Looking for boarding school for happy but mildly dyspraxic 11 yr old boy, overseas parent.(32 Posts)
Currently at lovely country prep, with charming very normal but slightly less intelligent sister. i need advice on boarding school (we are English based in Hong Kong) for lovely, intelligent but suspected mildly dyspraxic boy. Loves Rugby but not co-ordinated. Loves Maths and Science, but cannot write fluently. Not at all musical but adores reading and definitely not dyslexic. Have been loath to have him tested as hate the idea of labels. Need full boarding school as we live abroad. He is at Cothill Trust school and loves it. No issues with boarding for him.
Children who struggle to write "fluently" (like my DS1) will struggle as they go further up the school and by yr 11 when they sit their GCSE's will really struggle and are at risk if significantly under performing. You do need him assessed because the if your lucky the appropriate help can be put in place to help him most importantly extra time and being allowed to use a lap top. You cannot have wither of these in CE or public exams without an ed. psych saying he needs them.
Where does your prep school suggest? Full boarding schools or where the majority full board are few and far between in the general scheme of the things and many of the obvious ones are single sex and very academic which again IME does not suit children with your DS's profile. St Edward's is mainly full boarders and is renowned for its high standards of pastoral care and happy children I believe children with learning difficulties are welcome. Marlborough is mainly full boarding as is Kings Canterbury again both are popular but I don't know about their learning support. You must ask at all of these very probing questions about what they will do again another reason why you need an ed. psych report becasue recommendations will be made. Ampleforth I understand is also very good if you can do the RC thing I personally couldn't although I do know you don't have to be RC and has I believe quite a few full boarders ask.
Hope you can understand what Im saying the autocorrect is changing the meaning! I am dyslexic and write nearly all words around the wrong way and those I don't spell them incorrectly!
I have a mildly dyspraxic lad myself, who sounds similar to yours other than in that although he can read very well, the lazy bugger cannot be arsed with books (unless they're about cars or motorsport ). So yes I understand that dyspraxia and dyslexia are not the same!
Anyway, I have a few friends with children with dyslexia who are day pupils at Kingswood, which is a co-ed day and boarding school in Bath. They are very happy with it. I don't know what the boarding situation is and I don't have direct personal experience of it, but it's worth looking into imo. Also it looks like Hogwarts.
Have a look at Merchiston Castle in Edinburgh. Great rugby school, non selective entry (Common Entrance or other tests as appropriate), great learning support and many overseas boarders from Hong Kong although mostly older/ 6th form. Focus is on all round education where top boys highly achieving at A levels (although located in Scotland they do the English curriculum GCSE/ A Levels) but loads of extra curricular opportunities for non academic boys in sport/ drama/ music/ CCF/ Duke of Ed etc. In senior school (13+) is about 70% boarding 30% day. Rated Excellent for pastoral care/ boarding provision by local inspection authority.Merchiston
I too have heard good things about Kingswood but I do know few full boarders.
Fair enough, happy.
I'm not in the market for private education let alone boarding for ds
There do seem to be a lot of pupils coming and going at the weekends though (observed as ds has an activity there) and Bath has got to be a good place to be if you are full-boarding. Also I like the families who have children there; ds went to (state) primary with them and they're lovely - creative, active people.
(OP happy knows far more about private ed that I do!).
Also, I'd have thought co-ed would be preferable, assuming both children will eventually be attending.
The problem with even proper all full boarding schools let alone places like Kingswood is that there will be activities going on on Saturday matches etc but it is on Sunday that mainly weekly boarding schools have a tendency to become very quiet. Children whose parents are either abroad or too far away can often find that week in week out it get boring being one of a handful left in school on Sunday. You also need to actually check that they allowed away from the campus on Sunday if they full board. My DS is allowed too go out at his full boarding school but at some other full boarding schools they are not allowed outside of a given area so Bath may be on your doorstep but they may not be allowed to enjoy it. Also boys may not find the delights of Bath (and I love Bath) as interesting as girls!
