Local Talk

Move to Brighton - what schools for DD's?

(42 Posts)
looloolollie Thu 03-Mar-11 18:50:59

I am currently living in West London with 2 dd's as a single parent(7 and 12). Am planning a move to Brighton/Hove area but a bit confused about what schools could be good - I would probably base my search for rental around good schools. Currently oldest DD is at a very good CofE school (girls) which gets great GCSE results so I want something hopefully of similar standard to apply to and then hopefully little one will follow although tips on good primary schools would be really helpful too. I know Brighton quite well but nothing about the schools and some of the reviews I've seen have been quite poor! Any ideas? Thoughts? tips?!! :-)

SimplyTes Thu 03-Mar-11 19:03:33

I am afraid that schools in Brighton and Hove can be over subscribed.

Are you Catholic? My old school, Cardinal Newman, in Hove is excellent and there is also a junior school called Cottesmore but you have to be Catholic (DC's) from one years old and documents will need to be shown - letter from priest etc.

Dorothy Stringer (Brighton) has a great reputation as has Blatchington Mill (Hove).

If you have pots of money Brighton College and Lancing College are very academic with outstanding sports. Roedean is an option if you have even more pots of money too!!?? Maybe if they are v v bright you chould look at a scholarship.

Good luck

ps my 2 DSs attend a v small independant school in Shoreham where DH used to go, serious financial commitment which is pretty tough at the moment sad

nurseblade Thu 03-Mar-11 19:07:11

Patcham primary is lovely, not sure about the senior school

looloolollie Thu 03-Mar-11 19:38:03

Thanks SimplyTes - really helpful for me - no money (!) but will have a look at Dorothy Stringer and Blatchington Mill. Am not catholic - CofE, but not sure if that will suffice for catholic school.

Thanks also nurseblade, thats really useful to start my searches - I'll have a look at Patcham Primary.

cantspel Fri 04-Mar-11 00:19:06

Dont forget that brighton has the lottery system for secondary schools so even though you live 5 minutes way from a good school you could still find your children being bused miles away to a sink one.

threefeethighandrising Fri 04-Mar-11 01:18:21

What cantspel said.

You actually have no choice at all for secondary, it is decided for you by lottery at 11.

I have no idea how it works if you transfer in later though.

looloolollie Fri 04-Mar-11 07:37:00

Thanks threefeethighandrising and cantspel, that's the case in some schools round here but not the majority. Not much fun! What about sibling policies?

Its a bit scary as they're both in really good schools here but I do plan to move out of London ASAP. confused

cantspel Fri 04-Mar-11 13:09:33

No siblings policy either. It is a straight lottery. You can get lucky and get them both in as my friend has just managed it but it is all down to luck and if the school is over subscribed.
If you want to be in sussex how about west sussex? as it is only east that has the lottery system.

haggis01 Fri 04-Mar-11 15:01:27

You need to phone the LA and speak to them. They can tell you which schools have spaces and the latest on the entrance policies (when we moved newcomers were given some priority).Question them closely - they are very helpful but sometimes the advice is a bit off. I was told that all new comers had to go to Falmer which put me off moving to Brighton, but when my DP phoned a few months later he was told that we may be allocated Falmer as it had most free spaces but that we could apply for the schools we wanted and if they had a vacancy or we had a special reason for needing a particular school we could be allocated it.
We tried to get DD into Dorothy Stringer as that was closest to where we were moving to and we liked it and it had the best reults in that area (this was 3years ago) - but they were already totally full for her year (year9)with 7 other people active on the waiting list, moving was also complicated for us - a vacancy came up in Varndean School which we were not so keen on but we took that.
You can only formally apply to the school once you have a tenancy contract (renting)or a copy of your exchange of contract (buying) so you have to move quickly if a space in a school you really want becomes vacant.We had trouble with our buyer pulling out late in the day and it was tricky co ordinating things.
MY DD was very happy at Varndean (which I think is considered ok )and made lots of friends - she got all A* and A's in her GCSE's . Varndean has worse league table results than Stringer but students are streamed in the core subjects for year 9 and at GCSE.
With primaries for our younger children we were offered one that was quite far away (too far to walk, although we were told primaries would always be allocated within walking distance)and then spaces in 3 different schools - in the end we home educated for a while until spaces came up in the nearest primary (balfour) which they are/were very happy at. The LA were helpful and lots of children stay on waiting lists and move school- quite a few in my sons primary started off at Hertford and in Varndean quite a few have moved from Patcham High.
The sibling link for secondaries is ending and all state schools are allocated through the lottery. Varndean and Stringer are in the same cachement so most people seem to apply to Stringer and if unsuccessful they will get Varndean, any spare places at Varndean get given to those outside the cachement who listed it in their choices - some areas only really have one school in the cachement and not much hope of allocation at a good school elsewhere in Brighton - check cachements for where you are planning to move to as it will affect your younger child eventually - unless the system is changed again (originally there were plans to make the lottery city wide)- if you rent you may be more mobile than if you buy.

