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Bruern Abbey(47 Posts)
Does anyone have a child or has had a child here? How is it viewed by the top academic senior schools, would they automatically refuse a child a place because they went there even if they were very able and had other strengths?
I'd also be keen to kno how very bright children with some difficulties do and how is music viewed within the school.
We sent our oldest son to BA back in 1995-6 when it first opened. We, I anyway were Americans living in Hampstead and had exhausted both the public and private sector. Someone, a therapist I think, told us about BA and we never looked back. He thrived there for 4 years, made wonderful friends (that he still has). I saw someone asked what the other boys were like, they were (for the most part) rather posh and some celebrity offspring, but not in in that London prep school way. I think they all had a common bond that precluded any snobbery or bullying, we never had a problem. My son went on to graduate from Oxford with honors. Our experience and that of his fellow classmates was wonderful, loved the getting off the bus in Hans Cr with their pheasants! The daily routines of etiquette and the amazing trips to France for wine buying were a bonus. I don't know how things are now, I just stumbled onto this site googling BA on a whim, but it was a miracle for us. Good luck!
So...my son has just been diagnosed with dispraxia....the school which looks the most suitable is breurn but as our son is only 6 what on earth do we do with him until he is old enough to go there - assuming of course he gets in...? He loves his current prep school but....slowly but surely his confidence is being eroded and he spends half of his time with the reception class as he can't keep up with his year group ...give it another six months and he will I'm sure be less confident than he is now
To be fair to his current school they have been fabulous and were in fact the ones who have worked out with the support of an ed psy of what was "wrong" but do I therefore have to leave him there for another 18 months to two years...? What has anyone else done to bridge this gap? Love to hear from someone who has had the same challenge as I have now got...!
So glad to hear that your son has settled in well. Hopefully the poor weather conditions have not been too bad for you with your travel arrangements. From own DC stories, the snow has been a fun time with inter-house competition of snowball fights and snowman construction.
A tip regarding your son. Don't know which night he boards but if you are able after half term to add another night, consider attending a formal dinner with him. The boys like to "show off" their parents and are given the chance to choose their tabler companions so he could then introduce any friends he has made.
There is a new school website which others interested in the school can learn more. I can vouch that the photographs are all of boys currently at the school including my own DC.
ECLEO - two and a half weeks in and very very happy (mother and son!). He seems to have lost all his uniform and is unspeakably filthy when I collect him, but has a huge smile on his face. He tells me he prefers it to his previous school, that it is much more fun. And he told me this week that 'nobody has shouted at me yet' which made me want to cry because it was a daily occurrence at his previous school.
He misses his old friends, but I hope in time he'll love his Bruern friends as much.
One of the things I've noticed that he talks a lot about the games they play at break. They set up these bases and attack each other, taking prisoners etc. He loves it. At his previous school the boys only ever seemed to play football or rugby at break, that was the culture and the A team would only allow fellow A teamers to play with them - complete tossers! (whoops excuse my language and I'm sure they'll all grow up into charming young men). But at Bruern they all seem to have fun together without any hierarchy. Certainly when I've wondered up to the dorms to try to find his lost uniform there is always a mad riot of half dressed filthy boys laughing and shouting.
Also loving the zero homework in the week. No more nightly battles, I can just enjoy the evenings with him.
He's boarding just one night a week at the moment. He cried the first night but now he's done it 3 times he seems happier about it. I'm hoping he'll move to two after half term but don't want to push him....the drive is 45 mins each way (nothing compared to Trefusis marathon trips) but I'm finding the early mornings a challenge since school starts at 8.15.
Trefusis - thanks for tip about coffee morning, will try to go.
Been re-reading the thread - hope your DS is settling in ok (and that you're coping ok with the whole boarding thing?!).
just picked up your msg. Thanks so much. Have sent details as you suggested.
Hi ECLEO if you mail/ call the secretary at Bruern your tel number, who your child is and that you have been speaking to me on mums net - she knows to send it on to me and I will call you
our ds is going for an overnight stay later this month with a view (if it goes well) to starting in sept joining the final year of the junior school.
I would really like to take you up on your offer and talk offline if that's at all possible. How do we do this? Is there some sort of mumsnet etiquette to follow?!
I'll see if I can also answer some of your questions - My son is dyslexic & slightly dyspraxic & has been at Bruern since he was 8 and it has made a massive difference to his confidence and his academic abilities -he's now in the lower 6th - we arrived there after he had had a really bad time at his previous prep school.
Whether you think boarding is a good thing or not Bruern offers so much to help your son with his confidence and general ability to learn that for many it becomes a sacrifice worth making. My son is a flexi boarder and to your point garibaldigirl I drove him as a day boy 11/2 hrs each way for the first year - it was tiring but it was absolutely worth it! we have now rented out our house and moved closer and will stay nearer the school until my DS finishes. It has been a sacrifice but It has def been worth it!
