I am going around and around in circles and can't think straight anymore. And so here I am turning to strangers to help me try and work out which path to take (sad but very much needed : /)
We are returning to the UK in the next few weeks with our two children, 8 and 5. We have looked all over the UK trying to decide where to go. We have been to several places and homed in on two places - the New Forest area and Farnham.
We love the New Forest but felt only one school was suitable - Milford. But the waiting list is a nightmare as expected and the village just felt a little too remote, rural and claustrophobic. This would obviously not be a great start as we would need to park up on the doorstep to get a chance of admission. We also wondered if the whole area of the New Forest would be slightly too aged for us at this point in time (used to living in very busy, younger places). Nethertheless, my children loved the school, loved the area and the ponies : ) and we would be willing to wait and home-educate.
However, the biggest problem for us is my son. He is extremely academic and was put in a year above him at the private school he has been attending abroad. He gets extremely frustrated when not pushed and although I know many primary schools would be able to accommodate this to some extent, I feel he would still not flourish and would not reach his potential.
So here we turn to South Farnham School - a very academic school followed by Weydons. The waiting list is acceptable but we would have to live very close by. We are not so sure about Farnham - mainly due to the traffic congestion we see every time we visit and having lived in another part of Surrey I am worried that people will be unfriendly. My son is also keen to go to a bright and happy school having hated a previous school - South Farnham is a very old building and very focused which lessens the warm feeling you might get from other schools. I did visit the school and worried a little that it might be a bit cold and too much focused on academic performance. But that was just a vibe a got and may not have been accurate. He would certainly not be bored and they would be able to cater for him individually. The facilities do not compare one bit to those in the New Forest - they are amazing! Farnham as an area to live also ticks the boxes for being a little more vibrant and younger. But then we lose the wonders of being near the sea/forest etc. etc.
So then my head starts turning to other areas in the country - can I find a really academic school in a fantastic area that is perfect - and then there I go again. I know it is time for us to make a decision and stick with one of these choices rather than keep seeking utopia which doesn't exist : ))
So, what do I do? Go for the nice area - coast and forest - which has the less academic school which I feel sure won't accommodate him as well, and which already worries us about the ageing population (but very very friendly, I might add).
Or do we come to Farnham that doesn't have the sea and the forest but has lots of other ticks such as being vibrant and with a great school which will certainly push him. And then although he will do better academically, will he be as happy as if he went to a more relaxed average school.
I apologise for rambling. I just don't know now which path to take. We have four weeks until we move. If anyone has any words of advice, I would be extremely grateful. I have only mentioned the names of the schools incase anyone has any direct experience and consequently some knowledgeable input to provide. Thank you so much!
Well we're thinking about this in reverse! Our teenagers will be gone in the next 5-10 years and we're seriously thinking about moving to the New Forest somewhere like Lyndhurst as we like the countryside. I was brought up in the Lake District so can emphathise. What is good about South Farnham school? I visit there on business and always see happy and well behaved children in the classrooms and love walking around the building. Several of my friends childen went there and did really well. It has a fantastic reputation. Looking longer term, do you realise that some of the best sixth form colleges in the country are on the doorstep? Look at Farnborough Sixth, Alton, Godalming all rated "Outstanding". We love living near London as you can hop on the train easily and get back within an hour. The countryside around Farnham is beautiful. Look at property the south side of Farnham and villages such as Churt. I'd suggest Farnham for now and move later on. If money is no object, why not consider the private schools of Salesian or Guildford Grammar School. Yes the traffic is bad in Farnham but you get used to it, and I think the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. Plus your kids will hate you when they want to go out partying as the New Forest is no where as exciting as being near London, Guildford, Basingstoke etc.etc. We also love being near the airports and the south coast for continental travel.
Sorry forgot to mention - have you seen the traffic in the New Forest?????!!!! It once took us two hours to get from the motorway through Beaulieu. I suggest you go for a drive on a sunny Bank Holiday weekend and you'll realise that you can't go anywhere in a car without spending hours fuming at the traffic jams! My suggestion is think long term and Surrey. You can easily visit the New Forest when you want. And, there is far more work around Surrey/Hants/Berks/London than the New Forest. Hope this helps and good luck with your move.
Another vote for Farnham. The traffic can be annoying but for the most part the jams are fairly shortlived. As others have said the connections by road and rail are great, the town is nice, lots of nice shops and restaurants, nice parks etc and the surrounding countryside and villages are beautiful. Lots more potential places to find work, as well as Guidlford and London there are many other towns nearby (to the north) but lots of open countryside and beautiful villages to the south, east and west. You can get down to the coast pretty easily too.