A friends son whose dyspraxic is doing very well at Bryanston but full boarders are very definitely in the minority.
Have a look at Aldenham School. They're a football and hockey school but it seems to be small and nurturing and, from what I understanding, they don't mind catering for those who need a bit of extra classroom support. It's also co-ed so might work well for your daughter. They can board from Year 7.
Have you seen?
Its my experience that at Senior School you will need an Ed Psych report before being given any extra SEN help (let alone extra exam time, support). Some schools see it as a huge area of uncertainty if the difficulties arent profiled by one and there may be problems getting in.
The Ed Psych report wont be on medical GP records, its just a one off report sent only to you, from someone you need never see again.
Anyway, schools I have experience of :
Millfield Prep? Lots of international students who fullboard.
Sidcot a small school but alot of international pupils, fantastic extra curricular and care
Milton Abbey - dont know about boarders
Clayesmore - dont know about boarders
This is very old information based on a boyfriend I had 20 (yikes) years ago, but I'll check my two-pence in amongst all the proper, current expert advice for you to ignore As you wish. He went to Bethany School, grafts green Kent, and he was a termly boarder though relatively local
since I never saw him it was all intense phone calls age 14.
Back to the experts now.
Moorhouse School in Farnham Surrey is excellent. My brother went there, told in mainstream he'd amount to very little, completed his GCSEs here, then A levels, went to university and not only got his degree, but also his Masters.
Also a mad rugby player. And I think they have connections withy he new Farnham rugby club,where Jonny Wilkinson played.
Maybe I have missed something but what has the head at your son's current prep recommended by way of suitable schools as they should know him very well. I would also suggest that you get a copy of the Good School Guide which is available from Amazon. As you are abroad you need to draw up a short list of suitable schools and travel to the UK to visit them as even when you draw up a short list, each boarding house within senior schools can be very different so you will need to interview any prospective housemaster to satisfy yourself that they share your values. As your son is already 11, you have missed the Eton list which has a very good learning support department. If you look at a schools website you can often get a sense of the level of support available by the size of the department. The alternative is to employ an educational consultant, I believe that Good School Guide has a sister service, they could guide you through for a fee of course.
The mix of full boarders to weekly boarders to day pupils is very important. I have visited over 15 schools and the mix does have a significant bearing on the feel of the school. For my own DC we have choosen a senior school with the highest proportion being full boarders. The mix may be available on the schools website or alternatively, send an email and ask them explaining you are expats. Regarding St Edwards, I don't agree that it is mainly full boarders. Talking to one of housemasters the school does seem to empty at weekends. Further the level of supervision at weekends were of concern for me but others may have a different opinion.
Whilst I appreciate you do not want him tested by an educational psychologist (EP), that does not itself mean that they would be labelled as an EP is not qualified to make any form of medical diagnosis such as dyspraxia, Aspergers etc. However, an assessment would give you a better idea of your son's strengths and weaknesses for instance translating his writing skills into a numerical age. A good senior school will ask you these questions and it is useful to have answers to your finger tips. Also as others have mentioned, you cannot get extra time for Common Entrance exams without an up to date EP report.
Just as a matter of interest, is your DC current school offering occupational therapy to help with his co-ordination and motor skills. Can he touch type.
St David's in Llandudno? Friends brother had a brill time
Leighton Park gets good reviews and some MNers have their children there. 30% of pupils are full boarders.
As Ilovechocolate pudding said, I would get a copy of the Good School Guide and go through prioritising schools near (or fairly near) airports, certainly percentage of full boarders is very important because I made the mistake of putting my daughter in a boarding school where they all went home at weekends. Also check SEN support, phone up the secretary/registrar of the shortlisted schools and have a chat about school suitability etc. Then short list again and visit each one with your son. There is nothing better than personal recommendation though so perhaps short list some ones mentioned here.
