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Berkhamsted schools

(18 Posts)
bodgerthebadger Tue 05-Jul-16 12:02:08

Hi, hoping for some feedback on schools in Berkhamsted.

We are looking to move out of London and need easy access to family up North hence the focus on Herts. We've been to see quite a few places and Berkhamsted seems to tick most of the boxes so far. Assuming we can find a house, our concerns are primary schools and secondary schools.

Primary schools - I know that there are several Ofsted outstanding primaries in Berko but I'd be interested from parents who have kids there as I know there's more to a school than the Ofsted report. Would love in particular to get feedback and thoughts on St Thomas More and Greenway. We know that the catchment areas are small which is slightly depressing as there's a bun fight every year where we are now in London to get into a good state school and the schools in our area are either 2 or 3 form.

Our other concern is secondary as we don't really want to move again. Our DD is already starting Reception this year so we've accepted that she will need to move in-year. Berko seems to have Ashlyns which looks nice but seems to have mixed reports. The Collegiate is the private option but how hard is it to get a place if you don't go down the prep school route? Will it require lots of tutoring? I've heard that it's unlikely/unpredictable whether children from Berko who pass the 11+ will be offered a place at a Bucks grammar due to catchment issues. What are the other secondary school options there?

Really grateful for any advice! Posting here as the local Herts page seems to be fairly quiet.


Zodlebud Wed 06-Jul-16 07:23:37

Berkhamsted is a lovely place to live and, yes, has some amazing schools. We moved here 11 years ago and it is the perfect place to bring up children.

A few years ago the town changed from a three tier to two tier system and it caused some issues. For example, several primary schools moved from a 60 PAN to a 30 at reception. This was the year we applied for my daughter. Greenway was our first choice and our closest non faith school but with 34 siblings applying we didn't stand a chance. This was a few years ago and the sibling impact is becoming lower but catchment areas are still very tight. Right now all schools are doing well and I have friends with children at all of them. Victoria seems to be having a bit of a wobble with staff changes and children leaving.

Ashlyns suffered from a lack of funding due to many years of a 13+ entry. Since moving to 11+ and getting a new head it is most definitely on the up. It wouldn't surprise me if it reaches outstanding in the next few years.

Grammar school options are those in Aylesbury and Chesham. Living in Berko you are out of catchment but many children from the town do go there. There is a lot of new building development in Aylesbury though so who knows if pressure for places will increase. If grammar is definitely on your hit list then I would move a few miles down the road to Amersham.

Berkhamsted School has a great reputation but isn't everyone's cup of tea. Competitive parenting and a someone ruthless way of culling kids on a yearly basis if they're not getting the grades. It is always oversubscribed at nursery stage (the main entry point, not reception). 11+ girls places are available but boys they had something like 6 places going to non siblings last year. Hence more children moving to the Prep in Y3.

Other private options are Chesham Prep, The Beacon, Hetherton House, Westbtook Hay, Beechwood Park, Abbots Hill and Lockers Park. Secondary independents include St Albans Boys and Girls, Abbots Hill, Aldenham, Pipers Corner, St Columba's and there is apparently even a bus to the Habs schools from the town.

Good luck with the move. There is a real shortage of housing stock here at the moment though. Feel free to PM with any other questions.

Zodlebud Wed 06-Jul-16 13:10:59

Saw you also posted on FB. I would also second somebody's suggestion to look at St Mary's. Of the faith schools in town this is my favourite - lovely location, decent field (something lacking at Victoria) and lovely family community atmosphere. It is the Northchurch end of town though.

BerriesandLeaves Thu 07-Jul-16 19:44:08

I can't help but Ashlyns looked like a gorgeous place in the film Son of Rambow

Zodlebud Fri 08-Jul-16 07:38:03

The buildings at Ashlyns are listed and they are very beautiful. Huge playing fields and a brand new (not as pretty) sports centre. Given the improvements over the last few years I think it will be an amazing school within a few years.

bodgerthebadger Mon 11-Jul-16 20:31:48

Thanks both for your replies! Sorry I hadn't realised there was an update to this thread. Berkhamsted School is what we had in mind at 11+ but it sounds like the best way to get in is at 7+ which is kind of what we had hoped to avoid by moving out of London (super competitive where we are as well with feeder nurseries to get into prep schools etc). We drove past Ashlyns and agree that it looks beautiful although mixed reports but secondary is still some time away and it seems to be on the right trajectory. Does anyone have further feedback on St Thomas More RC as a school? Difficult to find reviews and feedback for this school online. zodlebud, SM looks lovely but it's a little too far for us. Thanks!!! X

Zodlebud Mon 11-Jul-16 21:13:44

Berkhamsted 7+ is nothing like London 7+ as the demand for places is simply not as high. I have friends who have children who started in years 1,3 and 4 and have had no issues with high pressure tests. There are assessments of sorts but seriously unlike the London preps. Whilst academic standards are high there, at 11+ it does have a bit of a reputation for being the school to go to if you just miss the mark on getting into a grammar and don't want your child to go to state school.

