Worried mother looking for a suitable school for daughter- please help!

(78 Posts)
manicmother80 Thu 14-Feb-13 03:05:47

I live in India, and my 14 year old daughter is having a hard time in the schooling system here. She is a bright and talented girl but the schools here are very rigid and hierarchial whereas she is creative and independant-minded. She is determined to come to a boarding school in the UK, but I'm worried that she has been far too protected at home and will not enjoy the experience unless we find her a school that is a 'perfect fit' for her.

To give you an idea of what my daughter is like: her grades are consistently at the top of her class for the subjects she likes (English, Maths, Economics) and below average for those that she doesn't enjoy (Science, History). She's an enthusiastic debator, she writes and directs drama and she has created her own online comic strip that is very popular with her school students. She attends after-school classes in graphic design, photography and animation.

She is very extroverted and a little rebellious and contrarian. She is not at all the 'posh' type and is happiest in a friendly and casual atmosphere. She enjoys a bit of recreational rowing, riding and trekking but is not at all interested in competitive sport.

I've been considering Bradsfield College, St. Edwards School Oxford, Moreton Hall and Westonbirt School. Do these sound like a good fit for her? Which would you say is the best of the lot?

I'm looking for boarding schools (either co-ed or all-girls) in Southern or Middle England for entry in Sixth Form in September 2014. I would very much appreciate reccomendations of boarding schools with cosy, close-knit community atmosphere and top-notch art and drama opportunites. Ideally, a school that is not too pressurizing academically, but that is still intellectually challenging enough for a smart teenager.

And I should add that my daught

manicmother80 Thu 14-Feb-13 03:09:52

Sorry, I did not complete the last sentence. I wanted to say, the I should add that my daughter is not Oxbridge obsessed. She says that she is going to aim for places like Edinburgh, King's College London, Exeter or Nottingham or maybe a liberal arts college in the USA.

EuroShopperEnergyDrink Thu 14-Feb-13 03:57:12

Downe House. Met some lovely girls at uni who came from there.

Callthemidlife Thu 14-Feb-13 05:42:19

Downe house is probably one of top 3 schools for girls in the country, so may be full, although I have heard nothing but good stuff about the school.

I don't know any of the schools you mention but I do know kings Canterbury and think that has all the drama and arts and design you could wish for, also does rowing and riding and has good mix of foreign/UK students. Not sure you could describe it as cosy, but then if you want excellence in drama and art and good academic level, cosy may be difficult to achieve in any school. It would be on my list if my DD were like yours.

Dustylaw Thu 14-Feb-13 09:11:14

Have a look at Roedean. It is the least hierarchical of the girls schools we looked at, has a good riding programme for Saturday mornings and a friendly atmosphere. The high percentage of overseas girls means it does not empty at weekends or even exeat weekends. Older girls can go into Brighton so it's not in the middle of nowhere. For coed, lots of choice - look at The Leys in Cambridge - again, being able to go into Cambridge with friends is a big thing for weekends and rowing is on offer.

goinggetstough Thu 14-Feb-13 09:50:16

Definitely agree with looking at Downe House. It is not next to a town as some of the others mentioned have been but is only a taxi ride away to Newbury. St Edwards too is known for great pastoral care. You mentioned Bradfield. we found when we visited that it empties out at weekends.
As you are applying for sixth form do check how many new students the school admits. It can be very hard to be only 1 of 2/3 new girls in a mass of 80/90 girls all who have been together since age 11. It is of course not impossible to do but is a consideration. I think for a sixth former having a full weekend programme is not as vital as for a 13 year old. By the time they have finished lessons on a Saturday morning and or sport in the afternoon they need time to relax and catch up on prep. They do however need a good core of other full boarders around.
Good luck with your search.

Katryn Thu 14-Feb-13 11:30:19

I would not try Westonbirt,that doesn't sound like a fit for your daughter, unless it has changed considerably since my day. If she's very creative and independent, I would maybe look at Bedales.

Elibean Thu 14-Feb-13 11:37:03

Just a cautious word about Downe House to balance out the positives (which I am sure are there too). dh has two neices who left there recently, both of whom have tales to tell of rife eating disorders and depression amongst their peers.

