Girls' Boarding Schools for Sixth Form

(66 Posts)
jadeyang66 Fri 14-Jun-13 14:32:20

Hi. I'm looking for a suitable all-girls boarding school in the UK for my daughter for her A-Levels. We're from Malaysia, however, my daughter speaks English fluently and we use it as our first language. It would not be too hard for her to adapt to the academic system in the UK as she already studies the British syllabus at an international school here in Malaysia and will be taking her IGCSE's when she's in Year 11. I would say that she is academically inclined. She also enjoys singing, and plays piano and guitar but not to a high level. She is not a very sporty person although she swims and plays tennis. Her favourite subjects are mathematics and science. I also do not want to send her to a school that is too pressuring. Any thoughts or suggestions?

mooseisabunny Fri 14-Jun-13 14:33:30


Chocchip88 Fri 14-Jun-13 14:37:48

Haberdashers in Monmouth? They e just built a new sixth form boarding house so all the facilities are brand new.

Needmoresleep Fri 14-Jun-13 14:39:29

I replied to your other thread......

jadeyang66 Fri 14-Jun-13 15:00:23

Needmoresleep thank you for the suggestion! grin was very much appreciated. any views on CLC, Roedean or Downe House?

Copthallresident Fri 14-Jun-13 16:00:10

I am a returned expat from Asia and have done the rounds of the Boarding Schools with several families moving from International Schools, both Chinese and Brit expats, though at 11 rather than 16. CLC seems most often to tick the boxes, especially for International School teachers, and I have been UK Guardian to a few pupils there who have thrived and done well. They have taken a great deal of care to develop strategies for integrating international and home students. Vicky Tuck, the last Head, made a point of really tapping the brains and experience of International School teachers. They therefore tread the line between sensitivity to and valuing different cultures without allowing pupils to form country cliques or use their culture to excuse bad behaviour. It is also a very grounded school whilst being academic. It functions like an academic day school with Boarding Houses as homes they walk back to in the real world.

All of these schools have excellent provision for sport and creative arts.

With the possible exception of Roedean, who do seem to have a similar approach to CLC, I found there was a slight tendency for other schools to treat their overseas pupils as the exotic "other", and allow them to stick with each other and their own language, particularly difficult for overseas pupils who have been in International Schools and may not even speak their own language well. Wycombe Abbey in particular seemed to just want to send one of my DDs friends off with a native speaking group when she didn't actually understand a word!! In some cases it felt that Asian pupils were mostly valued for their results.

Roedean is a lovely school but that clifftop building is forbidding and it doesn't seem as tight a ship as CLC either academically or in terms of ethos. A feeling that it hasn't quite redefined itself having ceased to be the jolly hockey sticks destination of upper class gals IYSWIM.

Benenden is very English, felt like somewhere you tuck away your Princess from the cruel hard world. Downe also very English.

However there really is no substitute for going, visiting and getting your own feel for the schools. IME girls just know when they are in the right place for them. I hope that helps

jadeyang66 Fri 14-Jun-13 16:55:30

Copthallresident thanks for the advice! was very useful. Any other information you have on Downe House? smile

jadeyang66 Fri 14-Jun-13 17:06:33

and also does anyone know if CLC pressures their students? If anyone could share anything they know, it would be a big help! grin

goinggetstough Fri 14-Jun-13 17:58:50

I would agree withcopthall that Downe House is very English. There are a number of girls from all round the world. They integrated well and IMO weren't viewed as exotic or different, they were just part of the school. The school were very flexible if overseas students arrived early in the day for the start of term which not all schools are.
There is 25m pool and girls can swim on the team or just for fitness. The main school sport is lacrosse although netball and hockey have succesful teams too. Tennis is a very popular. There are choirs and a number of musical groups. Other girls just have lessons and play for pleasure.
As for academics, it is a selective school. So standards are high. IME girls expect to work hard and achieve rather than being forceably pushed!
There are not too many new girls arriving in the sixth form. The numbers depend on the size of the current year group and how many are leaving after GCSE. In the sixth form there are two houses. One for the lower sixth and one for the upper sixth. So although some of the girls will have known each other since they were 11, it may be the first time they have been in the same house.
Definitely go and visit the schools as only you will know which is the right one for your DD.
Good luck!

