This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
Prep schools in St Albans or Sevenoaks area(29 Posts)
Hi, we're moving back to the UK and are looking into prep schools in the St Albans/Harpenden or Sevenoaks area. One of us is commuting into London and both of these places offer good lines. We're looking for a co-ed, academic but friendly, lovely school for Sept 2015. I'm a bit scared about the waiting lists and wonder if I'm not already too late for a potential 6 and 4 year old. Does anyone have any recommendations or advice to offer.
I live in St Albans and I don't think are any that are co-ed - just single sex. Boys prep schools - St Columba's, Aldwickbury, Haberdashers Askes. Girls prep schools - Wheathampsted House, Abbot's Hill, Haberdashers Askes.
Thanks for that information juneau. That's good to know. I need to do more research anyhow.
Beechwood Park in Markyate is co - ed and not too far from St Albans/ Harpenden
Sept 2015 - you might be ok for sevenoaks if you get into gear now?
There is Sevenoaks prep itself - coed and (i think) from age 3-13. Have friends who are v happy there.
St Michaels (coed 2-13) - again have friends who ar v happy. new headmistress is doing great things. great facilities.
Combe bank 3-18 and co-ed - no personal knowledge of this one.
So there are choices, and Sevenoaks is a lovely place to live - I'd get looking NOW!
Thank you for your help. It's definitely the right advice to start looking now. It's all frightening coming from overseas and realising there are no places already and we haven't a house etc.... I reckon we start with schools and then find a house. Sev Prep and St Michaels look great. I will check Beechwood Park in Markyate - thank you Harpers Mum.
Others co-ed ones in St.A's surrounding area are:
Manor Lodge (Shenley)
Radlett Prep (Radlett)
Edge Grove (Radlett)
Probably all three are the same in distance from St.A as Bechwood Park is from Harpenden - 20mins no traffic, depending on how fast you drive!
I thought it was co-ed up to the age of about 8. It must have changed.
Have a look at Fosse Bank School in Hildenborough just south of Sevenoaks. Small friendly co ed school. Caring staff who treat children as individuals. Also has a car park & near Hildenborough station parents can leave their cars for the day. www.fossebankschool.co.uk
As sweetieaddict said, there are several around Radlett. Radlett is on the same train line to London that St Albans is (one stop closer) and is a very nice, if expensive village. However, a big warning: if you ever intend to go for one of the many outstanding state secondaries in the area (Watford Grammars, Parmiters, DAO), Radlett is outside the catchment for all of them. In fact, Radlett is in in no school's catchment. I love living here, but the transfer process is a nightmare (especially the past year). So much so that my son is going independent next year...
Good points JustADadHere. You'll have no chance of getting into DAO from St.Albans. It's not in catchment, so you'd have to move to Potters Bar (very different from St.A) or the surrounding area to get into DAO: www.damealiceowens.herts.sch.uk/admissions/admissions_info.html
Parmiters, there's a entrance exam to pass, but if you live in AL1-3, you'll be in catchment. However, I think there's such a small amount that go across because lots of places taken up by WD postcodes: www.parmiters.herts.sch.uk/admissions/priority-postcode-area/
Watford Grammars, I don't know anything about.
There's also Queen Elizabeth's (boys) in Barnet for secondary, but you may think too far for dc to travel every day. No catchment and an entrance exam - search for it on here, lots of differing opinions.
Lots of excellent state secondary options in St.A, but most oversubscribed. I'm not at that stage yet, so not that knowledgeable about those yet.
Where's your son going JustADad, if you don't mind me asking?
Radlett is an eligible school for DAO, by the way - it is WD7.
My son will be going to St Albans School. Still amazes me to type that!
Congratulations to your DS, JustADad, you must be absolutely delighted.
Aside from the obvious academic excellence, the boys are a real credit to the school. I don't think there's been a time when I haven't walked pass them whilst pushing the baby in buggy and managing toddler that they haven't stepped off the path to let me pass or helped me up a kerb. Also, on a superficial level, they look so smart in their suits strolling around St.A!
Best of luck to him.
Thanks for all the info JustaDad and SweetieAddict. Radlett looks nice but I'm planning on being a bit more North. Does anyone have any experience or knowledge of Beechwood Park School in Markyate near St Albans/Luton? Foss Bank is a lovely school but all girls and I wanted a mixed school for the first stage of education.
Sherrardswood in Welwyn garden city is co ed.
Fosse Bank in Hildenborough is a mixed school not all girls
Oh, thanks wheels4. I don't know why when I looked a the website I got the impression it was all girls. Will go back and look more closely. Love the idea of car park for train station as well!
Wheels4, now I've revisited the website I've no idea why I thought it was for girls. It looks great. Thank for the tip. Do you have children who go there?
DAO doesn't have a catchment area if you get in on the exam or as a sibling. The vast majority of places are taken up in this way.
The only way you will get in on catchment is if you buy the house directly opposite the school gates (which changes hands with monotonous regularity for huge amounts of money).
It does, you have to be living in the catchment (or local priority area as they refer to it) to take the exam in the first instance.
Taken from DAO's website, the local priority areas are as follows:
Aldenham, Essendon, Northaw & Cuffley, Bayford, Hatfield, Potters Bar, Brickendon, Liberty, Little Berkhamsted, Ridge, Colney Heath, London Colney, Shenley, Elstree & Borehamwood, North Mymms, Welwyn Garden City
or any of the following London postcodes within the London Boroughs of Barnet and Enfield:
EN2 sectors 7, 8
N11 sectors 1, 3
N14 all sectors
EN4 all sectors
N12 all sectors
N20 all sectors
EN5 all sectors
N13 sectors 4, 5
N21 all sectors
It couldn't be spelt out any clearer in their FAQ's section, that if you live outside catchment, there's no point at all in applying:
8. Can our child take the entrance and/or music exams even though we don’t live in the Local Priority Areas?
The allocation of places under oversubscription criteria 4 (Music) and 5 (Entrance Exam) is made only to children who have their permanent home address within one of the Local Priority Areas. Therefore, if your permanent address is not within our Local Priority Areas your child would not be invited to take our tests.
9. So if I don’t live within the Local Priority Areas can I still apply to the school?
Yes you can still apply. Your application will be considered under any other applicable criteria (i.e. "any other child" - (criterion 8) which refers to distance from the school). However, as our application numbers are so high, it is unlikely that your application would be successful. Please refer to our Admissions Arrangements for full details.
Sorry - yes of course you are right sweetieaddict. You have to be in catchment in order to be allowed to sit the exam.
What I should have said is that it is almost impossible to get in via catchment area alone (i.e. having not passed or sat the exam) as the majority of places go to those who have passed the exam and siblings of students who have previously got in via the exam.
I know students who live literally yards from the school - in the same road as the school, who didn't pass the exam and couldn't get in via the catchment route because there were no places left. They had to go to another school much further away .
It sounds mad because technically there are only about 60 places on the exam, 10 music places, and I think about another 10 that have to go to students from Islington, so you would think that would leave plenty of places for local kids.
Anyway - I am sure OP will find a good prep school in the area she is moving to. Good luck OP.
Yes I have 2 children at Fosse Bank. Only joined a year ago & both have made good progress academically & love it there. My eldest had lower self esteem & confidence before he went there is a changed child. Staff treat children as individual's & is a really friendly caring small school. My youngest is about to start the preschool. There are spaces in some years.
Any comments about st. colunbas in st, albans?