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Moving to Harpenden/St Albans

(51 Posts)
oneluke Mon 08-Jun-09 14:13:14

We have taken the plunge and decided to move out of central London to Harpenden or St Albans. There are a couple of threads which discuss the good schools, but as these are now a bit out of date, wondered if anyone has any advice? We are currently leaning towards Harpenden as a location. Primary schools are most relevant now, but hope not to have to move for secondary either!

Does anyone know which primary schools are the best/which are less well thought of? In particular, it would be good to know any thoughts on The Grove?

Also, does anyone have any advice about Hatching Green as a location compared to Harpenden proper?

CMOTdibbler Mon 08-Jun-09 15:19:36

Friends daugher is at Crabtree junior school, and is very pleased with it. Her now 15 yr old went through them too, and has done very well.

midnightexpress Mon 08-Jun-09 15:22:25

My niece is at Beaumont in St Albans and seems to be doing very well. She's 15, and took GCSE French 2 years early last year - got an A. And, perhaps more importantly, she's very civilized, for a 15 year-old wink.

Swedes Mon 08-Jun-09 15:31:57

oneluke - All three state secondaries in Harpenden are amongst the best state schools in the country. They beat a lot of independent schools resultswise and they aren't selective - other than by house price.

I live in central Harpenden and have had a child recently leave a Harpenden primary. Feel free to CAT me.

Good choice by the way. grin

edam Mon 08-Jun-09 16:02:34

I hear The Grove is v. good, people are keen to get their kids in. (Not my side of Harpenden so no personal knowledge.)

The only primary that is less than desirable in Harpenden is The Lea - not sure why as I don't have a child there, but am told by people who were offered it that it has a very high proportion of children with SN (one mother, who is a teacher, asked the head 'So how would you meet my dd's - not SN - needs' and apparently didn't really get an answer). N.B. I have nothing against children with SN myself, just reporting what I hear on the local grapevine.

Sauncey Wood used to be thought of as not v. good compared to all the others but it does seem to be improving fast, I gather. Tbh it would probably be sought after anywhere else, but Harpenden is lucky enough to have lots of great schools. And there's probably an element of snobbery as the catchment includes a council estate.

Ones that everyone wants are Roundwood, Wood End, St Nicholas's (CofE). Think Manland, The Grove, Crabtree, High Beeches are also good. St Dominic's RC is in demand but a parent I know took her children away - she was unhappy they were mixing reception/Yr 1.

Crabtree is fine, some of my friends kids' go there, although the last Ofsted said it was coasting after previous v. successful head left (previously had glowing Ofsted). And the (ex)treasurer of the PTA is standing trial for allegedly fiddling the funds!

edam Mon 08-Jun-09 16:04:01

Hatching Green is v. nice, btw, although you'd have to drive to the station. BUT not sure whether children would get into a good state school - suspect everyone who can afford to live there goes private!

Swedes Mon 08-Jun-09 17:37:51

Edam - I don't think there's anything wrong with the Lea Primary at all. Some people in Harpenden are just sniffy because it is catchment for Harpenden's v small council estate. If you compare it to the national average it is probably above average. The mother of one of DSa's classmates teaches as the Lea, I must ask her about the SN thing. It's probably myth.

edam Mon 08-Jun-09 18:06:25

Ah, I see. Suspected that might be the case. Have heard people being a bit sniffy about The Grove and Sauncey Wood re. the council estate thing. Although The Grove is now really in demand!

The mother who had the conversation with the headteacher at The Lea is someone who is normally a reasonable person (mind you, she used to teach at City of London girls so state primary probably not really her thing. She's also the person who took her son out of St Dominics. Both her school-age children now go private!)

verygreenlawn Mon 08-Jun-09 18:41:22

One of my neighbours teaches at St Dominics - now very much in demand, yet only a few years ago she tells me they used to fill the places with children from as far afield as Luton! Just shows how much things can change.

For the OP, if you see what looks like a very ordinary house marketed at a couple of hundred thousand over a near-identical house a mile or so away, you know the agent is whacking on a premium for the school. Beware! Just because the agent says it's in the "catchment" for a particular school, doesn't mean your dc will get in! You really have to be careful of falling in with the masses in this area in terms of what is classed as a "good" school - a friend of mine recently withdrew her daughter from Harpenden's so-called top primary and sent her to one a mile or so away, where she is happier and where (in my friend's opinion) the teaching is of better quality smile

pooter Mon 08-Jun-09 18:45:41

ooh Harpenden! DH and i really want to live there, but could only afford a garden shed - quite a spacious shed, but a shed nonetheless.grin

no advice, just jealousy envy - hope it all works out for you!

verygreenlawn Mon 08-Jun-09 18:47:58

Mind out for the old folk crossing the road there, though - it's the jaywalking capital of the South East.

