Boarding school for sixth former

(113 Posts)
ALong151 Mon 11-Mar-13 04:45:42

We're expatriates and looking to place DD at a good boarding school that would allow her to stay over exeat weekends or have no exeat weekends. As DD is rather academic, we"re looking or some place that would be able to nurture her and explore her potential to the fullest while encouraging her to do her best.She is also an all rounder with music and sport so would want to look for someplace that has facilities and opportunities over the weekends to keep her occupied. Since we are away , we would prefer a school which has mostly full boarders so she would not feel that the school is empty during weekends.

The problem is we are looking for her to start in sept, 2013 and it is rather late in the day applying now but news of our continued posting overseas just came in.Originally, she had been with us but we feel that we would want her to get back into the uk education system to get her ready for university. With no pressure from us at all, DD is aiming to enter oxbridge. Have written to many schools, but the reputed top schools have already allocated their places and do not accept anymore.

Great if we can get any feedback here.

happygardening Wed 13-Mar-13 08:33:10

You've missed the deadline for Peter Symmonds according to their website but there is a reserve list boarding fees a very cheap.

INeverSaidThat Wed 13-Mar-13 08:36:37

If your DD is very driven/ bright you may not need to worry about league tables/academic reputation etc. It may also be easier for your DD to get a scholarship at a less academic school.
Is your DD doing GCSE's? Are you looking at her doing A'levels or IB.
We came back from a 16 years overseas and my DD1 went to a sixth form college to do IB as she had no GCSE's (or any other qualification)
Will your DD be eligible for home fees status when she applies for UK University?
I think it will be hard to get a scholarship this late in the day sad ( but I don't know this for a fact)
Some of the Schools you are thinking of are a long way from Heathrow/Gatwick. Will this be a problem.

happygardening Wed 13-Mar-13 10:43:53

Shiplake? Good for Heathrow/Gatwick nice separate accommodation for 6th formers and not as expensive as many.

ALong151 Wed 13-Mar-13 14:54:46

INeverSaidThat- As I mentioned, it's been years since we have been back to UK so we are ignorant of the education scene, and the only news we are relying on are the league tables and recently, now this forum.I am not too keen on league tables, either and I agree nothing beats visiting the schools. But it gives me a semblance of the academic performance of each school which is as good a starting point as any.

I also agree that I might be unduly worried about her underachieving in a school which is quite low on the league table but I do believe that obviously to keep the standards up for a particular school especially for those in the upper league, they would go out of their way to ensure that they get the better teachers( correct me if I am wrong here) and being so far away, it would be worrying too if she were influenced by peer pressure of those who may not be so academic.At least in an academic environment, she would be spurred on by the competition and it would be looked upon as normal to do well.

The schools I mentioned are either giving a scholarship or are within our budget.DD has completed her GCSE's and obtained 9As.She does not mind either the IB or A levels as she's pretty much an all-rounder but has a preference for the sciences.It is also ideal if the school is nearer an international airport.

happygardening-she is not boarding at present, just living with relatives in another town, and she feels that the current school she is at is just totally academic and nothing else.We think that she will do better in a more holistic environment and that will prepare her for entry into a good university.

BTW, what is the difference between a Sixth Form college and a public boarding school?

happygardening Wed 13-Mar-13 16:03:08

6 th form colleges like Peter Symmonds are the equivilant to state schools they usually offer A levels Btecs and voccational courses. As far as I'm aware Peter Symmonds is unusual because it offers boarding.
I can understand you desire to send your DD to a very academic school my very bright DS is at a super selective it's not just the teaching there's no limit you can take something as far as you like if your interested, you're also with other like minded boys/girls, and so many of the extra curricular activities are also academic. The whole over all pace is so much quicker my DS was bored stiff in maths at his prep he had no interest in science now at 14 he's practicing on A level maths papers (easy apparently) and he loves science. Frankly I wouldn't pay for a less academic environment as we've good states on our doorstep.

ALong151 Wed 13-Mar-13 16:27:29

There seems to be differing statistics and reports among the league tables:- I am looking at the BBC, the Independent , the Guardian , the Telegraph and the FT. Which would be the most reliable?
eg, Ruthin seems to be rated quite high up by the Telegraph but it's nowhere to be seen on the FT or The Independent.
Surely the tabloids would have some statistics to go by before they start rating and one would expect some consistency there. I'm puzzled...... confused

