Info required about Bristol secondaries and nice areas...(21 Posts)
Hi all, hoping you are still here - can you give me an idiot's guide to areas and schools in Bristol? We will have a budget of £340k and would want to live in a friendly area by a park/dogwalking area, with a nice school for my frankly wussy but quite geeky and arty DD 9yrs. Hoping for a small friendly girl's school if poss, but not too high pressure. I'm a primary teacher and my DH works in charity sector, so we are pretty typical Guardian reader types.
Can you suggest some schools/areas? We'd probably rent first but it would be good to know where to start.
Thank in advance
I'd say it depends what sort of place you want for your budget. You could probably get a 2 bed flat with no parking or garden in one of the pricier places like Redland or even Clifton. If you want a house or outside space you'd need to look further afield. Montpelier, St George and St Andrews might all fit the bill although secondary school provision in Bristol is notoriously hit & miss. Redland Green and Cotham have traditionally been the most popular state schools although others are improving.
You could look a bit further out to somewhere like Ham Green which would put you in catchment for St Katherine's at Pill or to places in N Somerset like Portishead which put you in catchment for Gordano.
When you say small friendly girls school, do you hope for state or private? The only girls state school in Bristol is Colstons Girls school - which is very good, but entry is by a lottery banding system. The positive is there is no catchment for it and so you can choose to live anywhere accessible. Private schools - Badminton is the smallest girls school, very good academically has prep and secondary. The other is Redmaids High (an almagimation of Redmaids and Redland High). Much larger than Badminton, but good local reputation and very popular. All other schools are co-ed in Bristol and surrounding areas. The next closest all girls state would be Hayesfield in Bath and private Royal High School, Bath. It probably also depends on where you or DH will need to commute to for work. Bristol is not a great city to get around in during rush hour, especially if you are trying to cross from one side to another! Central coed schools that are rated are Redland Green, Cotham, St Mary's Redcliffe, Cathedral and Colstons Girls. I believe the Free school is gaining in popularity as well. Schools further out worth a mention would be John Cabot, Wellsway (Keynsham), castle (Thornbury), Gordano (Portishead), Nailsea and Downend is also gaining in popularity.
As jo said you wont get into a girls only school unless you go private (apart from banding at Colstons). Given your house price I would suggest Westbury upon Trym as a very nice area, local park, children's play area, close to good/outstanding state primary and secondary schools (including the aforementioned private Redmaids High).
Its has a small village atmosphere with easy access to city center and out of town shopping centers.
I would stay clear of St Katherine's in Pill that YouCantCallMeBetty mentioned, its got
drug problems a bad reputation where I live.
Thanks all. DH has sprung on me that he'd like us to relocate there (we had previously been planning on the area around Hastings), and because of DD's age we would need to be settled by this time next year. Although we have had some really lovely weekends in Bristol when DD was younger, I feel there is a lot of knowledge I need to gain in a short period of time. We won't send DD private, I just wondered if there were any nice small girls schools out there.
Some children from Bristol access the state grammar schools in Gloucestershire - there is fairly easy access via the train or I believe a bus goes from north Bristol areas. Stroud High and Gloucester High School for Girls are both girls only and definitely smaller than the co-ed state schools in Bristol.
If you live in South Bristol you can look at Haysfield girls school in Bath, a great school. We send our daughter to a girls indi but know lots of girls at Haysfield and hear only really good things about it. There is a bus to Bath from the Bath Road and lots of girls do the commute. I wouldn't pin your hopes on Colston, its a lottery allocation and actually having looked around both we much preferred Haysfield.
Oh and a big thumbs up for Bristol, a wonderful city to live in
As you said you weren't going Private I'll concentrate on state schools OP.
You could look at Southville. House prices have exploded there in the last 10 years but for your budget you'd still get a nice Victorian terrace. Living inner city Bristol, you won't get any parking or much garden space. Southville gardens are hard to come by (or tiny) and parking has become a source or angst recently. However it's a nice area, quite arty and quirky with lots going on - being Guardian readers you'd definitely fit in. There are some nice parks to walk the dog and also Ashton Court nearby which is the best dog walking place in Bristol imo.
