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Abbots Hill School

(25 Posts)
Nan88 Wed 12-Mar-14 14:44:36

smile Iam interested in hearing from anybody who has experience of this school. Iam having a conflict with dh about the benefits of sending a child to a comprehensive private school, as I feel that if you pay then you should get good results and in comparison to St Albans High School the results are average yet the fees are higher! I also wasn't that bowled over by the girls at the school who seemed nice enough but did not strike me as go getters. Dh likes the smaller class sizes and feels that STAH is overly pushy, but isn't that the whole point of paying �15000 a year or am I missing something............

TheBeautifulVisit Thu 13-Mar-14 10:18:58

Abbots Hill only goes up to 16. Many girls do very well there but many don't do very well at all. I suspect this merely reflects the cross-section of abilities on admission. As no school, whatever its fees, changes the outcome beyond about half a grade. (Source: Durham University CEM Study).

I'm sure they are both good schools but then so is St Albans Girls' School, over 50% of its GCSE results are at A*/A (versus 54% at A*/A at Abbots Hill and versus SAHSforG 59% at A* (note this is A* only)


St Albans Girls' School is not selective by ability nor exorbitant fees, their admissions arrangements are here


It may well be that you are willing to pay for something other than academic education, like fencing or wrap around care or you want longer holidays, in which case I would probably decide which of Abbots Hill & St Albans High School for Girls is the more appealing and best fits your needs. But in terms of education, Abbots Hill is a fee-paying comprehensive and SAHSforG is a fee-paying super-selective. You would expect their exam results to differ.

How old is your daughter?

Nan88 Thu 13-Mar-14 17:05:49

Thank you for your advice and I totally agree with you. She is 10 years old and average academically.

lisad123everybodydancenow Thu 13-Mar-14 23:48:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Nan88 Fri 14-Mar-14 10:59:02

Hi I disagree with you, in an academic school their reputation relies on getting good results and the school will push the girls to get the results and if a student isn't a bright enough to make the grades then the parents will be informed and given a choice of either moving their daughter to a more suitable school or getting private tuition. Abbotts Hill strikes me as a "nice school" that takes anybody with a chequebook! But my view is that in this area pretty much all the schools are "nice" so why pay the money? Like you, I have heard plenty of negative things about STAHS mainly around how much they push and I have heard that they ask parents to remove girls who are not making the grade which must be awful but the way I look at it is that the school has high standards to maintain and you get something extra for your money which I can't see at Abbotts Hill. smile.

Nan88 Fri 14-Mar-14 11:04:30

My dh thinks I my bonkers for thinking like this, am I? Is it enough to have lovely buildings and grounds and a "safe" environment or if parents are making a sacrifice then they should get all that as well as a school that delivers the results?

ReallyTired Fri 14-Mar-14 12:17:56

I think you are paying for value added with Abbots Hill rather than results. Small class cost more money. Can you put a price on happiness? Prehaps at the other end of the ablity specturm is Egerton Rothsay School which which openly caters for low ablity children and has the worse results of any secondary school in the area. Different school are designed for different children.

Does your daughter actually have the choice of the two schools? Surely if she is academically average then there is little point in even applying to St Albans High School. I have met girls from both schools. My impression is that they cater for different markets.

Have you looked at other schools in the Area like Berkhamsted School or Royal Masonic School?

TheBeautifulVisit Sat 15-Mar-14 10:17:30

Hopefully you're paying for added value with any school for which you pay. What would be the point otherwise?

Where there's a good state school option, I would advocate using it and topping up your child's education with 1:1 tutoring plus lots of enriching travel as a family. If you're learning about something at school you can't beat seeing it and understanding it first hand.

TheBeautifulVisit Sat 15-Mar-14 10:18:28

ReallyTired - What sort of added value might you pay or that isn't reflected in a school's results?

ReallyTired Sat 15-Mar-14 14:16:42

"ReallyTired - What sort of added value might you pay or that isn't reflected in a school's results?"

There are a lot of intangible benefits that school can give a child which aren't purely measured by GCSEs. An average ablity child can have their confidence raised by personal attention and teachers with the time to care. Sometimes a quiet sensitive child can get lost in a large state comprehensive school. A nice but dim child will have the benefit of being with nice but dim children in a private school. I would not want a child of mine in the bottom sets of a state comprehensive having to put up with gawd awful behaviour and bullying.

Schools like St Albans High are incredibly selective because they want girls who can cope in a highly pressurised enviroment. They want their girls to be bright enough to keep up with the high pace. It would be cruel to send an average ablity child to such a school as they would be under extreme stress trying to keep up.

Money cannot make a low ablity child into a high ablity child. However money can make school a kinder place for the low ablity child.

wordfactory Sat 15-Mar-14 17:27:48

I have a good friend who sent her DD there.

She entered a very average kid at 11 and left with 7A*s and 3As. She also had a lovely time. Lots and lots of extra curricula activities.

A lot of girls leave AHS and go to STABs for sixth form. My freind's DD did this and then went on to Oxford. So all good.

wordfactory Sat 15-Mar-14 17:29:32

Oh and I would say do not send an average girl to STAHs. It's not the right place.

