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PostPosted: Tue Aug 24, 2010 10:44 pm 
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We are moving from Chislehurst in Kent to either Blockley/Chipping Campden in Gloucestershire or further into Kent, around the Tunbridge Wells area. This move is mainly to be close to decent schools, our daughter will start primary school next September but we are trying to think ahead about secondary schools too.

Our dilemma is this - Kent has many more grammer schools that Gloucestershire but the mainstream comprehensives don't seem to be all that good. The reverse seems to be true of Gloucestershire. Our children are pretty bright but we think it would be a bit foolish to assume that they'd get into a grammar school so we are also thinking abourt back up options too. Privately educating our kids is an option for us but not our preferred choice.

Therefore, is Kent a better choice on the basis that there is a greater chance of them getting into a grammar school but we would have to look at private education as a backup? Or, should we look at Gloucestershire on the basis that schools like Chipping Campden and The Cotswold School are very good but all things being equal, are there simply fewer grammar school places to be had in Gloucestershire?

Other questions on our mind:

Are there any decent non-selective secondary schools in Kent or would a private secondary school be the default option?
Are we worrying a bit prematurely about secondary schools?
Where should we move to in Kent to position ourselves best for grammar school places? We thought about somewhere between Tunbridge Wells and Maidstone, perhaps Yalding? Can anyone recommend a nice village with a decent primary school, a few facilities and within easy reach of a larger town? We've also looked at Penshurst, Leigh, Langton Green and Groombridge.
Would the best combination be the primary school in Sissinghurst and then hopefully a place at Cranbrook or is this putting all our eggs in one basket?

Any advice relating to any or all of the above questions would be much appreciated.

Best regards
Darren


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 12:00 am 
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dtilley wrote:
Therefore, is Kent a better choice on the basis that there is a greater chance of them getting into a grammar school


No. West Kent grammars are superselectives so they take on scores too around 70% + for a pass.

It will be quite a commute from Chislehurst to the girls grammars in Tonbridge.

Tunbridge wells is nice but catchment areas for schools are VERY tight and you need to spend a nice fortune to live in the catchment for decent primary schools and the girls grammar. To get in the girls grammar you need to live within 1.6miles and I cant imagine how much that would have shrienked by the time your DD starts secondary school. On the plus they take girls who just pass with the minimum scores for Kent (about 55% each paper) and you also have Weald up the road in Tonbridge.

There are some excellent primary schools like Clairemont but to get in you need to live in the school playground. Dont even believe estate agents that tells you the house is in catchemnt. Houses around the area are VERY pricey and most have off road parking. On the plus if you commute you can walk to the station. Also bear in mind the yearly cost of the ticket on the not so wonderful South Eastern trainss is about £3500.

There is a very good but heavily oversubscribed Bennett Memorial if you are a practising Anglican. If not there is a horrible comprehensive there Tunbridge wells high (now called skinners academy). If private is an option then you have the non selective Beachwood or they can have a reasonable commute for better indies in Sevenoaks.

I love Tunbridge wells. Nice decent shops and you get a mixture of high street shops and some boutique ones (though I have never shopped in one) but they make an intresting mix. Its just the extortianate house prices but if you are coming form London it may not look that much expensive. There are other nice villages around with good primary schools, some creeping into East Sussex but if you are commuting then it can make it very long. Sevenoaks will be ideal for commuting but much more expensive and I can think of two good primaries, one needs you to be a practising Anglican and another with tight catchment too. Personally minus the commuting I prefer Tunbridge Wells over Sevenoaks, much better in every other way but with much longer commuting. :wink:

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Last edited by sherry_d on Wed Aug 25, 2010 12:49 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 12:23 am 
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Groombridge in not in Kent that is East Sussex but has a top primary but you wont be in catchment for Kent Grammars. I hope kentsussexboarder can give more info on this. Langton Green had a decent primary but you really need to make sure you are in the catchment for the school otherwise the alternatives arent that great.

Yalding is known for flooding and it can be quite bad. It seems like almost every year they suffer flooding. There is a river that goes past the middle of the village that gives them the heartache. There is a decent primary but it is very small and if you dont mind mixed classes then you will be fine. Personally even without flooding its not my cup of tea. Feels very grown up and a tad remote and a bit plain for me (maybe when I retire I may want to move here).

Now Maidstone, I will try and be objective but I would only move here if your pockets arent too deep for Tunbridge Wells. You will be spoiled for grammars but they are really so so grammars IMHO. More like Z list grammars if that makes sense. Please this is my personal opinion others may disagree. :roll: The alternatives arent so great because we have 4 grammars in about a mile radius. Even the local indie is rubbish and not one I would spend my hard earned money on. Allington has a decent primary school and its a decent area but again not one I would really move to. Not sure why but I dont just feel it. Looks a bit run down but there is a Waitrose in the area so its perhaps not that bad if we go by the Waitrose profile.

Last but not least is Bearsted the better part of Maidstone but nothing too special. It has a nice village green with some nice restaurants and a train station nearby but parking is a nightmare. Decentish big primary Roseacre and infant Thurnham or if you are a practising Anglican you have St Johns Grove Green. As you can see I am a grumpish Maidstone resident and I feel like the town is going downhill with loads of shops being boarded up and more £1 shops hitting town. If nightlife is your thing then the only town to be in Kent is Maidstone. :lol:

Cranbrook is just for boys and they admit only at 13+, alternative is a bad comp. I noticed you mentioned daughter in your post. If you are going to commute I would rule Cranbrook and Sissinghurst out. Nearest station is about 10miles away. Dont know much about primaries there.