jadeyang66 Sat 15-Jun-13 09:25:05

goinggetstough thanks for the pointers! Yes, we are thinking of visiting this summer smile

jadeyang66 Sat 15-Jun-13 09:25:27

Just wondering if there are any other schools that have not been mentioned yet?

booface Sat 15-Jun-13 09:29:31

My niece is at Haileybury (Hertfordshire) and moved there just for sixth form. She loves it as is doing really well. But I think it is mixed so may not suit your needs.

jadeyang66 Sat 15-Jun-13 11:12:44

I am also looking for a school where the boarding houses are in the school's compound. I've heard that CLC's isn't? How about Roedean and Downe House?

Copthallresident Sat 15-Jun-13 11:16:44

op the family I went around Downe with were a bit underwhelmed, a more humane version of Wycombe Abbey as in very much a traditional English boarding school, but they ended up at Haileybury, which was a successful choice. Personally I and DD would choose CLC of all the schools we have seen because it has more of a buzz, we like that it is more down to earth and it has been such a successful choice for so many expats we know but as I say it is really about going and seeing.

Copthallresident Sat 15-Jun-13 11:28:34

* jade* CLCs boarding houses are a short walk away through town, though some are more or less opposite. I thought that was an advantage in that pupils have to interact with real life. There aren't any downsides that I have heard about. We found some of the schools felt very cloistered but Roedean and Downe are on one site. Roedean wasn't one of the ones that felt otherworldly though, something about being so exposed! And close to Brighton. Somehow Wycombe for instance, though right in town felt very walled off from the real world.

williaminajetfighter Sat 15-Jun-13 11:29:45

Headington in Oxford. Dd very happy there.

Copthallresident Sat 15-Jun-13 11:30:40

Also at CLC school and boarding house feel very separate, more like school and home rather than living over the shop IYSWIM

lardasss Sat 15-Jun-13 11:36:47

we loved Wycombe. DH is miles away from anything (taxi to Newbury nearest town) when you want to buy a pair of tights or see a movie or trawl thru topshop you'll be out of luck - which means extended london trips. WAS is very convenient for Heathrow - and they make the Asian overseas girls very comfortable. superb academically and knocks socks off all the other girls schools for sport - with England team coaches etc. also brilliant for music and we found the pastoral care to be just right.

jadeyang66 Sat 15-Jun-13 11:49:34

Copthallresident Is it a good thing by Roedean not being otherworldly? Your advice has been really helpful. Thanks! smile and do you have any other school suggestions? would love to hear them.

jadeyang66 Sat 15-Jun-13 11:54:35

williaminajetfighter Thanks! How are the boarding houses at Headington? And, are they quite internationally integrated?

Copthallresident Sat 15-Jun-13 12:28:40

I'm afraid lardass that Wycombe treated my DDs friend with appalling cultural insensitivity. They are very wedded to some hothouse schools in Asia and seemed to have a one size fits all attitude to Asian candidates, they really could not relate to a very westernised English speaking pupil who had been in a British International. School. She was corralled with girls who lapsed into their native tongue (which she barely understands let alone speaks) as soon as out of earshot of teachers, and were, as she put it, "overachievers". I witnessed all this and the attitude of the head of first year, who looked straight out of Bunty magazine, was like something out of the last days of the raj. I know Wycombe is a happy choice for some of my DDs English friends but I would not recommend it to anyone coming from a British International School which tend to produce pupils who are very adept at interacting with all cultures. Frankly I was disgusted with them.

jade yes I did mean not being otherworldly would be a positive for me. It was also possibly the friendliest school. It just felt that they don't seem to have found their market niche IYSWIM, and try a bit to be all things to all pupils/ parents. At other Boarding Schools you get a much clearer sense of what they aim to be and do. This sounds washy washy but I think with schools actually going there and experiencing the intangible is important. Having said that there are plenty of happy Roedean parents who have posted on other threads.

