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 Post subject: School areas in London
PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2021 3:33 pm 
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Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2019 2:47 pm
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We are recent immigrants and have been following this forum for the last year or so which helped us a lot in understanding the secondary education landscape in London.

We have a DD and a DS who have both not started Reception yet. We have discovered that we currently live in an area in London that has almost no access to any selective secondary schools (we are not in catchment of any catchment based grammars and good indies are all a long commute away). We are considering moving to another area in or around London for a more permanent home and access to good secondary schools is the number one priority for us (we don't really have any other location preference as long as it's a reasonable commute to central London).

At the moment it's impossible for us to determine which specific schools will be right for our kids so the best approach appears to be finding a location that would give us a number of good options when the time comes. Based on my research so far there are a few such clusters of good schools in and around London, e.g. North London, Sutton, Kent etc. Hopefully we will be able to visit the schools and form our own opinion post Covid but would be grateful to hear thoughts from parents on this forum regarding the relative advantages and disadvantages of the different areas. Are there areas that are widely considered the best from schools perspective? Are different areas similar in terms of competition? Are there any recent developments that would suggest that some areas will become better in the next 5 years?

A few further points to note:
- Due to our own backgrounds we prefer mixed schools; however, given how many of the good schools are single-sex I guess we will have to be flexible
- We are mainly focussed on grammars but would consider independent schools too (assuming we will be able to afford them)
- An important thing I currently cannot understand is the relative level of competition for top schools in different areas. For example, I remember North London 11+ process being referred to as a "bloodbath" on this forum, hence the question.
- I'm conscious that housing is a big factor but I assume that grammar schools catchments are wide enough to be able to find something on every budget.

Thanks a lot in advance!


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2021 4:15 pm 
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Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 6:27 pm
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Location: london
I'm sure someone will be along with more detail shortly however, in the meantime.
House prices are awful almost everywhere in London but in particular in the catchments of the top comprehensives (eg Holland Park, Fortismere etc). That said, given my time again and the ability, I would ensure I lived as close to a top performing comprehensive as possible, with a good local primary.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2021 4:17 pm 
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Joined: Fri Sep 15, 2006 9:51 am
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I agree with mad?

even if you move to a grammar catchment there is no guarantee that your child will pass the exam on the day - there are always surprises


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2021 4:18 pm 
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Welcome to the forum.
I think the problem with any areas with selective schools is that often the choice is not so good if your child doesn't get selected. At the age of your children, you will have no idea at the moment whether they will thrive at a grammar school.
My honest advice? Move to an area with good comprehensive schools and don't get involved with the whole 11 plus circus. There are some excellent comprehensive schools where a bright and well motivated child will do just as well - after all the schools offer the same curriculum.
Having said that, as you will know, Buckinghamshire & Kent are two fully selective areas so it's either a grammar school or a school which does not have the "top" 25-30% of children represented.
Some areas of Berkshire have access to both grammar schools and good comprehensives. People speak very highly of Hampshire's schools (comprehensives).
The problem you will have is that schools can change enormously in the next 5+ years, along with admissions rules, catchments etc.
I'm sure people will shortly be along from the various regions to advise you.

Eta: I see others can type faster than I can!


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2021 5:31 pm 
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When our children were 18 months and just under 4, we moved to the catchment of an outstanding primary. We looked a bit at league tables but more on the ofsted reports, focusing on soft issues, such as the interaction between teachers and pupils, peer groups, general behaviour, bullying, teachers' awareness of the needs of individuals, general happiness, parent satisfaction, etc. The NW London primary we chose landed us in no man's land, outside the catchment of any grammar, partially selective or reasonable comprehensive when our children moved to secondary. The only 2 grammars close to us are very much in the bloodbath category. Despite this, I feel we made the right decision, as the primary was critical to our children's positive development in their early and teenage year. My suggestion would be to find an excellent primary, and I don't mean league table topping.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2021 7:30 pm 
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How about Orpington? London Borough of Bromley only has two grammars, St Olave's for boys and Newstead Wood for girls. Competition for the former is particularly tough. But it is close enough for access to at least two of the Bexley grammars, and also to Kent grammars. You have to score high for Judd or Tonbridge Grammar for Girls, but there is or will be Sevenoaks annexes for Weald of Kent and Tunbridge Wells Grammar for Boys, which already generally come out this far. But because Bromley isn't a fully selective area, there are good comprehensives too. I hear good things particularly about Ravens Wood for boys.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2021 10:41 pm 
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Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2019 2:47 pm
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Thanks everyone for your responses, this is really helpful. I'd completely missed the point on comprehensives, so now this adds another layer of complexity to the research. How does one find out which comprehensive schools are good? Ofsted reports are often very old so should I just look at GCSE/ A-level results?