I personally would look for a school where image isn't too important, and where there are girls of all different shapes and sizes - and going to Barbados for half-term isn't an important part of belonging.

Not saying all this is necessarily accurate (girls' POV being subjective of course) but I would check it out carefully for myself, if I were going to check it out at all. Which I'm sure you'd do anyway, but just in case...

Elibean Thu 14-Feb-13 11:37:30

ps I knew St Edwards well, but a long time ago - it was fun and happy when I knew it!

happygardening Thu 14-Feb-13 12:17:33

From your list; Bradfield as already said empties out at the weekend. Westonbirt a friend works there, very tiny only 200 pupils spread through 7 years nearly all boarders are Chinese a nice happy school very rural but I doubt would have the sheer numbers/resources/location for genuine "top notch" art and drama. Always local rumours about it closing don't know if this is true or not. Moeton Hall I don't know. St Edward's; 80% full boarders, in Oxford very sporty not sure what happens in the 6th form, very liberal, fab pastoral care, results improving year on year with new head and drama productions regularly staged at the North Wall (goggle it) a fantastic drama/theatre building complex built for Oxford and Summertown residents in particular and regular art exhibitions.
Bedales is very arty etc fantastic library (the building) surprisingly strong on science lots of visiting writers etc and the kids we met many years ago were the happiest and most charming I've ever met and again very liberal. But sadly we've recently heard disappointing stories about it saying its not all its cracked up to be and again nearly all weekly boarders.

manicmother80 Thu 14-Feb-13 12:50:09

Dustylaw My daughter is intelligent, but I do not want to put too much pressure on her. Curently, she studies at an Indian school that does the IB, where the average IB score is 35 points, and about 10% of the class gets onto the top 20 Universities in the USA, and 5% (not too many apply to the UK) get into Universities like UCL, St.Andews and Warwick every year. I think that moving abroad and moving to a much more academically aggresive environment like Westminister or Wycombe would be too much of a change for her, so I'm looking for schools that are less extreme while still being intellectually stimulating.

Would you say that Rodean doesn't fall under this category? Because she is intelligent and I want her to move to a better academic environment where she will be challenged and have to work hard but not somewhere where she'll be surrounded only by geniuses.

manicmother80 Thu 14-Feb-13 12:50:31

Thank you for the wonderful advice everybody. I have added King's School Cantebury, The Leys School and Downe House to the list of schools I'm researching- although I think that we're already too late for regsitration for King's.

Is Downe House a very 'girly' place? Would it be accepting of international students who aren't part of the 'going to Barbados for half-term' circle as Elibean puts it?

And could anybody who knows anything about the schools that I previous mentioned, especially Bradfield College and St. Edwards Oxford, please give me their opinion on it?

Katryn, could you please expand a bit more on why you think that Westonbirt would be unsuitable?

manicmother80 Thu 14-Feb-13 12:53:52

Happygardening- thank you very much for that informative post, glad to hear good things about St. Edwards. DO you think that she will feel left out if she's not on a sports team though?

And my daughter does have quite a rebellious streak, I'm afraid that Bedales sounds like it will just make it much worse, what do you think?

mungojerrie Thu 14-Feb-13 12:59:23

Have you looked at Badminton School in bristol? I think that this would suit your dd nicely, particularly her artistic/creative side.

happygardening Thu 14-Feb-13 13:08:22

I just don't know enough about Bedales apart from a couple of friends who've not had good experiences recently. We looked at it many years ago the children were all to a man lovely and very very happy but from talking to the children it was very obvious that they come from families with alot of money and weekends seemed to be spent staying in "my brothers (whose in New York) London flat drinking and smoking etc having a great time we felt that an easily lead child could get into trouble and I'm liberal very broad minded and not particularly paranoid. I may be doing it a disservice but friends there also backed this up!

outtolunchagain Thu 14-Feb-13 13:44:27

Have you thought of Oakham, nice well adjusted children in my experience, IB or A levels , good split of boys/ girls , very good drama , music and sport

Copthallresident Thu 14-Feb-13 13:55:24

I was an expat and in the last few years have had a few friends DDs go to UK schools and helped yet more in the process of searching for a school. Firstly there is no substitute for actually going and visiting a school. They all have unique atmospheres, especially the Boarding Schools, and you will know if it feel right. Things like a reputation for having bitchy girls can be the result of a few notorious "bad eggs" rather than reflecting the general atmosphere of the school.