You have to bear in mind that Bruern can't work miracles but what they try to do is give your son the tools to become the best he can be and to become confident in himself - last year boys went to a variety of schools after common entrance - Teddies, Stowe, Bryanston, Shrewsbury, Milton Abbey, and one even went to charterhouse - but it's really completely linked to your son's own ability and specific difficulties and we sent our son there for all of the reasons Garibaldigirl states - we just wanted to take the pressure off and allow him to be the best he could be. Bruern definitely does that and I am really really happy that I sent my son there.
If you send your son to Bruern then what you will get is a happy sunny boy who is confident and knows his own abilities.
Last year all the boys that took CE passed -and I think all went to the school of their choice - although a few subsequently changed as there is not always the dyslexic support that might be promised - a couple who were still not ready didn't take it and stayed back a year and that is common and not seen as a bad thing at all.
As with any school there can be bullying and we have had a little experience of it- what's different at Bruern is that it will get dealt with swiftly and is not tolerated. Some of the boys do have their own difficulties and can be a bit tricky - but I think that would be the same wherever you sent them.
The New head has found his feet and is really good - All the older parents were very attached to the old head so it took a little time to get used to the change - but he had added a lot of extra value.
The principle is eccentric but he is fantastic with the boys and his whole heart is in it as he clearly had some similar issues himself growing up.
As a parent it does feel that it could be getting a bit too big now and class sizes seem to have gone up from 8-9 to 13/14 in some cases.
I don't know what plans the New Head has for expansion but this could detract in the future - last year I knew 90% of the other mums - this year thats not the case as we have had quite a big influx and I am not sure the school was quite ready - eating /parking and sleeping are getting a bit tight!
It's also a very eclectic mix of boys and parents - but we all have one thing in common - all our boys have struggled at some point - therefore it is without doubt one of the most welcoming environments as far as other parents are concerned...
Garibaldigirl there is an informal coffee morning on Mondays after the drop off at a local coffee shop which mums tend to go to....its def worth going along if you can - I work again now so don't get there v often but you should try and go along if you can...
I would recommend it to any parent who is looking to help bring out the best in their dyslexic son - its not an academic hot house so if you are hoping your son will suddenly get into Westminster it won't happen unless he was bright enough to start with - but he will def achieve his potential if he works at it and the teachers are really the unsung heroes..
If anyone wants more details they can contact me on here and I am happy to talk off line
So, finally, my eldest son is starting bruern in january. He is 10. He's been doing 'fine' in his prep school and has 'picked up a lot' according to his headmaster, but not as well as we think he should. I think, like lots of dyslexic/dyspraxic boys, he's written off as being less bright than he really is and doesn't get the attention he needs. He has no confidence. He gets shouted at by some teachers for not remembering things, being untidy or being disorganised - things he can't help. And, as in a lot of these ultra competitive schools, he is made to feel small by some of the staff and some of his peers (and their parents). The conventional clever or sporty boy is the only one who is celebrated. I have slowly grown to find many of the staff/boys/parents very slightly repulsive. Not proud to say that, but that shows me it's time to
I thought Bruern seemed amazing. Happy. Fun. Nurturing. It's small enough for every boy to count. He went for a day and totally loved it, much to my surprise since he hates change. Have decided that I don't really give a stuff whether my son gets 65 or whatever in his common entrance exam, so long as he comes out the other end of prep school as a happy confident boy who knows what he loves. I speak as someone who has 5 children and my his elder sisters were lucky enough to be academically conventional and easily placed in academically selective schools.
The art of parenting a non-conventional child is a much bigger challenge. And i've decided that choosing to focus on happiness and confidence rather than common entrance scores makes all the choices much easier. My dyspraxic son is the nicest and most thoughtful of my 5 children. He thinks differently. He is thoughtful, imaginative, creative and no less a person that the computer brainbox who gets 100% in his maths exam. Am ranting a bit, must stop!
Having said that i am hoping Bruern will teach him the skills to do better academically. But we'll wait and see.....
Love to hear from anyone about Bruern. Has anyone else got a dyspraxic son there?
I feel so incredibly lucky that we can afford to make this choice for my son. I sometimes wonder how he would have fared in our local primary with 30 in a class.
This may be late - but I am the mother of a DC who went to Bruern Abbey having just turned 9 years old, after his 3rd London prep school was failing him. He is now 16, in first year A Levels at Charterhouse, having done wonderfully at GCSE's. Bruern is an exceptional place restoring the confidence of both child and parent, and in turn restoring that fragile relationship between child and parent. I'd be happy to speak to any of you if there are any other questions I can help with.
Hello - we went back. very positive vibes. nice young chap showed us the new DT room - bet the boys love that addition.