Quite a few of the schools I have seen/ been a guardian to pupils at, are mixed but the girls schools I have seen are Woldingham (very otherworldly, you can't even get a phone signal!), Downe, Wycombe, Benenden and CLC and of those I would only recommend Roedean and CLC and would chose CLC as head and shoulders above the rest but again this is a personal perspective. Another positive of CLC is their openness and good communication with parents. They positively embrace you as a member of their community and I have never experienced problems with arrangements etc. whereas other schools seem to find having to communicate with parents/guardians a chore. I think that is especially important if you are overseas, it can be very frustrating if you are getting the brush off when trying to make arrangements from afar. To be fair the main problems I have experienced are with a mixed school that is predominantly a day school.

BTW where we lived there is a Boarding School networking group for parents and pupils at overseas Boarding Schools, so they can share knowledge, meet up etc. are you in KL? I am sure there must be similar there?

Hamishbear Sat 15-Jun-13 12:31:12

CLC sixth form very selective, only for very able. They'll only admit those that will thrive - v thorough & sensible criteria used to select.

lardasss Sat 15-Jun-13 12:36:45

well copthal i only have my daughter's 6 years there with all her asian westernized and non westernized friends to go by - whereas you had an entire 2 hour's tour worth of experience!

Copthallresident Sat 15-Jun-13 12:36:49

To give you a further perspective my DDs are at a traditional selective independent girls' day school, one that is near the top of the league tables, so I am probably influenced by the fact the CLC feels most alike to that.

Copthallresident Sat 15-Jun-13 12:39:06

lardass I am sorry but a school that could give someone that 4 hour experience isn't one I am going to recommend. They lost a good candidate too, now doing Law at Cambridge.

williaminajetfighter Sat 15-Jun-13 12:40:12

Jadey nice residences at Headington and good mix intl. Oxford itself tends to be quite intl due to lots of people coming from abroad to be/work at University and hospitals. Have a look at their website. Very good results and lots of the girls head to Oxbridge if that's what you fancy...

Copthallresident Sat 15-Jun-13 12:41:58

I would add lardass that one of my closest friends has a DD there so I know that for an academic girl who enjoys the traditional Boarding School experience it is a good choice.

samuelwhiskers Sat 15-Jun-13 12:48:00

Maybe have a look at St Mary's Shaftsbury, St Anthony's Leweston nr Shaftesbury, Dorset and The Royal High School in Bath. Both good schools, I have known girls who have boarded at all three and been happy. They suceed academically but not pushy. Some less sporty than others.

burberryqueen Sat 15-Jun-13 12:54:34

oooh i finally clicked what u meant by CLC, well at least it was established to prepare girls for work and university unlike some of the others mentioned, but then I am biased having attended its sister school.
Miss Buss and Miss Beale,
Cupids' darts do not feel.
Miss Beale and Miss Buss,
How unlike us!

jadeyang66 Sat 15-Jun-13 13:10:37

Copthall Thanks! smile I would prefer the boarding to be on-site (just a personal opinion) but I get your POV on the benefits of being able to walk home. About the networking group, I'm not sure if we have one here but I'll be sure to look around. Still deciding on where to visit, so far CLC and Roedean are on my list. Do you know any other girls' schools which are internationally integrated? You've been a great help, thanks.

lardasss Sat 15-Jun-13 13:20:23

copthall - don't be sorry - i'm sure this lost candidate did just fine somewhere else as you say - but it would be short sighted to go by one person's bad tour experience. there are loads of great schools where that could happen. i would judge a school by the girls that you know that have actually gone there. i had a friend whose daughter's tour consisted of a goth 6th former who announced that the school was 'crap' - and this is a top london day school. my sensible friend took it with a grain of salt - both of her daughters have flourished at this 'crap' school! and btw - i'm sure lost good candidate at cambridge is in good company with loads of WAS girls!

lardasss Sat 15-Jun-13 13:28:48

also agree boarding onsite is pretty vital. can't imagine it any other way really. have heard great things about kings canterbury btw - and brighton college if you go the mixed route.

