Local Talk

Advice on primary schools in Reigate & Redhill pls!

(87 Posts)
Gracelimsh Tue 20-Sep-11 15:09:37

We live in London at the moment but have bought a house in Redhill/Merstham (Watercolour development). We are looking to move only in spring next year due to existing work commitments but are mindful that we have to apply for a place in reception for my son who turns 4 in April by mid January. I have been told by Surrey County Council that we have to be resident at our house in Redhill at the time of application. I wondered if this is correct (I'm seeking written confirmation from Surrey County Council at the moment)? We can prove that we own the house in Redhill.

Also, I wondered if anyone has any views on these schools - Merstham Primary, Furzefield and St Matthews CofE. Merstham has a good Ofsted report but is oversubscribed and I think we may be just outside the nearest school distance as per last year's Published Allocation Numbers. Furzefield and St Matthew's Ofsted ratings are only satisfactory, but the inspections were carried out a while back, so I wondered if anyone has a view on them?

The last thing is, does anyone live in the Watercolour development in Redhill and if so, which school do your kids go to?

Many thanks!

LIZS Tue 20-Sep-11 18:40:32

yes you should be resident and they will check as place allocations can be very contentious in the area. donlt rely onhte Ofsted's alone , you should visit. Furzefield is improving but not sure they have a permanent head. Merstham Primary would be slightly nearer than St Matthews' and easier to get to, though not walking distance. Nutfield C of E Primary might be another option but again oversubscribed. tbh the Watercolour development itself is still pretty much a building site but does now have a gp, Tesco local, vets and chemist.

heather1 Tue 20-Sep-11 18:51:46

Hi, im pretty sure if you are not resident they will allocate you a place when you call the Council to tell them you have arrived in the area. I mean if you miss the deadline for applications. But this place will not always be your closest school. A friend of mine arrived in August and needed a reception place for her child. She lived 20 yards from Wray Common Primary school but was offered a place in the Woodhatch area. Thats a drive from one side of Redhill. through Reigate and then towards Gatwick. To be honest I have not heard great things about St Matthews but it could be hearsay. Could you hang round the school gates and ask a couple of parents? Thats what I did when I was choosing a school for my son. I have a friend who live just next to Watercolour in St Annes. He daughter started off ar Earlswood (reall nice school but parking is a pain) and now goes to Wray Common (this was for reasons to do with sibling entrance rules rather than not liking the school)

Gracelimsh Tue 20-Sep-11 21:25:46

Thanks Lizs and Heather. Does Nutfield CofE come under a different local council as I can't find them on the schools' information sheet for Reigate and Banstead? Another option is to go private to Micklefield or Reigate St. Mary's if chances of getting into Merstham Primary are so slim (only one reception class!). May have to sell a kidney!

LIZS Wed 21-Sep-11 07:45:10

Nutfield may be under Tandridge, as does St Catherines Bletchingley and Godstone Primary, but is actually only a mile or two away from Watercolour with less traffic, so nearer than many other Redhill and Reigate schools

LIZS Wed 21-Sep-11 08:59:44

Do check what the SCC residence criteria are . We applied while living abroad and had a house which was untenanted so were paying CT etc and application was fine but as this was 7+ years ago the system may have changed to needing to have CB registered at that address for example. For private schools there are other options in the Caterham/Oxted direction but you may find you are already too late to guarantee a Reception place for next year if not already registered.

Gracelimsh Wed 21-Sep-11 09:07:08

Thanks Lizs. Think I missed a trick somewhere! Hope we won't end up with no school place!

heather1 Thu 22-Sep-11 18:55:22

Hi, one option might be to apply. See what you get and then you can always put your name down on the waiting list for your favourite school. Good Luck.

