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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

marriedinwhite Thu 25-Oct-12 21:51:48

If your son is in the 2nd set at prep school, not especially sporty or musical and not very emotionally robust, why are you even contemplating sending him to the most competitive, hot house schools in the country? How will this help your son?

I would have thought you, and more importantly your son, would be far better served by applying to schools which are gentler and where he will thrive and where his self esteem will remain intact. I think it is important to remember that this is about your son's happiness and nurture.

Personally I think your son would be better served if you look at: Hampton, Kingston Grammar, St. John's Leatherhead, Charterhouse, Lancing, Harrow, Epsom College, etc..

Knowsabitabouteducation Fri 26-Oct-12 07:09:28

Does the headmaster have any suggestions?

Twickenhamum Fri 26-Oct-12 07:15:29

Hi, he is not making suggestions yet, although he will later in the year. Said parents should get a feel for the schools first....

annh Fri 26-Oct-12 07:17:36

Forget your inclination to just register for the most academic and think about what would really suit your son. Use the expertise of your current Head who will have a very good insight into the different schools.

Twickenhamum Fri 26-Oct-12 07:21:30

Thanks Marriedinwhite, the most competitive schools were the ones I would have preferred because they are academically at the top, but the reason I posted is exactly because I felt that he would not thrive at those schools and I am trying to draw up a new list of places to visit, Thanks for the useful suggestions: i assumed Hampton and Harrow were every bit as competitive as King's College Or Etin, so good to hear they are gentler. Don't know Lancing at all, so I'll investigate!

abel1 Fri 26-Oct-12 08:24:40

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

mebaasmum Fri 26-Oct-12 09:27:31

What about, Halliford, Reeds and Radnor House. cousins child was the only one in her family to not get into their top academic school. Went to a smaller school with good pastoral care and did best at A level and now has a phd from a top uni

happygardening Fri 26-Oct-12 09:38:40

St Edwards Oxford? Fab standards of pastoral care (most prep school heads will agree it in a class of its own) good for keen rugby players, the really bright do well and the results for all are improving year on year with the new head and boarders are in the majority. Happy content children although it is quite liberal so may not suit you (its personal choice) and not a million miles from Twickenham.

CalmingMiranda Fri 26-Oct-12 13:37:05

If he is not especially emotionally robust, would boarding really be a good choice?

teaandthorazine Fri 26-Oct-12 13:41:23

Whitgift School in Croydon is opening boarding from 2013. Worth a look, I would think.

Knowsabitabouteducation Fri 26-Oct-12 13:55:03

Bearwood?

Twickenhamum Fri 26-Oct-12 14:01:10

WOw thanks everyone, lots of food for my schools to visit list!
CalmingMiranda, my boy is strangoli keen on boarding because many of the (older) boys at his prep are headed there, but yes, I have some doubts as to whether it would really suit him. I boarded and loved it, but my son is rather more sensitive than I was at his age. I quite liked the sound of Radnor House but worried about it beings bit new..does anyone have any first experience there? I heard mixed reports about Reeds as very academically unchallenging: anyone knows whether this is true? I hadn't even heard of St Edwards....will investigate!

basildonbond Fri 26-Oct-12 20:08:24

A friend has a has a very 'sensitive' boy at Radnor House and he loves it - he moved half way through Y7 at a very traditional 'robust' prep where he was utterly miserable and he's thriving - it's quite a small site though so depends on how rambunctious your boy is ...

Definitely have a look at Whitgift - the boarding house looks great and the school has been absolutely brilliant for ds (he's very confident, sporty and 'boyish' though so it's been a perfect fit for him but I can see that it wouldn't suit everyone)

difficultpickle Sat 27-Oct-12 16:30:15

Starting to look in yr 4 seems very early. How will you know what they will be like in 4 years time?

