St Albans independent schools(12 Posts)
We are thinking of moving to St Albans in a few years and are considering St Albans School for our son (13+) and St Albans Girls' School for our daughter (11+)
I wondered whether anyone had experience of either school- what do you think? I'd particularly love to hear about the selection procedure and how competitive it is. Both kids are at a London prep school at the moment and I've found competition for places at that school to be completely crazy- 7yos being tutored for the exams every day after school etc. Are things similarly mad in St Albans or is the pressure a bit less?
Are there any other schools you'd be thinking about, either around St Albans or Luton/Hitchin?
Hi, I'm originally from St Albans and went to school there. One of my brothers went to the boys school and he really enjoyed it there ( though this was 15 years ago)! But it is still thought of as a very good school. Another independent boys school in the area you might like to look at is St Columbus (it's Roman Catholic but my other brother, who is not RC went there).
As for the girls school - I don't mean to be pedantic but do you mean St Albans High School for Girls? Because St Albans Girls school is a state school, and whilst thought of as an OK school, is VERY different to St Albans High School for Girls which is the independent school. Just thought if point that out as may confuse your research otherwise! Another local girls independent school is Loretto (again I think is RC).
Sorry I can't give you much help with what the schools are actually like now though - hopefully someone else will be along soon with children there now!
My son will be joining St Albans next year at 11. We LOVE what we know of the school and are incredibly anxious for him to start. We chose to go to St Albans over other independents in the area (Habs Boys is a do-able distance from St Albans) because of the level of pastoral care. They really seem like they will get to know my son as an individual and not as a potential test score. He didn't find the exam process difficult, on par with the rest of the schools, really. St Albans does their exam and interview on the same day, which is a bit different. There were around 300 applicants this year for 72 spots. I am sure that there are more offers than the 72, though, so you have a decent chance.
Matriculation evening is tonight - I can't wait, personally.
Thanks, both of you. Yes, I meant St Albans High School for Girls. I'll have a look at the others you suggest.
Ds will also be starting at St Albans in September at 11, which we're also looking forward to. I'm afraid I have no experience of 13+ but at 11+ I would say it wasn't terribly competitive for a selective school. Ds wasn't successful in the state selective exams (which didn't surprise us) but has a scholarship from St Albans. A boy from his year is also starting who isn't in the top set (of 3) for English. I have heard it said that anyone from the top half of our local primary would get in. From reputation, I think the High School is more competitive for the girls. Ds was tutored for a year as the English at state primaries does not really cover the formats required but I'm not sure it would be necessary from a prep.
St Columba's is a lovely school for boys, though not in the same academic league as St Albans. For girls, you might want to consider St Francis' College in Letchworth. We really loved Habs, but decided the journey was just too far.
I know some girls from that area who go to Queenswood at Brookmans Park which is not that far. Boys and girls go to Haileybury too from that area. However, I think STAGS and STABS are extremely good and less expensive than the other schools I have mentioned. I do know parents who felt that STAGS had an unfortunate air that their children were lucky to go there, but most were happy.
St Albans High School for Girls is very academic. For the first time this year (2013 entry) there were 5 year 7 classes. Not sure if this will just be bulge year or whether they will carry on.
Academically the school is excellent and their pastoral care is pretty good. One thing that I fns annoying is that LOTS of kudos is given to the sports girls but the school is very academic. I was talking to a lady who went there as a child and she told me how she always felt a bit second class as she wasn't sporty. It hasn't changed!
If your DD happens to be sporty there is a lot of competition for places in teams and sadly this causes quite a lot of anguish for the girls. Also it's always the same faces in the school teams.
That said DD is very happy there but she has found her niche and doesn't hang around with the sporty girls as such - more of a maths/science nerd - her words! However I do have friends whose daughters are sporty and there is always bitching about who has and hasn't got in to netball/lacrosse/hockey teams.
The school is big enough to accommodate all different types of girls but not massive so your DD shouldn't get "lost"
Hope that helps.
I know of someone at the High School for Girls and their parents bitterly regret sending her there. They have found it incredibly academic and high pressured, which was fine when she was living up to the pressure but as soon as she had a slight academic problem they have been really unsupportive. They are obsessed with their position in the independent league tables and actively encourage less than stellar girls not to aim too high for Uni places so that they can boast about the % that got their first choice uni last year...
I know a family who became jobless deliberately to get scholarship for their son. I know they r cheating but their son is sitting for the exam this year.they have a new 4 wheel drive, newly refurbished and extende housee..I really want the school to visit the kid in their house - look at the riches and then offer bursary and scholarship...whatsoever!
Iam getting annoyed by these people and wonder how the school turns a blind eye to this!
Hi Tangerinesushi - a bit late to the discussion but with my kids at uni I don't really post here anymore!
Daughter went to the high school and son to St Albans - both academic and sporty and both very happy at school! Well maybe the son not quite so keen, prone to naughtiness!!! Both obtained good grades and both at good universities so schools were right for them!!
I have family in London so I know how competitive entry is there - definitely easier to get in but still competitive. They are selective and academic schools but there are more academic schools (Habs), less academic schools would include Berkhamstead, St Francis, St Columbas, Aldenham and Haileybury of course but only if you have loads of cash as it is primarily a boarding school!
Hope that helps!
What about NLCS for your daughter. There is a direct coach from St Albans to the school.
It might be worth knowing that the girls for the High School come from far and wide on 12 coach routes. Because the local state schools are ranked 'outstanding' it is a fairly low percentage of actual St A kids who go so friends can live quite a way from each other. I know three girls who were offered places in 2013 and turned them down once they got state school places. The local state school Verulam for boys is good and apparently last year had more oxbridge places than St Columbas. Just saying you might want to look at a range of options in the area as well as the private ones.
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