SparklePrincess Mon 26-Sep-11 22:20:47

We are in the process of buying a house in Reigate & I was under the impression that we could use the Surrey address for school purposes as long as we had exchanged contracts on the sale. Look up Surrey Admissions, im sure the info is there somewhere. smile

befuzzled Mon 26-Sep-11 22:33:28

I was under th impression that you need to be resident as you have to supply the council tax bill for that financial year when you accept the place, you get told what place has been allocated to you a couple of weeks after the ct nils come out in march/April. You just need to make sure you are registered for ct by the time the places ate allocated and use that address when you apply now.

Furzefield has the worse rep out of the ones you mentioned. Merstham is v popular and v small catchment. You will get your nearest school as indicated on the Surrey geographical info system in all likelihood. Primary school places v v tight in the area.

befuzzled Mon 26-Sep-11 22:34:49

Sorry ab spelling, iPhone.

Gracelimsh Tue 27-Sep-11 20:56:36

Well, I have now heard back from Surrey County Council and the requirement is that you need to be resident at the relevant address as at close of applications, ie 15 Jan 2012. The risk is that the council or school may conduct a spot check and if you are found not to be resident there, the school place may be withdrawn and you may be prosecuted.

Merstham primary is the best but only has 30 reception places for 2012, and unless you live literally yards from the school, it may be difficult to get a place. I have looked at the Ofsted reports for Furzefield and St Matthews and am not convinced about either. Our plan now is to register at Micklefield, which is private, provided they have spaces. Reigate St Mary's has already sent out offer letters, so no spaces at the moment. Yikes!

So, Sparkleprincess, do have a look at the SUrrey County Council website to see what the published admission numbers are for 2012 and what the furthest distance was from that school that qualified for a school place, bearing in mind that that will vary from year to year, depending on the number of applicants.

This whole schools thing is a minefield and a nightmare!!

SparklePrincess Tue 27-Sep-11 21:28:08

I have 2 dilemmas Gracelimsh. Firstly & most importantly I will be attempting to get my year 8 dd into an established year group. As we will be only half a mile away im hoping it doesnt take too long. Secondly, im hoping we can exchange contracts prior to the end of October so can use the Surrey address for my year 6 dd for next September!! The info online is confusing. In one place it says once you have exchanged contracts you can use the address & on another it says you need a council tax bill no, which of course we wouldn't have upon exchange... confused I was really hoping to get my elder dd's name down asap to minimise the amount of time we will have to commute 35 miles to our old area each day, which will mean leaving the house at around 7am in order to arrive on time. The kids will love that! sad

befuzzled Tue 27-Sep-11 23:05:08

Why cant you just use the address now and then supply the ct bill next April when you get the offer of a place? I would be amazed if they do spot checks, they seriously don't give a @&££ until the offers go out and then they just check the box that ct bill received. If by some chance your purchase falls through, you just contact them and say you have moved and don't want a place this year.

SparklePrincess Tue 27-Sep-11 23:41:01

I am hoping that if we submit proof of exchange of contracts then that will be acceptable. It's a highly oversubscribed school so that is why they need proof of address I should imagine.

I am confused that the OP should have an issue tbh. Surely if they own the property they are paying council tax on it & can use the address for schools. Or am I missing something here?

befuzzled Wed 28-Sep-11 07:43:15

Scc require ct bill for all offers as a lot of people were using grandparents addresses etc in the past. I don't get it either. The deadline for next sept is january. Surely you will all have exchanged, completed and moved in by then and will all be on ct etc.

befuzzled Wed 28-Sep-11 07:45:44

Oh yes op not moving in til after the deadline. She will be being charged council tax from the minute they own it tho surely so no issues?

LIZS Wed 28-Sep-11 08:30:57

Secondary entry deadline is end of October, primary changed to January only a couple of years ago. SP don't rely on postcode alone if your chosen school is St B's. Would n't your elder dc get allocated a place locally even if not at the preferred school ?

OP do look further afield than Merstham schools, RSM and M - the latter 2 won't be very easy to get to in rush hour. Think I've seen kids walking towards Watercolour from Redhill in St Joseph's uniform too. St Johns might be worth a look too.

befuzzled Wed 28-Sep-11 08:47:40

also, if going private primary route from Watercolour, there is Oakhyrst Grange and hawthornes which might be easier to get to without having to go into town.

