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Moving to London with 4 kids- please help to find good school

(24 Posts)
Svetlana76 Tue 29-Nov-16 02:22:59

Hello mums,
I'm moving to London in a few months for work and absolutely desperate for any advise on where to live to be able to get into a good state school.
With 4 kids- 16,14, 12 and 7 I won't be able to afford private school fees.
Is there any chance at all to get kids into a good school in the middle of the year? How to go about it?

Appreciate any advise and help.

titchy Tue 29-Nov-16 08:04:36

When was the 16 year olds birthday? If after 1 Sep they'll be in year 11 so exam year which means it won't be worth them starting anywhere until next September and options then will depend on what qualifications they have now. If they'll turn 17 before the end of August then they'll be looking for a college place but again will depend on what qualifications they have now.

The 14 year old again if they're year 10 you should move asap as year 10 and 11 are exam years.

The others aren't an issue. Can't advise about specific school though except to say you can't apply until you're actually living here.

Toomanycats99 Tue 29-Nov-16 08:11:49

You need to think about the commute. Where you should live in London depends on what part the job is in to make the commute easiest. How far out depends on childcare options and commuting time. Also your budget.

TheSecondOfHerName Tue 29-Nov-16 08:28:35

If the 16 year old was born between 1st Sept 2000 and 31 Aug 2001, then it's going to be tricky to find any state school that will be able to accommodate a student joining right at the end of GCSE courses. You say you are moving in a few months: the exams are in May/June, and are based on 2-3 years of work. Many of them have an assessment component which the other students will have already completed.

If the 16 year old was born between 1st Sept 1999 and 31st Aug 2000, you will be unlikely to find a state school that will accept them part-way through A-level or BTEC courses.

If the 14 year old was born between 1st Sept 2001 and 31st Aug 2002, then you need to look for schools with a two-year KS4 (rather than a three-year KS4) or else they will have missed half the material in the GCSE courses. If this information isn't on the school websites, then email them to ask.

If the 14 year old was born between 1st Sept 2002 and 31st Aug 2003 then joining a school mid-year shouldn't be a problem, so long as there's a space.

CadmiumRed Tue 29-Nov-16 08:45:50

OK, well the fall back position is that the LA have to find you a school place once you have an address and are resident.

It looks as if we need to look for a borough that has less pressure on its schools, a place where there is a cluster of schools close together so that if they do go to different schools (they may have to) they will not be too far apart, and they do a 2 year GCSE course.

Are you in the UK at present? Is your 16 year old taking exams before leaving the current school?

CadmiumRed Tue 29-Nov-16 08:46:41

Where will you be working, and what is your rent budget? This will have a bearing on location.

PatriciaHolm Tue 29-Nov-16 09:35:32

As well as the above, you should note that the 7 year old will almost certainly be in a different school to the others -there are very few all-through (age 5-16 or 5-18) state schools in the UK.

Realistically, it's not unlikely that your oldest children will be in different schools too, depending on where you move to - many places are oversubscribed when it comes to school places so there may well not be 3 spaces in the right years at the same time. You could appeal if they are allocated different schools but in many cases secondary school children are expected to make their own way to and from school.

Where will you be working? What education system are you in now? This is actually a really hard time for the 16 and 14 year olds to move in terms of the UK education system and exams timing, as explained above.

pestov Tue 29-Nov-16 09:38:21

Also prepare yourself for 4 different schools. The LA will find all of them places if required but are under no obligation to keep them together or consider logistics

Karoleann Tue 29-Nov-16 09:53:21

Where are you moving from?

I'd start by looking at which areas in and around London you can afford. You want to avoid Buckinghamshire and Kent as they both have a grammar school system and your children will end up in a less good school if unless they all take (and pass) an exam.

If you're thinking of moving outside of London, also take a look at the train and tube routes into your work area. This school in Chorleywood is excellent I do know one person who had an in year transfer recently....but that was only 1 child.

Once you've narrowed your area down, you need to call individual schools and they will tell you if they have spaces. They cannot hold your space until you have sorted out housing.