No really I love Harpenden - where else could you join an organisation called SHAGS?

(South Harpenden Allotment and Gardening Society)!

Swedes Mon 08-Jun-09 20:00:08

Verygreenlawn - Harpenden has a very young demographic. It has a huge number of families with young children and few elderly people. You can get all this info on

verygreenlawn Mon 08-Jun-09 20:09:52

There may only be a few of them, but I swear they throw themselves in front of my car on a regular basis .... that bit in front of Sainsburys is lethal.

Swedes Mon 08-Jun-09 20:14:07

Verygreenlawn grin I rarely drive into town as we live v centrally.

cookielove Mon 08-Jun-09 20:23:16

Since no one has said about St.Albans, and i am 100% byast (sp?) since i was born and raised there, i went to garden fields as did both of my siblings, it is a very good school, i went onto S.T.A.G.S along with my sister and my brother to St.Georges in harpenden which are both very good schools as well. And there are lots of lovely primarys, in st.albans,

Swedes Mon 08-Jun-09 20:34:22

St Albans is v lovely too. But it has fewer families and fewer good family houses (and parking is always an issue if you want to live a reasonable distance from the station). And the schools are not as consistently good as Harpenden, but still v v good. A lot of people move from St Albans to Harpenden but I don't know any who have moved from Harpenden to St Albans.

OP - Are you moving from Belsize Park, Highgate or Muswell Hill? There is mass immigration into Harpenden from those postcodes.

Merrylegs Mon 08-Jun-09 21:04:04

What? St Albans has tons of families!

Ever been to Verulamium Park on a weekend? Heaving.

St Albans is v.v. expensive and Harpenden is v.v.v. expensive.

There is more 'to' St Albans in terms of town centre, cathedral, amenieties etc.

Harpenden is a more 'drive through and you miss it' kind of place (too many big houses behind gates!)

cookielove Mon 08-Jun-09 21:07:37

yeah i totally agree with merrylegs,

GreatGooglyMoogly Mon 08-Jun-09 21:14:13

I think Harpenden schools are even more oversubscribed than St Albans - something to bear in mind.

Swedes Mon 08-Jun-09 21:21:28

Merrylegs - Harp has more young families and fewer childless working young things. People from Flamstead and Markyate come to V park on a weekend. grin

JamInMyWellies Mon 08-Jun-09 21:22:20

I moved to Harpenden when I was 14 and attended Roundwood Park Senior fab school. O then went on to nanny in Haprpenden for 10yrs during this time I also did my training and subsequently worked in some if the Primary Schools. My knowledge of the following schoold id noe a few yrs out of date but anyway.

Wood End - fantastic school brill teachers. Great outdoor space they really encourage learnig through play and loads of outside activities.

Roundwood Junior & Infants again great had a bit of a facelift a few years ago.

Manland great school Lovely big classrooms did have a fairly large teaching staff turnaround a few years ago so not sure what the current staff are like.

The Grove - good school used to serve most of South Harpenden.

Crabtree really good, the head teacher there subsequently moved to The Lea I think to pull it up by its bootstraps.

The senior schools all have great reputations and do extremely well in the national league tables.

Dont really know the other schools. But I can say you wont go wrong Harpenden is a great little town have to disagree with theprevious posters drive through and you miss it. Great selection of resteraunts and pubs also good collection of shops. Rothamstead Park is lovely and the sports center has lots of childrens activites, a gym and swiming pool. Plus there is the tennis club.

Swedes Mon 08-Jun-09 21:22:59

GreatGooglyMoogly - Are you sure that's true. I've never heard of anyone who lives in Harpenden not getting a Harpenden school place. It's more myth stuff I think.

JamInMyWellies Mon 08-Jun-09 21:27:07

Clearly dont judge the teaching on my spelling or grammar am mumsnetting while watching the telly. grin

Merrylegs Mon 08-Jun-09 21:48:37

Yes. But Snorbens has...


(bigup for us STAGS girls, cookie! Please tell me it's not still known by the local lads as the LWH on the H...?? It's bin a long time...)

cookielove Mon 08-Jun-09 21:50:20

LWH whats that mean? i assume on the h means on the hill?

oh batchwood you gotta love it

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