Hitchin Primary schools - Wilshire-Dacre/Ought
We have been renting in Hitchin for a couple of years and we are finally in a position to buy a house of our own. We desperately want to stay here as we love it and have made very good friends.
We have a 16 month old son, so school catchment areas are a consideration. We've been looking for a couple of weeks now and have quickly found that the competition to be in the SG4 9 postcode is very tough and we keep losing out.
My question is for all the people that live in the Bearton area of Hitchin. Where do you send your children to school? The houses there are lovely but the school that DS would be likely most likely to get in to is Wilshire-Dacre which is in special measures. Are there any lovely mumsnetters that could give me an insight in to the reality of the school. Is it really so bad? What are the other options in that area and are they any good?
Thanks very much!
Wilshere Dacre is a junior school (age 7/8 upwards). The linked primary is Strathmore and many children from that area go there. They might also go to Samuel Lucas, or Our Lady's.
A lot can change in 5 years, Wilshere Dacre will likely have a much better Ofsted by then.
Do you have to stick with the Bearton road area?
Are you thinking of staying long term? If so then you need to consider secondary catchment too. If you wanted the Girls' or Boys' schools then there is a very tight catchment area for that.
If you went slightly further out then Ickleford primary is very good and takes children from the village and Strathmore road area ( best check on that though- things change.)
Or what about the Whitehill Road area where you might get into Willian Ransom? Or Mary Exton next to the Poets estate?
St Andrews is excellent and there are nice terraced houses in Trevor Road etc if that is the kind of place you want.
Not very helpful, but I went to Strathmore and then Wilshere Dacre. Absolutely LOVED both.
But, I am old and that was a long time ago
Bearton is definitely the nicest bit of Hitchin IMO (although am biased) and, as 2468motorway says, a lot can change before your son is 5. Wiltshire Dacre will no doubt be an academy by then...
Anyway, as a teacher, I would strongly advise looking round the schools yourself and not going solely on the Ofsted report.
Given that Samuel Lucas is having a new building to expand to two form entry, many more parents living in the Bearton Road area will be able to get into that school from this September onwards. It is a fantastic school and as a current parent there and knowing the staff and head, I am highly optimistic that it will remain so even as a bigger school. Having a boy, staying in the Bearton/West Hitchin area is a good plan for the Boy's School catchment, but also bear in mind that The Priory has a new 'superhead' type in place (I know him personally) and is well on the up after years of a poor local reputation. The Boys School also under performs more than you'd imagine on added value given its already fairly priviledged intake, perhaps because of its strong focus on sports. Strathmore is a pretty nice school too and takes many children from the Bearton area, but does have a reputation for hiding and not dealing with bullying - I know two parents who've taken their children out from there. Oughtonhead still has probably the worst reputation in the town, but dig a little deeper and that is mainly due to it's location and catchment - it's intake, in other words. The teachers, facilities and resources are fantastic and are starting to deliver serious results, it's had hundreds of thousands of pounds spent on it over the past five or so years and it's paying off. St Andrews has a very funnt shaped physical catchment area and is a religious school to boot, so can potentialy be very difficult to get into, William Ransom whilst having perhaps the best academic reputation locally, is extremely over subscribed and you will probably need to live in one of three streets to guarantee a place. Additionally it is very much 'our way or the highway' and unless your child is a biddable and high academic achiever, it has a proven record of managing out troublesome, needy or otherwise SEN pupils.
I live in this area, but my dd goes to one of the other village schools. Strathmore has an improving reputation, I think it was pretty poor a few years ago, and has got much better. Oughton Likewise is improving, a lot of this is due to it reducing to a one form intake for a while, and money being poured into it. It has gone back to a 2 form intake, but due to its reputation, many people do not take up places, and so the class sizes are smaller, which will only help it. Those I know who go there, love it, although it is often said that the school gates are not that pleasant to be around.
Our Ladys, is an outstanding school, and very friendly, but you have to be a signed up Catholic to stand a hope in hells chance of getting a place.
Ickleford is a lovely school, but due to the number of children actually in the village, getting in without actually living there is getting to be nigh on impossible, however the village is really nice and friendly with lots to do, so worth a look at houses there.
As others have said, a lot can change by the time you are looking at schools, and to be honest, I think we are spoilt in Hitchin, as really there are no bad schools, just better ones. The key is to go to the schools and get a feel for them before you apply. What may be right for my child, may not be right for yours, and i know people who have had their heart set on a particular school ,and when have visited have realised it is totally wrong for their child.
Good Luck with the house hunting.
I live in Hitchin but my kids go to a village school (long story). The town is full of great schools but all different so it really pays to go and visit them. And go with your gut feeling. I took my son out of an outstanding school as it had a bullying problem that wasn't being addressed and my instinct was telling me to get him OUT.
You will struggle to get into William Ransome unless you almost live on top of the school. And I echo the lady above - it is very much a marmite school. You either love the way it is and your child thrives or...
Highbury, Samual Lucas, Mary Exton and St Ippolyts are all over subscribed but there ARE housing options nearby - i know its not easy as Hitchin housing stock is limited and goes fast. My neigbour's one was gone in 4 hours. Madness.
St Andrews is a church school and very difficult to get into unless you go to church (and have proof, apparently but that could be exaggerated). They have a new head who I adore - she was the head of the school my kids go to and she is VERY much missed. I love her ethos (creative curriculum, child centred learning etc)
I wouldn't worry too much about schools though - as above Oughtenhead is a much underestimated school and will only get better and so will Wilshere Dacre/Strathmore. Hitchin really doesn't have bad schools and you can always try the village schools too - Pirton, Preston, St Paul's Walden are all within a fifteen minute drive. And for secondary schools, I feel we are a bit spoilt. I have friends with kids at all of them: Hitchin Boys/Girls and the Priory and all have nothing but good things to say.
You are in a great position though, to move fast and not mess buyers around. Have you thought of sticking notes through doors in areas you like? Sounds mad but that's what my friend did and got a lovely house for market value in the street she wanted. Worth a try.
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