Radley College(35 Posts)
I am thinking of sending my son to Radley College. Does anyone have a son going there or knows what the school is like...?
He better be five or already have a firm place as its first come first served!
I've been swimming in their pool! Tis nice and big.
He has a definite place, I am interested in knowing what the school is like.
My dh went there and hated it.
My DH went there too. So did Ted Dexter, are you related?
On a more positive note my friend's DS is at Radley and they speak highly about the school. He transferred from a co ed prep boarding school. They have been impressed with the academics and the pastoral care and he is about to take his GCSEs.
Do odd bits of work there and it always seems super organised, friendly, and clear in expectations.
Boys seem to have good relationships with staff, with a no nonsense kind of attitude.
Lovely, lovely buildings. Quite atmospheric I find.
If would send my ds there if I wanted to/could/had put his name down 10 yrs ago!!!!
My son goes to a neighboring rival school. I am impressed by Radley and the teachers I have met from the school. It has fantastic sports facilities.
I've put DS down for a foundation award. Dont know how competitive it will be.
Hi JKMA my son goes to Radley.Very happy, really fulfilling his potential, great staff very enthusiastic. Amazing sports ,music and art too. Just have not failed to be massively impressed by its down to earth attitude, friendly and incredibly well organised.Academic top set very very bright and some excellent drama/musician/ sports men too but lots of room for the average boy to shine too even if it's just for being a very decent young man. those who are in the lower sets seem to get a lot of support and the sets are fairly fluid too so good marks get really well rewarded. Hope this helps. Good luck!
Will be interesting to see what the increase in CE pass rate from 55% to 60% does(if anything).
Is that in reference to their admissions over subscription last year? My offer letter says 55% and I have had no notification of 60% for this year.
Just looked at their website and the increase is due to come in 2014. Apologies....
Our prep school head told us that the change from 55 to 60 % at CE will mean v little in practice as in his experience they've been marking more strictly for a few years now and it just reflects what's been happening in reality. Hope that helps. I know a few boys at another prep who didn't get in to Radley but ended up at schools with ostensibly 55% pass mark so he may well be right. Thought that beggaring our old age would at least give us some control yeah right....
I thought Radley was always oversubscribed because of its registration policy.
My husband went to Radley as did a lot of my friends. Our son was also down to go to Radley - however we pulled out just before he was due to take CE as we were increasingly concerned that it wouldn't be right for him (not an academic issue - he's pretty clever - but just didn't feel like a place in which he'd thrive - he's a London boy and being shut in an all-boy environment in the middle of the countryside without access to any shops or girls was likely to be a recipe for disaster). Plus - our prep school head was not particularly positive about them saying that it's not a school for your urban child or gentle soul.
Yes it's a fine school with amazing facilities and regularly sends boys to many of the very best universities and it's also oversubscribed and has expanded in the past few years. So obviously doing a lot of things right.
However - and I think that this is a big however (at least it was for us), it's also somewhere that is pretty rigid and seems to attract a VERY specific type. It's also pretty arrogant.
My godson (son of a former Radley pupil) was down for R. but 'failed' his CE. In fact, he got something like 50% in his English paper i.e. a technical fail - but was fine in everything else and his prep school stressed that this was an aberration rather than a true reflection of his ability. Radley wouldn't take him, wouldn't discuss it with anyone and simply left his CE papers with a secretary for the boy and his father to come and collect so that they could take them to be marked by another school. All very traumatic and upsetting. We've subsequently heard from quite a few people (and unofficially from a few Prep school staff) that Radley has been quietly upping its academic entry level for some time. It's doing this in two ways: 1 - marking harder - i.e. 55% for Radley is more like 60% elsewhere) and 2 - increasing the no. of boys it takes from the Warden's list. The latter is the way of getting your son into the school if he wasn't registered as a foetus.... It's a way of attracting the clever ones..
What this means is that the sort of boy going to Radley is changing. Some may say for the better, but I've been there a lot and the past three times I've been I've been shown round by boys whose first choice was Eton. Worth remembering that Radley and Eton are the only (?) all-boy-all-boarding schools around. My husband says that the feel of the school has definitely changed since he was there.