Having said that quite a few expat friends felt Downe was a bit too twee and yes, full of "Barbados at half term" girlies, similar responses to Benenden.

The school that seems to have the most favourable impression on expats is Cheltenham Ladies College, including a lot of teacher friends. At a lot of the other schools there seems to be an effective social segregation of overseas students but there they really seem to make the international mix into a positive, and also to understand how to value and handle cultural differences, but not to the point of it getting in the way of discipline, which can also be a problem in other schools (the dare not tell someone off in case of being culturally insensitive syndrome). Vicky Tuck worked hard at it and took the advice of International School teachers. At sixth form they move out of their Boarding Houses into a sixth form house so a good point at which to break in as well. No problem with distance from Heathrow as they run very full buses. It is a larger school but seems to retain the supportive atmosphere, and having more girls does mean they are able to have very good art and drama. I think it being in town is a good thing, keeps things normal and not so cloistered. Academic but not in a pressured way. The girls I have known there have thrived.

Roedean also seems to make the international mix into a positive. Very good art and drama and it has struggled a bit to keep up numbers so not one of the academic powerhouses like Wycombe. Very supportive but coming from Asia, that bleak windblown clifftop site through an English winter? sad

If you really want relaxed and liberal Bryanston is another one that works well for a lot of expats, absolutely amazing art, drama, music. Some do do well academically but you have to be self motivated, not necessarily the priority for a lot of pupils.

Bedales not at all popular with expats from our side of the world wink.

Startail Thu 14-Feb-13 14:10:08

Malvern collage, mixed and Malvern St. James - girls.

MSJ certainly isn't horribly posh, having lots of very nice down to earth local day girls as well as borders.

happygardening Thu 14-Feb-13 14:16:32

Bryanston is very popular with all friends but virtually all weekly boarders which is why all our friends choose it. You have to stay in some weekends but all the others there is a mass exodus because of buses to Salisbury and then into London. I think they improved on the self motivated thing recently as well.
Oakham very popular but a big mix of day/flexi boarding/weekly boarding and full boarding you need to very very carefully check the numbers.

happygardening Thu 14-Feb-13 14:33:40

Meant to add Kings Canterbury if mainly full boarders the rest being day and is meant to be very good for drama etc. Canterbury is also a lovely city.

manicmother80 Thu 14-Feb-13 15:44:46

Copthallresident Thank you so much for the detailed post. My friend's daughters go to Cheltenham and she is thrilled with the school so it was my first choice, but I was told that registration for the 2014 sixth form is already closed.

Thank you for putting me onto Bryanston, it looks like an excellent fit for my daughter, it's just the 'self motivated bit' that worries me, I will look into it some more.

We will be visiting schools in April, but we would like to have a well-researched list of around 5-7 prospective schools to visit.

Happygardening I'm not too worried about the Weekly vs. full-boarding issue, since my sister-in-law (whom my daughter is very close to) lives in London and would be happy to keep her for the weekends. And thank you for the comment on Bedales, I am not too keen on it for precisely those reasons.

Startail and Outtolunchagain thank you for the inputs, I'll look into both Oakham and Malvern.

manicmother80 Thu 14-Feb-13 15:51:55

I have a few more question for all of the very helpful people here:

I've subscribed to the Goods Schools Guide and it's been of immense help, but I came across another resource called the Tatler Guide. I like the candid, personal picture it provides of schools, but the tone is so gossipy and frivolous that I'm not sure if it's meant to be taken seriously. Are the statistics and facts it provides accurate?

Also, I would like to have two less selective schools in the mix, to be safe. Would you classify any of the schools below as relatively 'safe bets'?

King’s Cantebury
St. Edward’s Oxford
Bradfield College
Malvern College

If all of these are very competitive, could you please suggest one or two schools that are less competitive but would suit my daughter? Thank you v. much!

