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Secondary school place availability

(16 Posts)
Katcat74 Fri 13-May-16 09:01:21

Help! We're moving back to London from Canada in June and all the schools we are looking for my daughter going into year 7 in September are heavily oversubscribed. We're looking at croydon, sutton and surrounding areas but no matter where we look no luck. We also need a place for my 8 year old going into grade 4.
We're considering moving out of London as long as the commute isn't horrendous for my husband, he'll be working in balham. Can anyone recommend areas out of London where the schools are likely to have availability for September?
Thank you for any help

Cleo1303 Fri 13-May-16 11:07:11

Your husband could commute in from Kent or Surrey and then get the train or underground to Balham.

Are you looking for private or state schools?

Katcat74 Fri 13-May-16 12:53:18

Hi cleo1303

We're looking at state schools, but might have to consider private at this stage. Even those seem to be pretty full. We've been looking at surrey mainly as it's closer but the situation seems to be the same, kent could be better even if farther, I will look into that.
Thanks for your advice

Cleo1303 Fri 13-May-16 14:12:22

Hi again,

Good London private secondary schools are all likely to be full for Year 7 as the 11+ offers went out in February. Outside London there may be places in non-selective private schools. It might be worth phoning Feltonfleet in Cobham which takes children from 3-13. Some of my daughter's friends went there when they were 10 (end of Year 5) because their parents wanted them to do 13+ rather than 11+. I've always heard good things about it.

Some of the London prep schools which continue up to Year 9 may have places for Year 7 because some of their pupils have taken the 11+ and will be leaving this July. (The schools hate this of course because they lose the fees so often they will be only too pleased to find a child for those two years.) You could try Fulham Prep, Broomwood Hall and maybe Thomas's (although Thomas's have transfers from their other schools which only go to 11).

This time last year Fulham Prep did have a place or two.

Both Kent and Surrey have grammar schools which means that the good state primary schools will always be over-subscribed especially in the main towns but you may find a village school outside somewhere like Tunbridge Wells, for example, which has places and a good reputation.

There is also St Dunstan's College in Catford but I don't know too much about it.

I hope that helps a little.

Katcat74 Fri 13-May-16 15:56:59

Hi Cleo

thank you for all this advice, I will look into all of the schools you mentioned and see what the deal is.
getting a school place seems to become more difficult every year...maybe village life will have to be!

Thank you again, much appreciate it!

Popocatapetl1234 Fri 13-May-16 16:12:16

- You should not have any difficulties getting your Y4 child a place in a school of your choice as there is lots of movement in the London area. Normally you can only apply once you are in UK but some LAs are more accommodating than others. Are you UK/EEA nationals? Because some can be less helpful if you are not. Do you already have an address?

- Y7 is more of a challenge as everyone moves then so state places have already been allocated. There will be some empty spaces in some schools. Wandsworth - which covers Balham - usually has places free at Harris Academy Battersea, and Eliot (or whatever they call it now) . But these are not first preference schools for many parents. You could start her off in one of these schools and then move her when a place comes up elsewhere. But that will be difficult and disruptive for her.Alternatively if you are not working you could home school for a while.

You can put her name down for as many schools as you want and you will go on the waiting list for them all. If you meet the admission criteria eg if you live very close to the school and distance is the main criteria you will go to the top of the waiting list. So definitely worth a shot. There is alot of movement in and around London. The difficulty you have is deciding where to live. You may wish to pick a big school you like - move to a spot nearby and keep your fingers crossed.

- are you religious? That will up your chances of getting into a denominational school. if you are not a regular church goer you might still be able to persuade your local priest/vicar to provide you with a reference. Lots of Sundays between now and June.

-Be careful of the grammar school areas. They select on academic ability not distance. Families who have got places there may be less likely to move. If your DD is academically able she can sit a test and go on the WL but it will be a long shot. And the existence of the grammars means the other local schools can be poor.

- otherwise private for a year might be your best bet. Most of the secondaries will be full, but again there is movement in the London area. Royal Russell in Croydon might be worth a punt. Not massively selective academically but a lovely school which does well for its bright children. Could be a good transition school for a child coming from a different curriculum. Don't say you are only looking for a term though! There will be many co-ed preps (7-13 schools) with places for girls at Y7. In addition to those mentioned above, Newton Prep in Battersea is accessible from Balham/Croydon. If you have the money, there is nothing to stop you applying to private schools in parallel to state. Many parents will have accepted a private place in March but remained on the waiting lists for good state schools. If a place comes up at one of those schools they will drop the private place. They will be liable for one or possibly two terms fees depending on timing.

