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Department of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics

 

Childcare and Schools

 

Childcare for children under 4 years old

The three main choices here are

  • a sitter/nanny:  watches your child at your home, or at a friend's home, if you share a nanny;
  • a childminder: sets up their own home as a mini-daycare setting, and watches several babies/toddlers/pre-school-aged children at their home at once; or
  • a daycare/preschool/nursery

If choosing the third option, you should apply as soon as possible. At the very least apply before you move to Cambridge, and if you have the opportunity, apply while still pregnant.

The two nurseries closest to the maths department are both University-run workplace nurseries, one at Eddington and one at West Cambridge, see https://www.childcare.admin.cam.ac.uk/nurseries. These are good options, but the waitlists are long and one parent/primary carer must be employed by the University for the child to be eligible for a place. If interested in one of these, join the waitlist as soon as possible. There are many other nurseries that are good and convenient, and we know parents who have been happy with: Scallywags (two branches in Girton and Oakington, both accesible by Citi 6  and also for Oakington the Busway A and B services), Sunflower Nursery (Histon), Snap4Kids and Cambridge Day Nursery. There are many others, and it's always a good idea to ask for recommendations and visit places.

For the first two options, the easiest way to find a carer is through an online search engine. You have to pay a monthly or yearly fee for these, but it's usually worth it. The two most populated ones are childcare.co.uk and  care.com

Childcare.co.uk has a larger selection of child carers. Care.com has fewer carers, but with more variation in quality, particularly at the high end. In other words, it is easier to find a good child carer on childcare.co.uk, but most of the truly spectacular carers I have found were acquired by logging in to care.com every day for a week or two, and then immediately scooping up a carer when someone really good showed up. Of course, I can't guarantee that the latter algorithm will always work.

If you are only working part-time, or are taking full-time paternal leave, another good opportunity to check out is the local morning baby/toddler groups https://cambridgewithkids.com

These tend to meet for 2 hours in the morning at community centres or churches, and supply toys, activities, songs, and other young kids and parents. When such a group is held at a church, there is usually a Bible story at some point, but this is always held in a corner or separate room so that it is optional. The more a evangelical churches sometimes also include a few religious songs among the songs that all the children join in to sing.

In addition to what is on the list, the Cambridge Central Library  holds Rhymetime for children aged birth to 18 months for songs and rhymes 6  times a week, Tuesdays 2:30-3:00pm, Wednesdays 2:30-3:00pm, Thursdays 2.30-3.00pm and 3.15-3.45pm, Fridays 2:30-3:00pm and Saturdays10. 30-11.00am.

Primary Schools Admissions, especially for mid-year

The key website you want (as of 2020) is

https://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/residents/children-and-families/school...

The normal application deadline for school admissions is halfway through the preceding school year.

Families arriving mid school year are eligible for schooling if they will be in Cambridge for 6 weeks or longer.  For mid-year admissions,  the local authority does not accept applications until 6 or fewer weeks before the child's schooling is meant to start. The local authority then promise to offer a school place within approximately 10 days of receiving the application. Thus, if worse comes to worst, a family can wait until arriving before applying for schooling, and only suffer a 2-week delay in the initiation of schooling.

The application will require a copy of your rental agreement for proof of address. You will also have to select and rank your top 3 choices of school. You can list any 3 schools you want, but they don't have to give you a school from your list if you choose schools that aren't close to where you are living, although they are still obligated to offer you a place "somewhere".

 

Primary Schools

If moving somewhere other than near the mathematics department, you should check the "Ofsted" website for schools near you.  You can find their inspection reports for schools or childcare venues by visiting     https://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/  and clicking the "Distance from your home" link. The numbers, grades, and opinions issued by OFSTED are mostly bureaucratic and meaningless. They are more interested in seeing how well the school matches against some highly artificial set of criteria in their checklists than in evaluating how well the school actually serve the students. On the other hand, the reports tend to include a fair number of random details which can sometimes be useful.

The 5 primary schools closest to the mathematics department are

  1. University of Cambridge Primary School  http://universityprimaryschool.org.uk/
  2. St. Lukes Church of England Primary School  http://stlukes.cambs.sch.uk/
  3. Park Street Church of England Primary School  http://www.parkstreet.cambs.sch.uk/
  4. Mayfield Primary School  http://mayfieldcambridge.org/
  5. Newnham Croft Primary School  http://www.newnhamcroft.cambs.sch.uk/website

Of Park Street, Saint Lukes, and Mayfield, Park Street is the smallest, averaging fewer than 20 students per year. Saint Lukes has closer to 30 students per year. Mayfield is twice that size, with 2 classes per year. On the other hand, Mayfield has more than twice the amount of play equipment in its extensive play area--a relatively rare phenomenon in Cambridge schools.

Church of England Schools, like Park Street and Saint Lukes, have daily Church of England religious services. All state-run schools are required to have some component of each school day devoted to the spiritual/moral development of students, and all will include Christian teachings about Christmas and Easter, but in Church of England schools, the spiritual development component is more religious, theistic, and specifically Christian.

Again, to compare schools before visiting, you can peruse the Ofsted reports a the website listed above.

The other objective way to compare Cambridgeshire schools is by the following website

https://www.compare-school-performance.service.gov.uk/schools

which allows you to compare primary school exam results. Of course, there are some controversies over the meaning of these results as well, since some schools teach to the exam at the expense of fostering creativity, or allowing more playtime, or providing more flexibility in their curriculum, or whatever else they might be doing instead. There are also a few schools that opt out of these exams for this reasons. Mayfield is such a school.