Lostonthemoors Thu 14-Feb-13 15:59:52

My bf at Uni came from Bradfield - it has probably changed a lot now but then according to him it was a really conventional school and he was badly bullied. Doesn't sound right for her.

Westonbirt my ex dsil was at - again a long time ago but then was again a pretty conventional school and not sure it sounds a good fit.

happygardening Thu 14-Feb-13 16:03:23

All are significantly more competitive at 6th form many improve their results by taking very academic children especially from abroad most state only the minimum requirements for entry onto the 6th form on their websites many expect more. I think you need to speak to the individual schools and find out how many places they have and how many applicants for each place. Re Bryanston and being a self starter as I've already said we have friends with DC's there one in particular is very far removed from being a self starter and they're delighted with the school and their DC's progress in particular how they monitor it and help him.
I would take everything the Tatler Good Schools Guise says with a large tablespoon of of salt!!!

manicmother80 Thu 14-Feb-13 16:16:18

Thank you lostonthemoors. I should mention that India is very, very conservative. My daughter studies at a relatively liberal and elite school in one of the bigIndian cities, but the rules are still extremely rigid:punishments include sending children out of the classroom and shutting the door on them for the most minor infractions and girls are routinely chastised for holding hands with or hugging boys, for instance. And the focus is completely on science and maths subjects for the most part.

My husband and I are involved in creative professions, and have lived abroad for many years before moving back home a decade ago, and we've given our daughter a very different upbringing from that of a typical Indian girl, which is why she so often runs afoul of the system here.

I should have expressed myself better in my original post: I'm not necessarily looking for a liberal school in the UK, I just want my daughter to be part of a liberal Western education system. I'm sure that even a relatively traditional British school would still feel very liberal to her. I'm more interested in a school with an artistic and nurturing reputation plus good academics and not too 'posh', than one that is necessarily very liberal.

happygardening Thu 14-Feb-13 16:22:47

"Not too posh" Im not really sure what you mean by this TBH. People who can cheerfully stump up £34 000+ PA in school fees are by their nature not be on the bottom of society's pile. I think most in the UK would assume your pretty posh if your paying that kind of money for education.

milkshake3 Thu 14-Feb-13 16:29:50

What about Marlborough? Lovely town, liberal school ( but Headmaster cracking down on flagrant rule breaking), seems to have loads going on and something for everyone. Full boarding do dies not empty at weekends and London contingent so Cosby in tge train to London for exeats. Does IB and A levels.

Copthallresident Thu 14-Feb-13 16:29:54

manic two exeats per term, some house mistresses tougher than others about allowing pupils out on other weekends, some forbid it all together.

My comment on self motivation was specific as well as general, in relation to preparation for recent public exams the staff were relaxed and encouraging. Something that with a DD being pressured to the point of panic at very academic day school I was quite jealous of. However I did overhear a session in a parent organised holiday boot camp, and I have to say that in Maths there were significant gaps in understanding compared to DD. Undoubtedly this was due to an unhealthy focus on Facebook etc. instead of Maths prep, and you can lead a horse to water etc. but nevertheless I had always assumed that Boarding would mean the horse might as well drink ISWIM grin.

However the pupils I know there have an immensely rich extra curricular life, none of the descriptions of music, drama and art are exaggerated, amazing facilities and a significant number of former pupils have gone on to successful careers in the arts.

All this with pupils that in the main are fairly local with a contingent of exiles from the London day school rat race and a few from overseas.

I have no idea about entry at sixth form, at 13 their lists fill up very early but it does seem that there are places that come up in subsequent years.

Copthallresident Thu 14-Feb-13 16:32:29

milkshake3 Are your comments taking into account the "Middleton" effect. Around here it used to be seen as a place to send your jolly sporty but dim, when putting the name down in time was all that was required. Hearing of some able pupils not getting in now.

happygardening Thu 14-Feb-13 16:38:58

The OP said she didn't want "posh" Marlborough has a reputation for having smart families friends of our well known hereditary peers but the gum boot wearing clapped out farm land rover driving types didn't feel smart enough for it. Im also not aware of it being liberal for many years. But you're right about the boarding lots of full boarders and lots of activities at the weekend.

manicmother80 Thu 14-Feb-13 17:01:03

Happygardening What I mean is this: I have two very good friends whose children study at 'posh' schools in the UK, and while they are very impressively articulate, confident and well-informed, their lifestyles do worry me a little.