Copthallresident Sat 15-Jun-13 13:48:31

lardass I'm not sure it is worth arguing the toss but this wasn't about one girl giving a tour, it was the attitude of the Head ( not the current one who incidentally was a heroine for coming out in public on the GCSE scandal, which DDs' Head was in denial about, even to the parents) Head of Boarding House, Head of First Year and when we asked a sixth former who had joined from a similar school to their International School she also admitted she had had a tough time losing the stereotype and getting to be seen as another girl rather than an "Asian girl". All that contributed to my reaction and DDs friends decision that it wasn't the school for her. Ironically the Head was about to fly to Asia but openly admitted she was only going to visit certain schools (not British International Schools) with whom they had developed a relationship because they produced the sorts of candidates "that we like to apply to Wycombe" which knowing the schools concerned read to me as very hothoused and very rich. It was a very blinkered approach.

jadeyang66 Sat 15-Jun-13 13:49:48

lardassss thanks for the suggestion! smile will take it into consideration. Do you know of any other internationally integrated girl schools? Thanks!

jadeyang66 Sat 15-Jun-13 13:57:46

Copthall Just wondering if you knew any more internationally integrated girls' schools? grin I want to look up on more schools before deciding where I shall visit.

Copthallresident Sat 15-Jun-13 14:00:14

jade I am afraid that the other schools I would recommend because they have worked out as for International pupils I know of, are mixed which clearly you are not looking at. I would probably visit some of the other girls' schools simply because it gives you a point of comparison and you might find that they appeal to your DD . Why are you against mixed? They have pretty tight boundaries on any sort of risky behaviour and it is a good preparation for university. Haileybury in particular is popular with expats. Also if you really don't want pushy Bryanston is quite popular , very good for creative arts, although actually otherwise pretty much a local school.

jadeyang66 Sat 15-Jun-13 14:11:08

copthall are CLC, Roedean & Downe House a good few schools to visit? Any views on Badminton and Benenden? How about St Teresa's? Thanks smile

lardasss Sat 15-Jun-13 14:33:33

St mary's Ascot? heard good things about. also Benenden supposed to be a nice slightly gentler place. St Swithuns is very good - friend's DD has flourished there - also quite sporty. St Cat's?

jadeyang66 Sat 15-Jun-13 14:45:48

Is Benenden internationally integrated? How about Badminton?

Copthallresident Sat 15-Jun-13 15:26:36

No experience of Badminton or St Theresa's, St Mary's Ascot and St Mary's Shaftesbury are strongly Catholic, you are signing up for a very Catholic ethos with all the bells and whistles, and St Mary's Ascot is very selective.

Benenden is beautiful, lovely buildings and grounds but very closeted deep in the country, good pastoral care but I felt it was somewhere to hide away your Princess from the big bad world and the academics and facilities did not stand up to comparison with the other schools we saw.

I would visit four schools altogether to give you a basis for comparison.

lardasss Sat 15-Jun-13 15:59:27

cop - do agree a bit re: the selection process with the now departing head and the HK hothouse schools. but still differ on the relationships and integration of the girls once they are there. Bryanston is beautiful btw - wished we'd sent our No 1 son there. my daughter would def have preferred a less 'chapel centric' educational experience FWIW - but thought St Mary's Ascot wasnt' that catholic bells and whistles in these more secular times?

Tweetinat Sat 15-Jun-13 16:11:37

Not a Girls' achool, but my sister has just left Dauntsey's School in West Lavington where she boarded for 6th form and she absolutely loved it.

celestialsquirrels Sat 15-Jun-13 16:17:23

My dd at Headington - great school and certainly streets ahead of somewhere like haileybury, results-wise. Pastoral care is fantastic, results excellent but it done ant feel unduly pressured. Worth a look. It is a day school with boarding rather than an out and out boarding school though.

The Mount School in York? Small, friendly, excellent boarding atmosphere. Strong academically with great care for those to whom it doesn't come easily.