DS going for an overnight stay - see how he copes.
had good chat with head - but realised afterwards that whilst we got all the info about how things are done in the junior school (max 10 per class etc) didn't get much info on the lower and upper sixth.
also he explained school has expanded a little recently. have parents regarded this as a positive move? any fears of further changes?
how do the boys find transition into lower sixth? how many in a class?
are they still streamed?
do boys feel like they are getting enough support still? if our DS goes he'll only have one year in junior school so hoping this is enough to make him feel like he can cope with CE preps.
were parents generally pleased with outcome of last year's CE?
any answers gratefully received!
Dear ECLEO and GaribaldiGirl,
To the best of my knowledge, the principal does not teach the children and the day to day management of the school is in the hand of the head.
As you might appreciate, I cannot comment on the retired dyslexia specialist position but if the principal is "dilettante", all I can say is that the school has existed for 20 years with pupils travelling from as far as mainland Europe and the Americas to attend, so he must have done something right. I met him only after my DS started but it has not made a difference in terms of choosing the school.
I would be curious on what basis it is judged not to deliver. I believe the schools view their success on the number of boys that go to mainstream public schools espcially when you consider their performance when they come in. I would guess that Ruth Kelly would not given up her ministerial position and all the bad press in order for her son to attend the school if it did not add some value.
As GaribaldiGirl highlights, the choices are different if your child is not conventional. BA is not everyone's cup of tea for its quirky approach and non-pc attitudes to child rearing. Like all schools, of course you have your ups and downs. All I can say is that as parents if you can embrace the oddness (try getting brown shoes that takes dedication in itself), it can work for your boys. As my husband says, the school suits non-convential children or non-convential children suit it.
totally agree. the boys need good specialist multisensory teaching and a sympathetic approach.
i think the view of the specialist i spoke to was that the school professed this but didn't quite deliver. however, this is hard to believe nowadays -how did it get Crested registered and a good Ofsted? and if the boys get into good schools at 13 then it must be doing something right.
maybe the school didn't quite have the formula then but has improved since.
yes it's so difficult. you just want to find somewhere that allows your child to unlock their potential and where they're happy, make friends and feel secure. But why oh why is this so hard to find for a dyslexic child? so many schools claim they have the right specialist help but when you look into it it's token. For a parent it's hard trying to get unbiased, straight answers - a lot of schools will just tell you what you want to hear. Argh!
But he is dyslexic himself, which I found interesting. He'll certainly understand how it feels to be different. Isn't it more important that the teaching staff are trained to deal with dyslexia/dyspraxia? Am going with my boys in a few weeks for an assessment, will check it out. I seem to remember him saying a certain percentage were 'specialist', but can't remember the number - was too busy loving the fact the boys were charging round the gardens having fun....
The headmaster at my sons' current school spoke highly of Bruern and he is extremely experienced and close to retirement. They have sent several boys over the years and he only had good things to say.
Gosh it's stressful when you're child is not 'conventional'. I have 2 girls at secondary school level who are so straightforward - and I never had to think about their schools - it was all so easy.
that makes me smile. my son's football team has probably won 1 match in the 2 years he's been at his current school so that certainly doesn't put us off!
i went to try and flick through a tatler at the newsagent but too late for october edition. what did it say??
p.s. a retired dyslexia specialist (well-known in the field) recently described the principal to me as a "dilettante" and was rather scathing about his knowledge and understanding of dyslexia. admittedly this was based on her experiences of him 4+ years ago but we were a bit puzzled by what he does and what his involvement is in the school. also whether he might suddenly sell out to a dreaded private equity business...?
That's so nice to hear. I love the fact the boys get to play outside so much. At their current school it's all rugby, football - all very structured.
Can I ask - does your son board? And at what age did he start?
I have no reservations about moving him other than the boarding. He's only staying for one night to start with but it's a pretty longish drive for me and he has 4 siblings, so I'm hoping to persuade him to stay more. But he's quite a homebody and prone to anxiety. His younger brother will be joining him after 2 terms and they're really close, so I think that will make it easier. But the thought of all that driving fills me with dread!
Hi all, hope its ok to jump in I am also a BA parent of long standing. I agree
Whole heartedly with much of what I love chocolate pudding has already said.
Bruern is a wonderful school that allows boys to be boys. They build dams in the stream, play bulldog on the lawn
get as muddy as they possibly can and then run back to class sometimes with two shoes not always their own, but usually two. It's not the right school for everyone if you like a lot of structure and get upset about messy clothes and missing shoes, jumpers, etc then it may well drive you a little crazy. There is so much to love about the school and I feel truly lucky to have stumbled upon such a magical place. Of course nowhere is perfect but for our family it comes pretty close. My eldest Ds sits common entrance this year and hopefully will slot back into main stream education a more confident and capable young man equipped with the tools he needs for the next step into senior school.
