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Birmingham Secondary Schools(45 Posts)
My husband has accepted the job in University of Birmingham and we will move to Birmingham in the summer from abroad. We have a Y5 boy and he is now preparing for the 11+ exam, which will be held in September and October. Our first choice is King Edward School, the second choice is KEVI foundations Grammar schools, the third choice is other private secondary schools if he fails the 11+ exam. The last choice is the state secondary schools. We need to find an area to live with good schools. Which area of Birmingham both has good private secondary schools and good state secondary schools? Do we need an address before we apply for the grammar schools? Will the distance between home and schools be counted when applying for the grammar schools? Thank you.
The grammar schools don't have a catchment area. Their existence has a negative effect on Birmingham secondary education - but it's not as marked as in areas like Kent which have retained the 11 plus. But there are plenty of 'good' schools in the parts of South Birmingham which are near the university.
I think the state schools in Birmingham are very difficult to accept as a choice. We lived there a few years ago and were very worried about having to send children to them. Can you go down the independent route? It really is miles ahead of anything else and there are schools not far from Birmingham offering weekly boarding too.
I find that a really alarmist post. There are plenty of good state schools in Birmingham. Suggest OFSTED reports as a source of info.
I would look for Edgbaston, Kings Norton or Bournville. Try for the grammars-my daughter got offered for five ways which is a really good school. However we accepted a place at King Edwards Girls. That and the boys school cannot be beaten, and for location must be perfect.
You could check out Moseley and see what the state secondary schools are like there. You are still close to the Uni for DH work and close to most of the independent secondary schools. You would also be able to use the green bus service for any of the Grammars (apart from Bishop Vesey).
Or check out the University School in Selly Oak. It is new and I have no idea how it is doing. It has a unique formula for working out its catchment so check their website. You also need to be careful where you live in Selly Oak as parts are studentville. However you would be close to the independents and to transport to the grammar schools.
Not hugely impressed by the level of pastoral care at the Grammar Schools. (Two out of three children there) It's like you fit in or else you leave. It worked for one of the children who went and was happy there. The other child was at different grammar and it was hopeless.
I think it's about what you want and also about who your children are. If you want your child to mix with predominantly middle class or affluent children and go on to attend a Russell Group university then the schools recommended above will probably do the job. But I think there are quite a few parents who have found the King Edward Foundation rigid and unresponsive - partly because places are sought after so they don't really have to question what they're doing. (Bit of a tangent. Bit of a rant.)
I think you probably need to rent at first. You’ll want to live in an area with a good state comprehensive however if your son ends up qualifying for either KES, a Grammar school or another independent school you’d probably want to live closer to the school of choice. For boys the comprehensive choices in Birmingham aren’t amazing and your best bet might be to live in Hagley - both high schools (one of them is Catholic) are really good. But that wouldn’t be an obvious place to live for any of your preferred options.
Or you could move somewhere central - like Selly Park/Edgbaston/Harborne - accessible for KES,all the grammars and some other independents and if you end up with no offers from these schools move somewhere with a good comprehensive and go on the waiting list.
If you can pay them it’s unlikely you’ll need to consider comprehensives. Schools like the Priory or St George’s are less selective, from what I hear.
As Funder says though, you might want to look around some comprehensives and other independents too. Not all children suit the KES/Grammar school model.
Solihull is commutable to the University either by road or train and has some very good state comprehensives (Arden and Tudor Grange are considered the top) if the grammar route doesn’t work out. Some parts of Solihull are also in catchment for the Stratford and Warwickshire grammar schools. The areas in catchment for the best schools are however relatively expensive for the area (but still cheaper than London).
Solihull also has Solihull School, which has a good reputation and some choose it over KES.
Only a few bits of Solihull are catchment for Stratford grammars. Hockey Heath, Chadwick End.
Stratford grammar schools are predominantly for Warwickshire students.