Good luck - I don't really know Hove well, but know older teens who did well and were very happy at Blatchington. I also know people who are really happy with St Luke's Primary (Hanover/Queen's Park), Stanford Primary and Downs.

There are discussions of this sort in the archives if you scroll further down and back on this local list.

BluddyMoFo Fri 04-Mar-11 15:04:06

My lass is at Elm Grove and she loves it...and so do I and all the parents - my friends go to Patcham and they love it!

What ever you do stay away from Fairlight and St Bartholemews...theres a reason they always have space you know!!!

Secondary, Cardinal Newman is good but I dont know the others.

BluddyMoFo Fri 04-Mar-11 15:05:27

I moved from London to Brighton when my eldest was little.....best thing I ever did. LOVE LOVE LOVE LIVING HERE!!!!

SpeedyGonzalez Fri 04-Mar-11 15:17:18

For primaries in Hove, Goldstone is great (formerly struggling, now amazing), as are West Hove and Davigdor. Also Westdene, Balfour, Carden, Hertford and Stanford - all in Brighton, all have either good or outstanding OFSTED reports AND parents love them. But for all except Goldstone and Westdene, you'll need to live pretty close to the school to get in - check the council website for their Primary Allocation Factsheet, as it will show the distances of the furthest allocated places in 2010.

St Andrews is an excellent C of E school in Hove but highly oversubscribed, and you'd need to be at the church for 2 years to get a place. Same goes for Aldrington and St Luke's.

Get in touch with us all when you move! It's the BEST PLACE!! grin

threefeethighandrising Fri 04-Mar-11 17:40:37

"it is only east [sussex] that has the lottery system"

I thought it was just Brighton. It's not all of East Sussex, is it? confused

raiseaneyebrow Fri 04-Mar-11 20:39:58

I didn't know the sibling link for secondaries was ending...when's that happening? What a nightmare!

haggis01 Fri 04-Mar-11 21:45:51

I think the sibling link ended this year (with the recent allocation of places for this September) with the current year 10. When the lottery was introduced the sibling link was due to be kept for 5 years until all the children who started secondary just before it was introduced were through to the end of GCSE's(as the link may have affected school choice) but was then to end so that the social mix at the schools would be more even (on info I was given when applying a few years back. However, perhaps my info is out of date and the link is being kept. Perhaps someone has checked lately.

Sorry if I am wrong and have startled anyone.

looloolollie Sat 05-Mar-11 10:43:23

WOW! Thanks everyone for very helpful responses, I am encouraged by the good stories of successful moves but the system seems much more complicated than London!! Lots of tips which will help me start my search - interesting about the speed it all goes at Haggis as I dont think I would be in a position to home school. Will have to think of how I can plan it all. Its a shame about the sibling policy as I was relieved once I had gone through all the hurdles with the oldest to think I probably would have an easier time sorting out the youngest! Oh well, I think ultimately its a better move for us to get out of London and live by the sea!!

smile smile smile

scarlotti Sun 06-Mar-11 21:50:49

The lottery is still catchmented though - so you can move to one area with just one school allocated and there's no choice so they'd end up in the same one. The two supposed best senior schools are Stringer and Blatchington Mill - both are in the lottery as there are also Varndean and Hove Park allocated to the same postcodes.
Cardinal Newman will take you as CofE but you will be lower priority than any catholics, or any pupils that went to catholic primary schools.
Patcham High school isn't that good. DD went there for a while then we moved - we got her into Blatchington Mill - best thing we could have ever done for her. Patcham had a 22% pass rate (5 gsce) and Blatch had 78%.
Phone the council admissions and chat to them, they are very helpful and will explain which schools are allocated to which postcodes.

