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What is Wheathampstead like please??(10 Posts)
I'm new to this board, but am really looking for some help on the area. We have been trying to find a house in Harpenden to move from NW London, but houses are just too expensive. I've been looking at Wheathampstead and it seems that you get more for your money there. Can anyone tell me please what Wheathampstead is like and what people generally think of it?
I have a 2.5 year old daughter that goes to nursery now, so will need a nursery there, also I can see there is a primary school but no secondary school - is it really difficult to get into a state secondary school in Harpenden if you live in Wheathampstead?
Also, I know there are tons of activities for toddlers in Harpenden, which is a short drive, and also the train station is a close.
We have now sold our flat in London and have to move by January, so I just don't know if we should go with Wheathampstead or hold out and take a rental until we find a house in Harpenden instead.
Please tell me anything you can about the area.
Thanks so much!
Hello Mariasha - I live in St Albans so can't tell you much about Wheathampstead as a place to live (though we often go for some lovely walks round there) but I can tell you a bit about the schools.
Primary is fine, but secondary is a big issue. It is very, very difficult to get into a state secondary in either Harpenden or St Albans from Wheathampstead, and every year there are headlines in the local papers about children from surrounding villages - particularly W - being allocated places in basically failing schools further away and with no transort links to them either. There may be other threads about that on this board, or if you search archives of the local press (St Albans Review, Herts Advertiser) you will see that it is a very major local issue. The situation is so bad that there are now some parts of Harpenden (Southdown) and St Albans (south and central) where it is very, very difficult to get into a 'good' secondary too.
There are lots of people here who can tell you about Harpenden in more detail too (smile)
Wheathampstead is fab.
Yes there is a problem with secondary schools but who knows what system they will have in place for admissions in 8 years time. It might all change and a lot of children do get the schools they want. Both the primaries have outstanding in ofsted.
The nursery in the village Rainbow house is fab but full - it too has outstanding in ofsted. But there are places in nurseries in Harpenden. There is a great playgroup too.
Its a lovely place to live and have made lots of great people. There are weekly coffee mornings run by the local NCT (though you don't need to be a member).
Let me know if you have any more questions.
Hijacking your thread - am also considering move to Wheathampstead and have been trying to work out my chances of getting my children into either of the local primary schools (St Helens and Beech Hyde). Do most children who live in the village at reception age get a place at one or other of the schools? And if not, where is the next nearest school. I cannot find any data on how many children were successful/unsuccessful in their primary school applications anywhere on line - thanks!
Wheathampstead seems really nice (I live in Harpenden, don't know W well myself but know people who live there who are very happy with it and with St Helens school).
Queen's right that every year there are stories in the local papers about children from Wheathampstead who don't get places in Harpenden or St Albans schools and end up with the one crap St Albans school or being sent to Hatfield, FGS. But Lou's right too about not knowing what system will be in place years in the future. They've changed admissions this year to go as the crow flies rather than nearest walking route, so that might have an effect anyway (dunno whether good or bad for W, though).
At least Herts CC finally seem to have woken up and realised there just aren't enough school places to meet demand. No idea what they plan to do about it, beyond putting on the occasional bulge class in St Albans primaries.
You could always go to Wheathampstead and then move to Harpenden nearer secondary school age if it continues to be an issue (rent out house in W and rent house in H for a year, say)?
Edam, the problem is that there are enough places at secondary schools but they are at the ones no-one wants (like FB in St A). Very difficult to get funding to expand the other schools while places are available...
OP I agree the primaries are v good in Wheathamstead, don't think you would have a problem getting a place. But the reason property is cheaper is because of the secondary school issue. Personally I wouldn't move there because of that. Even in Harpenden & St Albans it can be hard to get a place at a good secondary. Catchments are shrinking all the time...
As for hoping things might change re the secondary school issue as it will be 8 years before you have to apply - it is now 12 years since my daughter started secondary school and I remember issues with Wheathampstead then and people campaigning for a change in the admissions policies.
There's also very little for teenagers to do in Wheathampstead and you'll spend their teenage years driving them to Harpenden or St Albans.
I would hold out for a house in Harpenden.
nbee84 has a very good point. Over the past 2-3 years local primaries have had to accommodate 'bulge' classes plus each year more and more young families move into the area - so in 8 years' time there is likely to be even greater pressure on secondary places. Edam is right - council have consistently said there are enough secondary places; which there are, but at schools nobody would touch with bargepole.
There are plans to close and rebrand FB, but I think that will be an uphill task.
Just wanted to chip in here and hijack the thread ..sorry OP ...can't let the comments on FB go unchecked. My DD was appallingly treated at one of the oversubscribed schools in St A and (with reservations) we visited FB and were very impressed. To cut a long story short, we and she are very happy with it. I have not seen any poor behaviour, their GCSE results last year were very much improved. They are also NOT a failing school but "satisfactory with good features" according to their last Ofsted inspection. It depends what you want from a school - a lot of schools in the area are totally focussed on high achievement which just doesn't suit some children. At FB the staff really know the kids. Right ..rant over.
Back to the original post ..Wheathamstead seems very nice when we pass through.
There is very little for teenagers to do in Wheathampstead. If you have children you would be better off in St Albans or Harpenden. St Albans is best.
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