Our discussion boards go into overdrive every year in the days leading up to and immediately following the announcement of primary school offers.
It is something every parent worries about.
So we asked Wandsworth Council to let us know what the catchment areas of the borough’s schools actually are at present.
Here’s the info they gave us. Distances are given as at the primary school offer date and may change by the start of term as offers are accepted and refused and the waiting lists move.
Furthest Distance offered under proximity
criterion (distances are in straight line metres)
all applicants within the priority areas + children outside of them areas with sibling priority up to a distance of 334m.
all applicants with sibling priority or within the priority area + children outside priority area up to a distance of 1269m.
all applicants with sibling priority or within the priority area + children outside priority area up to a distance of 405m.
Bilingual class – all applicants with sibling priority+ children living up to 566 m. Open places – all applicants with sibling priority + children living up to 875 m.
all applicants within priority area + children outside of it with sibling priority up to a distance of 474m.
all applicants with sibling priority or within the priority area + children outside of it up to a distance of 406m.
Bilingual class – all applicants with sibling priority + children living up to 1092 m. Openplaces – all applicants with sibling priority + children living up to 1468m.
Bilingual class – Applicants with sibling priority up to 995 metres. Open places – all applicants with sibling priority + children living up to 515m.
Undersubscribed Schools where all applicants were offered a place
Albermarle Eardley Falconbrook Granard Griffin Heathmere High View Hillbrook Mosaic Smallwood Southmead St Anne’s St Mary’s Catholic Battersea West Hill Westbridge
The borough’s faith schools are not included as they don’t operate on a distance basis.
What’s clear is that the real squeeze on places is confined to a few distinct areas.
There weren’t enough places in Earlsfield at all leaving some children without an offer of a place at all, and others with the prospect of having to travel to the Mosaic school which is currently sited on the Putney/Roehampton borders. The Council has now addressed this by adding an extra class to the intake at Smallwood school, Tooting this year (nearer but still not actually in Earlsfield). Next year a new free school will open on the old Atheldene site in central Earlsfield which should ease the pressure.
The other hot spot is the ‘Between the Commons’ area around Northcote Road. Honeywell’s catchment area is down to a tiny 182m and Belleville’s isn’t much bigger. By our calculations that means that unless you live in either of the two green circles shown on the map below – you are going to have to look elsewhere.
If you live on Chatham Road though, you are totally sorted!
Most of the area south of Broomwood Road, does fall within the catchment of Alderbrook and High View on Lavender Hill (just up from Clapham Junction) was undersubscribed so you will get a place there. Little consolation if you live on the same road as one of the best primaries in the borough but can’t get in.
We own up. We are guilty of more than a few of these. There was the particularly nasty incident with the toddlers, an upturned trolley and, sob, several smashed bottles of wine that has earned Ocado our custom forever. We can’t even remember how many times we’ve forgotten the school cake sale. Our children will never have a sound grasp of economics having watched mummy shell out £24 for a dozen cupcakes that their teachers then sell for 50p each. Middle class problems, indeed!
It started with Antic’s Tooting Tram, carried on apace with Meza, Tota and Soho House’s Chicken Shed and with ordinary looking semis like this one now being advertised for £1m + it seems Tooting is rapidly catching up with it’s Balham neighbours in the gentrification stakes.
The question is, is it middle-class enough yet for a Waitrose – the benchmark of respectability for the ‘yummy mummy’ class?
There have been rumours for months. Waitrose first denied this saying via Twitter in March that it had “nothing planned for Tooting in the short term”. But the rumours just wouldn’t go away and as recently as the end of April, Waitrose had to confirm that they “still have not plans in Tooting. Sorry to disappoint”.
Case closed then? Well no, because we received this leaflet from the local Conservative council candidates at the beginning of May.
So just days after Waitrose denied it via Twitter, local politicians are crowing about the new store. Have they got it wrong? Are they just referring to the rumours same as everyone else?
We sent Waitrose the leaflet and asked them what was going on.
Clear as mud then but we suspect something is afoot.
Lovely as Wandsworth is, it’s good to venture a bit further afield sometimes and we are lucky to be surrounded by some great attractions for kids. Here’s our round up of our favourites in the vicinity.
This museum in Forest Hill is perfect for toddlers. Housed in a beautiful Victorian building with interesting modern additions and set within 16 acres of gardens, the museum houses an eclectic collection that is sure to delight your preschooler. There’s an aquarium, natural history gallery, Britain’s largest display of musical instruments and the African world’s gallery with everything from Egyptian mummies to Africa’s largest mask. There are also two great displays designed specifically for children where they can get their hands on some of the exhibits including a variety of exotic musical instruments. The gardens are elegantly landscaped with amazing views right across London, ‘animal walk’ housing rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens, ferrets, sheep, goats and alpaca, concerts at the bandstand in the summer and a music garden with giant instruments for little ones to play. The café does a good range of food with plenty of children’s options too. Best of all, entrance to the museum is free with just a small charge of £2 per adult, £1 per child to visit the aquarium.
