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Radlett - schools and where to stay?

(17 Posts)
Kungfumama Tue 09-Oct-12 11:03:29

Dear Mums and Dads,

Need some local advice schools and location to stay. We are planning to relocate from overseas to Radlett or Harpenden with THREE kids: one due for Reception (Sep 2013), and two other kids in G.4 and G.7. This is high stake, complex move and I would appreciate any advice to help us make the right decisions!!!

We have TWO specific questions needing your local knowledge. My older two kids will likely to be at independent schools in Northwood or Elstree or St. Albans areas.

1 - schools for the rising 4 (3+) boy - Our target is to have our youngest one to start in a very good state primary until 7+ or 11+, then to get into Habs, MTS, or St. Albans as appropriate.

* Radlett Prep - I looked up past posts and couldn't find what I need.

They asked us to fly to the U.K. for a 45 mins assessment from overseas for a reception space in two weeks. Is it worthwhile to go? You can go in Feb too but will only be for remaining space. Is Radlett prep a good or very good school? Any insider information about the school? They seemed to send G.6 kids into respectable schools, Habs, etc. However, their website is not very generous on information e.g. what sort of education and experience would they provide for the children from reception and up? I cannot find what activities they do, curriculum, no photos, no postings of achievements / outings . I asked for a visit the day before the assessment but they just said they cannot arrange it. Just have the chance to speak to the heads whilst the kids being assessed. I feel like I don't know enough to make the investment of time/flight costs, etc. but there is no back up plan apart from the Newberries School reception. Manor Lodge thrown our application out in a rather "snobbish" manner, because we are a couple of days late in submitting the doc from overseas, so ML is out of my preferred list. Customers deserve some basic respect.

* Newberries Primary - from Ofsted report looks like a good school. How would you compare a state school with a prep school, in terms of learning experience and exposure. Can Newberries help achieve our goals? It has SATS average score of over 30, and about 50% of kids graduating at G.5 achieved level 5 (level 4 is expected).

* Any other good prep schools near Radlett? Or should we live in Harpenden instead?

2 - location to stay - just cannot decide on location as Harpenden seems to be more family friend, parks, swimming pool, restaurants etc., but Radlett is more practical given it is closer to the target schools we want to get into.
* What are the facilities like in Radlett, we want to have a life, e.g. restaurants, parks, etc.
* We want to live in a very safe low crime neighborhood, what part of Radlett should we target if we want to get into Newberries Primary?

Thanks everyone in advance!

OP’s posts: |
jmf294 Tue 09-Oct-12 23:15:18

I grew up in Radlett and have a 5 year old so can answer some of your questions.

I personally love Radlett but its a lot smaller and less to do than harpenden. It has resturants, pubs, shops but you need to go out of Radlett for supermarket or clothes shopping etc.
There is a nice park, and tennis, rugby and cricket and good churches, synagogue etc.

I looked at Radlett prep 2 years ago and didn't like it. I found the classrooms small and claustrophobic and the head wasn't that inspiring.
Them wanting you to come from aboard for an assessment but not show you round says it all really- no thanks!!
The boys prep schools in Northwood are so much better, better facilities, excellent teaching- my son is in year 1 at Northwood prep and I can't praise it enough.

Newberries has a good reputation and I think it's oversubscribed. The roads around it are nice areas to live.
The areas to avoid are round the Battlers green estate which is the other side.
I have always found Radlett a safe place to live- you do hear of very wealthy people being targeted and robbed.

There are good state schools in harpenden- particularly at George's which is a state secondary.

Beware if you don't already know the house prices in Radlett and harpenden are extortionate!!!

SchoolFool Wed 10-Oct-12 19:16:15

I chuckled when I read this as my experience of Manor Lodge was similar.. They were indecently quick in cashing my cheque to register for a non-standard entry place but then wouldn't should me around until they had places and wouldn't even tell me anything about the waiting list process for my child or when he might get invited to try for a place.
Radlett prep - I know one very happy parent of a current pupil if that helps. I think the focus is on academia rather than sport so may not suit all.

SchoolFool Wed 10-Oct-12 19:16:58

Should = show!

Kungfumama Thu 11-Oct-12 10:43:04

Hi jmf294: thank you for your response. I have to rethink about whether it's worthwhile to fly back just for the 45 mins assessment, while at the same time, they wouldn't agree to show me around. It's just weird. I have dealt with at least 10-15 independent schools in the past 18 months, none of them were like this. Thanks for pointing out Northwood Prep, I have just contacted them, they are very helpful.