"intelligent but suspected mildly dyspraxic boy ... Have been loath to have him tested as hate the idea of labels."
Wrong, wong, wrong!
He sounds very like my DS who underperformed at GCSE because he wasn't 'labelled'. Get your DS a
label diagnosis and he will get the support he needs at school, including extra time in exams eg entrance tests.
I had enough problems liaising with school about this and I am local. Goodness only knows how this would play out for a child with an unspotted Learning Difficulty and an overseas parent.
Have to agree with IDK on this OP. My Ds had some difficulties in primary and like you I was against/afraid of a label. Ended up with me at GP as Ds had started getting very anxious after starting at secondary he was having panic attacks! GP said see it more as a signpost rather than a label and then he will get extra support at school and more time in exams etc.
I know nothing about boarding schools but would echo the advice to get a very clear picture of his difficulties so that he can access the appropriate level of help.
both my ds's use a laptop for classwork and exams and ds1 gets extra time as well - being able to type has transformed the amount and quality of the written work they do but in order to be able to use a laptop in exams dc have to be able to show that it's their normal way of working plus have an EP report or other diagnosis
My sister did well at Wycliffe in Gloucestershire.
This really impressed us.
Bedes in Sussex! Used to be St Bede's until last September, but removed the 'St' to stop it being pigeonholed as a religious establishment.
Can't sing its praises more than I have already on every thread I've recommended it on! Fine school for a square peg/round hole kind of pupil. Great learning support and pastoral care for my dyslexic, sporty, artistic & very intelligent DS. Non selective on entry; uses CE for setting in maths etc., 340+ boarders with at least a third of these on site over the weekend. Boarding provision is now outstanding. Used to be as patchy as the hot water working in DS's boarding house.
Now off to bed with me.
Have you looked at Lord Wandsworth College. A fantastic boarding school in the Hampshire countryside. Have heard its expensive, but a great place.
Under no circumstance should you consider Milton Abbey. There are a lot of disgruntled parents. Results are abysmal and school doesn't seem able to do anything to stop the rot. New Headmaster has lots of ideas, spendng lots of money on facilities (much needed) but if this was a state school, it would be in Special Measures. Learning support seems to be very hit and miss
Please be careful if you are deciding on any of the schools under the Cothill Trust umbrella.
We are a small independent school in Brighton that was aquired by the Cothill Trust, which took over the running of the school in Sept 2012.
They have now decided to close the school and sell off the assets, leaving 150 children to find alternative arrangements and they are not helping in the search for new schools. The reason for this is that the cothill trust is not viable anymore and the schools under the Cothill Trust banner are hanging on by a thread - it looks as though other schools within the trust could be up for closure in the not to distant future.
Have a look at Ashford School in Kent. Good boarding, rugby and learning support.
Still looking? Forres Sandle Manor in Hampshire. DD1 is a full boarder there and loves it. Loads of children in at the weekends as well, and very flexible if we want to take DD1 out for an odd weekend. We moved her there from her last prep school as she was often the only girl there on a Sunday.
What does his current head say? They should be the primary source of advice.
Leighton Park is nice, good pastoral, etc, but with that or any other school I would want real numbers of how many children are around on Saturday evenings /Sundays as definitions of full boarding seem to vary hugely.
Out of curiosity, if he has not been tested, how do you know he is definitely not dyslexic?
I ask as the parent of a non typical dyslexic (reads well, comprehends well, but underperforms very badly on written work) who teachers thought was not dyslexic, and an EP could make a really useful assessment and suggestions for.
If privately done, then any labels are entirely private!
Responding to kazysgirl, be careful about recommending Lord Wandsworth College. From first hand experience, their attitude towards protection of children is flawed. All that glitters isn't gold.
We are looking at Lord Wandsworth Elvetham - would be very interested to understand more about what you mean by their attitude to the protection of children is flawed? ANd all that glitters is not gold? Thx
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