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Moving to St Albans in July/August

(8 Posts)
Voljumen Mon 14-Apr-14 21:27:02

Dear All,
We are moving from Amsterdam to England, most probably to St Albans or Guidford. Our DD1 is starting year3 and DD2 will have to start year 7.We do worry, of course, that we cannot even apply for a place before July or August. I don't even see how we are going to buy or rent a house at the right area.
So obviously (or not????) we will be offered a place at an undersubscribed school. Everywhere I look a see how difficult to get into the good state schools even if you live literally at the gates of them. I don't even know if it matters where we live since we missed all the deadlines for applications. :-( I read horrible things of Sam Ryder (info is 2 years old), which seems to be the only truly bad secondary school in the neighbourhood. Has there been any changes there? Should we worry? Are there other schools we should definitely avoid?

Bananabrioche Tue 15-Apr-14 16:49:45

I don't think Samuel Ryder is as bad as it used to be. I have a few friends with children there who are doing well. A new head took over a couple of years back, and has made some sweeping changes. Poeple locally think it's a school 'on the up' with enthusiastic teachers and small class sizes.

There are no awful schools in St Albans. Marlborough is the other school which is likely to be undersubscribed and that's ok too. People prefer Sandringham and Beaumont but in reality, bright kids also do very well at Marlborough. STAGS is a very good school but not to everyone's taste.

You can always put your DD on waiting lists - they do move and spaces become available. Good Luck, St Albans is a lovely place to live.

JenningsRoad Tue 15-Apr-14 17:07:43

Samuel Ryder academy certainly had a very bad reputation in its former life as Francis Bacon school. But it has re-opened and I agree with previous poster who said it's on the up.

I went to Loreto College, and that is an excellent school, as are Sandringham and Beaumont, but as you probably know, they get 6 or 7 applicants per place. I have friends with daughters at STAGs and they're all doing very well.

Some of the newer developments in St Albans are starting to mature, like the old Marconi site or the Highfield development. They are both near Nicholas Breakspear school, which hasn't been doing too well but should be improving following Ofsted recommendations. And more crucially, it has vacancies which the cream of the crop certainly won't have.

Voljumen Wed 16-Apr-14 12:56:01

Thank you for reassuring me that in St Albans even the school with the worst reputation is good enough.
I would like to ask you something else about the council's practices. How far can the council send you when you have two kids in different age groups and a partially disabled husband to take to schools and railway stations? Can you appeal in August if you feel they have been unfair?

They published a list of secondary schools in the county that have available places (Marlborough seems full). In St Albans there are only three and as one of them is Catholic there are only two left (I am not really religious myself, but my kids haven't even been baptised and my husband is a true atheist). In this case, what happens if I put down the two schools that we really prefer due to the location (closest to our future address) first. Is there any chance for our DD to get in?

Bananabrioche Thu 17-Apr-14 08:02:11

I'm not an admissions expert but I think that the council allocates the school highest on your preference list which actually has a vacancy. You can go on the waiting list for other schools but if they have no vacancy the council will not offe you a place. If you want to apeal the council decision, you need to show why your preferred school better suits your child. I don't think your husband's disability would be counted as grounds for an apeal since a secondary aged child wold be expected to get themselves to school independently.

I have always found Herts CC quite helpful. If you phone school admissions they will talk you through the process.

mummytime Thu 17-Apr-14 08:37:24

If you move to Guildford - which is the other side of London, so you probably won't get many replies from people there. Well I have known people get into the most desirable secondary school having move in July - they appealed. Surrey is pretty over subscribed, but does have quite a bit of movement. I think on the numbers I saw earlier this year, you will get offered a Guildford secondary school.
For Primary it depends where you live, all/most are pretty good (pretty much regardless of the OFSTED ratings). Your child may well go into a class with more than 30 children, and you may need to appeal.

Voljumen Thu 17-Apr-14 10:17:34

Thanks for sharing this, Mummytime! I am bracing myself for an appeal, I heard it can be a bit humiliating. Esp if you are foreigner who is not used to this system. But I understand it is all about being fair and they just want to make sure your claims are valid and true.

It sounds so hard for my secondary DD that she will be expected to move around on her own when she knows close to nothing about the area and has never had to travel alone here. We hardly ever use the public transport here in the Netherlands, just the car and the bike. And I would never let her travel alone until I know she really knows her way around. I am sure in about half a year she might be as independent as expected, but right now, she is just a frightened little girl, who expects me to hold her hand and just be there for her.

Does anyone know a secondary school in these areas that are more relaxed (but provide quality teaching)? I don't really like highly competitive, rigid schools. All the information is about performance and university choices, which are very important for us, too, but what really matters is (we learnt here) that if children are made comfortable and motivated enough to work hard with pleasure the outcome is outstanding.

Stalbans2016 Fri 10-Jun-16 20:05:42

Hello. Recently moved to the area and had the same dilemma of which school to send our daughter. Having read the Ofsted reports on some of the undersubscribed school your perception changes when you visit them and meet the headteacher. Although schools in St. Albans are generally good we eventually settled for Nicholas Breakspear Catholic School. The new headteacher is very passionate about the school and has transformed the school. This reinforced as we were leaving and we spoke to some parents. They could only spoke highly of the head and the changes. Our child is truly cared for and is making great progress. The right choice. Just pop in and see the school. Good luck.

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