Quick move to Bristol area - secondary advice?

(28 Posts)
Properjob Fri 08-Jun-12 22:33:46

Hubbie has job in Frenchay area starting very quickly; we have a daughter just starting GCSE's so will need a yr 10 place for Sept. What schools would you recommend for an above average, artistic and musical sensitive shy-but-feisty girl? I know Cotham and Redland have waiting list - is it worht moving in to wait for a place to come up? what is The Ridings and Winterbourne like? Would consider private if it'snot too academic; she's not competitive but wants to do well. Idea/Advice for anywhere North/East of central Bristol much appreciated. We'll be looking for a four bed house with decent garden to buy too but prepared to rent in short term. Thanks in advance for your advice

DH went to the Ridings, which since has been turned into an academy - he says 'it's not that bad' but I personally wouldn't say it's the best if your daughter is quite academic and wants to do well. I went to a private school in Bristol and did well as I wanted to and was interested in doing something specific in the future... Colston's Collegiate is very close to Frenchay and co-ed if you want a private school close!


jo164 Sat 09-Jun-12 20:14:15

The Ridings is one of the most academic state schools in Bristol - it is however very big! Still has a good reputation and definitely worth a look if I were you.
Others to consider would be Castle school in Thornbury if you don't mind living outside of Bristol, and Katharine Lady Berkeley in Wotton Under Edge, which is about 12 miles north of Bristol. Both are smallish market towns but schools have good reputations. KLB is much smaller than the other 2.
Bradley Stoke community school is also fairly good, only 7 years old so good facilities, outstanding Ofsted and reasonable GCSE grades so far.
If you look to East of Bristol, then Wellsway School in Keynsham has an excellent reputation. Definitely worth looking at in my opinion. It would probably take 30 - 40 mins to commute to Frenchay from Keynsham at peak times. Traffic in Bristol is a nightmare, just to warn you!
Private schools - Colstons is very near to Frenchay, probably the least academic of the Bristol private schools - quite sporty but maybe more so on the boy front that girls. Redland girls is a nice private school, has good pastoral care from what I have heard, but good academic results and quite a lot going on for music, drama etc. Redmaids is also very popular all girls school. Don't have any first hand knowledge of it, but I work in a prep and we send quite a lot of girls there. They do have entrance exams, but it is not super selective.
Quite a lot of private schools to choose from, but all central Bristol - really depends where you would like to live long term! City centre is not for me, but some people prefer to be in the midst of everything!

exexpat Sat 09-Jun-12 20:24:46

Winterbourne International Academy (used to be the Ridings) has a good reputation and gets good results for a non- selective state school, so definitely worth a look. Colstons is also very handy for Frenchay, and would probably fit the not-too-competitive private school bill. Otherwise maybe Clifton High, or Redland High, but they are quite a trek across town from Frenchay. Clifton College is very good for art and music, but fees are 50% higher than the other private schools. Redland Green & Cotham are probably the best-regarded state schools in Bristol itself, but likewise not very accessible from east Bristol.

Would you definitely be living near Frenchay? I also hear good things about Hanham High (state) and Hanham as an area to live, but have to admit I don't know it well.

I went to Gracefield Prep, then Redmaids', then Clifton High all very private good schools but for the area you suggested Colstons is the closest and least distance/time to commute - as mentioned traffic in Bristol is horrific.

I have taught at Hanham High and IMO it is one of, if not the best state school in Bristol in terms of balance of academic, sport and pastoral care. However, places are difficult to get within catchment, so from Frenchay you'd not be close enough. Downend school has been getting better results in past years and forms part of the sixth form network that includes Kings Oak (formerly Kingsfield) and Hanham High...

It really does depend if that's definitely the area you'll be living in and how important state/private is.. For me community forms a massive part of a school's ethos and size is an important issue, what kind of things do you consider important? Class size? Results? Journey time?

Properjob Sun 10-Jun-12 13:03:16

Hi all Thanks you so much for all your responses they are all very helpful. My first time on Mumsnet and I'm impressed!
Lots to think about... we'll be doing a recce in a couple of weeks' time and then we'll see. Ridings does look good actually - its the same size as most comps in London so that's not an issue for us - and so does Winterbourne as a place to live - does anyone know if it's easy to get into Bristol on a bus/train from there? For when our girl actually gets to the age to be going out o her own.
Anyway thanks again for your help, I'll let you know how we get on!

jo164 Sun 10-Jun-12 13:35:32

Would be bus from Winterbourne into town for when you get to that stage! Think they run until about 10.45pm. Otherwise would be taxi's. Good luck with the move.

