Help! Need advice on senior schools SW London/Surrey/boarding

(58 Posts)
Twickenhamum Thu 25-Oct-12 21:28:58

Hello everyone, this is my first post and I need your help!
My son is in Year 4 at a Surrey prep and his head has advised parents to start researching senior schools now.
My natural inclination would be to register for the most academic ones, either day or boarding (St Paul's, Westminster, King's College Wimbledon, Hampton, Eton, Winchester College in no particular order).
However, and it's a big however, I am not entirely sure whether my son would really thrive in a highly pressurised academic environment (and that's assuming he would pass the tests) and would welcome any suggestions for good schools.
My boy is very bright but easily distracted, and is as capable of acieving peaks of academic excellence as of completely switching off and making really silly mistakes. While he will spend hours reading books on topic that capture his interest, he will happily do the minimum work required on stuff he finds boring. At present, he is towards the top of Set 2 in English and maths, average at sport (average to good in rugby) and a beginner (with moderate interest) at two musical instruments. More importantly, he is not very emotionally robust and am not sure how well he would take it if he were to sink to the bottom of the pile in a very competitive environment.
Good university exit is important to me, but obviously my son's happiness takes precedence. Does anyone have any suggestion for suitable day or boarding schools? We are considering both at this early stage.
Many thanks!
TM

Twickenhamum Tue 30-Oct-12 06:59:05

Thank you so much for the detailed information. I am a bit wary of fashionable schools so Wellington, and possibly Marlborough are looking like a less appealing prospect at the moment.
AnneLongDitton, my son's prep is unusual in that, even though it is day, it feeds a lot to many different boarding schools, plus the usual day hothouses and a bunch of local schools. The most academic tend to go to St Paul's, King's, Hampton, Tonbridge, and Eton, while the least academic usually go to Reed's or St John's.
My son falls in neither camp: he is doing well academically but is not a superstar (he is at the top of the second set); he will not take well to being bottom of the pile and doesn't thrive in a hugely competitive environment, but at the same time, he will, perhaps paradoxically, do significantly better when he is stretched and challenged (he tends to lose focus otherwise).
So I am looking for a strange beast, an academically challenging school (boarding or day, coed or single sex) that doesn't out enormous pressure and (but that's my preference) ideally sends pupils to good universities. Radnor House sounds like the right mix, for example, but it's somewhat telling that the head and staff at your son's prep didn't send their children there...
Bisjo, I work so I have limited time to go and visit schools and need to spread this across two years (4 and 5) especially because it looks like I will have to visit a lot of them to find a couple that could be right...
If I ever live again, I am going to send my children to a 4-18 school and save myself all the stress!

difficultpickle Tue 30-Oct-12 07:28:32

Same here Twickennamum in terms of working but I'm worried that arranging visits so early will be a waste of time. I chose ds's prep when he was 3 (he started there at 4). Good school for him then but completely the wrong school by the time he was 8. I couldn't have predicted how he would change which makes me concerned about senior school choices. Good luck with your visits.

Knowsabitabouteducation Tue 30-Oct-12 09:39:26

If you are looking at weekly boarding, check out the public transport options.

While you may be happy to drive back and forth twice every weekend, that sentiment will soon wear very thin.

Annelongditton Tue 30-Oct-12 12:43:36

See where you're coming from, and having a prep that scatters in all directions doesn't help. I think you are right to start looking at schools early, schools always seem to pick the same open days. If you are at a leafy Surrey prep with lots of facilities these are probably more important to to you than you realise, you just take them for granted and assume that all schools have them!
Cranleigh may suit you, it has been suggested to quite a few friends for their DS's, it is very popular with prep school heads along the A3. I have never been, but someone on MN will know it.
I am looking for somewhere for my DD for 13+, ideally not to board, but with boarding school standard facilities. My favourites are Epsom and City London Freemans. They both have big school bus networks, and shuttle to the rail stations. As someone has said you need to think about transport, especially if you are working.

moimaman Fri 18-Jan-13 15:34:32

I agree with Annelongditton, it's not easy choosing that early. A child that age changes so much... I have a daughter in a single sex grammar school and one at Dover College. I would say that Dover College offers my year 7 daughter (who sounds a bit like your son) the ideal combination... the teachers know her very well and ensure she is pushed when needed and supported when she is day-dreaming. So far a great choice. What I really like too is the mix of British children and internationals. Her outlook on the world is very open. University wise, their results are good and there is a wide range of courses attended. Check their website it is very comprehensive. At the end of the day, it's a bit like buying a house, you need to get a feel for the place. Good luck!

corlan Fri 18-Jan-13 22:47:55

Have you thought about Twickenham Academy?

SavoirFaire Fri 18-Jan-13 23:36:43

I think you need to chill out. No one can look at all those schools and stay sane. Shorten your list. Your child will probably achieve similarly wherever he goes.

Tuppenyrice Fri 27-Jun-14 12:01:12

Sorry to resurrect this thread but just wondering where you decided on?

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