I'd check out Solihull for best of all worlds. Good state secondaries, Solihull School or St Martin's for private and access to King Edward schools too.
Really surprised at some of the suggestions here.
Saint Martins (listed above) is a girls school.
Fiveways has buses which cover the majority of West Midlands.
KES is independent - do you mean King Edwards Camphill?
Schools are pretty mixed, do you want co ed or single sex?
How about Barnt Green/Cofton Hackett where you can also put in for Alcester Grammar?
Solihull isn't a great choice for commuting to the Uni. Hagley might be better if you start looking outside of Birmingham.
You will need to rent.
What are your son's CATs scores? (Or whatever you use abroad- international school?)
If he doesn't get KES (requirements are lower than KE grammars, though they test different things) you will need to have sat the Bromsgrove and Solihull entrance exams too.
Forget St. George's or priory. If KES is 'the one', neither of those will pass muster.
You don't need a Birmingham address to apply for the grammar entrance exam (indeed, children apply from as far away as Scotland ), but I don't know whether you'd require a UK address. Unlikely tbh.
However, if he passed for grammar, you will not get a place without a reasonably local address if his score is borderline. Have you considered what order you rank the grammars? (five take boys)
Have you visited any of the schools concerned? (Including KES)
My own experience - for what it's worth - is that particularly when making the difficult adjustment from primary to secondary education, that a long travelling time has quite a negative impact on children. The traffic infrastructure in the West Midlands isn't great. Even when bus transport is available it may be slow. Traffic jams clog up the city. When that's combined with a school which sets lots of homework, secondary education can be very tiring. And parents are expected to act as chauffeurs when after-school activities are on. (School buses will no longer be available.)
I think one reason why my daughter's experience of grammar school was more positive than that of my stepson, was that her school was less than 15 minutes walk away.
I think that when children attend a school which is local it is also a lot easier for them to see their friends after school. (Though Birmingham obviously has better transport than many rural areas.) My own feeling would be that it'd be sensible to look for a pleasant affordable area near your workplace - one where the state schools are reasonably well-regarded.
If children have parents who talk to them and care for them and generally support their learning, they're likely to do fine.
Just to add that as well as Solihull and St Martin’s for private schools, children in Solihull also travel to the two Warwick Foundation Schools and to Bromsgrove. All of these are good schools although I hear more negative stuff about Solihull than any of the others.
Barnt Green is currently in the middle of a lot of new development. Depending on your preferred area it might suit.
My suggestion of Solihull was based on the idea that if you don't get into Camp Hill, there's a lot of other good options. Although the tbh Solihull school entry is similar to KE I'd have thought. My bad for not sporting it's only one child, a boy to school.
Barnt Green secondary schools are ok, but nothing out of the ordinary. You'd be close to Bromsgrove school for private.
Agreed dancingdreamer, Warwick and Kings High (girls school equivalent) have better reputations than Solihull these days.
Your husband could commute on the cross city line from Sutton Coldfield. The train station stops right in the university campus and is about 30 minutes journey and reliable. Bishop Vesey Grammer School would be within walking distance then and the state schools in Sutton Coldfield are excellent Arthur Terry is the top performing comprehensive in the country I think.
I think you also need to decide what sort of area you’d like to live in - rural (edge of Worcs like Barnt Green or Hagley ) or city. Or somewhere like Solihull or Bromsgrove which have a town feel.
Also whether you prefer single sex or co-ed.
As izzi says, Sutton Coldfield has trains that run directly to the university (through birmingham new street but no need to change) and excellent secondaries
Agree with the Sutton Coldfield suggestions. Bit far for KES but a good state school, good grammar and good commute.
There are loads of kids at KES and KEHS from Sutton Coldfield - far more come from that direction than from the south side on the cross city line.
There’s also a few coming from Barnt Green - and living there you also have the option of Kings Worcester and RGS on the train in the other direction. South Bromsgrove is an excellent comprehensive too.
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