looloolollie Mon 07-Mar-11 18:20:14

Thanks Scarlotti - I had a look at catchment areas which has focussed the mind a bit!
My DD's school has about 95% A-C pass rate so its a bit of a worry changing that and taking a risk, however my friend was talking to me today and reminding me that the pass rate is only one element and actually if you have switched on parents and an enthusiastic child, they will most likely do well in most schools.


scarlotti Tue 08-Mar-11 12:09:57

I agree, however peer pressure is a remarkable influence in high school. I would caution against Patcham if you can - DD is/was very enthusiatic but was one of very few bright ones there. However, having said all that the lottery and catchment system is balancing out the schools so there are more able pupils in all schools. It was the lack of other able students that DD suffered from as there was no challenge for her - she was always finishing her work with plenty of time left in lessons.

Good luck with your decision and your move, it is a lovely place to live!

melodyangel Wed 09-Mar-11 11:07:24

Brighton and hove sibling link policy


looloolollie Sat 12-Mar-11 13:19:10

Thanks loads. xx

impossible Tue 25-Oct-11 12:57:41

Hi Looloolollie - just wondering how you got on in Brighton re schools (if you have moved there). We are in very similar circumstances and are terribly worreid about moving dd (yr 8) and ds (yr 5) from thriving local London state schools and particularly worried about them making friends (especially my ddd going into secondary school late and maybe not getting a local school). Any thoughts welcome.

javo Fri 04-Nov-11 10:34:27

We moved from London a few years ago. My DD1 was in year 9 and started at secondary in February .Making friends was fine - a group of girls "adopted" her on day one . My DD3 had a slightly harder time in year 5 of primary - but this was because she really didnt want to be there - so it was hard for the children who had been organised to buddy up with her - she did make 2 very good friends after a month or so - who were quiet and disliked school in general like her and the school was very proacative in helping her.

Keep phoning the LA and hold out for local schools that you want - we were told if we moved to Brighton that we would be automatically offered Falmer ( now Aldridge Academy) although it was nowhere near where we were going to live, but after further chats it turned out that newcomers are (controversially) given priority for in year moves.

upthealdi Sun 06-Nov-11 09:57:01

How does that work? Do you mean they keep some places back for newcomers? Or that when a place becomes available it is given to a newcomer rather than someone on the waiting list?

pinkhebe Sun 06-Nov-11 10:06:33

The lottery is to be abolished


as long as you live in the catchment area siblings will be linked.

looloolollie Mon 12-Dec-11 19:44:11

Well, to update (and sorry for the essay)..... I moved to Brighton in November, which wasn't ideal timing but how the job went. I found B&H admissions useless and giving really misleading information. I couldn't find a 3 bed place I liked in the stringer catchment area, but found a house just outside it. I spoke to admissions and they said not to worry and that you can still apply for places outside your catchment area and that if the schools you like are full they can ask a school to go over its numbers for someone moving into the area with no school place. We were told to put down schools we liked so choices were made and the wait started. After weeks of waiting a place was offered for each daughter that wasn't on our lists. I am actually happy with the primary place although its not that near to the school, however there were no spaces in any of the schools near. I asked the admissions why they wasted my time asking me to make choices when it would have been easier for them to just tell me where there was a space but they harped on about parental choice (oh the irony).

Secondary has been a massive pain. We applied for Stringer, Varndean and Cardinal Newman (although we are in Blatchington and Hove Park catchment area) as they said to put down where we liked.

After calling frequently to enquire I was informed that they would likely approach the schools we had put down and ask for them to go over maximum numbers. After further waiting I called back and was told my daughter has been allocated a place at Hove Park - I asked to speak to the manager as I was really annoyed that from day one we were obviously going to be offered that as Hove Park is the only school in the area with spaces (not a great sign). The manager could not give a damn sadly and gave a half hearted apology for my experience. He said I can appeal, however I clearly have no grounds and he also said they are not allowed to ask a school outside your catchment area to take you unless they have a space, which was completely different to original advice.

I've looked round Hove Park and although I'm sure there's some lovely kids there and our guides were really sweet, I felt it was tatty and the children looked bored and unchallenged and there were quite a few classrooms with children standing outside having been ejected. There was little practical going on even in art and science etc which made me think the teachers were taking the easy route. The deputy head was pleasant but seemed to lack time to talk to us and so it was very rushed. I asked the boy who showed us round if there was any bullying and he clearly struggled to answer as he knew he was supposed to be encouraging us to come, but said it was "better than it used to be". Did not come away feeling very confident and my daughter said it felt like Waterloo Road.

