Sunday, 20 January 2008

On moving to Worcester Park...

In a break from questions from my readers about disused A-roads and suicidal rodents, Clara has e-mailed me with a more general query about moving to Worcester Park,which I'm sure my regular readers will be well-placed to assist her with. She writes:

"My Family and I (husband, toddler, bump and myself) are seriously thinking of joining the Worcester Park community. In fact we have found the house of our budgets in Caldbeck Ave and are hoping to move as soon as we get an offer on our flat (want to buy a flat in Streatham? no? why ever not?). We have consequently been trying to immerse ourselves in Worcester Park culture by shopping in Waitrose, drinking hot chocolate in Costa and reading your most excellent blog.

As a self-confessed "reluctant resident" and financial exile from New Malden (we ourselves have tasted the high life in North Kingston); what advice can you bestow? What chance do you hold out for our happiness in Worcester Park?

N.B. we are generally very good on happiness, it's not as if I expect WP to make miserable people happy.

Well, Clara, a few observations of my own - firstly, I note that you have found the house of your budgets, not the house of your dreams, in Caldbeck Avenue. Quite frankly, if you've shopped in Waitrose and drank in Costa Coffee then no wonder you don't have much cash left for a house.

Oh, and no I wouldn't want a flat in Streatham. Streatham rhymes with threaten, and there's a good reason for that.

As a New Malden exile you must take the pledge never to cross the roadworks (sorry, the A3 roundabout) and visit Tudor Williams, or complain that Worcester Park has no petrol stations but New Malden has three.

Nor are you allowed to dab moist eyes as you read the Kingston Guardian and dream of 'home'. You must dedicate yourselves to the Sutton Guardian, and force yourselves to find local new from Belmont and Banstead interesting.

Also, if you want to fit in here you must crow about the fact that Worcester Park has excellent local shops, and annoy the hell out of any remaining friends by stressing that all fruit, veg and meat comes from local shops for local people (where the shopkeeper knows you by name and gives you a nod of recognition each time you pass by).

That's my take anyway.

What advice would you offer for a would-be resident of Worcester Park?

Click on the comments link below, and let your advice flow free.

12 COMMENTS (Add Yours Now!):

white van lady said...

Primary schools in Worcester Park are great - all are lovely and locals are mostly happy with them. They get good SSATS results which means that many are oversubscribed, with people from other boroughs vying for places.

Secondary schools in Worcester Park? Oh yes, there aren't any. Seems that Sutton Council forgot to build one. This means that if you live south of about half-way down Washington Road you have to play Worcester Park Schools Poker when it comes to exercising your "parental choice", also known as "guess the catchment areas".

This is how it works. If you want your offspring to get into one of Sutton's selective schools, set aside some fees for private coaching or private school fees. The local primary schools get their good reputations from getting kids through SSATS not from getting them into grammar schools. The best they will offer is for one of their teachers to coach for the 11+ - for a fee. Private tuition will not of course guarantee a place, but it is the dirty little secret of education in areas with selective schools. According to the local paper, around 60% of children attending grammar schools in the borough of Sutton do not actually live in the borough, and this lack of catchment areas for selective schools puts further pressure on local school places.

All secondary schools west of Sutton town centre are oversubscribed, and Worcester Park is sometimes in their catchment area but is usually not, especially Worcester Park South. When you choose a place on the list of preferences, you don't really know if you are in a catchment area as it changes each year.

If you have a child who is progidiously talented at tennis, they may get one of 15 "tennis scholarships" at Cheam High.

Church membership flourishes in this borough among people with young children because having fallen outside the catchment areas, the faith schools in the borough may be a good option for children not likely to get places in the selective schools. I know of one family who, in accordance with their catholic faith, have many children. They lives are too chaotic to go to church every week, so were deemed "not religious enough" when their son applied for a place a catholic faith school. I thought this odd, as they hold regulary prayer meetings at their house. Another family I know live very, very near to a faith school, and felt it important to "find god", or have their kids make a long commute across the borough each day. One family in the borough were apparently denied a place at a faith school as the parents were not married.

The other "choice" you can exercise is to find a school outside the borough. If you try to get a school place in Epsom, then the stakes get higher, as some schools there operate a first preference system (keep up at the back please). I know more than one child's parents who placed one of the high schools in Epsom as their first choice last year as they would otherwise not have been offered a place there. They then discovered that their child had in fact passed the entry for a grammar school, but were not entitled to a place as they had given first choice to a high school in Epsom.