More worryingly, I seem to hear consistent reports of boys 'taking a year to settle down' at Radley. In most cases, this has meant that they've been pretty miserable and have found it hard to adjust. It's a macho culture with strong hierarchies and few easy relationships between the year groups. In fact, a friend of my son's has recently left Radley citing some pretty unpleasant bullying in his first year from members of the sixth form in his house. Reported it to his HM but despite so-called 'action', nothing has really changed.
Two friends of mine have also removed sons from the school. One after a year (went to Teddies - much happier) and the other after two (day school in London).
Having said all of that, I also know a lot of boys who've thrived there. My advice to you - think v. carefully about what you want and what type of boy you have. In my experiences it's the boys who've a) boarded before, b) come from all-boy prep schools and c) are country born and bred, who've thrived.
Midlifer I have to say your view on Radley is pretty much my view and I regularly hear similar comments from parents with DS's there.
I would also add to your three points above is that sport is pretty much a religion. They play hard especially rugby.
A final point
"'Worth remembering that Radley and Eton are the only (?) all-boy-all-boarding schools around."
Win Coll is also only a full boarding boys school and just up the road relatively speaking.
Midlifer, spot on. I agree, all in all it should be a fab school but in my opinion it is not! It felt cold, almost university dorm like socials,very isolated.
Boys are so full of themselves they could be from another planet! Talking of few other boarding schools v Radley, sorry there is no comparison. I loved the school until we met the boys. It takes a certain type, yet it is not boys fault. Also someone from the neighboring school, who knows radley rather well has noted the difference in boys behavior lately. Also mums who have sons at the school have been saying that boys get away with things that should not be ignored.
As a school they are desperate to be in the ligue above, hence making their CE marking tougher . Given a choice between Winchester, Westminster, Eton, And Radley I agree with your prep's head. I wouldn't. It is very hard deciding what to do, ultimately it's about confidence and ability to carry yourself and your believes for the rest of boys lives. Boys we met at radley were all exactly the same, not particularly bad just a bit dull, sort of clones of one another.
Sorry, I don't mean to upset anyone, particularly those who are paying through their noses believing they are doing the right thing for their sons. I am sure it's a lovely school for some, this is only my personal view.
I don't post often but feel I need to contribute when I feel strongly about something. However, go and see yourself and think how would your son find it. Good luck.
Very interesting posts. I went to see Radley a very short while ago expecting all of the above and I have to say that my preconceptions seem unfounded. There was a very calm, genteel atmosphere about the place- certainly no aggression. The academic standards have risen tremendously and the quality of lectures from Oxford Dons is impressive. Often they come for a week at a time to take a Geology class, or other subjects. I didn't speak to one boy (and i sat and chatted to many who were not hand-picked) who was doing any soft options at A'level and all were doing a minimum of four and none get dropped as AS's arent sat in lower sixth. There are no module retakes at this school so the academics are transparent. They take an average to bright boy, don't chuck him out after GCSE and no retakes and the majority get A's in four A'levels. My impression is that teaching at Radley is superior to E and W as they already have the advantage of an exceptionally able cohort.
Sport is big, but on a campus school that is not surprising really. I don't know if it is the right school for my son but what I do know is that it has the best house and pastoral system of any of the schools that I have come across and they make sure all of this is spread across every house which is sadly lacking at schools that we are focused on for our boys as it seems to be pot luck with who you get. The arrangement of the buildings is also excellent, especially for a disorganised boy as the teaching blocks are in close proximity.
I was also expecting arrogance and found none of it. In fact the boys were incredibly articulate and confident but also very deferential. The boys I have met at Winchester have had pretty diabolical social skills and Eton boys, well I can't put my finger on it.
It's now a very, very strong contender and I never thought I would have ever said that but I fundamentally believe if you send a child to boarding school then the pastoral care has to be consistent amongst houses and that is my biggest concern with some of the other boys boarding schools.
Morning colleger "The boys I have met at Winchester have had pretty diabolical social skills" dont this personally but I'm not going to let that one go without commeneting!
All the boys we meet at Winchester including all those I met 6 days ago don't have pretty diabolical social skills.
And I never thought I would defend Eton against you all the Etonians I've met young and old have been pretty charming maybe thats the thing you cant out your finger on!
