moving to St Albans..could you recommend any good areas?

(27 Posts)
green57313 Thu 23-Jul-09 19:10:00

I am planning to move St Albans in a few months and I am trying to decide which areas to look at...I'd love to be close to the city center, and need to be close (within 1 mile) to the Thameslink station as I work in the city and don't drive.
I have just seen a nice house near st Michaels village, but I am worried that the primary schools places are non-existent near the city center. Should I look in fleetville instead?
Any others suggestions? thanks...

chocaholic73 Thu 23-Jul-09 20:09:35

Fleetville is expensive but nice, but then so is St Michaels Village. Not sure about primary places in St Michaels, and not sure about the current position on places at Fleetville but both Infants and Juniors have a good reputation, and from personal experience the Junior School is very good. Not sure how old your child/ren is/are but bear in mind they grow up fast and you will soon be looking at secondary places as well. Generally, we decided when we were looking to move here 3 or 4 years ago, that it needed to be the north side for the secondary places. We ended up in Bernards Heath which is nice, around a mile to the station but probably cheaper than Fleetvile.

green57313 Thu 23-Jul-09 21:08:00

Thanks, I am looking at Bernards Heath as well. I haven't got any kids, not even ttc yet :-) I am just trying to pick the right area in advance....a lot in advance:-)

Joolsiam Thu 23-Jul-09 21:12:49

St Michaels is lovely - kids would love the park. It would be probably a 30 minute walk to the station though.

No kids myself, but you've got a primary school in St Michaels, one near Waitrose and a third between St Michaels and town, so seems OK from that point of view ?

Commuting is bloody expensive from here. I am home based now, but was paying over £250 per month for a season ticket without the tube.

chocaholic73 Fri 24-Jul-09 16:46:40

If you haven't got kids yet, you are trying to plan well in advance although the schools bit will be a bit like gazing into a crystal ball as they can change quickly due to new head/staff etc. Honestly though, I dont really think there are many bad primaries in St Albans but there is a huge shortage of places in the centre of the city (although that may of course be rectified by the time you would be applying). Hadnt realised season tickets were so expensive, but it is quick, St Pancras in 20 minutes.

green57313 Tue 28-Jul-09 11:08:22

Thanks..I think I will ignore the schools aspect for now and try to find something safe, with a good resale value.
What's the commuting to London like by the way? What is the chance of getting a seat in the morning?

Joolsiam Tue 28-Jul-09 11:18:50

A SEAT !!!!

If you want to get on a fast train (20 mins to St Pancras), then virtually no chance unless you have sharp elbows and a bit of luck ! I have been known to get a seat on the 7.18, but it can be full. The 7.38 is a nightmare and I won't even attempt to stand on it as it is so crowded, I get claustrophobic.

If you are happy to spend an extra 12 minutes travelling and get a stopping train, there are loads that start at St Albans, so you always get a seat - that is what I do used to do

Coming home is a scrum if you are leaving London between 6 and 7 but if you wait at the back of the train at St Pancras, you can usually get on.

QueenofHerts Tue 28-Jul-09 11:24:14

St Michael's is lovely! It does have a very nice primary school - St Michaels CE VA - but it is one of the smallest in St Albans (I think YR and Y1 are shared classes, but think classes are separate after this?). I don't think you necessarily have to fulfil the churchgoing requirements if you live near enough to it (St Michaels st - drool). BUT .. apart from that it is some way from other primaries, most of which are heavily oversubscribed. I'd say it's at least 20-25 mins walk to the station from there.

Bernards Heath is good safe bet as still fairly central but on northern side - Bernards Heath infants v good and expanded, also you're on the right side of St A for secondaries too. Approx 15-20 mins walk to station.

Commuting - 22 mins to St P International (allow 5 mins to transfer to Tube) on fast train - sometimes get a seat but usually not in rush hour. There are slower trains where you can always get seats. Season ticket (train + tube) over £3k now (choke)

green57313 Wed 29-Jul-09 22:45:36

yep, you were right, it looks like the problem with primary school places in the town centre is already being resolved.... ry_schools/

HenriettaJones Sat 22-Aug-09 18:07:11

Hi, the article you refer to above is about the expansion of Bernards Heath, Mandeville and Margaret Wix schools, which was not the solution in the opinion of city centre parents! If you are living in St Michaels it is unlikely you'd want to trek to any of these schools, and it wont directly help the issue with the city centre schools.

However, it is possible that the sibling issue will be less bad in the next few years, but the schools are still notoriously oversubscribed even without the sibling issue.

Like others have said though, so much could change in the (minimum of) 5 years, in primary and secondary. In 5 years Sandringham had gone from a problem school to one of the most popular secondary schools in St Albans.

But it might be helpful to have a guide anyway:

St Michael's school has an intake of only 22 and they mix year groups, so that throughout the school, except in year 6, the classes are mixed. (There are 5 classes at the school rather than 7 like in regular primaries) If you don't attend the local church then you would have to live very near by or be willing to stay on the waiting list after term has started.

The Abbey school - one class per year of 30 places. As above in terms of getting in.

Aboyne Lodge, one class of 30 per year, even without the sibling rule you need to live within 400m or so to stand a chance.

Prae Wood - one class of 30 per year. This year some children right on the estate didn't get in, but occasionally kids from St Michael's have got places.

Bernards Heath and Fleetville are all 3 form intake, so 90 places. Makes them a little easier to get in to. Bernards Heath is undersubscribed, but had considerably more applications this year than last year, so it is likely to become oversubscribed. Not sure how close you have to live to Fleetville school to get a place, but anywhere in the area of Fleetville should be ok.

