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Buying in Hertfordshire for good schools

(22 Posts)
GoldenMoon Mon 12-Dec-16 11:35:16

Looking for some advice from all you lovely ladies out there on the eternal conundrum!

We are currently renting in St Albans (Jersey Farm) and looking to buy a property next year (fingers crossed!!).
Me and DH both commute to London, so we need a train station nearby, good state schools (DS is in Y2 and DD in Y3, so we are looking at secondaries as well) and a nice and safe family oriented town. Our current locality is lovely with good schools and local shops nearby, pretty leafy streets, great neighbors and a wonderful community. If possible, we want to move somewhere which ticks all these boxes.
Long list of wishes and, unfortunately, not a huge budget to match up (450K for a 3 bed house with a garden), so, probably, we need to make some compromises here and there sad.

After a somewhat cursory research these are the options that I have come up with:-

1. A small house in Marshalwick/Jersey Farm area in catchment for Sandringham School
2. A small house in Batford/Westfield Road area in catchment for Sir John Laws
3. A reasonable sized house in Redbourne (Snatchup/Lybury Lane area?) in catchment for Roundwood Park and try for Parmiters
4. Buy verrrrryyyy close to Dame Alice Owen (500 metres?) to make the location criteria

Do these sound like proper options to you? I know nothing about living into any of the towns other than (1) apart from occasional visits, how is it to live in these areas? Are there any other areas I can consider?

Any comment/feedback/information is most welcome as I am feeling so confused atm.

HeartyHerts Mon 12-Dec-16 18:21:18

Be careful with Harpenden until they build the new school catchments will be shrinking and Westfield and Batford won't necessarily guarantee a place. You should be ok for 2020 entry but just putting it out there. Also if the school is built you will likely to get the new school. Which is likely to be fab and maybe not SJL.

Also the same with Redbourn. My friend lives on snatchup and it's lovely.

Owens not sure how much you get for your money but Potters Bar isn't the most exciting place in the world. I have never lived there but both my brothers went to the school. Also I have a friend who teaches there and she says it doesn't suit all children including her son who is currently in primary.

We are going for number of your options and looking round Beaumont too. We live in Wheathampstead and are moving as not convinced about the school being built for 2019...

HeartyHerts Mon 12-Dec-16 18:22:12

Meant to say number one of your options.

GoldenMoon Mon 12-Dec-16 21:04:29

Thanks HeartyHerts, that was so helpful. It's all incredibly stressful and hearing from somebody with local knowledge always helps smile. The tip about Beaumont is great, I will add it to my list.
Fully agree to your comment reg Potters Bar, I was just interested about DAO which sounds like a fab school with superb results. DCs are reasonably academic, well ahead of the curve, (think more into Maths than Arts) but not overly competitive. Do you think DAO will be a good choice for them?

Wheathampstead is super cute, I would have loved to live there had there not been the issue with secondary school catchment sad.

HeartyHerts Mon 12-Dec-16 22:55:47

My friend who works there has a son who gets anxious, he's reasonably bright but she thinks he wouldn't cope. But her more outgoing dc would be fine there. My brothers left a while back. I don't think I could live in Potters Bar just to get in that school. There are so many other schools about. When I was younger I could have gone there but chose not to as I was happy where I was. Anyway my school wasn't great and have good GCSEs though I left for A levels. So I think it's more about the child and the support they get rather than the school per se.

HeartyHerts Mon 12-Dec-16 22:57:28

Sorry that was a bit deep. But if you didn't get Owens in PB what school would you get? Maybe that would help make your decision as they do change rules every so often.

GoldenMoon Tue 13-Dec-16 08:40:42

Hello there HeartyHearts,
Don't be sorry. It is exactly the kind of honest opinion I am after.
I am a bit partial to grammar/selective schools as most friend's kids either are in or planning to go there (mostly in Berks/Bucks), that's all.
Sandringham seems like a perfectly decent school, the kids that I have met are nice and well behaved. Their destination map is quite impressive as well, for a non-selective school that is. Like the campus, my kids go for swimming lessons there and we go to the Sandpit Theatre for sing-alongs etc. Unfortunately, this is the only school I have ever been to, so still need visit the rest [sigh].

Any reason for not considering Redbourn? Roundwood Park seems to be the closest school from most of it, do you presume that will change after the fourth Harpo school opens?

Preferably, I would like to stay in/around our current location. All four of us have made tons of friends here in the past few years, and I will have to be reaaaaally motivated to move grin.

HeartyHerts Tue 13-Dec-16 08:48:17

Golden just be careful where you move to in Redbourn. There is a line somewhere which means the other side goes to Hemel if not enough spaces in Harpenden but not sure where. As I said before if school gets built in 2018 all will be fine. I think you will be fine and the school will be built by 2020 but until it is built / planning is granted I would be wary.

Would be happy with any Harpenden schools and most St Albans ones too. The only St A school I have heard bad things about is Marlborough. Samuel Ryder is on the way up (and part of the SJL trust) and even Townsend is supposed to be a good school.

Coro Tue 13-Dec-16 13:48:44

I wouldn't suggest moving to Potters Bar only for school, there isn't much there. I moved from Potters Bar to St Albans when my son was at primary. Sandringham is a good school, however it's worth looking at all the Secondary schools in St Albans, they all have their own vibe and my son, despite the poor press loves Marlborough. Their pastoral care has been fantastic and communications between home and school are frequent. Parmiters is an option well worth exploring too.