I made enquiries about the waiting list for Stringer and Varndean in year 8 and was told that Stringer is 16 children over their published numbers in that year and has 18 pupils in the "reallocation pool" (is this some new term for waiting list?!), 8 of which are in the catchment area. Varndean are 4 over their numbers and there are 13 on the waiting list - 6 of which are within the catchment area. Am waiting to hear back from Newman as they have their own list. Blatchington Mill is also over set numbers. Given this, I cannot see how anyone in either of the main catchment areas and therefore travelling distance, applying for a place beyond year 7 would get any offer other than Hove Park as they are clearly needing to fill up the spaces and distribute them more in that area. In fact when I called Hove Park to arrange a viewing I said I had been informed that they had allocated a space for my daughter and I was told by the secretary she had been given a place in yr 9......I said, well thats not going to work as she is yr 8 (apparently admissions made a mistake), however the lady said it wasnt a problem as they have spaces in yr 8 too! I am currently in contact with West Sussex admissions who seem much more efficient and helpful, however the dilemma then is whether to send my daughter to a school that's better, but quite far away and a long train journey - she wants to make local friends but also wants to be challenged in school and not spend her whole time being disrupted. Anyone I ask about Hove Park usually pauses and looks uncomfortable before answering, like they want to spare you the truth!

What to do eh?!! Otherwise we go with Hove Park and maybe get a tutor or something - or leave her in London for longer and take the chance that she might get something decent before year 11. Quite tricky as she is currently in a really good school.

Anyway 'Impossible', hope that doesn't fill you with too much fear!!!!!! Also, 'Javo', I was constantly ringing admissions saying that I thought newcomers should have priority as it would seem silly for a space to come up for someone in the area who had a school place but wanted to move, when you had someone moving into the area with no school place, but I was told they do not give priority to newcomers and just deal with applications as they come in. (Although frankly I think they do not know the policies or information themselves - when I was given the place for my daughter in yr 4, I asked where the school was and the lady said she didn't know and that I could look it up!)

Good luck!!!!!! smile

looloolollie Mon 12-Dec-11 19:46:06

Although its not all doom and gloom - we are loving Brighton!!!!!!

javo Tue 13-Dec-11 12:32:23

OP I am sorry you have had problems. We had problems when we moved too - I had to wait 5 months to get my younger children into walking distance primaries. However when we moved here a few years ago we were told newcomers got priority over someone else living within the same distance etc of the school- so what I said in my post was what we were told at the time.

I have to say we did keep getting told different things all the time though about policy. In fact we lost out on places at the local schools we were told were becoming vacant and that we would be first in line for a few months after we moved here to other "newcomers" who haved just arrived.

I think the thing that worked for us was to keep phoning, it was stressful but moving from London was worth it. I have since met people (in my Dc's years) who had no problems and whose children just got easily into the oversubscribed local schools which we were told couldn't possibly take more children and who lived further away than us ?? so who knows what goes on at the LA.

I hope matters get resolved soon.

MABS Tue 13-Dec-11 12:41:49

what a nightmare for you, which schools are you considering in West Sussex? afraid you are correct re Hove Park from what i know.

upthealdi Tue 13-Dec-11 20:47:48

I am baffled why newcomers should get priority over people who may have lived here for years!

looloolollie Wed 14-Dec-11 18:28:35

I'm looking at Davisons, which is a long way in East Worthing, but really nice. I guess its just something to get on with and not get too stressed about. I think you're right Javo in terms of persistence but it seems to be luck as much as anything. Its just funny the admissions dept seem to have no idea what to do or say.

In relation to the priority over newcomers upthealdi, I know what you mean, but it just feels that someone without a school place at all should be a priority over someone who has one as its very valuable time lost in education if people are waiting, but I can see your point. Its tricky for all though! Anyway, will keep trying and see how things pan out.

MABS Wed 14-Dec-11 19:43:37

Davisons is nice, have friends there, but isn't it really oversubcribed usually too? good school smile

upthealdi Thu 15-Dec-11 09:32:09

Seems to me whoever lives nearer should get the school place, as is the case with normal admissions.

If that happened to be the child who already had a school place, then they would free up a place at the school they are leaving.

