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PostPosted: Fri Feb 21, 2014 10:48 am 
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Joined: Thu Oct 17, 2013 11:05 am
Posts: 25
Ds has been fortunate to receive offers from Habs, St Albans and St Columba's. We have always preferred Habs as a school; the boys seem very confident and articulate and the staff has always been very welcoming and enthusiastic, there is much more music, the buildings seem more fit for purpose etc. St Albans does not put on such good open days - we have only been shown round by very shy sixth-formers and had little chance to talk to staff - and has not invited us in at any point of the application process, whereas Habs has provided opportunities to meet staff etc. We are away next week so do not have an opportunity to visit the schools again.

However, we are right at the extreme of the Habs coach routes, which would mean a journey of nearly 1.5 hours each way, whereas St Albans would only be 45mins each way. Even the coach manager at Habs cautioned us against such a long journey, thought the Deputy Head said they had never lost anyone due to distance. Although dh drives past Habs 3 days a week, I do not drive so ds would be completely dependent on the coach service, but there is a public bus to St Albans from the end of our road. I also feel that the Habs catchment would mean that his friends would be very inaccessible - the Deputy said that we would spend the next 7 years being a taxi service to Northwest London.

I had had concerns that ds would struggle with the academic pressure at Habs but he has been offered a small scholarship from St Albans, which I assume means he would not be bottom of the class. To complicate the decision making, he has been offered a more substantial scholarship by St Columba's, which, given that the fees are lower, would mean about 50% of the Habs fees. We loved St Columba's as a school but we have always felt that ds would be happier in a more academic environment and it had been our backup. However, that would be a lot of holiday that we might otherwise have to forego.

Ds and dh think that we should just go with our hearts and go for Habs but, even before the scholarships, I had serious concerns about the logistics. Ds does not need much sleep and insists he would be fine with the journey but 1.5 hours is a lot of time that could be more enjoyably spent.

Apologies for such a long post. I appreciate that similar questions have been asked before but would be grateful for the views of those who have made similar decisions or know the schools well, particularly where long journeys are involved.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 21, 2014 11:28 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 21, 2013 7:59 pm
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I think you are right to be worried - 3 hours a day as a commute, on top of homework etc seems excessive! It will also mean that he will not be able to access the full school experience if he cannot stay for after school clubs etc... Best will in the world, he will not be able to do his homework on the coach on the way home so it will be 3 hours wasted per day - although it could be socially fun.

You do not sound very positive about St. Albans - it doesn't appear to tick any boxes with you, whereas St Columba's obviously hits your pastoral button - and the financial one as well. This is obviously a concern as, as a family you have to be happy with any lifestyle decisions that fees will impact on and if private fees are going to impact on you, that will be an added pressure on your ds as well, regardless of where he is at school.

I do not know the schools you are considering but would be very worried about a 3 hour commute - especially if that 3 hour commute is going to be the most expensive option and one that you cannot help with, as a non-driver - I wouldn't want an adult doing that daily for the next 6/7 years, let alone a child. If your child is happy, he will do well - does St Columba's get the A-C pass rates at GCSE and the University entry rates?


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 21, 2014 11:48 am 
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Joined: Wed Jul 18, 2012 8:59 am
Posts: 431
Location: N London
I do think the length of the journey is a big factor, that sounds like quite a trek for your DS. It's a shame that you can't go to st Albans again, could you ask to visit when you return? St Columbas sounds lovely, are its results such that you think he won't reach his potential there?
Good luck with your decision and congratulations to your DS, he has done very well and I'm sure he will do well wherever you decide.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 21, 2014 12:15 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jun 15, 2013 7:46 am
Posts: 15
Clever children do well where ever they go. Long journeys are tough when children start GCSEs, there is so much homework to get through your son will be at a disadvantage with such a long journey before he gets home.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 21, 2014 12:28 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 04, 2010 2:51 pm
Posts: 1035
As much as you all like habs a journey of 3 hrs a day may be that bit too far. I used to travel that length of time to work when first started working and what initially seemed ok became tiresome as time went by. It means missing out on activities after school nearer home because he will be exhausted after the journey and needing to do homework. He may need little sleep now but that changes when those teenage hormones set in. Try and go back to St Albans we have several friends whose children go there and the boys love it. I have not heard any negatives from them or their parents. I don't know St Columbas but as has already been said if he is bright he will do well anywhere. Best of luck with your decision, but 7 years of travelling for 3 hrs a day seems hard. Would you do it for work if you had an equally good and closer place to go to?


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 21, 2014 1:04 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 04, 2009 2:01 pm
Posts: 6694
Location: Herts
St Albans is a wonderful school. I am sure they would give you the opportunity to go back and have another look. Your reasons for disliking it don't seem based on actually meeting the staff and understanding the ethos. How did your ds get on in the classroom and at the exam. I know lots of boys who go there and some more who were delighted to get an offer this morning. Three hours a day travelling and no local friends!!!!! 4 boys dropped out of Y7 at QE last year because the travelling was too much for them. Go back to St Albans. I can put you in touch with lots of very happy parents if you are interested. DG


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 21, 2014 2:42 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2010 2:45 pm
Posts: 4608
If there s no need to travel I really wouldn't. My DD went to a school 40 minutes away for a while, but many of her friends lived 40 minutes in the other direction, so a 1.5 hour drive to get here there followed by another 1.5 hour drive later or the next day. Your DS's friends could be 2 hours away. It might help to know where you live if you are happy to say.i


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