Hi SchoolFool: I am glad ML did not accept our application because we are 2 days late although we are doing this remotely, they didn't bank in my cheque! I wrote a few paragraphs about my kids with the application and the headmaster did "invest" some time to write a short letter back to me to "ridicule" my children are not that special and there are many very bright children competing to get into ML (even though my kids are 12-36 months ahead in Maths and English, GL assessed). There also seemed to be some rivalry between ML and RP (?), I don't know, there was a suggestion also we are better off to go to RP because they have more space. I didn't believe my eyes.

Action speaks volume. I only want my kids to go to a fee paying school with an inspiring educator as head, a good role model for kids.

OP’s posts: |
EyeoftheStorm Thu 11-Oct-12 10:57:28

Hi Kungfumama I have DCs at Newberries and friends at various private schools including Radlett Prep, Manor Lodge and Habs.

If you want Newberries you need to live on that side of Radlett, the closer the better. It is oversubscribed because it is one form entry with lots of siblings. It is small, very supportive and a lovely place to go to school.

But if you are thinking of Habs etc it might not be the place for you. It's hard to put your finger on it but one or two children each year move to private school in reception or year 1 because the parents don't feel their DCs are being helped along enough.

Parents I know at private schools around here seem happy, their DCs are happy and there is lots of choice. Hard to come from overseas without knowing the area, but the best thing about Radlett and Harpenden is that there is lots of choice.

I love living in Radlett. We have moved countries a lot and it's the first place we've settled as a family. We have lots of friends and DCs have lots of activities close by they enjoy. I also really like Newberries - it's the kind of primary school I went to as a child (many many moons ago).

Kungfumama Fri 12-Oct-12 11:29:07

Hello EyeoftheStorm: thank you for the response. There seems to be some repeating comments from various parents that some very nice state schools may not necessarily enough to get the kids into a competitive private secondary when the time comes without some serious tutoring. I am seriously thinking maybe we should also put DC no. 3 in a private school too (it's going to cost an arm and a leg, maybe an eye too with 3 in private settings!!). We probably need to sacrifice somewhere else to manage. My kids are in very good private schools over here that doesn't cost as much, and we pay only 15% salary tax with no VAT (!!!).

How do working mothers manage the school run (before and after school)? I would like to consider going back to work but I have no family support. How do mothers find help to drop kids to school and fetch them (supervise until parents get home)? How much would that cost roughly?! I have a live in helper with us for over 4 years, not sure if I can manage to bring her over with me !!

OP’s posts: |
EyeoftheStorm Fri 12-Oct-12 16:17:28

A lot of working mothers have au pairs in this area - I think between 70-90 pounds per week - or a child minder (not sure how much that costs).

I think Radlett divides into people who have grown up here and have strong family links and families (many expats) moving out of London to get bigger gardens, closer to the country and more choice of schools. It makes for a friendly place because lots of people I know here have family in other parts of the UK or overseas. You need to be able to rely on your friends especially for those every day emergencies.

smallbluestar Fri 12-Oct-12 19:27:45

Hello! Thought I'd jump in on this post to see if I can help.

We moved to Radlett three years ago and we love it - dh grew up in Northwood and much prefers it here. Everyone is very friendly and it feels much more like a village in that respect than somewhere like Harpenden which is much larger. Also if you're planning to work in London the commute is great - only 25 mins to Kings X and v close to the M1 / M25 which is unique. There is a fab park with a great playground, and of course wherever you are in Radlett you're never really more than 10 minutes from open countryside, which we love. Plenty of restaurants, etc. and not really anything you can't find on the high street.

We have a DD due to go into reception Sept 2013 and are going through the same as you - albeit not from a distance! We went to see RP and absolutely DID NOT think it was the right school for her; it seems very sports-orientated and jmf294 is totally right - the head did seem very uninspiring. I could talk abut my experience of the visit at length and am happy to message you if you want to hear more! Also unlike some other local schools it is owned and run by the principals and you can't really see where the money goes - the computers are very old, etc. Having said all of this, I know several families whose children go there and they love it. And of course it does have a strong reputation for getting kids into selective academic schools at 7+ and 11+.

Newberries is supposed to be great - we're going to see it in December - if you want to get in you need to be within 0.4 miles, basically - you can go to the Hertfordshire website and see, from the last couple of years, how far the catchment area was. Also on the other side of Radlett is St John's, which is also an 'outstanding' state infant school. The issue with it (and some say it's not an issue) is that the Junior school it feeds to is Fairfield which is not great - although many say it is improving. If you live in Radlett and don't want to go independent you will be safe with either school, as they're both great, which is reassuring.

As we have a little girl we are sitting her for NLCS and Habs as they both take from 4+. Habs boys takes from 5+ if you can find somewhere for the reception year.