Designed specifically for children, this lovely little theatre in Wimbledon stages an astounding range of performances for children throughout the year. Recent productions have included the Snow Queen, the Ugly Duckling and Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers and many more. As well as the main theatre, there’s a smaller theatre for toddlers where the children sit on cushions on the floor whilst the actors perform within reach of them. The building is worth a visit even if you aren’t watching a show, with a nice book corner, rocking horses and two storey playhouse in the small garden. The café is also very child friendly. Productions are very popular and often sell out well in advance so it is worth booking ahead.
The River Wandle meanders through this surprisingly tranquil former deer park in suburban Merton, owned by the National Trust. There are 125 acres of parkland including plenty of bridges from which to play ‘Pooh sticks’ and areas where children can paddle in the river or fish with nets. There’s a natural play area for children with large play house, zip wires, wooden beams and tree trunks to climb, former mill with waterwheel and a recently renovated stable yard which now houses a café and craft stalls. Once you’ve finished exploring the park, follow the trail along the side of the Wandle to Deen City Farm. This small urban farm and riding stables houses pigs, sheep, goats, alpacas, horses, poultry and rabbits with regular hands on petting sessions for children. Both are totally free to visit!
This Gallery is relatively small meaning a visit won’t last longer than your child’s attention span. Despite this the gallery houses some beautiful art with a focus on European old masters. There are regular activities and workshops for families to join in so your little ones can create their own masterpieces to take home too. The Gallery has a nice gardens o you can bring a picnic in warm weather. Entry is free for under 18s and just £5 per adult.
Just half an hour’s drive from the centre of Wandsworth, Chessington World of Adventures combines both theme park and zoo. It has a good range of rides for all ages from the sedate mono-rail and toddler rides to the exhilarating Rameses Revenge for thrill seekers. It’s the zoo that makes the park perfect for families with young children though as if it all starts to get a bit much, you can calm things down with a wander around the animal enclosures housing everything from lions and tigers to rabbits and guinea pigs. Tickets are cheaper if bought online in advance in which case admission for a family of four comes in at around £85.
Nature lovers will thrive at the award winning London Wetland Centre which has more than 40 hectares of created wetlands in the heart of a capital city and is the first of its kind in the world. With an interactive discovery centre and cinema, plus beautiful lakes, ponds, meadows and reedbeds, the centre is also home to a wide variety of wildlife including water voles, amphibians, bats, grass snakes, slow butterflies, moths and over 180 species of birds. There’s plenty to do even in bad weather although with a cafe and picnic the centre is definitely at its best in warm weather.
Dig out the pirate hats and eye patches and bring your little ones along to this fascinating museum full of interesting facts about the importance of the sea, ships, time and the stars and their relationship with people. With exhibitions on The Atlantic, Slavery trade and empire, Britons and the sea, and the High arctic, your little ones will never be able to look at the sea in the same way again! There are lots of family days taking place throughout the year, with storytelling, music, and drop-in workshops to enjoy.
Henry VIII’s palace is well worth a visit. As well as centuries of history, stunning architecture, beautiful gardens and an unrivalled location alongside the river Thames, there is also a surprising amount to please children. Actors roam the palace in character as Henry VIII or one of his many wives, you can take a ride around the gardens in a horse drawn carriage, visit the Tudor kitchens and get lost in the maze! There’s even a family room for under 5s with lego, books, dressing up clothes and soft play for when they need to let of some steam. There are some beautiful spots for a picnic and a large café with outdoor seating next to a large open grass area so you can enjoy a leisurely lunch whilst the children play within sight.
Just half an hour’s drive from Wandsworth in beautiful countryside, this farm is a paradise for preschoolers. It is a working family farm covering 25 acres with a wide range of farm animals, small animals and more exotic animals like llamas, alpacas and peacocks. You can watch a pig race, milk a goar, go for a pony ride, or take a trip around the site on a tractor. What makes the park so popular with children though is the addition of lots of great play areas, both inside and outside, which include such delights as electric ride on tractors, trampolines, a giant ‘jumping pillow’, sand pits, play houses, climbing frames, slides, swings and an indoor soft play barn. There’s a decent café but plenty of places for a picnic too.
Possibly the world’s most famous garden, Kew is definitely worth a visit. There are 300 acres of beautiful gardens running down to the river Thames. The landscape includes formal gardens, ponds, various ‘follies’ such as King William’s temple and the Pagoda and of course the iconic Glass Houses containing plant collections from around the world. Little visitors are not overlooked. They can explore a human sized badger sett, clamber around ‘Tree house towers’ outdoor play area for 3-11 year olds, walk amongst the treetops on the Xsastra Treetop Walkway and play in the botanical themed indoor play zone,‘Climbers and Creepers’.
We were invited to try out Clip’n’Climb which has just opened a short hop over the river in Chelsea.
Although they say the minimum age for children is 4, I was a bit nervous as my 4 year old’s particularly small (so short in fact that we had to get her school uniform made specially as she is still in 24 months clothes). I wasn’t sure she’d manage but she was up and away in no time.