One girl insists on only staying at the Aman resorts when they go on family holiday and makes her parents take her to the most expensive restaurants in London whenever they go to visit her. She says that going to the best resorts, restaurants etc is a part of the 'exposure' that she has gained since coming to the UK. Apparently, the last time my friend went to London, her daughter was absolutely mortified that her mother asked for tap water at a trendy restaurant. She's now badgering her mother to get her some very expensive designer dresses for her upcoming leaver's ball and her 18th birthday.

My friend says that she gives into these demands because she doesn't want her daughter to feel deprived compared to her classmates, and that its worth it because she is getting such an excellent education and good social exposure, but I'm afraid that I will not be able to do the same.

We have money to pay for justifiable expenses like an excellent education abroad, but we would not like to have our daughter feeling entitled to a very lavish lifestyle because everybody around her lives like that, and frankly, she isn't the sort who wouldn't fit into a school that was exclusively for the very sophisticated and the glamorous.

I read that something like 20% of UK students do their A-Levels at independent schools, which sounds like quite a bit of diversity to me. I'm not expecting these schools to be completely unpretentious, but I would prefer to avoid the more rarefied and socially exclusive amongst these schools.

manicmother80 Thu 14-Feb-13 17:02:21

copthallresident thank you again for the very detailed post, it is very helpful.

Copthallresident Thu 14-Feb-13 17:37:25

happygardening "gum boot wearing clapped out farm land rover driving types" Plenty of those at Bryanston grin

happygardening Thu 14-Feb-13 17:39:51

OP I know now exactly what you mean by posh Id avoid Marlborough then! But your point "I read that something like 20% of UK students do their A-Levels at independent schools, which sounds like quite a bit of diversity to me." how many are at day schools? Boarding schools by heir sheer cost are likely to be primarily full of very wealthy parents it goes with the territory. IME the very academic one have less materialistic/status obsessed children but others might disagree. Snobbery arises around intellectual ability instead.

happygardening Thu 14-Feb-13 17:41:34

Copthall not Marlborough though! Actually all we know at Bryanston are bankers and city lawyers clean Hunters and range Rovers!!!

Copthallresident Thu 14-Feb-13 18:29:54

I find the leavening of masters of the universe with the country living brigade and gum boot wearing clapped out farm land rover driving types quite amusing when I have attended the concerts etc. The children all seem to have melded into one not too cool, happy and confident type though.

Certainly makes a change from the clash of Masters of the Universe and earnestly self sacrificing Volvo drivers at DD's school........... and the similar clash between over confident competitive alpha girls and those with more inclusive values.

outtolunchagain Thu 14-Feb-13 20:07:57

What about Greshams for a less competitive option ( although I still think Oakham sounds a good choice)

manicmother80 Thu 14-Feb-13 20:57:13

Thank you outtolunchagain - I will look into both schools.

manicmother80 Thu 14-Feb-13 20:57:51

happygardening - that is a fair point, can't really disagree.

Tigerstripes Thu 14-Feb-13 20:58:58

My sister went to pipers corner in buckinghamshire and my parents chose it on the basis of her not being overly academic but being very good at art. It's not full of the pretentious types and she enjoyed it there. It is mixed day/boarding though so I'm not sure if that would suit.

manicmother80 Thu 14-Feb-13 21:13:31

Thank you very much for the suggestion Tigerstripes. My daughter is academic- she's at a fairly good school at the moment, and is top of the class in the subjects she enjoys (including Maths) and she reads voraciously- her problem is that she doesn't have an excellent work ethic and would much rather be doing something creative than studying the subjects/ topics that she doesn't enjoy. So I do want a school that is academically challenging and will motivate her to work harder, just not a school that is full of highly motivated geniuses, because she would be unhappy in such a pressure-cooker environment.