Sposh Sun 10-Jun-12 13:46:49

Most of the state secondaries are full, just to warn you! Unfortunately this means that the council will offer you wherever in the city that has a place. This is likely to be Fairfield from Frenchay at a guess. Some kids do ok there but I had to withdraw both my girls because of bullying and violence and had to go through the rigorous appeals process to get them places elsewhere (Cotham).

crazymum53 Mon 11-Jun-12 08:33:33

I do someone who was offered a Y10 place at Redland Green this school year. There is a waiting list but they only had to wait until the Autumn half term (they moved in the Summer) so it may be that moving quickly and waiting for a place to come up would work.

Properjob Mon 11-Jun-12 10:50:34

Thanks again for encouraging info. so far not very good; as Sposh says thay are all full. Now trying to decide whether to go a bit further out and/or private. House prices in central bristol not much less than here and we need ot trad our flat in Lond for a house!

jo164 Mon 11-Jun-12 19:32:25

If you decide to go private - but buy a house further out there are definitely buses from some areas that pick up for the central Bristol private schools. Have a look on the school websites I'm pretty sure the info is on there. For example from Redmaids website, http://www.redmaids.bristol.sch.uk/page/view/id/288/base/9/
If you find a school with spaces that you want some local knowledge on, feel free to ask away! North of Bristol schools if you want state which would be worth a look at least in my opinion are - Bradley Stoke, Marlwood (Alveston), Castle School (Thornbury), Katharine Lady Berkeley (Wotton Under Edge) (gradually working your way further from Frenchay). To the East, Wellsway School (Keynsham), Hanham High (Hanham) and John Cabot (Kingswood).

crazymum53 Mon 11-Jun-12 19:53:01

Other state schools that you may wish to consider are the North Somerset schools: St. Katherines in Pill (bus service from North Bristol) and Backwell school (which has an excellent reputation and is good for Music).
There are also schools in Bristol which do not have catchment areas such as the former independent turned academy Bristol Cathedral choir school which has music specialism and Colston Girls School. They have a banded lottery system for Y7 entry and there may be waiting lists for places in other years too.
There are also faith schools in Bristol if this is an option for you - again no catchment area but faith criteria apply: St Bedes (Catholic) and St. Mary Redcliffe (C of E) are the main faith schools.

Properjob Tue 12-Jun-12 18:50:34

Progress report: looks like Wotton Under Edge might be a goer! Any info from parents with teen girls in the area?
Would prefer to live closer in but hey -the Cotswolds! I am married to a gamekeeper's son after all...
thanks again

jo164 Tue 12-Jun-12 19:24:36

Glad you have made some progress. I only know children in yr 7/8 at KLB in Wotton - I teach in a prep school in North Bristol and recently it has been the state school of choice for those not going onto private secondary - I hope that is looks okay when you go to visit. The local boards on the other site (prob not supposed to mention it 'netmums') can be a lot more active than this one. Could try the Bristol/South Glos or North Glos one - you may get some info from people actually living there! Hope the move goes well.

jackyp Fri 15-Jun-12 14:50:26

If you're still considering private I can recommend Red Maids. My DD is currently in year 10 and we are really pleased with it. Lots of music and art as well as good academics, and a genuine focus on helping the girls to have a breadth of interests rather than just cramming for results. Lovely buildings and grounds and lots of sporty opportunities if your DD is interested. Good luck whatever you decide - start of GCSEs is a stressful time to be moving!

mrsscoob Sun 17-Jun-12 17:56:48

What about John Cabot School, I believe that isn't too far from Frenchay

Properjob Wed 20-Jun-12 10:04:47

Thanks folks as an update - there are absolutely no places in any decently performing state school in NE Bristol except KLB which we are visiting on Monday. There are small waiting lists in Bradley Stoke, Winterbourne, John Cabot etc. DD doesn't want a girls school. It's possible we will move and wait for a place if we don't like the KLB option. Thanks for all the advice though we'll see!
We'll be prowling around Wotton Kingswood village etc over the weekend. Let me know if there is anythying good worth turning up for I gather there is duck racing in the village sometimes wahey!

frankie14 Wed 20-Jun-12 16:27:50

Hi, we were thinking of moving to Wotton but have found somewhere else nice.School's improtant for us too but maybe not at that stage. KLB has a very good rep and Bradley stoke is getting really good reports too. Arty wise check out which sylabus the school follows. If she is a really keen fine artist she should be fine with whichever the school does but if she is a photographer/textile artist/or just generally creative, check they do an "unendorsed" option which will mean she gets to study any of the creative arts she would like ( providing staff have the expertise...check out displays etc). Schools often now offer a range of other art GCSEs such as photography, textiles/textile art/ceramics etc etc. For music you'd have to speak to someone else in the know- just a thought!

