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Please talk to me about Oxfordshire secondary schools - moving to the area have no clue!

(19 Posts)
thisgirlruns Mon 24-Oct-16 16:18:33


I've just accepted a job in Oxfordshire (near Thame) and have two DDs, 1 in Year 6, one in Year 4.

Now faced with having to apply to Oxfordshire secondary schools from approximately 300 miles out of the area - I have to stay in the North until at least Christmas to work out my notice - Oxfordshire Council won't take address changes after mid-November. So they've advised apply for Oxfordshire schools and then appeal after decision in March if eldest DD doesn't get a place at an Oxfordshire school. I should start my job in January so will have the Oxfordshire address by then.

Does anyone know which schools are usually over/under subscribed within a reasonable distance of Thame? All I'm going on at the moment is the estate agent's advice - he recommended Lord Williams' in Thame but I am sure that will be over-subscribed. I also found Icknield Community College which looks a bit more low-key, smaller and more humanities-based, which I think would probably suit my slightly shy, arty daughter better.

Would be very grateful to hear from anyone in the area with advice on this..



toobusytothink Mon 24-Oct-16 16:27:10

No idea about which will be over subscribed I'm afraid but Lord Bills is generally well regarded and obviously in Thame so would def recommend that as 1st choice. Sorry can't be more helpful.

altik Mon 24-Oct-16 16:34:17

Oxfordshire county council list the places taken since 2012, so you can look that up on their website.

Try looking here:

It should also state their catchment areas too.

I live at the other end of the county. When I taught that way 12 years or go, Lord Bills had a fab reputation, Icknield really did not. But things may well have changed over the past decade.

GRW Mon 24-Oct-16 18:28:34

My DD was at an Aylesbury grammar school until this year, and one of her friends there travelled from Thame. I know Lord William's school in Thame is well regarded, so I am not sure it would be worth the travel to a Bucks grammar school, but it is an option.

MillicentMargaretAmanda Mon 24-Oct-16 18:53:33

I've been to Icknield a couple of times for various reasons and it strikes me as a nice school. A couple of friends of friends have DC there who are very happy. Main downside is that it currently has no Sixth Form as it's part of a group of 4 South Oxon schools that all feed into Henley College.

Guilders15 Mon 24-Oct-16 18:59:43

Have 2 boys at Lord Bill's, yr 11 and yr7. Huge school but they manage the size well. We've had a mixed experience (1 v quiet, arty, bright / not at all sporty, the other v sporty & sociable) but would probably the same choice again on balance given the options in area. Cant help re whether oversubscribed sorry, but feel free to message me if you have other specific questions about the school or area

Ollycat Mon 24-Oct-16 19:02:42

Lord Bills is well thought of as is Gillotts. Icknield has had a bumpy roAd with Ofsted but I know people v happy there.

HPFA Mon 24-Oct-16 19:32:47

I know a few people who've had children at Lord Bills - all speak well of it. Wheatley Park is another suggestion - has been up and down over the years but currently doing well.

thisgirlruns Tue 25-Oct-16 23:00:04

Thanks for the replies. I think Lord Bills is the preference - and I think I will base myself in Thame too. Very odd looking around a completely new area and having no sense of where anything is, or what the school will be like.

In that the application for secondary is due in on 31st October - would you recommend putting down Oxfordshire schools as first choice? Clearly I don't have an address yet - but would this put me at more of an advantage than looking to apply from an Oxfordshire address come March? I'm looking to start new job in January sometime, but I understand the address change cutoff is mid-November, so not much use.

The other option is whether I look to find places in primary for them both, mid-year (i.e January start). I know that will depend on availability. But one of the primary schools mentioned it was a feeder school for Lord Bills. Wondering whether that would be advantageous as opposed to leaving them in their Northern schools until the end of summer 2017.

Too many decisions! Thank you lovely MN for any wisdom.


thisgirlruns Tue 25-Oct-16 23:02:08

Sorry, I'm not sure that was very clear - I definitely won't have an Oxfordshire address until January at the earliest. Ideally I would leave them in their NE school until the end of summer 2017, then both girls would start new schools in autumn 2017, rather than moving them in-year, but the system doesn't seem very well set up for that!

bojorojo Wed 26-Oct-16 01:40:37

You can move in year if there is a place. I believe the school would deal with that themselves. You are not in the best position either way if there are no places. I hope that it all works out.

Whence Wed 26-Oct-16 08:42:26

You will see from the allocation profile for last year that LWS didn't offer to 35 children and that the distance cut-off was around 7 miles. However, they do have one more class for 2017 (now a whopping 12 form entry) so you never know they might even offer you a place from where you are now - but then again the applications might be more numerous this year.
Bucks grammars are an option, although not one that many people take up. LWS is split site so although it's huge it doesn't feel like it - your Y7 will only be with Y7, 8 &9 and Lower school is much more like an overgrown primary - Upper school is ranging, impressive in places and more grown up.
All the Thame primaries and several others are 'partner' schools and put you in a higher admission criteria. There are spaces in Thame.
By the way, if you are interested in Humanities LWS is the way to go, it's arguably their strongest department.

thisgirlruns Wed 26-Oct-16 13:00:58

Thank you Whence - really useful to get that perspective. Icknield doesn't have a 6th form either, which puts me off slightly.

Oxfordshire Council bod suggested there was no advantage moving-in year in terms of securing a place at LWS. I think it's a case of finding out whether there are in-year spaces in primary schools either way - as I'd rather the girls moved with me immediately than finishing the year where they are and staying with their dad, but of course there are pluses and minuses both ways.

Unfortunately, can't get any response from primary schools at the moment as it's half term!

Anyway, Oxfordshire bod also suggested applying for Oxford secondary schools this week, but with a NE school as third option as backstop.

All very confusing - but hopefully we'll navigate our way through thanks to lovely MNers!

mummytime Wed 26-Oct-16 14:00:29

If you are definitely moving - then I would apply for 3 Oxfordshire schools. If you are very lucky you will get your 1st choice, and it will be settled for the Autumn. If not it might be worth moving to "jump" up the waiting lists as you will now be a lot closer and waiting lists are ordered in order of how you meet the application criteria (and when you move that should change).

Good luck!

thisgirlruns Wed 26-Oct-16 23:08:57

Thank you mummytime! Definitely moving. References done today so job offer is now in the post.. eek. Spent the evening on Rightmove with the girls, trying to think of ways to make up for them having to go from a 3 bed house to a 2 bed flat.. bloody hell.

thisgirlruns Wed 26-Oct-16 23:10:04

Am now on first name terms with the chap in the Oxfordshire Council schools admissions department!

bojorojo Thu 27-Oct-16 05:30:51

Do Oxfordshire maintain a list of primary schools with places available in each/any year group? Some authorities do.

thisgirlruns Thu 27-Oct-16 18:31:14

bojo my understanding is I have to approach the primary schools directly for in-year places.

thisgirlruns Thu 27-Oct-16 18:32:03

Anyone any recommendations for primary schools in Thame? confused

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