Copthallresident Thu 14-Feb-13 21:24:44

manic I think it may be worth being a bit pushy parent with CLC, it sounds a perfect fit, and nothing ventured, nothing gained, do a selling job, sounds like they should jump at the chance.

manicmother80 Thu 14-Feb-13 21:51:34

Copthallresident Do you think that is probable that CLC would be willing to accept such a late entry? I'm not very good at being assertive, but if you think that we do stand a chance, then I will get my husband to ring them. Or do you think we'll stand a better chance if we just go visit the admissions office (with our daughter) when we come to England next month?

manicmother80 Thu 14-Feb-13 21:55:56

Oh dear, I feel VERY foolish. I just looked at the page again, and it's actually entry for sixth form in 2013 that is closed, I don't think that registration for 2014 has even started yet. blush Can't believe I was so silly, I will ring them first thing tomorrow and find out what the procedure is. It's just that I have a friend whose both daughters study there and she told me that is was necessary to register them years in advance, but that doesn't look to be the case. Does anybody know about Cheltenham Ladies' College entrance procedures ?

YippeeTeenager Thu 14-Feb-13 22:00:03

St Teresas in Effingham is very friendly, less academic (but getting increasingly good results) and much less competitive. Maybe a bit quiet for your girl though.

Hawise Fri 15-Feb-13 09:44:00

I have heard good things about Royal Masonic in Herts, would be happy to send my dd there. It's a good all round school and not too posh!
Same with St Margarets in Bushey. Don't know if anyone has mentioned Haileybury, supposed to be very good, but is Co-ed.

mrsshackleton Fri 15-Feb-13 11:45:40

manic, most boarding schools are posh, only the elite can afford them. Don't pay any attention to the Tatler guide, as you say it's gossipy and only there to bring in advertising from the schools. Look at the GSG and the word "unpretentious" should be the one that rings bells for you.

Dustylaw Fri 15-Feb-13 11:52:35

Manicmother, you are asking interesting questions about what makes a school a good fit. We wanted schools which could clearly stretch and get the best for a range of pupils from bright-ish to very bright. We didn't want a school where getting anything other than an A* was regarded as a blot on the school's record but we did want a school where they would pay attention to the children getting the results they should. One school we looked at proudly declared that they expected the girls to excel in everything they did, whether academic or extracurricular - definitely not what we were looking for! And we certainly didn't want a school where a designer lifestyle was necessary to fit in or be part of the cool gang. We also wanted a school with good train links to London. As we looked around schools I also thought that easy access to an interesting town was important because sometimes children just need a break from being in the school - The Leys wins hands down for that being a safe 5 minute walk from Cambridge town centre. (That matters less if there is a weekly exodus to London but lack of an interesting town is also one reason why children might not want to stay at school at the weekend.) It sounds like both Roedean and The Leys could be potential good fits for your daughter.

sugarfoot Mon 18-Feb-13 17:12:26

Have a look at Canford. GSG says 'Unpretentious and sensitive, at ease with itself but without a trace of smugness. A school which can hold its own with the most popular in the country but one which has, perhaps, benefited from not being fashionable'.

happygardening Mon 18-Feb-13 22:32:47

Be careful interesting towns maybe on a schools doorstep but pupils aren't always allowed to visit them even at weekends. I know at last 2 mentioned above where you are very restricted as always if it's important to your DC or you ask don't assume.

rubbishparent Tue 12-Mar-13 11:49:31

I'd second CLC, but would also strongly recommend looking at Sevenoaks School, which I know well. It has a good balance of day and boarders, a good international feel, teaches IB in the sixth form (and has done for decades, so is extremely experienced) and is also a school with plenty of opportunities beyond academic. You don't have to fit a particular mould and they encouraged individualism when I was there. Good luck!

BadgerB Tue 12-Mar-13 12:04:41

Shrewsbury School is taking girls at 13+ from 2014, so are keen to recruit. They have had 6th form girls for about 3 years

Justfarah Thu 16-May-13 02:58:08

Hi Manicmother. I just read your post and would be keen on connecting with you regarding the research you began for your daughter. We are from India and presently in the UK. Looking at schools for my daughter as well..

Dededum Sun 19-May-13 19:53:10

King Edwards at Witley. Very normal boarding school, co-ed diverse school dealing with average to bright. Don't know the numbers for boarding but do have overseas boarders.