It may be that no suitable schools have spaces, in which case choose an area and move as close as humanly possible to the school. Especially in London, there is a lot of movement in schools. This doesn't work for every school, you need to also check admissions policies as some school place more importance on, for example, church attendance, than the distance your house is from the school.

Good luck, it may well be that you have them all in different schools for at least some time.

Svetlana76 Tue 29-Nov-16 12:48:29

Dear all,

Thank you for your replies. You have been very kind.
My 16 years old was born in July 2000, 14 years old was born in September 2002. We are moving from Dubai.
My work will be in E14- Canary Wharf.
My eldest did English O level last year, but thats it. She hasnt taken any other exams GCSE exams, but I'm sure she will pass any exam with an A. She likes Chemistry and Biology and English language a lot. Good at playing musical instruments- piano and guitar, drawing and writing short stories.

As you all say, it is not enough. She will have to stay back in Dubai and finish grade 11. I will need to speak to her. It is hearbreaking.

In terms of location to live- I dont mind the commute as far as my kids get into schools. That is the most important part for me.
Rent budget- up to 3,000.

Do you know if schools take kids mid year at all? If we come say in February?

LIZS Tue 29-Nov-16 13:00:46

Your eldest would have already missed gcses here. Does she have any local qualifications yet? Might be worth looking at 6th form or further education colleges rather than schools, but as you may find it difficult to enrol her before September anyway probably worth staying the rest of the year where she is. The others can get places midyear but it will be random according to availability of spaces wherever your confirmed address is. You may find you have no real choice of school because they are not at standard intake ages, even if you waited until September. You'd apply through the Local Authority to your address via their In Year application process, so determining where to live needs to be your priority.

titchy Tue 29-Nov-16 13:43:36

If your oldest needs to stay where she is to finish her exams I strongly suggest she does this, then comes over in the summer to start at a sixth form in a school or college for A Levels if she is academic (but look to enrol her now for next September). She will be a year older than others in her class but this shouldn't be too problematic. If this is a permanent move be aware your oldest will be charged overseas fees for university and won't be entitled to any loans. Your 14 year old needs to be here as soon as possible as they will be year 10. GCSE are two, as others have said, sometimes three year courses so they will have to catch up what has been taught since September.

In year applications are very possible, but as others have said only once you're actually in the UK.

raspberryrippleicecream Tue 29-Nov-16 14:36:40

No, your 14 year old will be Y9, not Y10, same as my just turned 14 year old DS2.

DS2 school had started GCSE work in science, English and Maths, but DS doesn't choose his options until February, ready to start in September.

So as soon as possible is still best. Some schools do three years for everything though.

titchy Tue 29-Nov-16 14:38:30

blush Yes sorry the 14 year old will go into year 9...

Svetlana76 Tue 29-Nov-16 15:31:29

Many thanks for all your help.

TheSecondOfHerName Tue 29-Nov-16 16:10:02

14 years old was born in September 2002

This is good news. Many schools don't start GCSE courses until the beginning of Year 10, which will be September 2017 for your 14 year old. A date of birth before the end of August 2002 would have made the move harder for them.

With your eldest, I'm not sure what to say. My eldest is in the same school year. He did his GCSE exams last summer and started his A-level courses two months ago.

drspouse Tue 29-Nov-16 16:24:15

If this is a permanent move be aware your oldest will be charged overseas fees for university and won't be entitled to any loans

I think the qualifying period is 3 years so with 2 years of A level it might make sense then to work for a year (assuming you are all UK citizens, or EEA, and your DC1 can work in the UK) and then start.
You have to be in the UK on 1st September (say the regulations which I just looked up) so even if she's having a holiday/doesn't start her new college till after that it would be worth getting her into the UK before 1st Sept when she's going to start college.

Mary21 Tue 29-Nov-16 16:30:10

Because you are entitled to free education till age 19 I think your best bet for your eldest would be to start a two year sixth form course either Alevels or Btecs in Sept 2017. Do this at a sixth form or further education college.
Your younger children it will depend on what schools have places. Secondary age pupils usually take themselves to school so it is less important for them to be at the same school.
Try and move to an area where all the schools are good so the odds of ending up at good schools are higher.

