Chances of Getting in to Good Boarding School for 6th Form

(29 Posts)
Dancingdreamer Sat 24-Aug-13 00:50:35

My DD has announced that she wants to go to boarding school in 6th form. Couple of reasons: wants a change after being at current school since age 5 and also I get the impression that she wants a more challenging environment. I would like some advice on options to consider.

She is currently at a lovely independent girls school which gets good results but hasn't got the academic rigour of some other schools. So whilst DD is always top of the class, not sure how bright she really is.

She likes look of CLC and Rugby. Not sure how easy it is to get into one of famous names (but name is part of appeal for her). She wants a school where majority board. I think she would struggle to settle if only handful of new boarders join in 6 form or if majority of new intake were bright Chinese kids. We want a school ideally in Midlands or South of England.

She will be 14 this academic year so we have a bit of time to plan and save.

happygardening Sat 24-Aug-13 03:32:49

Most boarding schools clearly state on their websites what the minimum entry requirements are for their 6th forms. Competition even for less academic "famous names" schools is becoming increasingly fierce as many children comes from abroad in particular Asia for 6th form often with fantastic results and school boost their results by taking these children.The more academic the school the more competition there's going to be. Some schools have a largish intake into their 6th form e.g. Marlborough others only have a few places created by children leaving. You need to talk to the individual school.
In my now very extensive experience of boarding you need to be within a sensible driving distance no more than 1 1/2 hours away preferably closer or so far away i.e. abroad where you don't even have to consider going to watch your DD in a play/concert. Also if you want full boarding i.e not going home Saturday afternoon and coming back Sunday evening then you need to try and find a school where the majority do this. I know nothing about either CLC or Rugby but increasingly true full boarding schools are increasingly few and far between and school can be a bit cagey about the actual numbers full boarding if it genuinely matters ask.
My DS"s full boarded from 7 and many assume that this makes them dysfunctional sociopaths that this is the hardest age to start boarding but again IME its often hard to start boarding in the 6th form; 16 year olds are used to doing things a certain way and they have strong ideas about how things should be done. In a relatively short period of time they have to accept and conform to a different way of doing things and may not like it. Some also find unlike 7 yr olds communal living a bit of a shock to the system as well. Having said this this is not a reason not to do it, it is IMO a positive life changing experience that will enable your DD to make the change to university much more easily.

goinggetstough Sat 24-Aug-13 09:03:51

I totally agree with all that HG has said above. In addition I would also look at how the sixth form boarding is organised. If the pupils have been together in a particular house since age 13 it may be harder to integrate as the new boarder rather than at a school that has a separate house for the lower sixth. Downe House does this. There is a separate house for both the lower and upper sixth.
The number of new sixth form boarders does depend on how many leave after GCSE but also how many they take in age 13. So it can vary yearly. One school that does have a large intake in the sixth form is Millfield. There are usually a variety of comments about this school on Mumsnet as it has a wide academic intake. At the top a number go to Oxbridge, RG universities and a number to good American and Canadian universities. Obviously not in the same numbers as Wycombe Abbey!! But possibly still worth a look.
Other schools to look at maybe are Uppingham, Oundle and Oakham as they fit your geographic area.
Good luck with your search!

britishsummer Sat 24-Aug-13 13:30:47

Rugby is definitely full boarding for the majority. CLC seems to have a major component of full time boarders but would be I guess more academically competitive than Rugby.

Dancingdreamer Sat 24-Aug-13 22:18:43

Interested to know rather than minimum requirements, what the new joiners usually come in with. Any information on this?

Dancingdreamer Sat 24-Aug-13 22:20:50

Thank you. Know Oundle but not much about other 2 recommendations so will take a look.

happygardening Sat 24-Aug-13 22:59:27

"Interested to know rather than minimum requirements, what the new joiners usually come in with."
It will depend on the actual individual school nit as a rough idea if a school states it wants a minimum of 6 A's most of those coming into the 6th form will have significantly higher grades than this. Ask the registrar we've always foumd them very helpful.