happygardening Wed 13-Mar-13 17:45:21

League tables are complex some won't submit there results other measure points which of course penalises those who like my DS's school only do thre Pre Us and no AS levels. If it matters to you look at the results published on the schools website. Look at the actual breakdown of results the A's and A*'s forget the B grades, (this is only my opinion) where do they go to university if I took my DS school over 50% got A*s nearly 90% A's 42% a year got to Oxbridge/Ivy League.0 St Paul's Westminster are better look on their websites at their results these results really do put you in the top 10 nationally. These are the sort of results that super selectives are getting. Now look at a not very selective well known and well regarded school 44% A's and A*'s 4% Oxbridge. But this doesn't mean they are failing their very bright children or the teaching is necessarily not as good. In another life I used to compete on my horse as one instructor said to me "of course it's fantastic to take a wonderfully talented rider and horse and with your help and coaching they represent GB but its as wonderful and at least as clever to take an average horse and rider and watch them not represent GB but still compete at beyond their wildest dreams."
League tables don't tell us everything remember these schools with top results attract the very able are good at teaching the very able and those I've mentioned above are providing world class facilities small classrooms teachers with Phd's links with top universities the best of everything, they know how to teach the super bright they are also good at screening out the less able and if necessary asking them to leave if they're not going to perform.

INeverSaidThat Wed 13-Mar-13 18:44:24

Did your DD do international GCSE's? (IGCSE') Did she get any A*'s?

I understand (but dont know) that a lot of Oxbridge applicants have lots of A*'s at GCSE.

ALong151 Wed 13-Mar-13 19:02:48

Yes, all A*. but dont think that is going to help to get her any scholarships at the top schools at this late stage .... sad

Coconutty Wed 13-Mar-13 19:11:38

You are going to be too late for September's scholarships, surely? They are usually all awarded and accepted by now.

happygardening Wed 13-Mar-13 19:14:50

Can she be on a reserve list for a couple of super selectives that you like the look of. Children drop out all the time, dont get the predicted grades and even don't turn up on the first day of term with no explanation. If you would be prepared to move at the last minute it would definately be worth thinking about.

INeverSaidThat Wed 13-Mar-13 19:28:25

If your DD is interested in science and maths she may find that even in a non selective school that she will end up in classes with very bright DC's. My DS is at a non selective state school (oxsted rated 'good') but because he does sciences, maths and further maths he has ended up in classes with bright and driven DC's. They are mostly off to great Uni's including Oxbridge.
I really think you should be able to find a school further down the league tables that will still provide an excellent education and environment for your DD.

happygardening Wed 13-Mar-13 20:15:40

Ineversaidthat is correct even in relatively non selective schools the gifted are often put into "scholarship" streams with like minded individuals. When you visit schools ask exactly what provision is a available for the very bright clas size how bright are the others etc. Many in these groups are given extra support with Oxbridge applications etc.

ALong151 Thu 14-Mar-13 04:29:12

Coconutty-yes, ure right;its too late for the top selective schools. Thats why she has only been offered at those "not super popular" or non- selective schools which we have absolutely no idea of being so far away.we will need to make a visit to those schools ourselves but as i mentioned, i dont think its possible to make a visit to each and every one. At least this forum gives us an idea which to shortlist.

happygardening-the super selectives replies were that we are too late and all entries have closed and the waiting list is too long...etc. So not much hope there.But a few did revert to say we are on wait - list. However, much as i want to hope, I cannot in my wildest dreams imagine why a place once accepted would a kid drop out from such a school or not turn up for school!

Both happygardening & INeverSaidThat-that sounds promising; but would the schools like being questioned about their students in that way? We would be sounding like academic snobs and that may not auger well for DD if she does decide to take up at that particular school!

Another question :- is it true that the IB programme is looked upon more favourably than the "A" levels for entry into oxbridge? DD is pretty rounded but she has preference for maths and sciences.

happygardening Thu 14-Mar-13 07:17:19

"but would the schools like being questioned about their students in that way"
There are parents out there who never question anything and then moan and complain when things are not done in the way that thought it was going to be done. My advise is if it matters ask. As I've already said schools can be cagey about the actual number of full boarders but with regard to things like provision for thier most able are usually falling over themselves to tell you all about it and show you their fantastic results. But dont forget caveat emptor.
"I cannot in my wildest dreams imagine why a place once accepted would a kid drop out from such a school or not turn up for school!"
You'd be surprised.
"is it true that the IB programme is looked upon more favourably than the "A" levels for entry into oxbridge? DD is pretty rounded but she has preference for maths and sciences."
Westminster sends over 50% of its pupils to Oxbridge all doing A levels/Pre U's I'll leave you decide for yourself the answer to that question.

INeverSaidThat Thu 14-Mar-13 08:47:13

I had a DC do the IB and I have had a DC do A'levels. The IB is a lot more work and the results are less predictable than A'levels. Universities do like the IB but they seem to ask for comparatively higher IB grades than A'level grades. IYSWIM

Your DD will, if she starts her A levels this year, be doing modules for her A'levels. These are great for strong students as they are able to ensure that they get excellent results by resitting any less than stellar modules and will be able to target their University applications sensibly.

My DC that did the IB did not regret doing it as she got a decent grade and she enjoyed doing a wide variety of subjects. She only did it because we had been living abroad and she didn't have any GCSE's. She thinks it prepared her well for University.