Copthallresident Sat 15-Jun-13 16:23:46

lardass Going on the Catholic families around here who sent their daughters there even the suggestion that these are more secular times would not go down well.....

hf128219 Sat 15-Jun-13 16:26:17


Slipshodsibyl Sat 15-Jun-13 16:40:53

Once they reach Sixth Form, girls do not really want to be cloistered on a campus a weekends and so campus based schools are more likely to be empty of company as girls go home or you might find your daughter will be asking you to allow her to accompany her new friends which is sometimes a hard call if you are far away in Malaysia.

Many of the schools mentioned here have very large numbers of day girls so this tendency is more pronounced. You will not want your daughter to be lonely at weekends and, like it or not, the outside world impacts on boarding school life in a way it didn't it the past.

You need to ask some detailed questions of how and where girls spend their weekends and decide if you, as a family, can work with the replies you get. I would not get too worked up about pressure but choose a high performing school. My concern would be about trying to imagine her day to day life from 16 to 19 years and finding a school that will help her to mature so cially and have some independence and social life in addition to good teaching.

Slipshodsibyl Sat 15-Jun-13 16:53:59

Oh and my comments echo Copthalls except that I have not , myself, had a negative experience visiting Wycombe)

lardasss Sat 15-Jun-13 18:30:43

slipshod you make some excellent points re: day girls and location. i think almost all boarding schools make sure if parents are overseas that there is adequate guardianship here in England. (i am guardian for some cousins for instance) independence and life outside school are vital - so make sure that there is ample opportunity. most girls by the time they are in the 6th form want a bit of freedom and being a reasonable distance (ie not too close but not too far either) from civilisation is important. reminds me of advice i was given about a certain remote scottish boarding school which i foolishly thought was miles away from the fleshpots of temptation (london!) only to be reminded that it gets dark at 2 in the afternoon and there is nothing to do but get high.

BramblyHedge Sat 15-Jun-13 18:38:43

I was going to say Headington. I was an international boarder many moons ago. I know things change but the boarding side was very international when I was there. It is a suburban school and has all the benefits of Oxford on its doorstep.

Slipshodsibyl Sat 15-Jun-13 18:48:20

Headington sounds a lovely school. But how many girls of sixth form age are actually there on a Saturday night? And of those who are, is there a spread of nationalities?

Chubfuddler Sat 15-Jun-13 18:51:31

There are a lot of international students at Westonbirt. Girls school, heavy on the boarding although there are also day pupils a lot of them stay over from time to time. The head is fantastic very down to earth.

williaminajetfighter Sat 15-Jun-13 21:26:09

slips my DD goes to Headington and loves it. The mix of girls tends to be broad. Indian, asian and a lot of people literally from around world - across Europe etc. They claim '30 different nationalities' (that's from their website) Can't quickly find %ge boarders but it says 240 in all across age groups. See more here:

Also Oxford very easy place to live, close to London. A bit dull but probably better than begin stuck in the countryside with little option to go anywhere...

Copthallresident Sat 15-Jun-13 21:26:27

I would back up slips points. I think the main problem I have had to deal with as a Guardian is the "Is it appropriate for my daughter to spend the weekend at this home" one, plus the lure of the London clubbing scene, plus getting carried away trying to be "cool" at school. I felt I had to put some fairly stringent boundaries on my DCs (because lots of parents don't ) and there is essentially little difference between day schools and boarding schools on that score. You are not immunised from the influences on teenage girls. This came as no surprise but the issue is will the Boarding School take the same approach as you would? DH seem to have acted appropriately and promptly.

I should also say that generally by 17 your DCs know who they are and want to be and don't fall prey to peer pressure.

lardasss Sat 15-Jun-13 22:32:59

hmmm... saturday night in the sixth form at school? maybe during exam revision ... but most sociable girls within spitting distance of london will be at a party somewhere i suspect!

cq Sat 15-Jun-13 22:43:01

Have a look at Queen Anne's School in Caversham. Good mix of day & boarders, good academic results but not too pressured, lots of art, drama and music to high levels, and some GB squad sportswomen. Good all round mix and inspirational head with some v progressive projects focussing on how to get the best out of each girl.