Mutteroo Tue 21-May-13 22:32:54

I'm seconding Roedean. Incredibly friendly girls & fantastic teachers. DD's previous girls school seemed to have a glut of obnoxious brats in her year whereas Roedean was a breath of fresh air. The school is easy to reach from London/airports. Great music/drama/art facilities & the boarding houses are currently being upgraded. lots of girls from abroad so always lots to do at weekends. DD was a day girl & often went up to the school on Saturdays to hang out with her boarding buddies.

missvertigo Thu 23-May-13 09:11:22

Have you thought about Queen Anne's in Caversham, Reading? 50/50 boarders to day, lots of variety, lots going on. Well rounded.

MIlesdavis Sun 26-May-13 14:29:32

I can only speak to my experience, and I would strongly advise against Bedales overall. Sadly, my daughter was badly bullied by a teacher at Dunhurst and we left after being there since she was three.

I think the senior school (Bedales) may be a good choice for the right child, if you can afford the fees and are fine with a general lack of supervision and the junior school (Dunannie) was a lovely, although educationally lightweight introduction to life.

With both, you need to understand that the gloss and a lovely ethos form a beautiful veneer it won't come close to delivering on.

Dunhurst is different. It talks a good game about independence when, to me and others, the students went beyond that...I spoke to a headmaster of another school about my daughter's experience and he said that children who came to his school from Dunhurst were "feral."

If your child is super bright, super creative, super independent, don't really need to be taught and you have endless reserves of cash, Bedales (senior school) may be the place for you. If you want an easy, colourful and educationally lightweight primary education, Dunannie is a good option. The middle school, Dunhurst, was a disaster for us, and we weren't the only ones...several have removed their children after thinking they were going to go all the way through to Bedales. Giving your child "complete independence" over their educational journey is another word for "not really teaching them" in our experience. Dunhurst is an expensive con, and was the biggest mistake my husband I have made with our children, and we regret it so much.

Lizzzar Fri 19-Jul-13 01:42:50

Sherborne Girls has the option of the IB, quite a few international students, lots of art, music and drama and is not too pressured academically. You could look at it if you are also looking at Bryanston - they are quite close. It is a girls school that cooperates with the boys school, not co-ed, though so the atmosphere would probably be a bit more like Cheltenham. It might also be worth seeing if any applicants to Cheltenham change their mind at the last minute - that can happen, although it it also true that many schools are unfortunately definitely overscribed.

Lizzzar Fri 19-Jul-13 02:47:51

Whoops - I meant oversubscribed.

2Retts Fri 19-Jul-13 03:24:20

Is it ok to throw in Old Swinford Hospital at this stage? Sounds like the perfect fit from the initial post IMVHO (although I ought to add, it is a state boarding school).

Pyrrah Fri 19-Jul-13 16:01:00

Second looking at Sevenoaks - my sister was there (both as day pupil and as a boarder) and enjoyed it. They had everyone from kids on full bursaries from humble backgrounds to European Royalty and everyone seemed to get on and certainly my sister wasn't demanding designer dresses or expensive holidays and neither were her friends.

Lizzzar Sat 20-Jul-13 03:40:09

On Wikipedia, it says that Old Swinford Hospital only admits girls as day pupils, so I doubt that would be a suitable choice. Sevenoaks however does have a good reputation and is probably worth a look if she might prefer co-ed. I believe it is IB only in the sixth form, not choice of IB or A levels, but if you are happy with that, it could fit what you are looking for. Bryanston also appears to be doing well, but definitely has a very liberal reputation and possibly some pretty sophisticated pupils. Academically it is not as strong as Sevenoaks, although a bright and hardworking pupil could probably still do well.

2Retts Sat 20-Jul-13 05:09:57

Ah Lizzzar, you're absolutely right, and I hadn't even considered that. I had DS there and the girls in sixth form did wonderfully and I thought it a good fit but hadn't considered the fact that the girls couldn't board. Apologies.

Lizzzar Sat 20-Jul-13 05:38:25

Thanks for the response - it sounds like it could have been a good option if girls could board. Maybe could be considered by someone reading this thread looking for a boys boarding school. It is good to remember that state boarding schools also do well.

bulletpoint Sat 20-Jul-13 14:57:13

OP i would definitely add Rugby school to your list. Very good trafitional public school, co-ed, very down to earth, good academics, takes a broad range of children and not overly selective.

