St Columba's boys school in St Albans(38 Posts)
Do you have a DS or relative there and what has been your experience? I have been told by a couple of parents that the pastoral care is great but the school is not considered as academically excellent. Is this true?
I don't have children there but I know several parents that have.
Yes, pastoral care is key selling point and is excellent.
No, it is not considered 'academic' in same sense that Habs or St Albans Boys is, but still very good for bright kids. Depends what you want. There are broadly 2 types of parent/pupils there; those who use St C's as a back-up if their ds fail entrance exams to Habs, StAlbans Boys or Parmiters, and those that proactively choose it for a bright child but who would thrive better in its environment than at Habs or StAlb Boys, which can be too pressurised for some.
QoH, thanks for your ocmments - very helpful. DS is bright but needs to be kept on his toes. I wonder if the bright kids at St C are held back because of the focus on pastoral care and lack of 'pressure'?
My son's currently is at St Columba's Pre-Prep1 and I do not think it is anything that people say. I think it is pressurised and very regimental, and academically is non-selective. Basically they take anyone that comes through the door. Pastoral care is not in my view that excellent either. A few boistrous kids in the class are tamed by 3 term, with lots of pressure on well behaved ones as a side effect.
I have made a decision to move my son in the 2nd term as he is bright and deserves better treatment.
By no means I am saying it is a bad school. Good facilities, responsive staff, not bad kids.
There used to be good pastoral care but due to staff changes this is now poor and not a good selling point. They do take anyone in and suffer the consequences. I have a bright child in year 6 and have decided to pull him out as the reports from the college are not great. Suits the type of child that is primarily sporty. I agree there is a lot of pressure on the well behaved boys as my son is well behaved and very bright academically. I feel he deserves better. The school has definately gone downhill as a direct result of all the staff changes.
I agree that facilities are good, some of the staff are excellent and there a group of really good boys. This is spoiled by the lack of control over the rough boys that are allowed to attend this school.
We looked round it for ds1, liked the preprep but not the senior part (I have a relative who teaches in the senior school, and he describes it as very very strict/regimented after the atmosphere of the prep dept. - he says some of the boys can find it difficult to adjust to this).
I think the academic results are pretty decent considering they are very welcoming of all ability levels. I know of several boys who've transferred to the preprep and prep following problems at other private schools (boys in each case having issues such as ADHD and learning difficulties). I guess that may not suit parents of more average/brighter children, I honestly can't say.
Locally it has a name for sports especially rugby and basketball.
We decided it wouldn't suit our ds, he's quite sensitive, not sporty at all.
I have recently visited St Columbas for my son age 9 to start in the secondary school. however we are maybe thinking of moving him into year 6 as this will take the pressure off trying to get into a decent secondary school in the future. We were impressed with the school which produces good results but does not seem as stuffy as the other boys' schools. I am not sure now as I have read the mumsnet reviews. Is there anyone else out there who has a son at St Columbas?
I have a boy currently in Year 6 at St Columba's. He started in year 5 to ease the way into senior school.
I am very pleased with the school so far and the pastoral care has been exceptional. Any minor issues risen have been dealt with professionally and quickly.
The classes are teared into academic abilities and I am pleased with the personal steady push my son has received.
Having looked around some other senior schools we have now decided that he will continue into the senior school, the main points for us being that it is not as sporty as the prep (which my son prefers).
Regarding previous comments on the academic level is not as high as some other local Independent school having spoken to parents with senior boys they all inform me that they push each individual boy to their full potential and academic ability which is good enough for me.
I know a family who send one twin to St C and t'other to St Albans (one twin got in to St A and the other failed to get a place as they are ruthlessly selective). Anyway, twins left school v recently. Both did very well. Both got AAA at A level and both got accepted by their different subjects at their first choice universities. Mother exceptionally pleased with both schools. Boys exceptionally pleased with their schools.
It is possible to have excellent pastoral care and an academically challenging environment. I have personal experience of St Albans School and the pastoral care is excellent. It's a really very very good school.
St columbas , is not in my opinion a nurturing school, if you are of any faith other than catholic, forget it, they are interested in what they want and nothing else, certain staff, in the school do not listen to parents suggestions, and quite honestly is run very unprofessionally, I cannot wait for my son to leave in prep as there's no way he's going to the senior school, with what we have experienced in the prep, my advice stay Away, it's money for old rope!!!! The academic side is all about the bright kids being in awards and photo displays, every one else gets left behind, better to be at a state school at the top then st columbas middle and no where.
Its like that in most schools sinkalaretumey, the bright children make schools look good average children don't unfortunately.
I know someone who left Columba mid year 7 to take up a newly freed up space at one of the 'main' schools where he spent the rest of year 7 at the bottom of his new class. He didn't return for year 8.
Yes, Columba isn't as academic as the competition but that doesn't by default make it not the "right" school for the OP's DS.
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hi Susanne & Talkinpeace what are your positions about the school? would you recommend St Columba's or would you recommend another school?
Lovemynano, what school did you move your son to in 2011?
Hi, I'm considering st. Columbas for my son for year 9. He unfortunately did not get in to st. Albans so trying other independent schools. Really worried by the opinions expressed and having second thoughts now.
I have two boys at the school, one is the Prep school and one in the College. I am exceptionally happy with the education that they are receiving. The Prep school staff are caring and nurturing and my small boy is flourishing. My eldest joined half way through the Prep and is now at the senior school with an academic scholarship. We deliberately choose St Columba's over the boys school. I have found the Senior staff to be helpful when required and my child is happy and achieving well. Go to the school and meet with the staff and the boys and this will allay any concerns you may have.
I have a son at the college and we are delighted. He is so happy there and has flourished. The quality of the teaching and pastoral care is very good. A couple of comments above are about the Prep School which is actually run separately and I can't comment on that.
One or two people have said it isn't 'academic'. Well we visited St Albans School when we were considering schools; not only was I put off by the arrogant head boy who showed us round but I was genuinely concerned that they were chasing results at the expense of a wider education and maintaining the confidence of the pupils. My gut feeling was right because I've since heard many stories of boys "surviving" St A's and that the environment and atmosphere is brutal there. Do you really want that for your son?
St Columba's sends many boys to top universities. They don't have the league table topping results but they nurture every boy to fulfil his potential and you can't ask any more than that. To say it isn't academic, is, in my opinion, crazy. It's a case of a school being right for the boy.
One other thing: Terry Leahy removed his sons from Habs because they weren't doing well although they were v bright. They flourished at St Columba's and fulfilled their potential.
My son who is in year 2 is happy at school in Hampstead Garden Suburb but I am not. There is a high turnover of staff each year and as a result standards have slipped tremendously. I'm thinking of sending him to a private school in Hampstead, we live in Golders Green. I've heard good things about St Columba Prep in St Albans. He is bright but easygoing. Any advise would be greatly appreciated!
One of my brothers went there (the other to St. Albans boys) though it was about 20 years ago, he is very anti religion now which I don't doubt has been an influenced by his time there!
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