Bronwen38 Thu 14-Mar-13 09:34:04

I notice you have a few welsh schools on your list. Have you considered Christ College in Brecon?? I have heard nothing but very good things. Really like the look of it and are going back for another visit soon to tick off lots of questions we have since we have looked a few other schools now and have a better idea of what we are looking for etc.

Another academic school locally(ish) to us is Haberdashers Monmouth - They have healthy growing boarding numbers, so much so this year they opened a brand new 6th form boarding house. We have looked at it for our DD a few times now and hope to maybe send her in a couple of years time (into year 9). By which time we may be looking a full boarding too (as we may well be abroad).

What we like about the school is it does not have any exeats (ideal if we are abroad). However, they do I beleieve have an open door weekend policy. I know a few people who have daughters at the school and they all say a "healthy number" of boarders stay in most weekends although there are 2 weekends a term where alot of the girls who have brothers at the boys school down the road do go home because the boys school does have set exeat weekends, however I have been told it is far from empty and a full weekend programme still runs.

From what I recall from our visit is that they are able to offer a very wide range of subjects in the 6th Form because although they are an all girls school they do mix with the boys school in 6th form in order to offer a wider range.

The school also deal with all the airport runs at the start and end of term.

I would suggest if you are coming to Wales or this side of the UK that Habs Monmouth may be worth a visit.

One other we hope to visit soon is Moreton Hall in Shropshire but cannot offer any feedback on that one yet.

We are quite new to looking at boarding schools etc and are learning alot as we are looking and finding we often have more questions after a visit and different schools tend to have such different feels and do things so differently. One or two we have looked at seemed just the ticket on paper (and website) but once we visited, knew it was not for us, nothing bad or wrong with the schools, but we just didnt get the vibe. I would strongly suggest you put by as much time as you can to come to the UK and spend lots of time looking around several schools. Perhaps aim to do your favourite contenders first with a view to a 2nd visit before you leave the UK.

Good luck.

Dustylaw Thu 14-Mar-13 10:01:32

Could you be more specific - was it all As or all A* that your daughter got? It does make quite difference! If it's all As then that would place her in the top 30% at many schools not in the top 100 of the league tables but would be nothing special at a school in the top 20 of the league tables. Different story if it's all A*. Also, if you've been offered places but you don't know anything about the schools it would probably be useful to mention them here or start a separate thread.

Honestyisbest Thu 14-Mar-13 10:47:22

I agree with Dustylaw. My son's inde selective wants a minimum of 6 A* at GCSE plus very, very strong extracurric achievement in music, sport, drama etc. Its all a bit scary!

ALong151 Thu 14-Mar-13 11:36:46

All A* and strong in extra curricular so I am not worried about that. The problem we have is that we are late for applying for any scholarship because the top league schools have already dished out their scholarships and students have accepted even if their grades may not be better than DD's.So we are really left with scholarships from non selective schools.

Bronwen38-thanks for the feedback and recommendations in those schools. I guess nothing beats a visit or 2 to check out with DD.

sonalir Thu 14-Mar-13 11:49:46

i live abroad. My daughter has the choice of seven oaks and haileybury for gcse. She is an ace squash player. Both schools are offering county level training for her. during visits, haileybury seemed very nice. what should i do?

happygardening Thu 14-Mar-13 11:56:57

Have you contacted Christ's Hospital? This is an extract from their website:
"Late applications from those achieving particularly GCSE results at this level will be considered if places are available"
it has a very strong commitment to bursaries.
"One or two we have looked at seemed just the ticket on paper (and website) but once we visited, knew it was not for us, nothing bad or wrong with the schools, but we just didnt get the vibe."
Couldn't agree more you really need to visit a school preferably not on an open day and ideally at least twice so that you can get a proper feel for it. So many look promising on paper and when you visit them are just not the right place for you or your DC. What works for one person isn't necessarily right for the next.

happygardening Thu 14-Mar-13 12:03:17

That last post was aimed at OP.
sonalir I believe Sevenoaks has a more academic reputation and reputation for being international. Friends there have day children and weekly boarders there they like it. I heard lots go home at weekends which obviously doesn't tie in with the international thing. Sevenoaks is a very nice town surrounded by lovely country good for Gatwick and good train links into London.
I dont know Haileybury at all or know of anyone there.

ALong151 Thu 14-Mar-13 12:35:36

happygardening-Yes, I have tried Christ Hospital but I am afraid we may not qualify for bursary and all scholarships have been awarded.also tried Sevenoaks too and was told they are all full!

ALong151 Thu 14-Mar-13 12:39:16

If we were to visit the schools, do we need to make an appointment or could we just make impromptu visits? I mean what happens if we were ( by the way) dropping by to check out a school. Would they entertain such visits?

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