fashion. This will be the nearest school with a vacancy (but it might not be a school you would otherwise have chosen or find logistically easy) or if all schools in a reasonable radius are full (as they might be in London), then they can activate powers to force a school to admit a pupil over numbers. But that will be thhe school which LEA thinks will suffer least prejudice from having an additional pupil, and again it might not be a school you would have chosen (though you might strike it lucky).

spy8s Sun 12-May-13 23:50:35

Hi Starbuck100! Glad to meet another mom in the same situation. We just heard about this last week so I am doing some fast and furious research. Do you know your timeline? Have you gone on a housing trip?

Basildonbond - My husband is a British National - he moved to the states 20 years ago so the length of time we will be living in England is not yet determined. And unfortunately the company won't pay to have us in a private school.

Scaevola - you basically just confirmed what I was thinking. UGH.

:: Wondering if there are people on the ground over there that can assist with school research? Does anyone know? ::

tiggytape Mon 13-May-13 14:17:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

spy8s Mon 13-May-13 17:28:35

Tiggytape- thank you very much for your information. So does the borough have to find a place in a school in that borough/district? And can they assign children to faith schools even if they don't share that faith?

tiggytape Mon 13-May-13 18:10:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

spy8s Mon 13-May-13 19:02:36

Thank you Tiggytape. I will have both school aged children at different schools I think no matter what. What a daunting task this seems getting them a place. Since they are only 1 year apart in school, I am most interested in getting a good place for my eldest DD in year 7 b/c hopefully it will make the following year easier for my DS.

basildonbond Mon 13-May-13 20:29:37

You might be better off looking at it the other way round - if you get your daughter into a good school to start in year 7, your eldest may get bumped up the list as a sibling. However many secondaries don't have a sibling policy so you'd need to check the admissions criteria first

basildonbond Mon 13-May-13 20:30:05

sorry - got your daughter and son mixed up!!

springrain Mon 13-May-13 21:36:57

If you looked further out into Surrey you would have a better chance of a place for DD for Y7. Slightly longer commute but lots of people do it. Plus good state schools. Trains go into Waterloo, then take tube from there.

spy8s Mon 13-May-13 23:54:58

Springrain - about how long is the commute into London center from the areas in Surrey you are mentioning?

spy8s Mon 13-May-13 23:57:48

Has anyone used a school placement specialist? I found one online with good reviews. I think they might be helpful for me considering I am trying to get a place while at the same time trying to wrap my head around the British schooling system. So I think they can help decode a bunch of stuff for me but in the end, I am wondering how much help they can actually be in getting a place at this time of year.

MadameDefarge Tue 14-May-13 00:07:20

I wonder where you dh is actually going to be working?

There is more out there than you might imagine!

spy8s Tue 14-May-13 00:45:40

MadameDefarge - he is working somewhere in between Temple and Holborn tube stops. Any advice on towns with easy access to that area would be wonderful. Thank you!

K8Middleton Tue 14-May-13 01:00:59

Forget the tube and look at the overground trains. Waterloo, Charing Cross, London Bridge, Cannongate and Farringdon are all close enough to that area to walk or bus or take a short tube ride. Or even Liverpool Street?? This would expand your potential areas to Kent, Surrey, Hampshire, Bedfordshire and Essex where rents will be cheaper than leafy London boroughs with oversubscribed schools.

Forget the borough of Richmond which includes Teddington. I live here and you will need to pay ridiculous rents to stand any kind of chance of a place as the schools are fit to burst. Unless you have a megabucks relocation package.

spy8s Tue 14-May-13 01:35:00

Thank you K8Middleton. Very very helpful. And we don't have a megabucks relo package so we are trying not to sink every last penny in housing. I will investigate those areas now while I convince my DH to put the kids to bed ;)

basildonbond Tue 14-May-13 06:37:22

Don't use a school placement company - they're geared up for private schools and won't be able to do anything to help you get a state school place so you'd be wasting your money

mummytime Tue 14-May-13 06:55:13

I second, not bothering with a school placement agent. I would also second looking further out. Guildford for example can get you into Waterloo in 35 minutes.
Further out you could also be fortunate as the present year 6 is a low ish birth rate year, so most people seemed to get their first choice of school. So there is far more chance that places will come up. You also have a chance to appeal for a place at your chosen school.
For appeals ask for further information when you get here.

outtolunchagain Tue 14-May-13 08:15:22

I would go up the Liverpool Street line ,very easy trip in on overland and then only 3stops to Holborn,or look at Alexandra Palace/Muswell Hill and in on the overground to Kings Cross, school places may not be easy though.

Very good schools in St Albans and lots of commuters , I would draw your circle much wider ,people commute a long way into London especially as central as Holborn

jennybeadle Tue 14-May-13 09:05:51

If you like Teddington/Twickenham (fast trains from Twickenham in to town) and are Catholic, you may have a chance of a place at St Richard Reynolds, a new Catholic secondary opening this year.

Either way though, do call the in year admissions people at Richmond council. They are amazingly thoughtful and lovely.their contact details are at the bottom of this page

MadameDefarge Tue 14-May-13 12:55:48

It also depends on what kind of lifestyle you prefer.If commuting and a leafy environment is what you want then definitely check out places like St Albans. If you like a grittier mix then a London borough like Hackney which has good primaries and some truly excellent secondaries might suit. Will the company pay your rent?

spy8s Tue 14-May-13 14:47:29

The one thing I love about this time difference is waking up to a bunch of new messages on this thread!

Basildonbond - so the school placement agency I was thinking about using was because they claim to handle both state and independent schools. However, I realize there is so much out of their power with state placement that their usefulness is probably at its maximum when looking at independent schools. With that said, remember, I'm from the US and have absolutely not the first clue how things work over in England. I can barely figure out which kind of school or what grade my children will go into - lol. So it is for that reason I was thinking about having my husbands company pay for at least a little hand holding.

Mummytime - I will look into Guilford. Thank you for the suggestion. And I am happy to hear that year 6 kids are in a low birth rate year. Do you know anything about the kids 1 year below them, year 5s, I would assume? That is my DS's year.

Outtolunchagain - I will look into St. Albans - thank you.

Jennybeadle - we are not catholic although my husband was raised catholic. We belong to a Congregational church here in Massachusetts. Thank you for the link. I will contact them directly and will keep my fingers crossed they can find a way to help.

MadameDefarge - My first concern is finding a good school for the kids but is followed closely by my concern for a somewhat easy commute for my DH. He has a hellish commute now - nearly 2 hours to go 18 miles each way. I would love for him to not have to deal with a challenging commute over there. However I realize that easy commutes come at the cost of difficult school placement and high cost of housing. So I will see what kind of balance we can strike.

* Thanks to everyone giving their advice - super helpful!! *

anniesw Tue 14-May-13 14:57:26

If you like the Sheen/Richmond area - you could try Richmond Park Academy. It is a school which has turned itself around (Ofsted Good school) and is rising in popularity at the moment but not yet full. I have a daughter there in the current Y7 and she is loving it. Local primaries usually have one or two spaces in Y5 and Y6 because families do move out of London and not so many move in with kids that age.

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