JugglingChaotically Sun 16-Jun-13 17:12:49

I'd add Godolphin School Salisbury to the list. The boarding is thriving there, lots on, good all round education. (They take a wide range of girls, and while stretching girls academically, they are also musical, sporty, arty etc) 6th form houses are on site but separate from the houses for younger girls. The school looks over the hills but is actually on the edge of Salisbury which gives the girls the opportunity to go down into the old part of Salibury in a 5 minute walk which they value as they get older.

Xpatmama88 Sun 16-Jun-13 19:47:17

If you DD strength is in Maths and Science, and most likely doing these subjects for A level, I will certainly, like Lardasss suggest, do go and visit Wycombe Abbey too. The 6th Form science and maths are very strong, and many girls go on to study Medicine, bio chem, physics, maths in Oxbridge and other top universities.
My DD went there too. The standard is high, Students from Far East, (like HK, Singapore, Korea, and Malaysia) most went through British In't school like your DD, all speak fluent English, and able to mix well with all other students.
The girls there know what they are aiming for, hence, they all work hard to achieve their goals. As WAS is a selective school aiming for high achiever, the pressure may exist, but much less so than any school in Asia.

Dustylaw Sun 16-Jun-13 20:53:28

Just in case you are willing to consider a mixed school, have a look at The Leys in Cambridge. It's got a great position in relation to Cambridge - on the outskirts so walking distance to the station, just by the meadows and a safe ten minute walk from King's College and the town centre. There is enough of a regular intake at sixth form to have a dedicated house (one for boys and one for girls) for new sixth form entrants. It is a civilised school with a good ethos - it has been mixed throughout for some years now - not a hostile environment for girls! As mentioned above, having a place to go is important and you can't beat Cambridge as an interesting educational, cultural and social place (and also as safe as you can get). Academically the results are very good and the result of making sure each person does the best they possibly can.

lardasss Mon 17-Jun-13 11:40:36

good point xpat - maths and science are very strong - and excellent preparation for medicine. also very good on US uni guidance i think. Leys sounds excellent too - nice to have all the newbies together i reckon.

2children2cats Tue 18-Jun-13 07:14:04

I've heard good things about St Swithun's in Winchester. They have a good mix of international students, not just 'Asian' students and the majority of 6th formers board these days (particularly for U6). I believe the new head has made a concerted effort to improve the boarding experience and my friend's daughter is very happy there.

Jenny580 Thu 27-Jun-13 15:22:15

I would strongly recommend Woldingham School. Very good academic results but not pressurised. Fantastic performing arts provision. Super indoor pool and extensive tennis courts. Pastoral care is second to none. Chose it for DD, who is very happy and flourishing. Used to work there and can testify to the quality and care of the teaching staff.

poppyloveshorses Tue 16-Jul-13 22:02:28

You should look at Westonbirt, it is really good in 6th form and the teachers help you loads and don't put pressure on you unless they think your not trying, we do sports but if your not sporty you don't have to do much and in 6th form you get a choice of what sports you want to do. The music side is really good too, and you can have music lessons and join school choirs. It's and amazing school and you should look at it.

Honestyisbest Wed 17-Jul-13 18:36:30

Another vote for Wycombe abbey! My dd is thriving there. The integration between cultures is fantastic, my dd has friends from all over the world. It's a wonderful school, with so much on offer.

frutilla Wed 17-Jul-13 18:42:31

I went to CLC for first year sixth form (left as I had until then attended mixed day school and couldn't adjust to boarding school life). The teaching was really good, without being pressurised and there was plenty of arts and sports on offer for those so inclined. I would give it a thumbs up as long as your daughter is happy with the idea of going to a strict boarding school (in my day it was back at the house by 5.30pm in winter, later in summer and we had classes on Sat mornings too).

Michaelahpurple Thu 25-Jul-13 17:02:11

How about st Catherine's bramley, near Guildford ? Superb academic record, has just invested lots in some lovely new buildings and in a village setting but easy to reach from london (40 miles) for visits. I wouldn't consider it laid bak academically, but if your daughter is the type of student you suggest it may well suit. They have a long history of international pupils and the boarding is very
much integrated on the heart of the site.

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