nyr wrote:
When our children were 18 months and just under 4, we moved to the catchment of an outstanding primary. We looked a bit at league tables but more on the ofsted reports, focusing on soft issues, such as the interaction between teachers and pupils, peer groups, general behaviour, bullying, teachers' awareness of the needs of individuals, general happiness, parent satisfaction, etc. The NW London primary we chose landed us in no man's land, outside the catchment of any grammar, partially selective or reasonable comprehensive when our children moved to secondary. The only 2 grammars close to us are very much in the bloodbath category. Despite this, I feel we made the right decision, as the primary was critical to our children's positive development in their early and teenage year. My suggestion would be to find an excellent primary, and I don't mean league table topping.

This is exactly what we've done - we live next to a primary that we like a lot. But we now feel that we should try and make sure we have good options for both primary and selective/ non-selective secondary given we are not yet tied to our current location.

Sorrel wrote:
How about Orpington? London Borough of Bromley only has two grammars, St Olave's for boys and Newstead Wood for girls. Competition for the former is particularly tough. But it is close enough for access to at least two of the Bexley grammars, and also to Kent grammars. You have to score high for Judd or Tonbridge Grammar for Girls, but there is or will be Sevenoaks annexes for Weald of Kent and Tunbridge Wells Grammar for Boys, which already generally come out this far. But because Bromley isn't a fully selective area, there are good comprehensives too. I hear good things particularly about Ravens Wood for boys.

Orpington is very popular among local families we know who have the same secondary school issue. We will definitely have a close look.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2021 10:52 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 03, 2014 11:24 pm
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Location: Petts Wood, Bromley, Kent
Another vote for Orpington, you are not restricting yourself to just grammar but have options of Comprehensives and a range of grammars (Kent, Bexley and Bromley). I live in Petts Wood (zone 5 rather than Orp which is zone 6, but still very leafy and very desirable) which whilst it has a lovely community feel and great local facilities isn't brilliant for co-ed secondaries except for the fact you have a swathe of choices due to transport and grammar. For boys it is better for comprehensives (Ravens Wood), for girls it is better for grammars (Weald of Kent, Tonbridge, Dartford), with some of the grammars for girls being less selective than the boys ones so it partly evens itself out. Chis n Sid co-ed grammar has come out to Petts Wood for all the recent years and that only requires a pass in the Bexley test. The Crofton end of Petts Wood has Darrick Wood secondary school which is very popular.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 17, 2021 7:23 pm 
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I live in Sutton borough, my daughter is at Wallington Girls and my son is off to Wallington Boys in September. It's pure chance that we live where we live, but I don't think we will ever move. There are a number of good primary schools - Highview, Bandon Hill Wood Field, Bandon Hill Meadow Field, Barrow Hedges, Stanley Park infants & juniors, Beddington Infants are all nearby and well thought of.

There's a selection of high schools that perform well (Greenshaw, Glenthorne, Woodcote which is just over the border into Croydon borough for eg) as well as Wilsons, Wallington Boys, Sutton grammar for boys or Nonsuch and Wallington Girls for girls. A number of children travel to the Tiffin grammars in Kingston, and there are various independent schools such as Trinity & Whitgift in Croydon for boys, and Old Palace, Croydon High or Sutton High for girls which all seem to have a decent reputation.

And property here is cheaper than most London boroughs, though there's no tube links so it's buses and trains for public transport.


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