Currently The Fleetville/Bernards Heath areas are better for Secondary, but people living a mile away from Beaumont and Sandringham didn't get in this year. (whereas that used to be a safe distance)

To be honest, it is probably better to choose an area you like the feel of and wait and see what the school situation is like when you come to it.

Fleetville is a community in itself and has great facilities and buses. Good range of house types and prices too.

St Michael's is really nice for the park (and the waffle house grin ) quaint houses and from certain spots really nice views.

Bernards Heath you'll prob get more for your money, nearer to Sandringham school, but it doesn't quite have the same character as the other places. (IMO)

Good luck, and welcome in advance to St Albans

HenriettaJones Sat 22-Aug-09 18:07:46

wow sorry that was a LONG message!

OliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Sat 22-Aug-09 18:24:16

HenriettaJones - very strange question but did you go to school in Oxford?

SwedesandTurnips Sat 22-Aug-09 21:00:08

If you want to get a seat on the train, you need to live in Harpenden. wink

Welcome to St Albans & District.

Joolsiam Sat 22-Aug-09 21:06:20

You can still get a seat on a slow train from St Albans - if you are prepared for the journey to take a whole 12 minutes extra for the sake of a seat wink

Interesting about the schools - I daydream about having LO going to Prae Wood or St Michaels sometime in the next few years - didn't realise it was so difficult to get a place !

HenriettaJones Sun 23-Aug-09 10:04:57

olivia no I went to school right here in st a.

For schools info I highly recommend you type in the school you are interested in and the distance in metres from that school and it'll tell you if you would've got in over the last 5 years. Obviously things can change, but it does show the general trend. Bear in mind that the results for 2007 will be different because 3 primaries took in a one-off extra class that year.

If you really like St Michaels or the Abbey then it's time to find God ;) two Sundays a month for 2 years is the minimum to qualify as a regular attender. Seriously. You can get in as a non-attender if you live close enough. This year 3 children got in to the Abbey on that basis!

edam Sun 23-Aug-09 11:02:16

Just checked on school guru and it uses the wrong route to my house - says chances of getting into ds's school are slim but in the real world, every child from my road goes there and has done in the years it says we wouldn't.

Seems it uses the main road, instead of the more direct route, which involves using a public footpath for all of 10 metres!

HenriettaJones Sun 23-Aug-09 15:46:24

school guru uses google maps which is different to the county's mapping system. If you know that the shortest route involves a footpath then the best thing to do is make an estimate of the actual distance in metres using the footpath (maybe for example you could ask a neighbour if they know the distance according to herts cc)

But as long as you know the actual distance in metres that county will use then the results will be accurate, according to who got allocated places in the first instance. Where people get in on appeal/continued interest, this wont show up on school guru.

You also have to be careful when looking at Abbey/St Michael's, as they have complicated admissions criteria which don't fit the system used by the school guru calculator.

edam which school? Maybe some of the children in your road got in based on the sibling rule rather than distance?

edam Sun 23-Aug-09 16:27:26

No, the eldest child in each family got into ds's school. No idea what it is in metres, all I know is it takes us 12 minutes for a brisk walk. (In the morning, when we are in danger of being late - with ds, the journey back can take an hour or more!)

Side-issue from the main thread anyway, as I'm in Harpenden, not St Albans - was just interested in checking out the site (as opposed to the 101 things I should be doing).

HenriettaJones Sun 23-Aug-09 16:41:35

Lol! Yes I know the feeling grin

Like you say, it is prob that the distance you put in to the calculator was a longer route than the official one. I live near 2 schools where my quickest routes are via footpaths not on the google map, but at application time you can ring herts cc and ask for the distance, and that will give an accurate result.

HenriettaJones Sun 23-Aug-09 16:50:34

oooh, just had a look at the site, she's changed the mapping system! This is easier to use but I think it is less accurate because the route it's given me is the car route.

edam Sun 23-Aug-09 17:00:10

Ah, yes, that makes sense - although I'd still argue with the car route. It's not the one we use on the very rare occasions we drive. grin

Looks as if the site takes no account of footpaths - walking or driving, we go via a footpath. Well, we park near to the footpath if driving, obviously don't stick the hazards on and drive across, leaning out of the window shouting 'Out of the way, peasants!'

green57313 Thu 27-Aug-09 15:36:40

HenriettaJones, thanks a lot! :-)
DH vetoed the house in st Michaels that I liked (a very small garden..), so we'll keep looking. Will be focusing on searching in Fleetville (north of Hatfield rd, south looks a bit rough, doesn't it?...), and Bernard's heath.

HenriettaJones Thu 03-Sep-09 21:03:10

I agree about South of Hatfield road grin Fleetville is lovely, I think go for there, but I am biased as I grew up there! smile

mellifluouscauliflower Sun 06-Sep-09 12:51:44

Our son is at Fleetville and very happy there. The school got an "Outstanding" Ofsted last year and they seem very good. It has a 3 form intake which makes it a good bet to get in.

You need to be careful when choosing your house as it is not enough to be near a good school, but it has to be the nearest community school. Also the cut off for applications is earlier than most other Local Authorities.

The council do publish how many people applied last year, how many got in , on which rules and how far away they lived. Unfortunately I have lost the link - maybe ring up Herts CC.

You do pay a big premium for being North of Hatfield Road and there aren't many about. We took 2 years looking to find ours...

green57313 Mon 14-Sep-09 14:45:07

Any thoughts on the area close to the hospital - Folly avenue, Goldsmith way, Waverly road? A bit rough or OK?...

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