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Living in Hertfordshire

‘Hertfordshire hedgehogs’ are what residents of this home county were once referred to. The term was coined by Londoners, who claimed people from Herts made for prickly neighbours. Thankfully, these days Hertfordshire folk are considered a more affable lot – and who wouldn’t be with all that green space, historic estates and, of course, a glorious cathedral, on their doorsteps? 

One of the home counties in southern England, Herts lets you have your cake and eat it. Great transport connections for London commutes (the Tube and London Overground stretch as far as Watford) but simple village life or ancient city living entirely achievable too. The west may be flashier, pricier (Little Gaddesden was recently name one of the UK’s ‘poshest villages’) and more populated but the eastern half has other riches, not least two garden cities (Welwyn and Letchworth), more space and its fair share of attractive towns (Hitchin, Hertford and Bishop’s Stortford) and villages (Much Hadham, Standon etc).

Anything else you should know? Average earnings are high (the 12th highest of any UK local authority at the last count), London’s Parliament briefly moved to Hertford to escape the plague, and astronomers from the University of Hertfordshire have played a key role in discovering planets outside our solar system. Herts is where it’s at.

Education scene in Hertfordshire

Local Education Authorities in Hertfordshire
Hertfordshire County Council

With the exception of grammar schools, Hertfordshire has it all – from coveted state schools to eminent private day and boarding schools. Some of the state options are so popular that catchments have shrunk to a few streets where the houses have ever more eye-watering price tags.

But no grammars, we hear you cry? Fear not, for while fully selective grammar schools are long gone from the county, there are plenty of excellent partially selective state secondary schools that take a proportion of pupils based on ability in eg academics, sport or music. Because of their selective nature, any parent considering these schools needs to pore over the admissions policies to be doubly sure they’re not wasting their time in applying. And not surprisingly, places for many of the best state primaries (some still split between infants and juniors) that feed them are hotly contested.

Families living in the western end of the county may be able to apply to some of the nearby Buckinghamshire high-flying grammars. Chesham Grammar School takes a sizeable minority from its neighbouring local authority, although Dr Challoner’s Grammar and Dr Challoner’s High School take only tiny numbers of pupils (sometimes none) from beyond the Bucks borders (see school websites for catchment areas and further details).

There’s plenty of choice in the private sector – preps, seniors and all-throughs and a lovely mix of single sex, co-ed, day and boarding. The Metropolitan line running into Herts (Rickmansworth and Chorleywood stations) means there’s also the option of schools located nearer to London eg Northwood College for GirlsSt Helen’s School and The John Lyon School.

Mix and matching state and private is favoured by many around these parts – mainly state for primary, then private for senior, but sometimes the other way round, especially for families after one of the more selective state schools out of catchment.

We’ve focused our attentions in Hertfordshire on six areas of that are popular with families and home to a range of good schools – Bishop’s Stortford, Harpenden, Radlett, Rickmansworth, St Albans and Welwyn Garden City.

Looking for the best schools in Hertfordshire? Our Education Consultants can help.

The Good Schools Guide education consultants help parents from all over the world find the best schools for their children. We have experts all over the United Kingdom, each one with their own specialist areas of knowledge. If you would like to know more about your family’s education options in Hertfordshire and how we are able to help, please get in touch - [email protected] - or read about our education consultancy services.

Your thoughts on education in Hertfordshire

Do you have experience of education in Herts – or indeed elsewhere – that you would like to share with us? We depend on our network of parents and teachers to make sure the advice and information we publish is accurate, complete, relevant and up to date. Please write to us [email protected].

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