OldRoan Sat 24-Aug-13 23:04:56

I know new sixth formers at Rugby go into their own house, so I assume there are quite a few?

In my experience new sixth form at Oundle are high achievers - diplomas in music, excellent GCSEs etc.

I wouldn't touch CLC with a barge pole, but only because the people I know who went there/have children there are very polarised, and the ones who are negative make it too much of a risk for me, iyswim. But I suppose you would have to look round to decide for yourself, it's so personal.

OldRoan Sat 24-Aug-13 23:05:13

*polarised in their opinion of the school

Lonecatwithkitten Sun 25-Aug-13 08:12:50

I have never seen it here, but Kingswood in Bath take a third of their sixth form as new pupils. Large number of full boarders there so ticks that box. Pupils go to Oxbridge and RG unis.

bbboo Sun 25-Aug-13 16:01:15

Uppingham is full boarding and accepts 50 new girls in sixth form - so if your daughter goes there she will be one of many new girls. I know several girls there , including some who joined in lower sixth, and they are all very happy. It is worth a look.

BlueStringPudding Tue 27-Aug-13 21:35:44

Charterhouse only opens to girls, both day and boarding in the sixth form - so all would be new to the school together.. I don't know anyone with girls there though, so not sure what it's like..

MrsWobble Wed 28-Aug-13 16:54:09

my daughters have been at/are still at Charterhouse and we have been very pleased with it. They did not want to join a school where girls were accepted below sixth form as they thought breaking into established friendship groups might be harder. Their experience has been positive both socially and academically.

Dancingdreamer Wed 28-Aug-13 22:55:57

How do they find the girls are accepted by the boys at Charterhouse? My friend went to Repton (admittedly some years ago now!) when girls only entered in 6th form and she found atmosphere very misogynistic.

MrsWobble Sat 31-Aug-13 16:01:23

I'm not aware of any general problem. They have made friends of both sexes. But my dd studying science has had girls only lessons on some topics because the teacher felt that boys and girls learn differently and the boys were inhibiting the girls. I don't know if this was specific to my dds class or a general practice but it has been extremely effective.

Dancingdreamer Tue 03-Sep-13 00:13:39

Brilliant thanks I will have a look there also. Wasn't originally on our list!

zipzap Tue 03-Sep-13 00:36:32

Lonecat I went to Kingswood in Bath as a 6th former - having left a very big academic girls school in Oxford where I was also a boarder and had boarded since 11.

Probably too long a time has passed since I was there to make this particularly relevant but I was at/near the top of the class at my academic girls school (which these days is often in the top 30 schools in the a level league tables), and probably near the top of my class at Kingswood - there were a handful of amazingly academic people in my class. However, it never portrayed itself as an academic school (and I don't think ever got into the top 100 of the league tables), was more interested in the whole person than just the academics which stood it in good stead and I think that those that are going to do well will do well, but that there might also be some less academic kids there too who will also do well for themselves.

In hindsight, although on paper I should have stayed at my girls school, I had a much better time and a better education at Kingswood than I would have done otherwise. Lots of us ended up at Oxbridge or Russell group universities, there were loads of opportunities to do all sorts of things and that only seems to have grown since I've left from reading the website or old boy newsletters.

Only other school that friends have been to and loved in hindsight (as well as at the time!) and who seem to have all ended up as nice rounded, well educated people, is Roedean, which is based near Brighton. I think the head is about to change so it might be about to undergo changes but it looks nice from what I've seen of it!

The other way to go about things is to look for schools that specialise in the subjects and sports that she is interested in - if she is into science, no point going somewhere that gets fantastic reviews if they are ploughing all their money into fantastic new sports hall and theatre and language centre whilst the science labs are still from the 1960s. Or where they say they excel at sport but actually mean they love hockey and athletics and have loads of county players doing these sports and no others, and there are only three tennis courts for everyone to share when you are hoping to make it to the county circuit...

zipzap Tue 03-Sep-13 00:37:48

oh and boys and girls both go fully through the school so no problems with suddenly girls appearing in the 6th form at Kingswood!