I really dont see the problem with applying though as long as you have a ct bill with your names on it by the deadline for application - in fact, it is only the next one you need for primary, the one that will have just come out by the time they notify of places in april. From my dealings with SCC, I would be tempted to give them as little info as possible and dont give them your address - just establish that if you own a property and are paying CT on it by the deadline for application then that is fine. I don't see how they can prove either way where you are resident - you are perfectly entitled to own or rent 2 properties and split your time between the two. Residency is proved, for them, by the CT bill. And put yourself on the electoral register the minute you complete.

Like LIZS, I have to warn you to be prepared for some nasty surprises and have your backup plans in place - all schools v oversubscribed in the area and many (like us) forced into private as a result.

LIZS Wed 28-Sep-11 09:02:10

I guess the problem with CT bill "evidence" is that, assuming she already owns the house, op could be claiming a discount for non-occupancy, which would in turn flag up that she is not yet resident in the area, akin to renting an address but not living there. OP could you plan to move earlier and commute for work ?

befuzzled Wed 28-Sep-11 09:10:42

true. or just take a hit and pay the full amount from march/april next year, give up the non-occupancy discount - and use that bill. Will still be cheaper than private school fees!

What are the rule for renting? I have always wondered how they can stop people renting a flat near the preferred school for 6m around application time. Again, as far as I can see, as long as you have the current CT bill you would be able to do so. Or sleep there with the kids one night a week?

Gracelimsh Wed 28-Sep-11 14:15:09

Thanks, LIZS for the suggestions. Will have a squizz at the admission criteria for St Joseph's and St Johns.

I've not heard of Oakhyrst Grange before. Will have a look. Where do your kids go to school, Befuzzled, if you don't mind me asking?

Is traffic a nightmare going from Merstham towards Reigate in the mornings? How long does it take?

Yes, I think we will take the hit with the non-occupancy discount and also put our names on the electoral register. Moving in Jan isn't ideal as hubby currently works in Lewisham and will be setting up his own business in Surrey in March, so anytime after March is better. Don't think there is an easy way to get from Redhill to Lewisham.

What docs do I have to submit with my school application? Would it just be a CT bill?

We have already moved some of our stuff to the new house and will probably be spending time there at weekends.

Gracelimsh Wed 28-Sep-11 14:20:41

Just had a look at Oakhyrst Grange, which looks like a good option. Thanks for the tip, Befuzzled!

SparklePrincess Wed 28-Sep-11 16:23:32

I am only interested in Reigate school LIZS. St Bedes is religious & we are not lol. Had enough of all that at primary school. Im sure dd1 will be offered Warwick, but I want her to go to the local school & be able to walk there. Im hoping it wont be too long before she gets a place considering the proximity. I have spoken to someone whose dd went to St B's, didnt get on there & managed to get into Reigate within 2 weeks. This was year 7 too. I suppose its just the luck of the draw... We are aiming to exchange contracts by the end of October so can use that address for dd2 starting year 7 next year too, but the most important one for the moment is getting dd1 in. Until she gets a place I will be forced to commute them both back to where we currently live. Im not having dd1 change schools twice in a short space of time. Im hoping that a proof of exchange of contracts will be acceptable as per a doc on the admissions part of the Surrey site "Surrey’s Scheme for the Coordination of In-Year Admissions to Schools" states

(Admissions during the school year September – July)
1. Applicants should contact their home Local Authority, except:
• House moves – if exchange of contracts or completion of rental agreements has happened then the applicant contacts their new Local Authority (ie where they are moving to).

This implies to me that a proof of exchange of contracts is acceptable... or am I reading it wrong?

Gracelimsh Wed 28-Sep-11 16:37:48

That's how I would read it too - as long as you have exchanged, that's fine. Good luck!

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