What is your budget and are you looking to buy or rent? It will be easier to narrow down the areas.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 8:06 am 
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Thanks sherry_d, thats really helpful. I read online somewhere that the eest Kent grammar schools select mainly on academic ability so living out of the area wouldn't be too much of a handicap but the reverse is true of the east Kent schools?

We have a budget to buy of about £1 million and if we move into Kent then buying would be our choice over renting but I think in reality we'll end up renting first. Ihad a long drive around the other through many of the areas discussed. I lived in Westerham for five years and know/like Leigh and Penshurst. We have to travel t'up north quite regularly to see family so the logical choices would be around Tonbridge/TW and Sevenoaks Weald.

We aren't too fussed about a mega nightlife, think we've had our day in that respect, what would be nice is to live in a small town/village that has a couple of pubs/restaurants, a village shop, tea room etc. I lived in Westerham for five years and that had a good selection of shops and was still a nice little place.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 9:47 am 
Well, as I'm sure that you know, schools (particularly state schools) can change greatly in the course of a few years. If your children will not be secondary age for over 7 years you are really only going to be able to guess at the best long-term location now. Would you be prepared to move again if school circumstances change? If so, it might be worth considering ease of resale/ relocation when deciding where to go.

As regards the grammar/ comprehensive debate, that is a very personal choice. I have a child at Tonbridge Grammar and 2 younger children at a small rural primary school in Kent. They are all happy at school and the eldest is achieving well. However, a good comprehensive might have served her even better. I think that top set pupils probably get smaller classes and more help in good comps than in grammars. And gaining a place is certainly less stressful for the children. One big advantage of a grammar is that it is not necessary to live in a tight, expensive catchment area to get a place. With your budget this may not be a problem.

A couple of points re. Kent locations if you decide on joining us:

1. Yalding (or at least parts of it) are in catchment for Mascalls, not the grammar schools. Plenty of children do get into grammars from the village but if oversubscription is a problem they can be at a disadvantage.

2. Cranbrook is co-ed, not all boys. A fair few people put themselves in catchment for Cranbrook and also enter their children for the 11+. Some go to grammars in TW / Tonbridge for 2 years and then make the decision either to stay there or switch to Cranbrook at 13. There are good preps in the area which take boys and girls to age 13 (with an additional intake at 11) so it effectively gives parents 2 bites of the grammar school cherry.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 11:22 am 
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Kent99 wrote:
2. Cranbrook is co-ed, not all boys.

:oops: :oops: :oops:

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 12:34 pm 
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More facts on West Kent schools:

the grammars are not all superselective. The grammars are:

Tonbridge - Tonbridge Grammar School for Girls - superselective
- Judd - for boys - superselective
------------Weald of Kent - for girls - not superselective

Tunbridge Wells - Tunbridge Wells Grammar for Girls - not superselective but very high achieving, need to live very near it
- Tunbridge Wells Grammar for Boys - not superselective or high achieving
- Skinners for boys - superselective for boys

There are good church non-selectives in Tunbridge Wells, and some good non-selectives in Tonbridge which you have to live near

Woodlands infants and junior in Tonbridge is very good.

If I was choosing from scratch, I'd live in Tonbridge. Not a village though and you want a village. Need to think about commutes both to school and work? Interesting range of out of school activities close to hand? Quick ride into London for some real culture?

Dunno.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 12:42 pm 
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I wouldn't be put off by other peoples scathing opinions either of schools or where we all live! Chislehurst is not that far from Kent, why not visit for yourself!


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 1:23 pm 
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Thanks everyone, I went for a good drive many of the west and south Kent villages on Monday, all advice seems to be focusssing on Tonbridge/TW. I have to commute into Blackheath, SE London which therefore works pretty well. Does anyone know what Penshurst is like to live in? Good school there and seems like a nice place. Would living in somewhere like Southborough avail us to both sets of superselective schools?

Cheers
Darren


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 1:32 pm 
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Apart from schools, is there any reason why you want to move that far out from Chislehurst? Have you thought about Bexley village area. You will be within the catchment area for both Bexley and Kent schools. You have choice of
Townley Grammar for girls (amongst top nationally in gcse and A levels according to Times online)
Dartford Grammar for girls (amongst top nationally in gcse)
Beth (boys)
Bexley grammar
chis & Sid
Dartford Grammar for boys (amongst top nationally in gcse and A levels according to Times online)
Wilmington grammar for girl
Wilimington grammar for boys

You will also be able to apply to the Bromley schools

St Olaves (amongst top nationally in gcse and A levels according to Times online)
Newstead wood. (amongst top nationally in gcse and A levels according to Times online)

There are also good independent secondary schools all around as fall back plus I have heard the primaries, cofe Old Bexley, holy Trinity Lamorbey, Days lane and a few others are very good primaries (my go to indies in Sidcup) and am happy. Being in the middle gives you a larger selection however I do not know much about the comprehensive secondaries as I will not really consider them but some say Beaverwood girls is good.
Good luck with your decision


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