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Berkhamsted schools - help please!

(234 Posts)
teetering Sat 07-Feb-09 17:09:04

We are moving to the Berkhamsted area and wonder if anyone can give any further insights to: Berkhamsted Collegiate Prep School, Westbrook Hay Prep School and The Beacon School in Chesham Bois? It's hard to get an inside view when all you can do is read a review and do a quick tour etc.

If there are any other schools (state or private) that anyone can recommend, please do share!

Thanks!

teetering Sat 07-Feb-09 17:10:24

Meant to add that DSs are aged 3.5 years and just short of 2 years.

clam Sat 07-Feb-09 17:23:28

SIL and Friend v. pleased with Westbrook Hay. Sis v. pleased with Berkhamsted Collegiate (senior school), tho' don't know about the prep.
Also, there's Locker's Park, which has a good reputation, I believe. And I think Haresfoot has a nursery which feeds into the main school, but don't know much about that one.

Swedes Sat 07-Feb-09 17:40:21

My nephew went to Berk. Collegiate Senior school and they were all very pleased with it. He is a very lovely young man and doing well in life. He still keeps in touch with a lot of his school friends and maintains very close connections with the staff and school. I think that always speaks volumes.

teetering Sat 07-Feb-09 17:47:10

Clam - that is great to hear, thanks. An estate agent said that she gets the impression that Westbrook Hay is quite popular and used by lots of clients on her books.

I looked up Lockers Park which is in Hemel and seems to be 7+ so we will keep it in mind if DSs do a state infant school.

Litchick Sat 07-Feb-09 20:38:52

Lots of parents near us send their Dcs to Berko - never heard anything other then positives.Nice mix, great sport, great facilities.
The only down side seems to be the lack of green space. It's right in the centre of town.

teetering Sat 07-Feb-09 20:53:33

Litchick - I wonder how far afield kids come from to use the schools in Berko, then?

Do you specifically mean that your friends's kids go to Berkhamsted Collegiate School specifically? Or just to schools in Berko generally?

ForeverOptimistic Sat 07-Feb-09 20:55:39

The state primaries are good too. Do you have a particular area of Berkhamsted in mind?

teetering Sat 07-Feb-09 21:08:32

Foreveroptimistic - No, we we have only been there a sum total of one hour, and that was this morning!!!! So, I don't yet have a particular area in mind but would like to be a 10-min or so walk to the station so to avoid the need to drive in and park.

So, I am very open to advice on where exactly to live!!!

ForeverOptimistic Sat 07-Feb-09 21:13:32

There are no particularly bad areas and as the town is so compact most places with the exception of Northchurch and Potten End are within 10ish minutes to the station.

State wise Victoria and Greenway are the most popular schools, all the primaries have above the national average SAT results.

Do you have any particular houses in mind?

ForeverOptimistic Sat 07-Feb-09 21:16:24

Are you the OP on the other thread or has everyone been house hunting in Berko today?!!

teetering Sat 07-Feb-09 21:24:31

It's a fair cop!!!

As we can't be sure where we will be able to live, and as we'll be late applicants in the state system there's no telling what state primaries we'd be offered (despite our preferences) we're having to rely on private options as contingency in case we're not happy with the school we get allocated for Reception in Sept.

How do you find the hills?! Crikey in today's slush and snow it must be treacherous!

As long as we can find a 4-bed decent house, with off-street parking, close-ish to station, and the schools will accept us, then I am going to be happy!

What is Northchurch like?

ForeverOptimistic Sat 07-Feb-09 21:33:34

The hills are a pain when you have a pushchair and a heavy toddler to transport but the upside of living in a hilly area are the views. Nearly everyone I know has great views over the town.

Northchurch is nice and is a little cheaper than the centre of town but it is too far for my liking. You would have to drive to the station and although it isn't actually that far to walk to town it would become a bit of a pain when the weather is bad.

There is a great community feel in Berkhamsted it is lovely that everything is within walking distance and when you make friends it is really handy to be able to visit people without driving.

teetering Sat 07-Feb-09 21:48:30

Thanks for that. DS1 loves his scooter so managing him on hills would be interesting!

We were driving on the High Street at about 11.30am today and it was heaving. Agent said it was exceptional today as everyone had emerged after the bad weather to get provisions etc. Or is that a lie and it is always really busy?!

The agent said a house has just come up for rent off Chesham Rd, near the High Street. It would be in catchment for Victoria, so that might be a good bet!

ForeverOptimistic Sat 07-Feb-09 22:19:05

It is always busy but today was busier than the norm.

