Good primary schools in St Albans??!!

(31 Posts)
caterinag Fri 31-Oct-08 21:14:08

Hey, I am hoping for some advice!!

We are relocating to St Albans from NW London as our local schools are dire (and the cost of private schooling for two children in the current financial climate.............??!!).

Anyway, I am looking at houses on Lemsford Road, Ridgmont Road and Verulam Road and am so confused about the 'best' primary school to move near?! They all look good, which is confusing to me as the schools are so hideous here! I have a two year old and a four week old boy. Are there any deemed better than others? Any best to avoid? And, how does the Secondary School system work? Is it down to catchment area.

And, are there better roads to buy in than others?

As you can tell I am SO confused! And our home is under offer- so the pressure is on!!

Thank you so much in advance
Cat

chocaholic73 Fri 31-Oct-08 21:33:36

you may find some are over subscribed. Herts cc had to put some extra reception places into some of the schools for this September. I don't think there are any bad ones to be honest. I moved to St Albans 2.5 years ago when my DD was Y4 and with special needs I had particular requirements. I visited 6 St Albans schools and only didnt like one of them (and that was one of the higher achieving ones). In my opinion, top in the league tables doesnt necessarily mean best school. If you want to move to a house for a particular school, you really need to visit the local schools, talk to the heads and ask about how over subscribed they are. Is there any possibility of renting. That way, there is less of a rush and you can take a bit of time making a decision and find out more which bits of St Albns you like best. There is masses of houses for sale here at the moment, and you would then be in a good position with nothing to sell, when you were ready to buy. good luck anyway and ask if you want any more info.

JLo2 Mon 03-Nov-08 17:52:07

A good website that you might find useful is here
I agree with chocaholic, all of them are good and mostly oversubscribed, but don't assume top of the league tables equals best for your child. You really need to visit them.

JLo2 Tue 04-Nov-08 14:19:54

The secondary school system is kind of 'catchment area' although they don't call it that! The most important factor (when looking at mixed non faith schools) is which is your closest as this is important in the criteria list. There is also a good all boys school very close to where you are looking. IMHO the north side of town has the better secondary schools, but I'm sure others would disagree!

HenriettaJones Wed 25-Feb-09 18:25:22

Hi, just found this thread a bit late! So where did you move in the end?

Schools in St Albans are really oversubscribed so it is important to put something down that you have a chance of getting, rather than assuming you'll get your nearest. Visit schoolguru website for advice.

chuckeyegg Thu 05-Mar-09 14:26:14

Is Garden Fields nice does anyone know? I'm in between that and Margaret Wix.

HenriettaJones Thu 05-Mar-09 22:52:31

Garden Fields is really lovely, check School guru to see if you will get in. IMHO you do not want Margaret Wix.

If you live within 900m of Garden Fields you stand a reasonable chance, and you are very lucky! (Because if you lived nearer Maple or Aboyne you wouldn't stand much of a chance of getting anywhere!)

Count your blessings!

Personally I really liked it when I looked round and it would have been in my top 2 if I had stood a chance of getting it. Out of a wide group of mums I only met one who wasn't too sure (I think she wanted a smaller school). The only negative comment I have heard is that the Head is a bit strict (on parents!) But the facilities are amazing, there are great outdoor areas, they are attached to a music school, there are several male teachers which I thought was a bonus wink The kids seemed really happy, and there was a lot of free play going on in the younger classes. AFAIK they have great results too, so if it's your nearest then go for it!

QueenofHerts Sun 15-Mar-09 12:41:51

I've heard good things about GArden Fields - though not sure of how close you have to live to it. ... but sounds as though you're in right area.

What Henrietta said - go for it, deffo not MW

chuckeyegg Wed 25-Mar-09 17:55:56

Thanks

HenriettaJones Mon 30-Mar-09 16:50:43

Hi all, so this years figures show that 89% of st albans families got one of their 3 choices. But what about the other 11%? This was 80 children, a whole school year's worth!

Not only that, but 40 children out of that 89% got their 3rd choice, not much of a choice then!

We urgently need a new school in the centre of town. If you agree, please click on the link to sign this petition. Please DO NOT sign online if you have/are going to sign the hard copy.

This issue might not seem relevant to you now but it could easily affect you in a few years time if we don't act now. Also anyone who wants to reduce congestion should sign - parents are being given schools over a mile away across town.

Thanks

http://www.gopetition.co.uk/online/26564.html

HenriettaJones Mon 30-Mar-09 17:04:56

ok, just learning how to do links!

the petition link is

www.gopetition.co.uk/online/26564.html

HenriettaJones Mon 30-Mar-09 17:05:57

ok, just learning how to do links!

the petition link is

www.gopetition.co.uk/online/26564.html

isittooearlyforgin Thu 23-Apr-09 20:33:37

what's up with M. wix?

isittooearlyforgin Thu 23-Apr-09 20:33:40

what's up with M. wix?

