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Secondary schools St Albans/harpenden ? State& private

(9 Posts)
charbw Sun 19-Mar-17 15:44:36

We are looking at areas to move to. (Currently in st.a) schooling is very important in that decision to us.
We wanted to hear what secondary schools people thought were considered the 'best' in and area St Albans or harpenden. Be it state and therefore catchment areas or private independent options.
We have two girls are are keen for girls only secondary but open to co-ed. We want both high acedemic achieving and extra circriular like sport. We appreciate our girls are too young to know if they would be acedemic enough to pass exams etc. We are planing to send them to prep for primary ages.
We want to understand our options for secondary schools and this would then influence where we would move to next maybe.
Any info/options would be really helpful x

camcam1 Sun 19-Mar-17 17:04:32

I don't know
Much about St Albans schools, my ds is attending St Albans boys school and I've heard soo much possiyive feedback from St Albans high school for girls and I believe it won the Times independent school of the year.

NWgirls Sun 19-Mar-17 19:26:56

Look into Parmiter's, South of St A. Partially selective, so either distance or test. I know one very happy parent, but not much more.

mellicauli Mon 20-Mar-17 00:46:56

You and half of North London! I would really think twice about moving to St Albans or Harpenden for secondary schools if you have young children. Catchments for secondaries are tiny and forecasts include not having enough places for children in the towns to go to any school, let alone have a choice of school.

jaguar67 Tue 21-Mar-17 09:00:57

Agree with mellicauli - for the 2nd/3rd year in a row, DCs who were previously getting into good schools such as Beaumont, Verulam, STAGs, from outer lying areas such as Radlett & Shenley, simply aren't now (unless they're siblings). Catchment areas definitely shrinking so a rider for any school you're considering on catchment criteria, be prepared to move pretty much onto its doorstep!
St George's Harpenden fits your criteria for academics & sporting & this year had a few girls I know of moving from St Albans High School - however for 11+, you will need to be living pretty much on the doorstep.
Other schools mentioned above also have great reputations, as does Sandringham. Friends have a son at Townsend - seems to get mixed reviews from folk and is lesser subscribed, but their DS has just got great GCSEs there. Not so sure on extra-curricular.
Definitely consider partially selectives such as Parmiters & Dame Alice in Potters Bar - great schools with some great results & uni destinations. Competition at 11+ is ferocious - 1,000 + applicants for DA this year for 65 places. If you're considering prep school first, don't fall into the trap that many do & assume that the prep schools will get them exam ready - I know of several v disappointed families this year. Preps are geared towards local independent entry, so you will need to make sure you cover state selective preparation requirements yourself (and they can be very different).
Private - my DD has just moved to St Albans School for 6th form (boys only til Yr 11) - cannot speak highly enough in terms of quality of teaching, extra curricular & ethos. I too hear great things about St Albans High School but no direct experience.
Hope that helps!

JustADadHere Tue 21-Mar-17 10:37:26

I live in St Albans and I agree with what has been said. This whole area is crowded and schools are feeling the pressure. During the last election, a candidate stumped up to my door and told me how they want to release some green belt land to build 400 affordable homes. I asked about corresponding traffic improvements and schools - their response was "I don't have any school aged children so I didn't consider that" !!!

Anyhow, one main reason for the crowds is the quality of the education. There really are no "bad" secondary schools here. There are a few that are worse than others (Nicholas Breakspear and Samuel Ryder), some that are perhaps average (Marlborough, Loreto and Townsend), some that are well above average (Beaumont, Sandringham, Verulam and STAGS (which is St Albans School for Girls, which is NOT St Albans High School)). There are two highly regarded privates (St Albans School (which is often referred to as St Albans School for Boys, although that is not its name) and the previously mentioned St Albans High School. If your children are exceptionally bright, they can try for Parmiters in Garston (Watford) or if they are in the top 0.5%, Dame Alice Owen in Potters Bar. You also aren't too far from Haberdashers Girls if you are thinking private and can't get into St Albans High School. The other North London privates are also reachable.

I don't know a lot about the Harpenden schools, but St George's has a tremendous reputation.

I am lucky enough to have a son in the St Albans School, where he has thrived. It is an outstanding place to learn, and I can't recommend it enough.

For a state education, the place to live is Marshalswick. That would put you into the catchment area for both Sandringham and Beaumont. For STAGS, you need to essentially be on the doorstep - too far away and you'll end up at Townsend (again, not a bad school, just not as good as STAGS).

Good luck!

bojorojo Tue 21-Mar-17 14:27:22

Queenswood School (Girls) in Brookmans Park near Potters Bar could be what you are looking for. It is expensive but a lot going on. Some transfer to St Albans Boys for 6th form. Quite a few come from the St Albans/Harpenden area preps. It is odd how the long list of schools above missed this one out. It is not particularly selective and is very sporty and has brilliant drama.

mellicauli Tue 21-Mar-17 22:18:14

Regarding Parmiters, the results are no better than Beaumont despite the fact it is partially selective. You need to be careful where you move in St Albans to be eligible: some postcodes are in catchment, some aren't. This will probably change at some point As pressure mounts on Watford schools too" (it did for Watford grammar, which is also selective and well regarded)

mellicauli Wed 22-Mar-17 00:05:17

Being in catchment for both Sandringham and Beaumont would be very tricky. Based on this year's stats you'd need to be under 955m away from Sandringham and for Beaumont you'd have to be also under 987m away from that and it would have to be your nearest school. The schools are maybe 1 mile apart. There may be a few streets where you can achieve this but it would be such a gamble years in advance I think you'd be better off going for one school or the other. (When. I moved where we are now I. 2007 I was in catchment for Sandringham. Beaumont and Watford boys. Now I am in catchment for none of them).

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