People will tell you Secondary schools are tricky in Bristol. Most of my 'middle class guardian reader' friends have recently all sent their children to Ashton Park School. While it's still not up there with high Academic results I believe it's improving. It's an urban school however so your child won't be shielded from any school-ground swearing etc .
I moved from Southville 10 years ago and am now on the border of North Somerset. I know people who have children in Backwell and Churchill who like the school, and I send my dd to Chew Valley School which I'm liking too.
There are lots of small villages in BANES. I'm fond of Chew Magna and most around the Chew Valley lake.
Can you really buy a house in Westbury on Trym for £340k? I suspect that the ones in this price bracket will need a lot of work doing.
As others have said the only state school with an all-girls intake is Colston Girls and there is a lot of demand for places. The lottery intake makes it very difficult to predict whether your dd would obtain a place or not. It's a language specialist school and there are also a small number of places allocated on a language aptitude test.
There is also Hayesfield school in Bath so you could try living somewhere in between Bristol and Bath e.g. Keynsham to be close enough to that school. You can express 2 preferences so your final choice would have to be co-ed e.g. Wellsway.
Keynsham has good parks for dog walking and links into both Bristol and Bath.
You have also said a "small" school. Most state schools in Bristol are large with 200+ pupils in a year group. Cotham school has a good reputation for the Arts, but you may not be able to live close enough on your budget.
I agree the only 'small' state school in Bristol would be Cathedral and that's a lottery allocation too, and co-ed, very competitive for places (although I actually wasn't too keen on it and didn't try for it). Worth a punt if you like it and have a strong second preference you're very happy with.
FYI, you can definitely get into Haysfield if you live in the Bath side of Bristol. I know girls who have gone there this year and last, maybe not in the first round of allocation but Haysfield take 20% from outside of area. So that could be Upper Knowle, Brislington etc
I know it's possible to obtain a place at Hayesfield from South Bristol rudi. But is catching a bus at 7.30am in the morning every day what the OP is looking for and what exactly does the OP mean by "nice" area?
Ideally if moving to a new area the OP needs to try to make sure they live close enough to a school to be allocated a space in the first round of applications.
HI everyone, thanks for all of your replies. Just want to asnwer catslife's question about 'nice' area. I guess I mean, a place where people say hello to each other, children can go to the shop on their own, not near a major road, and with a park near by.
Are you wanting to live inner city Bristol or the surrounding villages OP?
Ok. For starters, even though I know plenty of lovely people who live there - I would avoid Hartcliffe personally. Also Knowle West, Southmead, parts of Eastern, and certain parts of St Paul's (although there's lots of community feel here, I sometimes don't feel too comfortable.
I also (controversially) wouldn't choose to live in Clifton or Redland. I've lived here in the past and find it too busy and studenty. I've never been burgled as many times as I have when I lived in Redland. Although, again, I know many people who enjoy living there so it's horses for courses.
I've enjoyed living in Southville, Bedminster, Knowle (not Knowle West) and Bishopston. These are nice places but most places are near a busy road as it's Bristol! This is why I wonder if a outlying village near Bristol may suit you better? I like Long Ashton, Backwell and Flax Bourton.
I don't know villages around North Bristol so well.
However it's all very subjective. You'd need to visit really to see how you feel there.
I'm also wondering if you'd like Clevedon OP? We love it there. I feel that it doesn't have the bleakness that a lot of coastal places have in the Winter. There's a huge older/retired generation but also a vibrant family community. Lots going on. Schools are good. Quite Arty and Crafty. Lots of lovely outdoor walks.
They filmed a lot of street scenes there in Broadchurch . If I was looking to settle again I would definitely think of looking there.
I think that Windmill Hill might suit you OP close to Victoria Park. I would also suggest Totterdown but the main road (A37) may rule that out for you.
Am still also thinking of Kenysham as the by-pass keeps a lot of traffic away from the town centre.
Clevedon does look lovely trampire and I really like a couple of houses on Rightmove there, and the fact that there are two outstanding schools nearby.
Catslife I have looked at Totterdown and it looks really nice, love the coloured houses. I'm looking for something a little less Victorian, and a bit more 1930s semi I think. Wider garden would be nice.
Thanks again everyone for going to this much trouble - I really appreciate it.
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