Free school story: Alban City School


In 2011, a group of parents came together to start a school that would meet the huge need for primary school places in St Alban’s.

 Alban City School opened its doors in 2012, and, when Ofsted visited in 2014 they said that, “there is a real sense that this is ‘our school’, established to meet a local need. There is a strong commitment to its success.”

The community feeling is maintained through a range of partnerships and activities, including shared story-time with neighbouring schools, visits from the local police and fire brigade and trips to nearby centres of learning such as Whipsnade Zoo and Chiltern Open Air Museum to enhance the curriculum. Before and after school care helps working parents and means that the school remains a hive of activity long after most school gates shut.

Alban City has high academic expectations and Ofsted praised it for ensuring that all children make good progress, regardless of the fact that many start Reception with levels of skills and knowledge which are below those expected for their age. The school bases learning on the National Curriculum but delivers this through a thematic approach that makes links between different subjects in all three key stages. So that everyone knows what’s going on, the school also maintains blogs for each class to record all of their latest achievements.  

In a short space of time the school’s founders have created a very special environment, where Ofsted found that children are, “are resourceful and resilient learners … (who) enjoy being challenged and doing difficult work” and where behaviour is outstanding, with pupils who are, “exceptionally friendly and welcoming”.  

Inspectors also said that the children provide, “sage advice on how to keep sharks out of swimming pools” – which suggests that they must be having a lot of fun too!