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Diversity, school and Dulwich/Herne Hill


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Hi, we are a professional couple thinking of starting a family. Having looking around for a few areas in London, we feel that Dulwich/Herne Hill best fits our criteria. We still have some lingering doubts though so really appreciate any thoughts here!


- Diversity: both my husband and I are of Chinese descent and we moved to London about 10 years ago. I couldn't help but noticed that Dulwich/Herne Hill is predominantly British white community. Frankly I am a little concerned if we would fit in especially considering we are hoping to set up our future home and bringing up our kids here. Can any non-British or non-white parents please share your experiences living in the area?


- School: I know it is probably too early to think about the schools but I honestly don't think we can afford to move twice so getting it right this time is very important to us. At the moment we are hoping for state primary followed by independent day school for the secondary. Is it fair to say that if we buy within 500m of Dulwich infant and Dulwich Hamlet, we should have a very high certainty of getting into both schools? (We are not religious so will be after the non-faith based school places at Dulwich Infant).


- Commute: I need to catch the train from Herne Hill to Farringdon whereas my husband needs to get the train from Herne Hill to either Victoria or Elephant and Castle to change to tube. Are the trains from Herne Hill generally reliable? How crowded is it during rush hour and do people have problems getting onto the train at around 7:45 or 8am?


And thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts!!!

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Hi


I've commuted from Herne Hill to Victoria for well over a decade - and think it's generally a good service. Some of the morning trains can be pretty busy (going both routes into London), but you can almost always get on - and even get a seat, unless there's been earlier disruption. There are, of course, times when there are cancellations and delays, but one of the things I love about living in Herne Hill is the fact that there are loads of options for travel, so if the trains are having a shocker, there are good buses and Brixton isn't far for the tube.


And I second what Cora says, Bessemer Grange is fabulous - my son's at nursery there, starting reception in September. My experience so far is that it's welcoming, academically strong, encourages parents to get involved and really embraces diversity.

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My husband and I (and, therefore, our kids) are non-white and race has not been an issue for us. We are friends with quite a mix of people in ED (from at least 4 different continents), so don't let apparent lack of diversity put you off!

Good luck with your move!

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I used to commute to City Thameslink from Herne Hill by tran, but now cycle. On the odd day that I get the train, I do find it hard to get on at 8-8:30am. I understand that the trains are reliable but very crowded.


I'd also suggest you look at Bessemer Grange if you want a more diverse school. It suits us really well (one British parent, one not).


We love Herne Hill as an area to live with a young family, but I suspect it may lack attractions for teenagers.

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Another vote for bessemer, very happy child in yr 4, v diverse, many Asian families. Also as the proud owner of a teenager in herne hill, I have to disagree, it's wonderful transport links mean teens can get anywhere in london and there is plenty here for teens, lido park cafes sports facilities.
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Thanks a lot everyone! It is great to see such an active and helpful community here :-)


In terms of school, I have to say that I am really torn at the moment. On one hand, I feel that it is absolutely absurd that we have to take catchment area into consideration when we only actually need the school in a few years. On the other hand, with London house price/stamp duty at where it is, it is hard to imagine that we will be able to afford to move twice. We have thought about selling and then renting for say two years before buying again to reduce the risk of shrinking catchment or school going downhill, but then the risks are that we will be priced out of the market if London house price keeps going up. The alternative is to squeeze a baby and four adults in a small two bed/1 bath flat (my parents plan to move in with us for a few years) for at least two years before looking to move which does not sound very appealing either.


Sorry for the rambling? but long story short, after much debate, my husband and I decide that it is probably still a better option if we sell and buy into a catchment area now. But for all the above mentioned reasons, we feel that we really need to do our homework to make sure what we buy safely falls within the catchment area of a good primary state school that has low likelihood of deteriorating in the coming years. Obviously future is always hard to tell but hopefully Dulwich village schools and Bessemer Granger may fall into this category?


Any thoughts?

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That's good to hear re teenagers :)


tadpole39 Wrote:

-------------------------------------------------------

> Another vote for bessemer, very happy child in yr

> 4, v diverse, many Asian families. Also as the

> proud owner of a teenager in herne hill, I have to

> disagree, it's wonderful transport links mean

> teens can get anywhere in london and there is

> plenty here for teens, lido park cafes sports

> facilities.

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Hello - I have heard really really good things about Bessemer too although I have two children at Dulwich Village Infants and could not be happier with it. It's a brilliant school and it's more diverse than you'd think, given where it is! We're both White British but both children have friends with parents from all over the place who speak English as a second language - e.g. Japan, Germany, Sweden, Italy and Belgium. And there are plenty of British parents of Indian and Chinese descent plus Irish, American and Antipodean parents. Our oldest child is going to Dulwich Hamlet next year with about 85% of the year.


Having said how much I like the village schools, I think transport links are better from Herne Hill as you can avoid London Bridge (a huge plus unless you work next to it...) and get either the Thameslink or into Victoria. So I tend to walk 25 minutes from the Dulwich Village to Herne Hill. Have to say that I can massively struggle to get onto a Thameslink at Herne Hill between 8.15 and 8.55 though - they are always rammed.


I think Bessemer and the Village (state) schools are excellent. The other one in that area would be Judith Kerr - I don't know anybody whose children go there though so can't give a view.

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littledaisy, it sounds from your posts like you have already done your homework concerning schools in the Dulwich/Herne Hill area even though you are still planning a family. The DVIS and Hamlet are more diverse than you state in your first post and I would recommend taking a walk down the village one morning.


If you buy a place within 500m of the village schools (6 minute walking distance) who knows what will happen in the future? In 2007 I lived within a 12 minute walking distance from Dulwich Hamlet and got a place for my daughter.

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We are very happy with the Dulwich Village Schools; both my husband and I are not English; I never have felt different or discriminated; they are in London after all and they reflect some of the London diversity; probably not as much as other schools but I don't think this is an issue. Not everyone there is from white British backgrounds. Bessemer and a Rosendale are also very good school; Judith Kerr is full of supporting parents who really want the school to be successful so there is good choices if you find a house in the right place.
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We live in North Dulwich just outside of the Dulwich Village schools catchment (which is tiny and all property within it is massively reflected in price difference). It is such a lovely calm area which is chock full of families. We are walking distance to Dulwich park, Ruskin Park and Brockwell Park, and have the lovely little Sunray Gardens with pond and playground right around the corner. My daughter is in reception at Judith Kerr and we (and she) LOVE it. She is thriving and every other parent I know there is very happy with it. They have just had their first ofsted report and got a Good rating across the board which is remarkable for a brand new school especially as they are still in the course of developing the building.
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Based on Sunray Gardens gossip, the Village Infants catchment has grown this year and the Bessemer one has shrunk, as more people have put Bessemer as first choice. The head at Bessemer is great and her own son is in year 1 there so I think she's going to stick around for a while! They had a very recent Ofsted which said great things about improvements being made. Basically everyone I know with a child at either of those schools is very happy with it, and if you aim for houses near Sunray Gardens / North Dulwich / Dulwich Village you would definitely get into one or other of them and could well be able to choose between them. Bessemer is probably slightly more diverse. We bought near Sunray Gardens while planning a family, and couldn't be happier with where we are.


I used to commute from Herne Hill and the Victoia trains are much more reliable and easy to get on than the Thameslink ones which often seem to be messed up and always overcrowded by Herne Hill as they have come from further away. Denmark Hill to Farringdon might well be a better commuting route so it might be worth looking in that direction a bit more, which would probably rule out the Village school but still get you into Bessemer.

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