Ludgrove v Sunningdale

(7 Posts)
Mumofthree1976 Thu 08-Oct-15 18:43:41

I am interested to hear the views of current (or recent) parents of children at either school as we have to make a decision very soon about where to send our DS next year. Please do not turn this into a "why send your child away?" thread as this is very much a private matter.

Our DS (8+) is keen on Ludgrove as my DS went there. However, I feel that the weekly boarding option at Sunningdale makes the transition (for me, rather than DS!) easier. DS is sporty, kind and also a real bookworm. I got the feeling that Sunningdale is "softer" in their approach and he would love the cosy atmosphere there. DH, however, feels that the facilities at Ludgrove are better.

We are torn between the two so would love any comments you may have about the school, teachers, parents...anything at all to make our decision making process slightly simpler.

Sussexmom Fri 09-Oct-15 12:08:18

Typed a really long response about Sunnigndale then realised I was thinking of Caldicott instead!

(Visited Caldicott and it was very weird! Didn't like it!)

Regarding Sunningdale, I've only seen the documentary, but I thought it looked brilliant. Pastoral care seemed supurb on the doc. I did wonder if it could be a tad too insular though, given how small it is and how large Public schools are?

I didn't know Sunningdale offered weekly - is it weekly from year 4 then full from year 7 or something? Or do they offer both weekly or full for every year? Personally I'd always opt for weekly for that age group, but as you said, it's a personal choice and you know what is best for your family :-)

I know little of Ludgrove except reputation, and I'm sure that whichever your DC goes to you can't go far wrong!

Mumofthree1976 Fri 09-Oct-15 13:17:42

Thank you @sussexmum - we have looked at Caldicott and in fact DS is sitting the assessment tomorrow but, like you, we are not sure at all - we felt there was something missing.

Sunningdale allows the boys to weekly board for the first two years. Most end fully boarding as they love it so much but, for the others, it allows them to come home every weekend if they wish to. I love that ethos - it makes the children feel like they have an option to be home if they would like to.

Agree with you that it is small - and 13+ schools tend to be larger but I hope that, at this young age, a smaller school would be a happier environment and the school would be more able to spot any issues that he may have quicker!

Sussexmom Sat 10-Oct-15 06:49:28

You're welcome :-)

Yes, the small vs big school thing is a tricky one to judge, especially in cases where DC's have social issues.

The attitude to boarding (both from what you've said and from the documentary) at Sunningdale impressed me massively. Everything about it impressed me really - I can imagine lots of DC being very happy there in the extended family sort of environment.

Good luck with the Caldicott assessment!

Unsure if to mention this now - but I really did find Caldicott very odd. The staff seemed lovely and the boys seemed very happy around each other, but in front of teachers or any other adults (including me) they were far, far too deferential / almost submissive IMHO. i found it very odd! Every time they spoke to a teacher they were standing politely with hands together behind their backs and all "yes sir, no sir, certainly sir". It made me think that if the culture really is that authoritarian I can't imagine a child being happy to express a personal opinion to a teacher or talk to them about a problem. It really did make me wonder about the pastoral care! Although the matrons did all seem really lovely and very approachable..... Having said all of that, my understanding is that the atmosphere at Eton is very similar to what I've described above, so I suppose that if you are looking for an Eton-esque culture then perhaps the above is less of an issue than it is for me? It may just be that I'm fundamentally not an Eton sort of person!

Oh, and I also wondered at Caldicott if those not going for Eton / Harrow did feel like second class citizens? I'm totally speculating there though!

Just wondering, did you look at Papplewick or Horris Hill or any of the others around there aside from Ludgrove? I liked the sound of Papplewick but have not visited yet.

Mumofthree1976 Sat 10-Oct-15 09:39:40

Sussexmom - you are spot on about Caldicott! We felt the same way when we looked around. The children seemed slightly frightened of the staff and the latter spoke to them quite abruptly - that too, in front of prospective parents so I loathe to think how they interact otherwise. We are only going purely because it felt too late (and rude) to cancel.

Loved Papplewick but thought it was slightly "suburban" and the facilities not great despite being out of London. Whilst the daily bus service is a huge bonus for us Chiswick parents - I think the days are just too long and some of the boys I know who do the Papplewick/Caldicott school run are exhausted and grumpy at the end of their days. So whilst their parents do see them every evening - they end up not having any quality time together purely because the boys are absolutely shattered. I know boys at Papplewick who absolutely love it there and the head seems lovely and inspiring - however, my gut is that I would prefer if DS came home every (or every other) weekend and spent the whole Friday-Sunday with us (with no homework!!!!) rather than spent Mon-Sat in school, commuting and tired. We have two other children (DD at 11+ stage, and DS who's 2) so do not wish for our whole family lives to be focused purely on Mon-Sat school runs for DS.

DH went to Eton although we are not totally tied to Eton...we would much prefer they went to schools where they were happy and made the most of the facilities at their doorstep - than went to a school with a "name"! Eton is great and DH has fond memories but only suits some children. It was, of course, easier to get in in those days but nowadays, it is harder and i certainly wouldn't want to put that sort of pressure on either of my sons!

DD, on the other hand, is super bright and just got offered a place (and potential scholarship) to a top country girl's boarding school but she would be happy wherever she went as she is sporty, bright and kind. Being a West London Mum, my boys worry me more and I just want them to be boys and get out of the 11+ chaos!

IndridCold Sat 10-Oct-15 13:44:50

my understanding is that the atmosphere at Eton is very similar to what I've described above

Err, no it isn't - not even remotely! The relationship between beaks and boys is one of the most impressive features of the school, and is based on friendship and mutual respect.

I have occasionally been shock at some of the stories DS comes up with, but I don't ever remember regaling my parents with stories of how brilliant a particular lesson/teacher, was when I was at school.

peteneras Sun 11-Oct-15 17:47:31

”. . . but in front of teachers or any other adults (including me) they were far, far too deferential / almost submissive IMHO. i found it very odd! Every time they spoke to a teacher they were standing politely with hands together behind their backs and all "yes sir, no sir, certainly sir". . . my understanding is that the atmosphere at Eton is very similar to what I've described above”

Well, I suppose you may be right but it all depends on which Eton you’re talking about. There are dozens of them scattered around the world and I can imagine the Japanese Eton boys doing just that. They may even bow! grin

But for the one that counts there in Berkshire, things couldn’t be more different. I seem to remember writing something about this a couple or so years ago.

OP, take another look at Papplewick before you make up your mind.

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