I'm sure your son doesn't HG, in fact with you as a mum I think he must have stellar social skills! I'm not knocking Win Coll as I think my DS would fit there perfectly if academic enough! ;)
Colleger my impressions of Radley are similar to yours (having been round it 3 times) and it is top of my list (second on DS's! - he wants to go co-ed). A friend of mine with a DS there is delighted. Academically so so thorough, sport important but music also great. She didn't comment on art, but all the art on display is amazing (but isn't it at all these schools?). Pastoral care very high and as you say consistent (although she did mention one social as being slightly stricter than the others!!). I suppose one of my concerns is do the boys grow out of it? Being stuck on a campus with 600 other boys all the time when you are 16-18 is very insulated from real life and not great preparation for the freedom of university life. On the other hand they are getting those academic results for a reason....no distractions - it's lock down and it clearly works!!
I spoke at length to a sixth former. They have beer three times a week with a meal. The summers are especially busy with socials and bbq's and the sixth formers are allowed into Oxford at weekends and if they have enough free time during the week. He actually said that being on a campus helped the younger boys to bond strongly and get to know each other better. He talked about him and his pals seeing their girlfriends on Saturdays so they clearly can hold down normal relationships.
Another excellent rule is that they strongly discourage computers in the first year as they feel boys don't socialise when they have computers in their rooms. Virtually all rooms are single sex too which is a big plus for my son - he likes his privacy.
I also think its worth bearing in mind with all these schools is that they are nearly away from school as much as they are at school so I don't think they are as insulated from the real world.
Colleger - "virtually all the rooms are single sex" did you mean just "single" ?
Just wanted to pick up on the pastoral care points. I agree that some of it is good; in fact of all the schools that we looked around, the housemaster of the social that my son was down for was the very best of all of them. BUT - it's absolutely NOT consistent. The son of a friend of mine was badly bullied in his first year and it was reported several times to the HM but nothing really changed; if anything, it went underground. More worryingly, when he eventually left, the mother talked about it with the sub warden who claimed to have no knowledge of it... Just be careful - there is a much more 'robust' culture there and the year groups are more hierarchical.
Also, be wary of what they say re laptops. Again, they may say that they're banned , but lots have them in the first year (so lots of playing COD at all hours of the night with one friend of mine's son!)
But - if your son is up for it, then I really hope he thrives. The quality of teaching is certainly excellent.
I think any school is a gamble. I know of some sexual bullying incidents at one of the schools frequently mentioned here and there are horror stories everywhere.
Interested to hear that nearly all rooms are singles. The house we were shown around last year had a dorm for 8 or 9 in the first year. Each bed was separated by a curtain but not what our DS called real privacy. Maybe the boarding arrangements differ radically? Boy who showed us round said it was ' fine' but our DS wasn't convinced and it wasn't his first choice so we focused elsewhere. We were shown round by a musician who was very pleasant and down to earth - no arrogance at all. One of our friends had a boy there and praised the place to the heavens, and hes not a man prone to exaggeration so they must do plenty right. Just a case of horses for courses. Lots of DS' friends are off to Radley and our HM speaks highly of it, for the right boy.
Isn't that the key though - to put your trust in your HM to recommend the right school for your dc?
I'm rather horrified by what I've read here. I have always thought Radley would be a very suitable school for ds. However that is based on those old boys I've met alone the way and so is light years out of date on what it would be like now.
Midlifer did the boy you know attend a day prep school or boarding prep school? Do you think that makes a difference, as the country preps around Oxford seem to send a lot of boys to Radley. Just wondering if that is a factor in creating a macho atmosphere given those boys will have been together since they were 8. Also as HG comments, sport is important, so do you think if your boy is not alpha at sport he will be regarded as a second class citizen?
Very good point... All the boys I know who've had problems have come from day schools, generally London and also, have come by themselves (ie mates from prep school)
Whoops - that should be 'ie - no mates from prep school'
There are only ever a maximum of three boys from one prep in a house at Radley. The house we looked round, out of 16 boys they came from 14 different prep schools.
Of course Radley isn't right for every child but there are boys who wouldn't fit comfortably into any school and only a small number leave these schools. It takes a year to settle fully into a school and some boys take longer. I don't think it's a reflection on schools per se but more the child.
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