There are some other independent schools you could consider, which aren't in the immediate vicinity, but are still close, such as Lochinver House which has tiny classes. Also there is Edge Grove which is a lovely school and v close to Radlett, and Aldenham which is also apparently v nurturing, but less academic.

I hope this is helpful for you and I wish you much luck!

elvisola Mon 15-Oct-12 15:49:24

My DC go to St Johns, it is a great school. Some children go to private schools at 7, the rest go on to Fairfield Junior School. There is a bit of snobbery about Fairfield, as it's not considered that great and its on the "wrong" side if Radlett but they are rated Outstanding by Ofsted so they can't be doing that badly!

SausageDogBusyStreet Wed 17-Oct-12 19:24:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

YellowOrangeBlue Thu 18-Oct-12 19:09:42

Hi my first DS attended Edge Grove from reception to Year 4. We decided to move him because we found that the school did not focus enough on academia, nevertheless when he moved to Radlett Prep, we found that they did not provide the sport, facilities or nurturing that Edge Grove did. My DS1 attended Radlett Prep from Year 5 to Year 6. We opted for Radlett Prep because it is close by, highly academic, and a main feeder for HABS. My eldest son then passed the entrance exams to QE Boys, MTS, HABS, and St. Albans, but did not get WGS. We went for HABS and found that the quality of the education, nurturing and sport at HABS is unrivalled by every school below the top 10. It is a feeder for all Russell Group universities. My son is currently in Year 9 and loving it.

DS2 and DS3 are both at Radlett Prep, and seem to be making good progress

Kungfumama Sat 20-Oct-12 06:35:17

Hi everyone, sorry was tied up with my kids last few days and didn't get a chance to log in.

A piece of good news! I got a call from NLCS on Thursday and they have offered a space for my girl (!!) starting ASAP. I am a bit over the moon. We flew back a few weeks ago just to sit for the test for one occasional space. 20+ kids turned up (and 40+ adults!!!) which is unbelievable. We were told we are accepted but need to wait for another space. So totally unexpected the timing will be so soon!

@Eyeofthesotrm: Yes, I would love to get back to work in London. Am thinking about bringing my live-in helper of 4 years with me. I did my research, minimum wage, NICs etc will cost me UKP250/week easily. I guess I will have to pay the same amount even if I use a locally hired help (?) So if cost-wise the same, then I prefer to bring my old helper at least I know I can trust her and she loves my kids.

Where also can I make some friends and get into the circle of mums if in Radlett?

@smallbluestar: your advice is very helpful. We are also considering living in Northwood or Radlett, so it's interesting to hear about the contrast felt by you guys re both locations. We have decided not to fly back just for RP assessment. I find it quite weird not to offer a tour of the school even when explicitly asked. We are still undecided if we would have a go for Newberries. The only affordable <.4 miles property is a quite run down bungalow for 750K.

Do you think Newberries can adequately prepare for private school entrance at 7+? I read from other threads that some people move kids out of state school because they felt progress not enough, or education a little bit narrower (just the national curriculum), less focus on handwriting etc. I know parents would need to educate too, not just schools, but it would be good if kids can learn essential skills whilst in school

I will check out Edge Gove and Lochinver House. What about Alwickbury?

@elvisola/SausageDogBusyStreet/YellowOrangeBlue: thanks also for the tips re school. It's amazing how much you can learn from a forum! Appreciate if there is any more ideas re private school reception space. We are scouting between Northwood, Radlett areas.

thanks all again!

OP’s posts: |
smallbluestar Tue 30-Oct-12 22:55:17

Sorry - I too only just saw this - to answer your question about Newberries I think that it probably prepares children more than other schools simply because of its location and parents - but I would imagine that any Newberries pupils wishing to move at 7+ are tutored.

HormonalHeap Tue 10-Mar-15 13:56:51

This is a very old thread and I hope you are happy with the school you chose. Just wanted to say though that I put my two through Manor Lodge. The head does not mince his words but he is an outstanding educator. My ds was not particularly academic- nothing special. By the time Mr D had finished with him he beat 100's of others to a place at Habs and is now flourishing there. It is an outstanding school sports wise, everything wise.

hertsmummy14 Fri 11-Sep-15 23:02:37

Hi HormonalHeap. I am just wondering if you have any further insight into Manor Lodge, please? I am looking at this school for my DS as I want somewhere with a focus on education, sports and performing well in the 11+ exams. One of my main concerns is that it seems to be the only prep without a breakfast or after school club, as we will need wraparound care for around 7.30am-6.00pm. Any tips you can give on the school make up, admissions process etc would be gratefully received!!!

FriendlyMaddy Sun 13-Oct-19 23:12:18

MLS under new head 2018 sad
nowhere near as good as it used to be.

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