(I think it has been mentioned on a couple of other threads, might be worth searching on here)

Dancingdreamer Sun 08-Sep-13 16:12:28

Thank you. Think Roedean is too far for us but Bath would be ok. She loves science and all sports (competes at county and national level) but not performing arts so good advice to look at focus of school.

Shootingatpigeons Sun 08-Sep-13 23:49:15

I have a few friends whose DDs have been through at CLC and I have acted as UK Guardian. As they are expats they most definitely boarded full time. They move into a sixth form house at 16. They all thrived and did well. I was very impressed with the school, very responsive, one incident of bullying was handled immediately and decisively so I am a bit surprised at the comment above. It is the school most often chosen by the expat teachers I know who were reluctant first time buyers, and the school itself feels very much like a strong academic day school (boarding Houses are seperate and a walk away through town which keeps things normal). The previous Head was very good at tapping into parental expertise, eg on how to handle the international mix of students. I have no idea about how easy it is to get in for sixth form or how many they take on.

Snoot Mon 09-Sep-13 00:14:10

I would be very careful about a boys' school with girls in the sixth form, I boarded at one and it was all a bit out of wack, in a bad way. The boys waited for "their" intake of girls and felt personally insulted if rejected. The girls were treated differently by the staff and it was generally a very odd way of entering a co-ed environment.

I think boarding can be a very positive experience, DS boarded for 4 years and there were very good aspects. Your DD is very young to be making such a decision, perhaps she will change her mind? I'm not sure I'd let my DD make the decision I did at 16, I certainly didn't have the perspective to know what I was getting myself into. I know a girl I was at school with, who didn't quite make the grade academically and had it "suggested" to her parents that she might be happier elsewhere. She went to Woldingham School, boarded, had a ball and ended up at Cambridge, perhaps worth looking into? Good luck smile

happygardening Mon 09-Sep-13 01:06:12

I know Kingswood quite wel is not going to be a very "challenging environment" results are good but its not Wycombe Abbey or CLC neither does it meet your other criteria of being a well known name. Marlborough which would certainly meet your latter criteria has a largish intake of new girls into its 6th form some join girls houses other join boys houses. It would be considered more academic than Kingswood and the newish head wants to improve academic standards even further.

handcream Mon 09-Sep-13 12:36:07

I am really not sure I agree with the comments regarding girls in the 6th Form. My DS goes to a school like this and it seems to work very well. The school is difficult to get into at 6th form for girls which seems to indicate its a popular choice. And of course the girls are ALL new together as opposed to coming in and trying to break into other friendship circles.

There is no right or wrong here. I didnt want a school that was single sex, neither did I want a co ed (because I think my DS would have been distracted). Some people want the complete opposite. Think it best to look at the child and think what would be best for them. My younger DS will do well in a co-ed because of his personality.

BlackMogul Mon 09-Sep-13 13:50:57

DD1 was offered a place in the 6th form at CLC a few years ago and offer was 6 As at GCSE. She decided to stay where she was. She achieved 9 A* and 2 As so I would imagine the 6th form intake would be fairly similar. We have friends whose DCs are at Rugby and they are very happy. We did not like schools who put new 6th formers into their own house. We felt this separated out the newcomers unfairly and would hinder integration. Uppingham seems to have a current reputation of 6th formers not working that hard. It is in the middle of nowhere and this can feel remote if DC has been at day school. Also check how good results are in the subjects your DD wants to take at the schools you shortlist. Sometimes science and maths results are very skewed by intake from abroad who greatly outnumber the intake from the UK. The schools will take the best they can get. Traditional boarding schools suit people who like to conform and are fairly happy with rules. We have found that 6 th formers are promised relaxation of rules and privileges which sometimes do not materialise. If your DD is outspoken or has her own ideas beware of some schools as they can be very controlling. In my view this does not help girls develop and express themselves in readiness for the outside world. Frustration is the biggest problem for the more outgoing types. I would say to choose where your daughter feels at home. DD2 was looked at very closely by an existing group of girls at one school we visited. Even I felt the evil eyes looking her up and down!

Malvern College sounds like it fits your brief.

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