Svetlana76 Tue 29-Nov-16 18:18:48

Dear Mary21,

What area would that be- with lots of good schools?

lalalonglegs Tue 29-Nov-16 19:22:04

I know several people who have or have had children at Dunraven in Streatham Hill and they love it. It is oversubscribed in Y7 but you'd probably be able to get your older children in and then your younger one would have priority - and your youngest would then get sibling priority when s/he came to apply for secondary school. There are also two really nice primary schools nearby called Streatham Wells and Hitherfield (I know two people who got their children in to those schools without any waiting list issues and they were great schools). You can just about get a five-bedroom house within your budget, this one is on Dunraven's doorstep. And some trains from Streatham Hill station go to London Bridge from where you can get the Jubilee Line to Canary Wharf OR you can get the overground to Canada Water and Jubilee Line from there.

StreathamHillary Tue 29-Nov-16 20:28:33

Streatham Hill / Tulse Hill would be a very good bet.

Dunraven as mentioned, and nearby Elmgreen are very good schools, and if you could get a house on the Tulse Hill side of Leighham Court Rd and close to Dunraven, you would be within good reach of both. Nearby there is also the City Heights Academy, which I hear has excellent teachers. It is new, so hasn't developed its reputation yet, but it is a London school In a borough where all schools, on average, outperform the national average (I think).

You would also be in a good triangle of Primaries. Streatham Wells is a fabulous little school, Hitherfield is doing very well, very popular, and Dunraven also now has a primary. It is new but should be accepting 7 year olds now or next year. A bit further along is Sunnyhill Primary, also a perfectly good school. Hitherfield and Sunnyhill are quite big, so places come up quite often. Also within walking distance of the house linked would be Julian's Primary - very good.
Streatham Wells has only one form entry so maybe not so many opportunities of a vacancy, but this area of S London has high mobility , so there is a turnover of places.

There is good transport from Tulse Hill Station and Streatham Hill station, and good buses.

Compared to other similar areas of London the prices are not as high (but obviously not cheap!).

Does your eldest have any exams or courses that match the curriculum and exams here? Has she actually been studying GCSEs? It may be that she could go into Yr 12. I think they can start A level courses a year later.

StreathamHillary Tue 29-Nov-16 21:01:35

There are loads of good 4 and 5 bed houses in your budget in the Streatham Hill area. Search Rightmove for Streatham Hill, and have a look at the map. Plot the schools, and look at houses which are close.

There are some terribly messy tenants in some very lovely houses in the RightMove list shock

Svetlana76 Wed 30-Nov-16 02:43:45

Fantastic!!!!! I will call those schools today and look up the houses. Got few more suggestions from other kind people.
God bless you all.

My kids study IGCSE, which is imbedded into their curriculum in school here.
It would be perfect if I can take all kids with me, as I can't imagine leaving anyone behind. I'm sure they will not agree to get separated for a short while as well.
Many thanks to all.
This is the best site I have ever come for advise. smile

StreathamHillary Wed 30-Nov-16 12:35:34

OK, good luck!

Just be aware that the schools won't actually have spaces ready and waiting and they won't put you on the list until you are actually here. No state schools will.
But the LA do have to fond you a place for them all somewhere.

You can also appeal for places. For example Dunraven has an excellent music department with a good orchestra and a wide range of music clubs, and ensembles. That might be a case, that your dd needs a school that offers serious music progression - if you get allocated a school that does not offer these things.

Actually there are many good schools within reach of Streatham Hill: at secondary if you are Catholic you can try Bishop Thomas Grant and La Retrait. Norwood School is close by, has an excellent music offer and is becoming a very popular school.

Go on the waiting list at the individual schools because I think these are Academies and hold their own waiting lists and admissions, and tell the Local Authority, too.

I am not quite sure what stage your oldest is at: is she planning to take all her other iGCSEs this summer? If so they should be a very good basis for going forward into sixth form for A levels.

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