It is very stressful accessing the system from abroad. Bit it will work out in the end. smile

Cleo1303 Fri 13-May-16 16:26:40

Hi Katcat,

Eliot which Popocatapetl has mentioned above is now Ark Academy Putney.

Katcat74 Fri 13-May-16 16:49:28

Hi Popocatapetl

great advice! I haven't actually considered the Battersea area yet and good idea to consider private schooling maybe even for a term or two if nothing else is available, I was just hoping to avoid having to make her change again, considering we're already moving countries...but I guess it's an option too.
Homeschooling not an option as we will both be working, and also to be honest I don't think I could handle it! And I'd like them both to settle in and start making new friends.
And you're right not much we can do until we move back, mots of the school we called are even reluctant to give any info on waiting list if you are not there.
it's like a catch 22 thing!
I guess I can keep going with my research and hopefully something will be, hopefully in 6 months time this will be just a memory.

Thank you again for your advice

helenwilson Fri 13-May-16 18:15:01

I'd recommend Guildford, easy commute to London and this year is apparently a very low birth rate year, in addition a new school has opened between Guildford and Woking which has freed up some places. One of the best schools in Guildford, George Abbott may even have places available as they are already quite far through their waiting list and the catchment area has gone out further than usual (because of the new school) - some places do get turned down in the summer holidays too from private parents holding state school places. So Guildford looks like a good place to try for a last minute school place this year ! Guildford County is also a good school, and the new school is called Hoe Valley.

Katcat74 Fri 13-May-16 18:35:49

thank you Helen, I will look it up, Guildford is a lovely area, always thought schools would be super busy, good to know there might be a chance.

helenwilson Fri 13-May-16 23:22:40

Kat, normally you are right but this is a bit of a freak year I think ! After the second round of allocations in March my friends daughter was forty second on the waiting list (just outside Pirbright) and she's been offered a place. Christs college in Guildford is a school on an upward curve too, plus the Catholic school St Peters too so there are a few options here.

mummytime Sat 14-May-16 07:26:52

A couple of key things.
All schools will probably be "full". But that doesn't mean that when you get here you will not be offered a place. In fact the LA has to find you a place for your children.
Next if a place isn't available at your chosen school, you can go on the waiting list and if your new address is close to the school you will jump those who live further away even though they were already on the list. And you can "appeal" for school places in both year 4 and year 7, with a reasonable chance.

There is also movement in all these areas. People will move.

Katcat74 Sat 14-May-16 13:54:17

Hi mummytime

I'm aware that things can move quickly and people turn down places so there are chances, but all the school we've enquired about have between 150-300 people on waiting list which makes me thinks we don't stand much of a chance. Apparently most places have had a surge in applications this year, but like helenwilson says hopefully guildford is an exception.
As soon as we'll go back we'll apply to the schools in our area ( kingsdale, dunraven, Harris CP and a few others) but I'm not holding much hope. We may well consider moving. I thought we couldn't afford guildford but it seems we may just be able to and I like the area a lot.
Well thank you again for all the advice, it's given me a bit more hope!

Drinkstoomuchcoffee Sat 14-May-16 14:01:41

Don't be put off by the 150 students on the waiting list story.

If you have an address near one of these schools and you apply, if distance is the main admissions criteria you will go straight to the top of the list, above all of those 150 people. Only looked after children and those who live nearer than you will be above you on the list.

mummytime Sat 14-May-16 15:17:19

Yes that what I was trying to say.
School A may have 200 on the waiting list, but if you move close to it (and that could even mean 1 or 2 miles if inside the area it admitted from) then you could well jump to 1st on the waiting list.

Admittedly if someone has got into George Abbot from Pirbright and not on appeal then I think you have an amazingly goo chance in Guildford. But even in a "normal" year I know people have got places there having moved in July or later, and get places all the time in the older years.

Katcat74 Sat 14-May-16 18:19:51

Hi ladies

You've restored a bit of faith in me, hopefully things won't be too bad, I'll keep my fingers crossed.
We just need to move now and start the process.
Thank you again for all your advice!

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