Twickenhamum Sun 28-Oct-12 10:38:18

Bisjo, I wonder the same thing but apparently an awful lot of schools close their registration at the end of year 5, so I'm not going to know much more then than I do now!
Ok, I have added Hampton, Kingston Grammar, St. John's Leatherhead, Charterhouse, Lancing, Harrow, Epsom College, Radnor House, Whitgift, St Edwards, Halliford and Reeds to my list of schools to visit. Have a couple of questions on some of the schools though if anyone can bear some more with me?
1. Hampton: among the parents at my son's prep, Hampton has a reputation for being almost as academically competitive (and nearly as difficult to get in) as King's College Wimbledon. Does anyone have any insights?
2. Kingston Grammar: do they have any intake to speak of at 13? Or is it just 11+?
3. If you had to pick between St John's, Reeds and Epsom College, assuming you had the choice of course, what would you go for?
4. A lot of children from my son's prep seem to go to Wellington, Marlborough and Tonbridge--I had a feeling Wellington was more fashionable than great but maybe I am wrong. Does anyone have any experience of these schools? How about Sevenoaks? Is it too difficult to get in? I'm an IB girl myself, and quite like the breath of the IB.
5. And finally someone (off board) suggested Bedales. I don't know the first thing about it (well aside what's written in the good schools guide). is it just too oddball?
Ages ago I had put my son down for Radley so that's an option too, although I'll have to have a proper look before they ask for the deposit in a few years' time, as it may be too tough an environment--heard mixed things about the pastoral care there.
Thank you so much for all your help, I really appreciate it!

blue2 Sun 28-Oct-12 10:44:24

I would say that - although not quite up there with the 'Harrow and Etons' - Charterhouse School would only suit pretty robust types. Their pastoral care can be a bit... patchy.

We looked at it for DS, and luckily chose Cranleigh School for DS instead. He is very happy there and I have no regrets.

Don't forget that 'Happy Children Learn'.

Please take DS with you once you've whittled down the list - its VERY important that he's happy with the choice, too.

blue2 Sun 28-Oct-12 10:46:58

Oh, and IB - good for children who are genuine 'all rounders' academically, but not so good for those that have a real passion and who would happily drop languages - for instance - to concentrate on the sciences.

MY DS is a classic example of a boy who would fail the IB horribly!

happygardening Sun 28-Oct-12 12:04:09

I (and many others on MN) can't stand the head at Wellington hes a self publicist who could sell snow to Eskimos but we've got atfriends whose daughter is there and they think vey highly of it. Tonbridge and Marlborough are all good schools and over subscribed both will have good standards of pastoral care but ultimately probably not in the St Edwards league it's one of its USP's.
Bedales is not everyone's cup of tea and I've recently rather sadly heard less than complimentary things about bullying and pastoral care which you would have hoped you wouldn't hear from a school like Bedales!

happygardening Sun 28-Oct-12 12:08:46

Oh and Tonbridge a fab school IMO is almost in the same league as St Paul's (where the head worked for many yearsand hardly any full boarders) Westminster etc.

mummytime Sun 28-Oct-12 12:20:58

If you think of Bedales then also look at Frensham Heights.
Boxhill is a bit alternative, but not like Bedales/Frensham, did well with a friend's son who had been bullied at Prep school.
Wellington, the only person I know who had children there, had two sons who went to Hull and Durham afterwards. It is pretty fashionable.

LIZS Sun 28-Oct-12 15:10:06

Many look around during years 4/5 as an increasing number of these schools pretest in Year 6 and require registration a term or more beforehand. Sevenoaks was oversubscribed last year and more competitive to get into.

Aethra Sun 28-Oct-12 15:16:37

St George's Weybridge?

roquefort Sun 28-Oct-12 15:16:57

I would agree that Hampton almost as difficult to get into as KCS these days - local prep schools finding boys who would have got places in the past not getting in. Harder to get in at 13 than 11.

I think, but not certain, that Kingston Grammar no longer take at 13.

Consider City of London Freemen's in Ashtead (though probably not for boarding as only small number of boarders and mostly sixth form).

roquefort Sun 28-Oct-12 15:22:49

Academically, would rank 1. Epsom, 2. St Johns 3. Reeds. Reeds very sporty. Epsom more expensive than other - very long day (6pm finish) and 3pm on Sat as much more a boarding school.

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