The whole set up is very slick and super brightly coloured which draws the kids straight in. On arrival you get shown how to fit your harness and then given a short safety talk before you are led through to the climbing walls. As my kids are so little I went in with them, but there is a viewing gallery area with tea and coffee for parents of older children to relax and watch from (I was a tad envious).
There are lots of different climbs to choose from, of varying levels of difficulty, but all really well designed to make them fun for kids – a wall that looked like a screenshot from Tetris, one that looks like giant building blocks piled on top of each other, a beanstalk (which totally defeated me), an ice climb and my daughter’s favourite which had big colourful circles and easy hand and foot holds (christened the ‘Twister’ by her) as well as many more.
All climbers are totally safe as if you fall the belay system lowers you slowly and safely to the ground. It takes some getting used to though, especially the first time! Having merrily climbed to the top of one of the walls, it took me a good few minutes to work up the courage to just lean back and let myself fall and when I did my heart was pounding. Very exhilarating though and it seemed to be less of an issue for the rest of the climbers in our session. Kids were merrily throwing themselves off walls all around me.
It’s not for the faint hearted and my 6 year old son couldn’t be persuaded to give it a try despite often being found at the top of the climbing frame in the park. I’m sure if he’d given it a go he would have been hooked but his nerves got the better of him. His 4 year old sister had no qualms and was merrily zipping around the place from wall to wall and enjoying swinging on the rope on her way down.
Most of the other children in our session were a bit older (say 8+) and I think that they do need to be to really make the most of the climbing. Older kids have the opportunity to ramp up the excitement/fear factor with timed climbs, head to head climbing races and a vertical drop slide.
The piece de resistance is the ‘Leap of Faith’ where you climb up a huge tower before leaping off of a platform at the top and grabbing on to a monkey bar style hand hold in front of you (which can be cunningly moved closer or further away depending on the size of the climber). By the end of our one hour session in the climbing area, almost half of the children had become confident enough to give this a try. Really spectacular and mastering it gave them a real sense of achievement – plus they got to fly super-man like back down to the ground afterwards.
One of the things that impressed me most was the staff. Monitoring a group of over excited under 15s climbing the walls while their parents relax upstairs is no mean feat but they hit just the right balance of fun and professional. Serious enough to make the kids follow the rules but also whooping and cheering when they mastered something.
We will definitely be going back and not just because the 6 year old decided he really had wanted to give it a go after all within minutes of our leaving.
Fun, confidence building and great exercise – what’s not to like.
Battersea Children’s Zoo is a big hit with lots of local Mumsnetters. There’s a good range of animals: from monkeys, meerkats and snakes to sheep, donkeys and bunnies with the added bonus of great children’s play areas. With a great sandpit and water play area, decommissioned fire engine for little ones to sit in and playground areas for all ages, there really is something for everyone.
For a great day out when the weather’s good head to Tooting Bec Lido. It’s the largest fresh water, open air swimming pool in England and has been voted ‘best outdoor pool’ for two years running. The art deco pool is 91.5 metres and has a children’s paddling pool, sauna and large enclosed grass area for sunbathing, picnicking and playing. It has great facilities for families, including a café, modern changing rooms and lockers.
There’s so muchvariety in Battersea Park that it can easily provide a full day out for families on a warm day. If you take your own picnic (lots of lovely places to sit), it doesn’t need to cost you a penny, except for parking. There are several formal gardens, a good size children’s playground, a fantastic adventure playground, fountains, lake, wild gardens and even a beautiful peace pagoda to admire by the river. If you are feeling active, you can take a rowing boat or pedalo out on the lake or hire a bicycle from London Recumbents who are based in the park and have a wide range of bikes for families.
If you are looking for a different way to spend a day, pop down to The Pump House Gallery. This contemporary art space in the middle of beautiful Battersea Park holds regular and exciting family days throughout the year with hands on activities and lots of ways to get involved.
For a creative family day out why not take your little ones to decorate their own pottery! At The Pottery Café budding artists can choose a piece of pottery and then decorate it by hand or using hand cut sponges. And for very little ones you can also capture their tootsies with baby feet painting.
This busy shopping street in the heart of ‘Nappy Valley’ is well worth a visit. There are plenty of shops aimed at families including several toy shops, a raft of children’s clothes and shoe shops, maternity wear boutiques, buggy shops, children’s furniture shops and even a charity shop that only stocks used children’s wear and toys. Pretty market barrows line the street selling everything from delicious hand made puddings to vintage clothing. There’s no need to rush as there are plenty of family friendly cafes and restaurants to choose from as well.
Take time out from the urban sprawl and head for Putney Heath’s 400 acres of woodland, scrubland, heathland, and park land. The Heath runs into Wimbledon Common and together they make up over 1,000 acres of countryside.. There are 9 ponds and a whole host of wildlife to spot including birds, frogs, deer, foxes, bats, rabbits, squirrels and more, There’s also a nature trail and windmill, or why not try a womble hunt? There are some nice country style pubs for family lunches too. Our personal favourite is the Telegraph.
For a cultured day out pop down to Wandsworth Museum. They host lots of great events and activities for families. Let your little ones get creative and there’s free entry for children under 6 years old. There’s also a lovely café on site, complete with under 5s play area.