So glad to hear you will be joining us GG
The parents like the boys tend to have been through the mill so to speak and I
think that common bond helps to create a very warm and friendly atmosphere.
It was your son's school. My DS was so pleased (he didn't play) that they had won a match. Think the BA team were heros, well for a few days at least.
ECLEO, GaribaldiGirl is right some of the boys are posh, very different family backgrounds to my own and at least no one arrives by helicopter anymore, but don't let that put you off.
ECLEO - For what it's worth - my impression was that the boys were on the whole quite 'posh', bet there are lots of double-barrelled surnames etc. But that is not to say they are spoiled or snobby. Also I'm suspecting a lot of them will have had humbling experiences at competitive mainstream prep schools. My husband and I are not from privileged backgrounds.
Bruern came to my son's ultra competitve sporty school this week for a match and beat our B team. Hooray!
Dear GaribaldiGirl and ECLEO,
First GG, glad your husband like it and good news about your son joining. Start looking for those brown shoes.
How do I answer your question? Schools attract all sorts of children from a variety of backgrounds. I would guess some lucky so and so get their fees paid by an LEA, others parents, grandparents, who knows. Boys go to BA because they have difficulties. OK, they have just got on the Tatler 2013 list of top prep schools but once the boys have on their uniforms and playing "bull dog" in the grounds they are all pretty down to earth.
My husband loved it too - he visited last week. Going to move 9 year old next term, when he'll have just turned 10 and probably his brother in September. Hooray, can't wait!
sorry, one other question!....my DS is at a fairly down-to-earth private school with quite unspoilt and level-headed children (despite being in london!) and so I was wondering what the mix of boys was like at bruern? thanks
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer. It's all really helpful. Back to Bruern in December so we shall see...
I will try and answers your questions. Firstly, don't do guilty. There is no right or wrong answer but what feels right for your DC.
STARTING AGE - Junior vs Senior School
When my DC joined, the term often used was being Bruerned and it takes about a year.
My observations are that the junior school time just gives them the opportunity to catch up, "discover" themselves, realise that having learning difficulty is not unusual and demonstrate their abiities/talents. Once they start the hamster wheel of CE, BA like all prep schools needs to cover the CE curriculm so there is less time, if that makes sense.
Also there is the issue of senior school choices. There is every likelihood that you won't discover your DC abilities until end of their first year and you may start viewing senior schools in the first year of senior's so there is less time. Some senior schools want registration 2 or even 3 years out, I would just caution that their performance in their current school may not be indicative of their true ability. It is my opinion that the educational choices for children with additional needs is not simple and a lot of time and effort needs to be spent to find a suitable choice or choices. Finding BA is a challenge in itself and then what to do after that is a whole saga.
It was the case when my son started that you had to provide them with a laptop. Every boy has weekly typing lessons throughout the school and some papers of the CE exam are produced by the boys on laptops - RS, history and English I think. This is also the case for intenal exams.
As I touch type, I had my son learn before he started at BA. It is not necessary, but if DS is not starting until next year, I would say it is worth considering. I used a programme called English Type, which I found the most comprehensive. Son now types in excess of 40 words per minute, which is respectable.
SENIOR SCHOOL CLASS SIZE
I think about 8, 9 or 10 but cannot be 100% on that.
My DS does seem more engaged than at previous school though that is not true of every subject. Latin has been introduced and this seems to have gone down well with the boys. It is difficult to comment on the quality of the teaching. I do believe that a child left last year after scoring an average of about 90-95% in each of the 7 CE subjects, so guess they must be doing something right.
I cannot answer this but would comment that many of teachers hold dyslexia diplomas/qualifications and attend courses at Helen Arkell Dyslexia Centre.
They get 40 minutes of homework at the weekends. Single subject, typically maths or English. Prep is timetabled during the school day when they are expected to complete any homework then. As the school day is long, it finishes at 6.15pm for both boarders and day boys, it is not carried over into their own time. So you can have family time over the weekends.
FRIENDSHIPS and FRUSTRATION
I am not trying to minimise the importance of friendships, but as DS gets older and is "left behind" this can open up a whole can of worms and child feels increasingly isolated. My experience is that low self esteem hinders learning no matter how bright they are.
My DS will do CE June 2013 so not long. Knowing my son, he is oblivious to the pressure, just how he is. It will be interesting to see how or if he changes over the next year.
My take on pressure is that it relates to the choice of senior school. If DC is down for very academic, eg Winchester then they may well be aware of what is expected of them. Other schools may not require such high scores. I guess a conditional offer by a senior school will be made following reference from head, so would say that an offer would be made only if all feel child can achieve requirement. Could be wrong, but would not make sense to offer if no possibility of child reachng required score.
Hope that helps, but let me know if you want to know anything else.
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