With me so far? Then you may be in with a chance of exercising some "choice". Heaven help families who can't cope with this labyrinthine mess through lack of English, stress, illness or whatever.

Come and see Central Road at 7.30 during school term time. You will find a flock of kids in a multitude of different coloured blazers as they make their long way to grammar school, faith school or school outside London.

Ian Morris said...

Come just for the best kebab known to man from the surrey nefis. I love that place.

Jennifer said...

I went to St. Philomena's in Carshalton and received great education. I went on to gain 3 A Levels and a degree so its not as bad as it sounds. I will agree about the religious views now held by some schools (such as St Phils) but not all are like that. Don't forget Nonsuch which is not religious and deemed one of the best schools around. Then there's Tiffins school - didn't that used to be good? I went to primary school in St Cecelia's and loved it :)

Have to agree with WP - the local shops are great and there is a nice sense of community. And apart from the odd few, we're fairly thug free too lol.

Surprised WP didn't mention the traffic! Great if you get the train, rubbish if you drive - unless you leave early.

Worcester Park said...

White van lady - thanks the detailed comments. I guess the school selection nightmaer is the same wherever you go (I'm sure she didn't mean to scare you off, Clara)

Jennifer - I was going to keep the appaling traffic a secret. We were getting away it it until you spoke up.

Ian - I'm with you. Most Worcester Park estate agents boast about proximity to WP Station, when they really mean 'close to Nefis Kebabs'.

Jennifer said...

Sorry :)

Clara said...

Thank you so much for your advice and please keep it coming.
White van lady, you have outdone yourself! Really useful stuff. If genetics are anything to go by our children should be academic, but have absolutely no chance at the tennis scholarships. I think the chances of us finding religion can also safely be written off. So, with our eldest only just two, we will start piling on the academic pressure immediately ;)
Fortunately neither of us have 9-5 jobs, so we can usually avoid the rush hours. Certainly the threat of bad traffic is nothing that can't be canceled out by the promise of a good kebab! (but how sweet of you to worry WP, that DID make us feel wanted)

Stephan said...

We do have the WP KFC posse that occasionally congregrates around that distinguished establishment. Alhough to be honest it's more of a pussy than a posse (can I say that?) and they don't seem to pose much of a threat...

Anonymous said...

Having lived in the North Cheam?Worcester Park area all my life I can say that generally it's a good place to live.
I love the way that you can walk the kids to Cheam Commomn Schools past all the traffic and still see the same cars/busses on the way back having dropped the lil cherubs off.

Christmass and new year are also great around north WP, the displays of fireworks can be breath taking at 1 AM.. wait.. i forgot to mention the 3 months leading up to Christmas is also good.

If after purchasing your house you do have some spare money then you certainly won't be dissappointed with all the eateries in WP ... (not sure if Nefis counts as an eatery) there are more than enough and getting a table is not usually a problem.. oh apart from the KFC.

Plenty of pubs/bars too.. most of which are actually safe to frequent and child friendly (no i don't mean they serve kids)

There is one place that should be mentioned that does excellent work for kids in WP and that is the 4th WP scout group.. not everyones cup of tea .. but they do a lot for those that want to be involved.

Anonymous said...

Just going back to schools, me and my little sister went to tolworth school which is not to far from worcester park (K1 bus from South lane) or you have Coombe girls which is only 1 bus away (213) or if you have boys you have southborough boys (toworth)or coombe boys!!! sorry i am a worcester park girl but im under kingston!! hope this is useful!!

Janette said...

I have lived in WP for 20 years now and although a Londoner ( I am from Walfamstow - the Hood) all of my life, this is the best place ever to live in. All the shops are within walking distance, the station is downhill in the mornings (just in case you are late) and you can guarantee to take 3 hours to do any shopping on a Saturday morning as you meet so many people that you have got to know over the years.

My daughter goes to Nonsuch and its a great school. Neither of my children were educated in WP, may I hasten to add, but that's why we still live in a small 3 bedroomed house on the " non-LEZ" side of Central Road and haven't moved on to the leafy streets of The Avenue.

Has anyone else noticed that when you tell someone you come from WP, they say " Oh I used to live there" or " I know someone who used to live there" with the emphasis on " used" ?

Great blog - keep up the good work

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loopy said...

does any one know roughly how far down the high street you need to live to get into coombe girls?? i know it changes each year but ......

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