EHM Fri 24-Apr-09 09:45:21

HenriettaJones I've signed it good lucksmile

HenriettaJones Sun 26-Apr-09 22:39:33

Thanks EHM.

isittooearly - My opinion of M wix is actually only based on hearsay, and on my own experience of a couple of M wix parents. I'm sure it has its plus points but I wouldn't class it as a "good" school in St Albans, based on its reputation, ofsted and results.

From a more personal point of view, it would be too far away for me.

isittooearlyforgin Mon 27-Apr-09 20:59:45

a good basis for an opinion if ever there was one! Only know it from knowledge of preschool

EHM Wed 29-Apr-09 15:18:13

I've recently visited the following school as we are selling our house(moving into rented in next couple of months) must apply this sept for school place for dd.

Skyswood, Oakwood, Killigrew. I prefered Skyswood & Killigrew. Visiting Wheatfields & Praewood next week. Based on this we need to decide which side of St Albans as Skyswood, Oakwood & Wheatfields one side. Killigrew, Praewood other side.

Any comments on these schools would be appreciated. As dd doesn't have a older sibling we are going to avoid for obvious reasons Aboyne, Maple. we are moving from Camp area our nearest schools here are Windermere, Camp & Cunningham HIll.

Thanks

isittooearlyforgin Wed 29-Apr-09 20:41:47

praewood has recently got a fantastic head I've heard.

HenriettaJones Thu 30-Apr-09 10:06:03

yes, I have heard that too, the existing staff are really happy with her which is a great sign. It's a lovely school community (I worked there grin it is a smaller school, so it has a small library and no extra music rooms etc. So it depends if that is something you'd see as a plus or not.

Killigrew has a great reputation, and I know lots of people who really want this school or have wanted it.

Have heard mixed opinions of Wheatfields and Oakwood, but having grown up in St Albans, all the kids I knew from those schools were really happy. Don't know anything about Skyswood.

I think it comes down to which school you have a better feeling about, I live near some excellent schools but one in particular would not be right for my child, in spite of it's impeccable standards! (or because of them ;) )

One thing I would urge you to do though is check the school guru admissions calculator before you move, you do not want to move and then find that you haven't moved close enough. Killigrew and Prae wood are harder to get in to (have to live closer) than Wheatfields.

Have actually heard great things about Cunningham Hill lately and also a rumour that it will expand for your year intake. Camp is on the up as well.

Good luck!

EHM Thu 30-Apr-09 11:00:35

HenriettaJones we actually came across a report issued by Herts Council.
Initial Analysis of Primary School Allocations Jan 09
Which lists Primary School Allocations, applications for each school for 2008/09, places available. How many places where allocated by each rule & the Max Distance in meters for Rule 5 & Max distance for rule 6. This has been very helpful. I'll also check out school Guru. Thanks for all your comments. I will be basing my decision on the feeling I get about the school. As you say its not all about results.
isittoearlyforgin Thanks to you too, I had also heard about the new head.

HenriettaJones Thu 30-Apr-09 15:47:10

That's pretty much what you'll get at school guru too, but they'll go back over 5 years so you can get a sort of average (this year was a particularly bad year, so hopefully a bit more chance for you next year.)

It's definitely worth doing your homework, and put down a safe choice 3rd!

QueenofHerts Fri 01-May-09 12:30:23

EHM - All the schools you mention are v good so it's down to personal preference really.

However ... one word of warning. If you're planning to move to the south side of the city, though primaries are good your secondary options are v. limited. Your nearest would be Marlborough, which though is a v nice and improving school is not that academic compared to those on the north side. It tends to be peoples second or third choices rather than their first, if you see what i mean. Your next nearest is FB which has been in special measures. Other option is Parmiters in Garston, which is entry by exam and very, very competitive. House prices correspondingly cheaper on south side.

On north, depending on where you live, there is a greter choice of very good secondaries, though all very over-subscribed. As reflected in house prices. The primary years will go very, very quickly, and you may want to think a bit longer ahead.

Snorbs Fri 01-May-09 12:39:42

QueenofHerts, any recommendations for secondaries for a boy going to Garden Fields? I've had a look at the School Guru site but, to be honest, it made my head hurt and I've realised I don't have a clue about the differences between the different kinds of secondary schools blush

QueenofHerts Fri 01-May-09 12:54:30

Oooh I will be doing this soon for my ds ...!!

Depends on exactly where you live. If you live on the eastern side of garden fields then I think your nearest would be Sandringham, which is mixed and v good (though I actually I know only a couple of girls there, not boys), if on the western side ... ummm you'd probably better check with Herts CC as it could be either Marlborough OR Sandringham depending on the precise distance. Beaumont excellent (I know one boy there) but I suspect you'd be a bit far away to get in - but may be worth a shot.

There's also Verulam (boys only) - I know a couple of boys there and have already looked there for my ds. For me personally, it's my best option because I'm in city centre and in secondary school no-mans land, though I may get a chance through the lottery. It's had a rough time lately and just had an only 'satisfctory' ofsted which saw the very complacent head resigning. But parents at the school say this is best thing that could have happened and are hoping for a good head appointment in september to pull it up again.

If you're a churchgoer, then Townsend may be a possibility. Just up the road from garden fields!

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