Nan88 Mon 17-Mar-14 09:51:18

Thank you all, so much to think about. I am leaning towards state school with 1-1 tutoring. I am not convinced that the state schools turn out any less "nicer" kids in our area. Agree also that STAH isn't probably right for my dd but is a truly impressive school, abbot's is lovely but that is all. I heard that about 10% end up at STAB's so not many! And with the smallest class sizes of any private school in the area I would expect more today to stabs.

wordfactory Mon 17-Mar-14 09:58:44

Well not everyone wants to go to STABs of course. It's a big fat boys school that takes girls in sixth form - not appealing to some grin...

But of those that do want to go, they get in. STABS make it plain that they like AHS girls.

The other girls go boarding or to STAHs, some to St Georges, some to Bucks grammar schools, a fair proportion to the Collegiate.

TheBeautifulVisit Mon 17-Mar-14 10:46:59

Post financial collapse we are all more mindful of fairness and cohesion. Personally I think it's better for children not to be isolated to be educated. I want much more from my children's education than A* grades.

Ds2 is doing exceptionally well in the sixth form at his state school. It isn't selective, it's just our nearest school. He's really happy there and I can see no benefit that would have come from him going to an independent school.

ReallyTired Mon 17-Mar-14 13:20:01

I suppose a lot depends on what state school options the OP has. If her only option was a hell hole like Astley Cooper then the private comprehensive school becomes more sensible. Also a lot depends on how intelligent the child is. The bottom sets at schools like St Georges, Roundwood, St Albans Girls School, Hemel Hempstead School, or any other state comprehensive have behavioural problems.

There are kids at the most gawd awful comprehensives in the county who get A*. There are kids at the top schools in the country who fail to get 5 GCSEs. Choosing a school is choosing the kind of childhood that you want for your child.

Nan88 Thu 20-Mar-14 13:31:19

Sounds like you know Abbots Hill well, wordfactory and 7A*'s and 3 A's is a fantastic result for a average kid. It is causing me to rethink.
TheBeautifulVisit, I don't want to put a huge amount of emphasis on A* grades but I do when I am paying for it if that makes sense. Not sure that I agree with you ReallyTired, I am sure Abbots Hill or any other independent school has its fair share of behavioural problems like any of the top state schools in the area.

blossbloss Thu 20-Mar-14 13:43:59

I am afraid I have to agree with ReallyTired.

Our experience (in the same area as the OP) of an outstanding state primary school's bottom sets was awful, with terrible, violent behavior in the unsupervised bottom sets. DD was written off at 4 years old and left to get on with it.

We moved her to a non selective private school and she has flourished.

I would never ever put her into a mainstream state school again because of the risk she would be in that kind of environment. All children deserve better than that.

ReallyTired Thu 20-Mar-14 13:55:19

" ReallyTired, I am sure Abbots Hill or any other independent school has its fair share of behavioural problems like any of the top state schools in the area."

I am sure that private schools have their behavioural problems. However there is usually parental support, the staff and the resources to get a child's behaviour back on track. I doult that Abbots hill have many parents who really couldn't give a sh*t about their child being in trouble with the school.

It takes two years to expel a child with extreme behavioural problems from a state school. A private school can get rid of a really difficult child quickly and easily. It is up the LEA to find a placement for the excluded child and there is no pressure for "inclusion".

Our experience (in the same area as the OP) of an outstanding state primary school's bottom sets was awful, with terrible, violent behavior in the unsupervised bottom sets. DD was written off at 4 years old and left to get on with it. "

In secondary the problem is substantally worse. There is not the staff or resources to give these damaged children the emotional care they so desperately need. Having said that, if your child is bright enough to get into good sets then state schools can give an outstanding education.

TheBeautifulVisit Thu 27-Mar-14 09:47:04

Actually I take back what I said up thread about seeing no benefit of being educated privately.

anitasmall Tue 01-Apr-14 22:10:00

ReallyTired, My friend's daughter went to Hemel Hempstead School. There were only 2 children that year with A* in Maths (one was her arriving from abroad). So "good" state school won't guarantee your child to have good results.

ReallyTired Tue 01-Apr-14 23:50:36

anitasmall you are completely wrong. 8 children got A* for A-level maths last year, 1 child got A* for further maths and 21 got A* for GCSE. The GCSE results are misleading as the top set of most comprehensives take maths at least a year early. There may well be kids with A* who took the exam in year 10.


Nothing can guarentee your child good exam results. A determined child can do well in the worst of state schools and a lazy child will gain nothing from attending a private school.

anitasmall Sat 05-Apr-14 00:13:42

Interesting. It sounds much better!

Ragdollcatbaby Sun 03-Apr-16 00:46:00

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

nononsencemum Sat 18-Jun-16 09:09:02

Ragdollcatbaby would you be able to expand on this please? (happy for you to PM me if you prefer). We are currently looking at Abbots Hill for my daughter's 11plus and so would loved to know all the pros and cons of the school. Thank you

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