Is your dd going to finish at her current school or are you thinking of transferring?

bulletpoint Sat 20-Jul-13 15:02:25

Just to add, some people complain that Rugby town is not pretty enough or lacks things to do, its horses for courses! please remember you are sending your child to the school not the town, we've visited it and the town seems fine.

celestialsquirrels Sat 20-Jul-13 15:11:47

I second Rugby as an excellent choice - co-ed, fantastic art/photography/graphic design/drama, good spread of academic and less academic children, doesn't empty out at weekends.

I would say no to Marlborough probably - doesn't sound like what you are looking for. St Edwards is not really a great school although nice to be in Oxford. Headington a better choice in Oxford but only girls and not truly a boarding school.

How about Oundle? Its on a high, unpretentious, co-ed, in v good heart at the moment...

Wouldn't touch Bedales with a bargepole esp for girls

Lizzzar Mon 22-Jul-13 06:22:45

Headington might be a definite possible. I don't know that much about it in detail, but the academic reputation is definitely pretty good, and it is not an ultra fashionable school, so probably relatively down to earth socially. I understand it is mainly weekly boarding, so probably not a huge amount going on at the weekends, but I think this matters less for older children, and it is right on the Oxford Tube bus line into London, so it would be easy for her to visit London on the weekends, as you mention you have relatives she could stay with.

lljkk Mon 22-Jul-13 07:36:19

ZOMBIE (fully expecting to be snided at for daring to point out such a thing)

Lizzzar Mon 22-Jul-13 23:18:17

What do you mean? I find your comment completely incomprehensible.

Eastpoint Tue 23-Jul-13 00:10:46

Lizzzar The OP was looking for a school in February; this is a zombie thread (back from the dead).

Lizzzar Tue 23-Jul-13 00:26:53

Right - I didn't undterstand that. I also didn't know if she had found a school or not, and if she had maybe she would say. Even if she had decided on a school, maybe CLC, surely there is some point in discussing the issue further if it may be of interest to other people. I won't comment any more, as clearly it's not wanted, but I personally think the above comment is rude and pointless, and I don't understand why people should be criticized for commenting on an older thread if it is clearly well intentioned.

Lizzzar Tue 23-Jul-13 00:35:00

Right - I didn't understand that. I also didn't know if she had found a school or not, and if she had maybe she would say. Even if she had decided on a school, maybe CLC, surely there is some point in discussing the issue further if it may be of interest to other people. I won't comment any more, as clearly it's not wanted, but I personally think the above comment is rude and pointless, and I don't understand why people should be criticized for commenting on an older thread if it is clearly well intentioned. Additionally, a lot of people do take more than six months to decide on a school, so calling this thread completely dead and a zombie if it is revived just seems odd. I could almost understand if it was from two or three years ago, but surely there are circumstances where late comers still have relevant comments.

Lizzzar Tue 23-Jul-13 00:42:19

It is in fact snide to criticize well intentioned comments.

1BigMumma Fri 30-Aug-13 09:03:08

I wonder if you found the right school for your daughter? I know Moreton Hall very well and cannot recommend it highly enough. I am stunned by their academic results which, they say, are the best ever this year and seems to put them as one of the very highest non-selective independent schools in the country. But more than that my daughter loves the atmosphere, so friendly and everyone seems to find their own 'thing' and is encouraged in it.
Anyway, term starts next week so I guess you have sorted things out by now? But if you haven't I'd drop them a line. Good luck!

DalmationDots Sat 31-Aug-13 13:30:55

Priors Field in Godalming, Surrey sounds the perfect match for her.

indieaka Sun 01-Sep-13 10:49:06

From the sounds of it, Leighton Park School in Reading would fit the bill perfectly. It ticks all the boxes you mention and they offer fantastic opportunities to be involved with arts and drama (not to mention a fantastic textiles dept), and there is an increasingly large group of students and staff becoming involved with 'digital arts' and filmmaking using iPads etc which might tie in well with your daughter's interest in animation etc. Good luck in your search!

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