Properjob Wed 27-Jun-12 17:12:47

Frankie thanks for that great advice. We visited KLB on Monday and were very impressed, not with the building, but with the openness of the staff including the Art staff who talked to us at length and showed us the excellent art work, and the relaxed charm of the 6th formers who showed us round. We also liked Wotton very much and are now actively house hunting for a 4 bed close to the town. Have heard about 'Beaumont' houses any inside news on them?? there don't seem to be any for sale.
Will be back in the area house hunting on Saturday and having a meal in the excellent Swan Hotel.

Shift Wed 27-Jun-12 17:20:34

KLB has a good reputation. Occasionally, children from our local primary go there and I know one in particular (girl, currently finishing yr 8) loves it.

I have only just seen this thread and was going to say that although The Castle School in Thornbury fits your bill, my children are there, and one is in the same year as your dd, and I happen to know the year is either full, or close on. Still, worth a try if KLB didn't work out.

Wotton is a lovely little place. We nearly lived there ourselves. I can't recommend much as I don't know it well enough, apart from local walks, and the fruit farm!

Properjob Wed 11-Jul-12 22:40:20

Hi there
well after major wobblies we are now on course to arrive at Wotton in a short term let at Canon Court Mews while we look for 'the dream house' but as no-one is selling for mile around we'll see! If anyone has a daughter going into year 10 at KLB please get in touch!
See you In September and thanks again for all the advice!

lulupeg Sat 19-Sep-15 19:05:03

Hi, so here I am writing my semi-regular 'where will we move when we (hopefully) leave London this year or next?' comment! Although we are feeling really keen this year as don't want to leave it much later for our boy who is already in Y1 (eek).

Sorry to re-start a zombie thread but I would love to know how Properjob has got on in Wotton (and more broadly about the town) as we have suddenly starting considering it seriously, tempted by the great rep of KLB and the descriptions elsewhere of a lovely community, pool, primary, cinema etc... We are moving from SE London with a then-6 and 3 year old and are looking for a slower pace of life, smaller mortgage and lovely schools... we love outdoorsy stuff and national trust properties (but also have our eye on buses into Bristol for when kids become teens) and will miss the benefits of London so anything about culture/fun/community in the town would help put my mind at rest! We have been strongly considering Clevedon because I love the sea, but am now thinking somewhere like W-u-E might suit us better as schools and community seem very strong... We have family in Thornbury and I was brought up there so I do know the part of the world fairly well, but haven't lived there for almost 20 years!

Thanks so much in advance for any advice any locals can offer! xx

lulupeg Sun 15-Nov-15 22:14:22

Bumping this in case anyone with local knowledge sees it. We have now visited the town properly and loved it. Keen to hear anything people can tell us about the area and what they like etc. and especially anyone who has moved there from a more urban centre like London or central Bristol and how you've found the change. Huge thanks in advance, we are feeling keen and excited!

seriouslyblonde Tue 24-Nov-15 07:59:49

hello there

we too are looking to relocate in Bristol DH will be working in filton.
Last time we were there we were shown around Portishead which I loved.
Then searching for good schools I also saw thornbury. We haven't visited the place, though. anyone living or knowing any of the places? any other good places to live with 3 children? thanks!

lulupeg Thu 17-Dec-15 21:32:54

Hi seriouslyblonde, I only just checked this thread again - I am from Thornbury originally and have several school friends happily living there still, with families in tow. It is a very nice market town, quiet, safe, well placed, great schools. Range of housing, lots of large, nice estates, few period properties near the town, pretty good high street. But I wouldn't consider it personally as I can't bear the thought of moving back to the exact place I grew up and being too close to my parents and bumping into randoms who knew me when I was a teenager! As I say upthread we are seriously considering Wotton instead and it seems to me to have slightly more of a community feel than Thornbury does/did and I like the amenities slightly better (even though Thornbury has the big supermarket and proper leisure centre plus a few more restaurants) as I like the idea of the cinema, the summer lido and the proximity to nature (arboretum, NT properties, Cotswolds Water Park etc) as that's the kind of stuff we like to do. I have also sensed that Wotton has a few more ex-Londoners and ex-Bristol city dwellers which appeals - but I could be wrong on that, just something I've heard. We looked at Portishead (and Clevedon) too - I think your husband's commute would be a lot easier from Filton to Thornbury though but someone living there would be able to say more - think Portishead has a bottleneck situation in the mornings.

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