GoldenMoon Tue 13-Dec-16 15:17:33

Hi ladies, thanks for the insight. From the sound of it PB does not seem to be a good option at all shock.

HeartyHerts, I will ask around for the for the Redbourn catchment. Have you ever used the SchoolGuru website? I was planning to subscribe to it but not sure about the reliability.

Coro, I do intend to visit the St A and Harpo schools in the next few months. Currently checking for any available open days, else I will call up the school directly. Parmiters is well thought of but selective, I really won't bet on DCs not choking on exam day, so will like to have at least one safe option available, IYNWIM. Can you please let me know what is the poor press on Marlborough about?

ReallyTired Tue 13-Dec-16 23:48:03

You need to be really wary which part of Redbourn you live. Otherwise your child will end up at Astley Cooper which is dire even by Hemel standards.

Have you looked Berkhamsted? Ashlyns is really on the up and you would be in easier travelling distance of Chesham grammar.

SaintAlban Wed 14-Dec-16 07:50:44

Our house hunt was school guru centred...
I think Sandringham is by far the best school around - why leave Jersey Farm?
Parmiters and Beaumont would be my second choice, then Verulam and Stags.
Samuel Ryder is supposed to be good, I don't know it, though.
Townsend is not great imho.
I wasn't impressed by Roundwood Park, I liked SJL much better. St George's, I think, is the best school in Harpenden.

ReallyTired Wed 14-Dec-16 08:20:53

Parmitars is very over subscribed as it's semi selective. It has some of the best results in the county. Sandringham is a coed comprehensive. Veruleum and Stags are single sex. Loretto is a catholic girls school.

The only school I seriously considered was Townsend, but I thought the results weren't good enough. It's a pity as Townsend has really good facilities.

Syllabubble Wed 14-Dec-16 08:30:53

Ashlyns in Berko as pp says - or Tring school?

Dolphinnoises Wed 14-Dec-16 09:27:08

When you say Redbourn for Roundwood Park, you mean the secondary, not Roundwood Primary? I only ask because your Redbourn option doesn't include a primary. Yes Redbourn residents on the Harpenden side tend to get into Roundwood (although with the neighbourhood plan if I were buying now I would buy absolutely on the edge of the village as close to Roundwood as possible) but by the same token the Redbourn primaries are very oversubscribed - mostly because of the outstanding infant school.

St George's is an excellent school but unless you really are religious I wouldn't rely on it

Dolphinnoises Wed 14-Dec-16 09:28:19

Sorry - when I say they tend to get in to Roundwood I mean the secondary. No-one from Redbourn gets into Roundwood primary. People who can walk to Roundwood primary within 10 minutes don't always get in to Roundwood primary...

Coro Wed 14-Dec-16 18:39:22

Marlborough has historically been seen as one of the poorer schools in the area however the leadership is strong and continues to show steady improvement. At present there seem to be a number of parents who would rather vent on social media instead of communicating their concerns to the school making it difficult to resolve things. In my experience they are on the ball, keen to support their students and don't try to shirk responsibility.

GoldenMoon Thu 15-Dec-16 08:28:51

Hi StA, I do not intend to leave Jersey Farm/Marshalwick, but in the market with our current budget, our options are quite limited, hence, looking for alternatives. Till now, all my perceptions about schools are guided by comparing results and looking at the campus/area grin. Probably will have a better idea after the visits. It's still early days for me.
Loved the look of St George's, but, not being church goers, I do not think DCs stand a chance of getting admitted there.

Really and Syllabubble,
We did consider Berkhamstead, but our commute is much more convenient on the St Pancras/Kings Cross line than the Euston one because of the connectivity (DH goes to London Bridge and I to Stratford), so decided not to pursue it. It seems like a lovely town though.

Dolphinnoises, yes I am talking about the secondary school only. I do not believe any of the Harpenden schools will have places for in-year admission other than Sauncey Wood/Lea which are right on the other side of the town from Redbourn side. Plus DCs are happy in their current school and I do not intend to move them unless absolutely necessary.
What is the "neighbourhood plan" mentioned in your post? Can you please elaborate?

Coro, yes, it is such a shame, sometimes it takes a while for a school to get rid of its past impressions. It is good to know that Marlborough is also one on the up.

Thanks ladies, a lot to mull over.

HeartyHerts Thu 15-Dec-16 10:50:33

We are just trying to find a house we like. We really love our current house and having to sell because of EFA / HCC's lack of progress on building a school. So we want to find a house that at least matches our current one / we could make a lovely home. As I know Beaumont / Sandringham are both good schools we are focussing around there. Plus our budget can get us something nice around there.

ThePlEWhoLovedMe Thu 15-Dec-16 13:25:50

I live in PB and dcs go to DAO. I really like PB, it has a very villagey feel and isn't far for lots of excitement if that's what you are looking for. Train is only 16 minutes into Kings Cross. DAO is a great school and suits my children but as others have said it doesn't suit all children.. but what school does?

Wickedgirl Thu 05-Jan-17 11:32:40

The staff at Marlborough are largely very supportive

My dd1 (18) has left but both of my boys are there still and doing well

winkywinkola Thu 05-Jan-17 23:28:18

Berkhamsted. Ashlyns is looking better and better.

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