The children are expected to work very hard and reach their potential. Any hint of a SEN and they're twitchy.

It's an excellent school but not for everyone.

bodgerthebadger Thu 14-Jul-16 21:25:36

Thanks Zodlebud. That's a really interesting perspective and reassuring to hear that the assessments aren't as intense. We've now missed the boat to look around and visit the schools so will have to wait until Sept to do that as we don't want to apply for a place without seeing it. Which means our move to Berko will be pushed back a bit. Thanks again for all the useful advice.

bojorojo Thu 14-Jul-16 22:52:32

Lots of good primary schools are full. You may need to have a conversation about where you can get a place as opposed to what you want. There is lots of building scheduled in Aylesbury but Aylesbury Vale has a very low pass rate for the Bucks 11 plus and the schools fill up with out of catchment children. It is by no means clear at the moment whether new housing will equal lots more grammar school children. The opposite has been the case so far. Aylesbury already has lots of new housing.

Tring may be worth a look because you may be better placed to get a grammar school place from there.

KellyBellyL3 Tue 06-Dec-16 20:46:50

These posts have been really helpful, as it is real information & not just blurbs off of school websites. We are moving to the area within the next few months & so I am beginning to research the primary schools in the area. I thought this would be easy but the first school I came across (Bridgewater) doesn't seem to have a very good Ofsted report. I know this doesn't mean everything & from reading the report appears due to the school changing from a middle to a primary. Alarmingly though, on looking at the website there is no year 4,5 & only one class in year 6? Why is this? What are my options? I will be moving very close to Bridgewater so schools closest to this area would be preferable, however I am willing to travel for little ones education. I have to move a year 1, year 4 & nursery September starter. Feeling wobbly about my options as wanted to keep them all together. Any advise you can give will be appreciated. Thank you x

Zodlebud Tue 06-Dec-16 23:26:09

Bridgewater suffered as a result of the move from a three tier to two tier system I talked about above. It used to be a middle school (Y3 to Y8) and became a Reception to Y6 school at the time the change happened. This explains the gap in year groups you have picked up.

The OFSTED report should be taken with a pinch of salt to be honest. It was done very shortly after the school changed over to a totally different set up. Pretty much every teacher for the lower age groups was new and there were a few issues with some off the staff (sick leave etc). They also had a brand new head. Some parents were not happy and voiced their concerns through the OFSTED parental feedback process. Speak to any current parent and I doubt you'll find a single unhappy one now. They will also say that they are confident the OFSTED findings reflected the fact it was essentially a new school with so many new staff. There were bound to be a few issues!!!!!

All the schools in Berkhamsted are great and Ashlyns is going from strength to strength. You really won't have anything to worry about.

1sttimemumS Fri 28-Jul-17 20:09:22

This was really useful as we are also looking at the area and am in a similar situation
is there any chance of getting into Chesham grammar from Berkhamsted? As it is out of catchment?
What is the latest feel on Ashlyn?
We were looking at a house in northchurch and the primary we would look at is westfield? Any views? Thanks for any Help!

BubblesBuddy Fri 28-Jul-17 21:20:18

Bucks County Council publish the historic admissions for its schools so you can check. They give the greatest distance from which a child was admitted. Tring gives you a chance of the Aylesbury Grammar schools and you have two choices there; a couple-ed and a single sex.

Longwalkoffashortpier Fri 28-Jul-17 21:35:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Zodlebud Sat 29-Jul-17 10:27:40

There are two school buses from Berko to Chesham Grammar so plenty of children from the town do get in. You are out of catchment though so never any guarantees.

Ashlyn's is a great school these days - lots of investment in buildings and facilities and the new head has made some positive changes. They send kids to Oxbridge regularly, only a handful, but in some years more than Berkhamsted School.

Zodlebud Sat 29-Jul-17 13:07:33

Westfield is a lovely school - was our first choice but we live too far away. Depends which part of Northchurch you are looking at as to whether or not you would get in. The school there is St Mary's which also has a great reputation. To be fair, all the schools in the town are fab, apart from Victoria seems to be having a wobble following a new head coming in a couple of years ago.

School options for secondary are Ashlyn's mainly, with some children going to JFK in Hemel (Catholic). Plenty of children go to Chesham High and the Aylesbury grammars. A handful go to Tring School but catchment area is shrinking and places unlikely.

Berkhamsted is a fab place to live and you have great school options.

1sttimemumS Sat 29-Jul-17 15:58:07

Thank you all. Really helpful. We visited today and like it a lot. What is northchurch like?

Zodlebud Sun 30-Jul-17 00:54:30

Northchurch is a much more affordable "suburb" of Berkhamsted. The 20-25 minute walk to the station puts some people off but it really shouldn't. It's a really lovely town to be part of.

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