Good catchment areas?(19 Posts)
Dear know-it-all mums,
We are planning to move to UK in July 2020 with my daughter who will need to goto Year 8 in Sep, 2020. We are not from UK so I am new to the concept of catchment areas. We just need to be closer (30-45 mins) to London. So where should I start looking for good catchment areas. Can you please give me some pointers on where to start this search. I do know the websites where if we know the location, we can go to Ofsted reports to check which school will suit the child.
I would be eternal grateful. Thanks.
35-40 minutes from London encompasses a huge geographical range. If you could narrow it down to a particular area, then I am sure locals from that area would be able to tell you which schools are recommended and you can look up their catchments from there. Generally speaking, there are some selective (grammar) schools in Surrey, Kent, Bucks if you think your DD is likely to pass the competitive entrance exams (although Year 8 isn't a usual entrance point). Otherwise there are good schools everywhere. I would start with where you need to get to in London, and where is on a good and easy commuter route to that place, and then look at schools. Where in London do you need to get to?
In th UK, students start secondary school in Y7 so for Y8 you’ll be trying to find a space somewhere. As you can imagine, the most desirable schools are likely to be full.
Unlike some coutries, you don’t just get a place at your ‘catchment’ school. Instead, the Local Authority has a number of schools and offer you whatever is available. The school might be close by and good or far away and rubbish. You can also apply to schools in other local authorities if they have spaces.
In terms of a good area, I’d recommend my neck of the woods - the borough of Sutton in SW London. The secondary schools are number 1 in England for GCSE Attainment 8. Some of the schools are super selective grammars and spaces in those are rare but occasionally do come up. The other schools are not selective and range from average to amazing. There’s only one bad school in the entire borough.
The train stations are in London zone 5 (some 4) and the trains go into Victoria, London Bridge, Blackfriars, the City, Kings Cross etc so loads of commuting options.
It’s the safest borough in London, super green, on the edge of the coutryside and massively popular with families due to the excellent schools, transport links and big houses and gardens compared to most of London. Mind you, not many renters and finding a good rental can take a while.
You'll need to figure out where you want to live first, then look at what schools are local. Are you coming from broadly the same type of education system? Is there a chance your child would be going into Y7 in the UK education system, as you could then apply this year (within the next 2 months) for next September. But you first need an address and a council tax bill.
We don't have traditional fixed catchments like we used to, more there's a distance element for students who are not likely to get a place. Be aware that in London the distance criteria can be under a mile in some cases (based on what I've seen on here).
As others have said 40 mins out of London is a really big area. You could look at county council pages for schools listings.
Equally there's a lot of people on here from the SE who will have loads of wisdom and insight to share.
That's quite a huge area- could you narrow it? 30-45 mins could be Brighton, Kent, Stevenage way, and depending in where in London you want to be, that will narrow it down even more.
Just to clarify, for Y8 admission distance won’t make any difference.
Distance is only important when you apply for a secondary school place in Y6 with everyone else.
It also does make sense to identify areas with more good schools than others. For example, moving to Kent you won’t find any good non-selective schools at all. Some other areas will have some excellent schools but also a few shockers so the likelihood of getting offered a poor school is quite high.
OP, not sure if you’re aware of the above website. On there, you can get an overview of different areas. For London, search by Local Authority (each borough is a different local authority). For places outside London, it’s probably easier to search by parliamentary constituency or distance from a location. The chart will tell you if schools are selective or non, church schools, coed/single sex, mainstream/special + attainment and progress scores.
Thanks for your feedback @JoJoSM2 and @Biscuitsneeded.
I will look at Sutton as suggested.
Thanks all for your replies.
Currently the areas in my list based on friends suggestions are Surrey, Croydon and Harrow. On Good schools guide website, I found around 200 schools in these areas.
How can I narrow this search down without having to go through the reports and websites of all those schools.
Just so you know your greeting of "know-it-all mums" would usually be considered rude as "know-it-all" is not a compliment but a way of being rude to people. I didn't want you to get off on a wrong foot if your DC start a school and you used that in a group email to parents.
I think I know what you meant OP. Maybe say something like "clever mums/parents in my phone" - a bit twee but it works!
Hampshire is a good place to look if you are happy to be at the longer end of the commuting time. No selection but schools perform well. Just a few schools to avoid eg Cove in Farnborough and what was Connaught in Aldershot. Both secondary schools in Fleet are good.
Farnham is also worth looking at - although in Surrey and a bit longer on the train. If you can afford it, Guildford.
Tbh there is not much point narrowing down the schools too much as you are unlikely to have much choice, as places are already allocated for the year group. You will need to decide on an area and have an address before the LA can consider an application. Your housing budget may also be significant factor. Where is the London location you need to be within 40 minutes commute of?
Are you looking at state or private schools. You'll have more choice of going private - money talks
30-40 minutes out of London, I would look at Rickmansworth, Chorelywood, Denham, Maple Cross. Nice areas and good commuting times in to London.
I'm with JoJoSM2 on Sutton as a very safe bet. Not sure you'll find another borough/area with such an amazing array of state secondaries, including five super-selective grammars, excellent housing stock and multiple commuter routes.
OP, Harrow is a lovely place to live and very safe. I’d suggest that if you look in Croydon, focus on the south of the borough like South Croydon, Purley, Coulsdon, Sandestead. All very lovely green areas. Some other parts of Croydon can be dodgy with stabbings and gangs.
Also agree with LIZS about where in London you need to be 45 min max from to live. You could easily spend 45 minutes crossing London if you are on the wrong side!
Twickenham is another area you could consider. Waldegrave (girls school) and Orleans Park (mixed gender) are the ones to go for, but move very close to either.
You go the wrong approach. Where is work in London for you or your husband? If you for example work on the City anywhere west means a quite long commune. 45 minutes do not necessarily give you a leafy suburb if you are on the wrong side of town.
If Croydon is a location for you, you could also look into Bromley, there are several girls only and co-Ed secondaries which are quite good. Good transport links to London Bridge and further or Blackfriars and ?Victoria.
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