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My DD left there last year and to be totally honest, I would not send my younger children there. I think it has gone downhill over the past few years and DD got much lower grades than she should have done, I think because she wasn't pushed as she had been at her previous school. I have therefore sent her to a 6th form college for her A levels.
One major issue I had was the lack of communication from the school. At one point I was living 3,000 away so the lack of communication was a real concern and I felt that certain issues, ie petty theft, were not dealt with satisfactorily.
I very much share inaflap's candour, and agree with the view, more or less. RAAS is presented as a hidden gem, highly sought-after in the south of England and all that. Ofsted have just downgraded the school from "outstanding" to "good" in October 2012, this year! Part of the concerns raised seem to focus on the failing academic side, especially in KS3 - one to watch. I would add that the boarding element is adequate, just. I would also caution against sending a child under 8 there. On plus side, heaps of activities and music and riding lessons don't appear to have a waiting list but beware they are taught by outsiders who use the school's facilities. It is not a private, academically-selective school though you may inadvertently get, or be given, this impression. Worth mentioning to be fair that in spite of their fall from the overall top spot, a number of provisions within the school were graded as "outstanding". This may mean demand for places stays the same until the next Ofsted report in 3-4 years, or falls - I have to say that the Head rather seems to expect the former, not the latter, and whether this is short-sighted and flawed remains to be seen.
What ages are your DC? They may find it all very intense and crowded, or they could love it. The school's initial assessment of a child's suitability to board may be regarded as superficial and scant - if, in the course of a term or year a child becomes unable to cope with boarding, the school becomes rather unrelenting in their desire to withdraw a place. Absent becomes the impressive show of pastoral care that you witnessed on the school's DVD or read about in their glossy brochure. You've absolutely got to imagine a setting which MUST work, or else. It is a HUGE school - plenty, plenty of room for improvement to go from basic/adequate to proficient/exceptional, but my observations are for the junior school alone. Also, opportunities available to reward the kids who 'fit', some do but some don't, as with schools in general. Good Luck.
I don't think much of it. I know of another person whose child experienced a lack of care and the supervision was appalling and I speak as a teacher. I would not send my child there. When I looked round which was some time ago, the accommodation was very basic alhough a lot of it has been done up now I think. They are a state school. A lot of the boarders are forces children and some are placed their by leas so there is a wide mix which is a good thing but some students will, by the very nature of the intake, may have issues that could impact on others. That is why the boarding is cheaper but the head sells the school as if it is private and does not make this side clear. I think if you have a tough, sociable child who can look after themselves and likeslots of activity and can withstand the deluge of hw then fine but if you have a sensitive flower then I would be wary.
Thanks Tiggytape! That is quite reassuring. Do you (or other MNers) have children who board there and might be able to comment on the pastoral care and other boarding experiences firsthand? I am comparing the school with another private boarding school and would hate to make the wrong decision based on RAAS being considerably cheaper (which, although let's be honest, does swing it in favour of RAAS!)... Anyone else with any other comments?
Ofsted raised concerns about child protection issues which is something it looks at in relation to all schools. Ofsted found that one memeber of staff with access to all children had not been CRB checked by the school, the written policies and training about child protection were inadequate or not followed, parental permission wasn't always sought for first aid treatment and the use of CCTV cameras was questioned.
Of course none of this means anything bad has happened at all. There was no question that any child had been harmed just the theoretical risk that policies / practice didn't comply with the rules. When the AMy 2011 inspection was carried out, parents at the school were satisfied with the school and the children said they felt safe and well cared for. All of the things that needed to change would have been rectified almost immediately because child protection issues are taken very seriously and the school would have had to comply straight away. They aimed to get everything in order by September 2011 so I assume it has been fine now ever since.
We are planning to apply to RAAS for full boarding in Sept 2013. We've looked at many schools and so far, it's well ahead in our top choice of schools. Well, that's until I read the Ofsted report of Oct 2011 that rated its boarding provision as "inadequate". Now I am really stuck. Half of me wants to take the Ofsted report with a large pinch of salt (as I have only ever read amazing comments on this school) and I'm not sure if Ofsted reports are worth the paper they are written on) while the other half of me thinks that I can't simply ignore the report. Could you Mners with children at this school (and I know there are a few!) please comment on the boarding there? The good, the bad and the ugly please! Many thanks!