I'd be furious if I'd been on a waiting list for a school and someone who lived further away got it becuse they had just moved to Brighton.

looloolollie Thu 15-Dec-11 14:31:26

That is a good point upthealdi, however I think the best option would be to make the schools better across the board so there's not such a desperation to get into a couple of schools! A longer term issue I guess!

cantspel Fri 16-Dec-11 01:08:28

You are way out of catchment area for Davisons and as it is always oversubscribed you are very unlikely to get a place. You are actualy last place on their admissions criteria for year 8 and come under 8. Other girls not resident in the Borough of Worthing.
And i know of girls within walking distance who qualify under rules 4 and 5 and still didn't get a place.

So dont go setting your heart on Davisons as it is very unlikely to happen.

On a more posative note i have friends with children at Hove Park and the children are doing well and happy in their school.

impossible Mon 19-Dec-11 23:18:43

Thanks looloolollie for taking the trouble to update me. I can see schools will be a lottery if we move - rather scarey as like yours my dd is very happy in a good state secondary in London and doesnt want to leave.

BBrighton Tue 22-Jan-13 10:16:04

Hove Park School is in 1% of most improved schools in the UK.
Yes, it wasn't very well managed school until New Head ( very strict ) was appointed in 2011 and he took this school from 29% GCSE to a 65%! in 2012.This year they are aiming 78%.Clearly the fault was in the previous managment not children.
You said that school looks tatty ...which one doesn't ? Funny enough I have seen Longhill school that have not very good opinion and guess what! It looks almost new,clean,sparkly and has the cleanest toilet I have ever seen in my life.
I have seen Blatchington Mill and had exactly the same feeling as yours about Hove Park.
Hove Park catchment area covers posh bits of Hove,wealthy Hove Park and middle class parts of Hove,Portslade,Hangelton and (from the previous years )bit of really wealthy Dyke Road Avenue and Preston.

MrsPatrickJane Wed 23-Jan-13 17:26:11

Like you I'd heard bad things about Hove Park re: bullying etc, and knowing we were too far away to get into Blatchington, plumped for Portslade Community College (as it was then). My godson went there and was fine (he's quite a gentle soul) so I saw it as the better option for my rather shy and small-for-her-age dd.
Worst mistake I ever made! It is a terrible school whereas dd's primary school friends who opted for Hove Park seem to have had a much better time of it, plus their pass rate went up a lot this year, whereas PACA's went down slightly (though they still go on about 'continuing improvements' in the newsletters, they think we are thick). Mind you, we now have a 'new broom' Head who seems to be showing a bit of gumption (to collective wailing from those who think their little darlings should be able to go to school dressed like rock stars) so things could be looking up. Unfortunately he is only temporary so anything could happen.
With the benefit of hindsight I wouldn't have been put off Hove Park so easily and it appears to be still improving.

beaufranked Fri 25-Jan-13 20:20:53

The new Bilingual Primary School (English and Spanish) is amazing too.

nrv0us Tue 05-Nov-13 12:10:58

Re-animating this thread because there seem to be a lot of really experienced and knowledgeable people on it.

We are increasingly looking at Longhill, since Woodingdean makes good sense for us, price-wise, space-wise and proximity-wise. Our kids currently attend St Luke's which is fine (we are renting around the corner, but with house prices being what they are, it doesn't look likely that we'll be able to buy nearby).

I know Longhill has had its troubles, but it seems to be on the upswing. I'd be interested to hear about people's experiences with it -- also, there is a new Ofsted report due this week, so that'll be interesting to read.

ponymad9 Sun 01-Dec-13 15:58:33

Hi nrvOus. My friend's daughter started at Longhill in Year 7 and is really enjoying it, a lot :-) My friends son went in age 14 had a ball but flunked his exams, not sure if that was laziness or changing at that age. He had to re-sit, but is now doing A'Levels at Varndean College and is doing fine. I visited Brighton a few years back and saw the kids from Longhill' choir in a local church and they were great, really nice kids :-))

nrv0us Thu 15-May-14 16:40:55

Thanks for the comments about Longhill -- the new Ofsted report actually downgraded the school (now it 'Requires Improvement') although this report has kicked off a major effort at the school to get that verdict overturned, so that may change soon.

What is the latest on Hove Park? I know that Blatchington Mill is considered very good, but is HP narrowing the gap?

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