St Columba's boys school in St Albans(36 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?
St Columba's Prep and College are quite separate albeit that they are on the same grounds. Each has a separate Head.
I have had two boys attend the Prep since Reception. Granted that each experience is unique to that child, but in my 8 years of being a parent of St Columba's Prep, I have never once needed to address any issues either at classroom nor at leadership level.
Our experience as a family has been absolutely fantastic and I cannot recommend it enough. The teachers, in every year, I have found to be fair, relevant, approachable and to treat each child on individual merit, recognising achievements both inside and outside of the school. Most importantly they encourage courtesy, courage and compassion as their school ethos and the Head is focused on the wellbeing and education of the child.
The only area where there could be improvement is preparation for the 11+ as not every boy would be choosing to move to the Senior school.
We have been delighted with the results and well-rounded approach that the school has given our children and whilst perhaps it isn't able to boast about being housed in the most solubrious of buildings, it is the way that the boys walk away from the school and their values which, to us, has been the mot important.
Our eldest has continued to the College.
I've only heard good things about this school in the past i.e strong pastoral care, and it seems to be getting really selective as well (not sure if that is good but some seem to like it). Will be a shame if its starting to change.
Nephew there now. I've heard terrible things about this school. My sister can't wait to take him out.
I have 2 ds at St Columbas one in prep one in senior. They are bright boys and I have been happy with the academics, my senior school ds is pushed to get very good grades ie A/A* equally the school is very supportive when there are struggles along the way and very responsive to parents. I like the fact they develop well rounded young men who combine confidence and courtsey - key skills in the real world. The music is excellent I don't know much about the sports side so can't comment. Having seen the St. Albans Boys hanging about town looking quite feral, during their lunch break I can't see why you'd send your kids there vs a comprehensive but I have heard they do attract v clever boys and so get excellent exam results so should not judge by appearances.
Prep seems to have improved recently however the senior is where a lot of the challenges remain. I also know at least 15 families across prep and more than half are considering moving their kids, so it's not rocket science that something is not right, it's not just academic ability, it's also cultural issues and the fact the open door poilcy is in place makes it no different from an average state school. Roger Moore recently wrote in relation to the increased school fees, how can they justify the increase in cost when in St. Albans there are many decent state schools which are not only outperforming St. Columbas, their kids end up going onto better things. Unless you have kids there, it's really hard to take a view from a third person reliable. My information and experiences is first hand and with parents on a daily basis. If you're sending your child to a private school you want the best, you'd be misguided into believing st. Columbas is giving you the best for your child in comparison to a state school. On a side note there has also been rumours that existing teachers/ staff are adding favourable posts about st. Columbas...one parent caught out a teacher in a conversation!
I know of 4-5 families with boys in the prep and all are really pleased with the school. The more able are stretched, the less able are given plenty of help. The clubs and sports are outstanding - swimming clubs and galas, robot clubs, orchestra.. They demonstrate a dedication to the whole child, not just academic success.
As for kids switching schools, that happens all over Herts and North London. Those in St Columbas want Manor Lodge, those in Manor Lodge move to Habs, those in Habs want NLCS or St Paul's. I'm being flippant but my point is basically that this is driven by parents in their children's lives and should just let them play!
Glad it has worked out fine for you in the end.
It was sorted out a couple of years ago but decided to move my child as I felt my child wasn't progressing to that of any schools and really was on par with state schools. I don't see how St.Columbas strength is to accept any children without testing, it's open door policy has downsides which is demonstrated with how children turn out, their exam results and high turnover of kids moving to other schools half way through. It is considered a 'last choice saloon' school for many of the mainstream schools in this part of England. Overall and in hindsight if you are looking at this school you would be better looking at state schools in the local area as per earlier posts. If you're going to run the school like a ruthless business then at least have the results and standards to back it up.
I was dubious as to what you're definition of 'a little late' was, if it is a couple of days or weeks even then I agree school's should be understanding. However you mentioned the fact they weren't academic but that's part of their strengths from I've heard, it mirrors their intake in that they take a broad range of children.
Anyway, I'm sure there's a bigger back story to all this that you don't want to get into. Hope you manage to sort things out with the fees
SoGodhelpme No not really, I have two other kids at other Indy schools and when I was made redundant they were flexible up to two terms! If a school which apparently cares so much about their pupils and wellbeing then they wouldn't just pull your child out in the middle of the day, not only does it impact the child's social environment but of course their education. A few days wouldn't be an issue at any other Indy school. As far as the school is concerned their apparent major strength is pastoral care, but if they abruptly pull your kid out then that pastoral care goes out the window. Let's be realistic here, life isn't always straight forward and everyone has challenges, you want to know that whichever school your kids go to they will be least affected by your situation and the school must have some responsibility towards that otherwise it clearly shows money first kid last. That's doesn't bode well if you want your kid to do well at the school because you'll know where they would be in the pecking order!
Alondonparent I did think you were going to say you judge a school by "how tolerant they are if you have a child that's struggling', rather than 'how tolerant they are if you're late paying fees' . It seems you're only problem with them is late payment of fees? I'm guessing that would be a 'problem' at most Indy.
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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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
Lovemynano, what school did you move your son to in 2011?
hi Susanne & Talkinpeace what are your positions about the school? would you recommend St Columba's or would you recommend another school?
You are bringing your employer into disrepute by spamming the link to their site onto every education thread.
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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.
Its like that in most schools sinkalaretumey, the bright children make schools look good average children don't unfortunately.
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.
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