Expert View: The trouble with St Albans’ ever-decreasing school catchments

Nick Doyle, Aitchisons

Nick Doyle, Aitchisons - Credit: Archant

School tour season is upon us and Nick Doyle from Aitchisons, St Albans, has his eye on the reducing catchments around the most sought-after secondaries

catchment area


catchment areas (plural noun)

1. the area from which a school’s pupils are drawn.

A buzzword in the office over the summer as the local school tour season is upon us and demand to live in the catchment area for the most sought-after secondary schools has become increasingly competitive amongst buyers.

St Albans is fortunate to have an excellent mixture of established and progressive schools, very much a beauty contest is a phrase I use with buyers, with the two main single sex schools naturally benefitting from a much wider catchment area.

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There is also an eclectic selection of private schools.

The new houses being built on Sandpit Lane and Hatfield Road - the former playing fields of Beaumont School - will surely reduce that catchment area even further and there is a realisation that traditional addresses where school entry was previously a given are now in jeopardy.

I understand the catchment for Beaumont was just over 1km this year due to a higher than average sibling intake.

Aitchisons recently had a family home on the market on the doorstep of a very popular school and were taken aback by the interest with over 30 viewings and 10 offers for the property. We have also recently sold similar properties in Marshalswick with high demand from buyers for similar catchment reasons. This huge amount of interest from local buyers is indicative of the current catchment dilemma.

The changing landscape has caused a lot of consternation and frustration for families. However, imagine if you found yourself on the wrong end of the catchment decision below, which I found on a local schools’ website. It is literally a numbers game...

Tie Break- when there is a need for a tie break where two different addresses are the same distance from a school, in the case of a block of flats for example, the lower door number will be deemed nearest as logically this will be on the ground floor and therefore closer.

For advice on all property matters please call Nick Doyle on 01727 855556