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Harpenden Academy vs Aldwickbury

(6 Posts)
Curi0usMummy Tue 27-Sep-16 07:37:32

Hi all - we are currently in Asia and for various reasons will need to move back to the UK mid-way through this school year. We have two boys, already school age. We have decided to move to Harpenden, which will be a new location for us all.

Having done the reserach online / and ofsted, etc.. school places are likely to be tough as most good to outstanding schools in Harpenden are full. The most likely options are Harpenden Academy or going private to Alwickbury.

We are coming from an I.B. system, which is very liberal and child centred, so I suspect that the kids would love Harpenden Academy, from what I read of it. However, I must admit the we have found to date that in the IB system where we are (at least at the younger years) there has not been the focus on reading / literacy that I would have liked and the kids are likely to be 'behind' the UK standard in reading. I'd like them to be in an environment that focusses on instilling the basics as well as stimulating curiousity and a love of learning. I Hopefully this is not to much to ask.

So, you're thoughts please on Harpenden Academy vs Aldwickbury? I suspect that they are on completely different ends of the educational spectrum, but can see things I really like about both on the website and previous Mumsnet threasds. I've read elsewhere that Aldwickbury can be a bit 'military' but that wouldn't be a bad thing for our eldest who can be disruptive and needs very clear boundaries.

I plan on seeing both schools early next year, but it only gives us a few months before moving, so I am feeling very underprepared.

Any views or thoughts would be gratefully received.


flyingrainbow Wed 28-Sep-16 15:02:19

Aldwickbury is not selective nor academic, definitely not military, families are local and community based, and school adopts a more gentle approach. Hugely depending on your sons' personalities and learning styles, it worked out really well for one of mine, but not the other one. Very well worth to bring your boys there for a visit and get a feel.

MissPattie Thu 29-Sep-16 18:52:06

Harpenden Academy is having a bit of a challenging time, I think. And I would avoid it really. There's a high turnover of staff and although I think that it is pretty good for early years i do not know anyone who would actively choose it further up the school. i know of at least three families who have moved their kids from the school and several others who are keen to leave.

I would say Aldwickbury is a much much better bet. It is not militaristic at all. a really lovely and supportive school.

OxyLady Mon 21-Nov-16 13:53:39

My kids are at HA and eldest has been since it opened, absolutely love it - they are totally happy, really enjoy school and above age related expectations across the board. It's very child-led, forward thinking, lots of emphasis on growth mindset etc.
It's been a tough year for the school though and many parents who have left, have gone due to poor leadership and then overwhelming uncertainty over leadership. We are now part of Sir John Lawes multi academy trust and have new head, seconded over from primary bit of Samuel Ryder Academy in St Albans (part of same trust). She seems to be totally on top of getting school where it needs to be for ofsted. Definitely a safe pair of hands.
On the other hand I have also mainly heard very positive things about Aldwickbury, it's not meant to be overly strict or militaristic, friends have said they just totally get what motivates boys, they gets lots of exercise, it's a fantastic environment.
I doubt you will be unhappy with either choice to be honest though HA is clearly not established in the way of Aldwickbury and therefore a bit more of a gamble. I suppose then other more personal considerations come into it like finances, social mix of state vs private etc.
Happy to answer any questions about HA for you though if you want to know anything more specific. And I would have thought you could make an appt to speak to head on phone if you wanted to chat to her. Good luck!

semper78 Sat 03-Dec-16 23:46:27

I know several families with children at Harpenden Academy and apparently the new Head is not pleasant, good staff have been forced out. By all accounts she is only interested in the budget and results. I'd avoid.

Captainfartslipper Wed 04-Jan-17 21:14:29

I have 3 children at the school; the Head is great and has the support of the vast majority of parents. She is totally no nonsense and can understand why some parents are not keen on that but she has the children's interest at heart. Like Oxylady above my children are really happy there and love the Head and what she's brought into the school. Semper your 'by all accounts' is misleading and not helpful as this certainly not the experience of all parents by any stretch.
OP - Aldwickbury also a great school but different (I imagine) from HA, although no first hand experience.

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