If you are looking for something quieter try Tring, it is a bit too sleepy for me but it is lovely. When I want to escape the hustle and bustle of Berko I take ds up to the Natural History Museum in Tring and we have a coffee there, it is great they even have fleas with clothes on!

teetering Sat 07-Feb-09 22:44:10

Ta - good to know it was a bit busier than usual. I will look at Tring too, but I quite like the size of Berkhamsted and that you don't feel in a tiny village etc! Fleas with clothes on??!!!!

Do you know what the morning trains are like to Euston? Are they heaving by the time they get to Berkhamsted or can you still get a seat? Agent said that before Watford you're in with a chance, but again, these agents...!!

clam Sun 08-Feb-09 09:24:37

I'd say the agent's on the level re: the trains. There are always seats at Hemel, so Berko would be fine. Trains fill up at Watford, certainly.
I have to say that I try to avoid driving through the centre when I can. The queues at those traffic lights at the centre seem to take forever and they're not easy to avoid. I would certainly recommend giving yourself the option of being able to walk into town. It's a nice-sized little town - with enough shops to get by (WHSmith, Waitrose, Boots) but you'd need to drive to Watford for anything much more. Hemel, apart from Debenhams, M&S and Next, is full of Pound shops.
Forgot to say before that Westbrook has a lovely pre-school dept - Swallows. And the grounds are simply beautiful - kids can play out freely at breaks.

teetering Sun 08-Feb-09 14:59:18

Thanks clam. Westbrook Hay website does look really lovely. I am feeling nervous about it being oversubscribed - any idea if any chance for Reception in September??! I will call them first thing tomorrow.

I also see that they can do full-day childcare!! How refreshing. I called one school in Surrey who pointed out their proximity to the nearest rail station 'in case my husband needs to commute'!!!!

And to Forever, too, would it be feasible to drive kids from Berko to school in Chesham Bois is that became necessary? Murderous traffic etc??!

NK1c0cfef8X11b3c70bf0e Sun 08-Feb-09 17:50:53

Hello, these are the thoughts of a 'local'.
Lockers Park is lovely.(I am biased!) It lets boys be boys, they work hard and play hard. Most boys play an instrument and the choir is great. They have a newish Head (with a wife that writes)and now take boys under the age of 7 It is a real 'community' and everybody really does know everybody. At break and lunch the boys put track suits over their clothes and mess about making dens etc. Academic and sporty, quite a few go on to take scholarships for public schools.
Berko also has a newish Head, or 'Principle' and has dropped 'Collegiate' from its name. Would not have suited me as I did not go for the idea my son of being in just one school from 3 to 18! Having said that,it is not automatic that you will be allowed to move from from pre-prep to prep to senior to 6th form but I think most do. Very academic but music and sport also important.
I know nothing about Chesham Bois other than they play Lockers at sport.
Westbrook Hay is in a lovely situation and is a mixed sex school. Having seen it in operation a few years ago I decided it was not suitable for my son. Sorry to ramble, these are just my own observations.

clam Sun 08-Feb-09 20:00:01

WBH is mixed to Year 6, then boys only for Y7 & 8, although I did hear that they were accepting girls at that age a year or two ago. But there weren't many, and the few that might have been interested were put off by possibly being in a minority. A couple of years ago, they had to expand Y7 & 8 when the (good) state schools were all massively over-subscribed and they went to 2-form entry. This made it better for filling sports' teams. Don't know about numbers lower down, although it may be that people are being credit-crunched and they therefore have space. They've certainly had an ambitious building programme over the last few years.

teetering Sun 08-Feb-09 20:05:26

NK thank you. Lockers Park seems a real heavyweight - very impressive stuff! How do you find school on a Saturday morning? Aren't they exhausted by then?! Their website says they admit 5+ from last September but I am not sure what that means for Reception kids from 4+. I will have to ask them. And are day boys left out/stand out in any way?

What I'd really like to know, NK1, is what you observed at Westbrook Hay that you weren't so keen on? Was it general feel, or something specific?

clam Sun 08-Feb-09 20:08:02

Think LP does a fair bit of preparaion for some of the heavierweight public schools common entrance. WBH does a fair bit, but lots go into Bucks and the grammar system too.

teetering Sun 08-Feb-09 20:16:20

A question re shops! If you were after a bigger shopping fix (and at Christmas time etc), where would you go? Watford, Aylesbury (what's there?!), or into central London on train etc? Thanks for heads up on Hemel pound shops!

clam Sun 08-Feb-09 20:33:36

Watford, probably. Has a good range, and a big John Lewis. Although I have managed to get it all in Hemel one year. Aylesbury is not brilliant, adequate. Normal provincial town, really.

clam Sun 08-Feb-09 20:35:15

Rather than trek into London (and lug it all back on the train, even if it is only 30 mins) you could drive to Milton Keynes (up the M1. Or Brent Cross, (down the M1).

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