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Please talk me through Winchester College/St Swithuns

(41 Posts)
chicaguapa Tue 07-Dec-10 11:07:41

My dad has offered to send DC to private school, though it's not something DH & I have necessarily considered. I went to a boarding prep school when I was younger, and loved it, but it was when my dad was in the RAF so it wasn't a mega-posh one.

Living close to Winchester it seems that our options are St Swithuns for DD (currently in y4 but would go there from y7) and Pilgrims/Winchester College for DS (currently in y1 and would go there from y3).

I don't have concerns about them turning out all arrogant, unable to relate to all people etc as I think that largely comes down to the parents and how they bring up their DC. I also don't worry about the academic push/ exam focus as that exists in the state alternatives anyway. My main concern is that St Swithuns and WC seem worlds apart and whether one DC would be going to a 'better' school than the other? And another question is whether it's ok not to board at WC as I'm not sure how I feel about boarding.

ThoseArtisticTypes Tue 07-Dec-10 14:09:37

The vast majority of local parents send their daughters to St Swithun's if their son's are at Winchester. They are both as selectively elite as each other.

Winchester is one of the hardest schools to get into so you need to make sure DS is very, very bright. Pilgrims is also very selective but will not be as hard to get into as Winchester. St Swithun's is also one of the most selective girls schools in the country and some of the prep girls do not make it into the senior school.

The main difference between Win Coll and St Swithun's is that the girls school is known as being one of the bitchiest around and Win Coll is known (nationwide) for producing the loveliest young men. I wouldn't touch St S with a barge poll but would be more than happy for DS to go to Win Coll. There is a lovely girls school in Salisbury called Godolphin and Latymer.

ThoseArtisticTypes Tue 07-Dec-10 14:11:39

I meant to add that as a parent who had a child at Pilgrims, you really cannot compare the academic push of state schools to private schools. In fact if your DC's are feeling pushed in state school then it is not a great sign that they would be academically able for Win Coll!

chicaguapa Tue 07-Dec-10 14:17:13

Thanks! That's interesting. I don't want DD to go to a bitchy school shock so I'll have a look at Godolphin as well then. Though Winchester to Salisbury is a trek everyday.

Whether or not they'll be bright enough is another matter of course! DD is AGT and DS is described as bright and articulate, but as he's only in y1 it's too early to tell I think.

ThoseArtisticTypes Tue 07-Dec-10 14:21:02

I'm sure he'd get into Pilgrims. Don't know what AGT means! blush You could send them both to Twyford and then the school could prepare them for the most appropriate schools - which may be STS or WC. Lots of kids move to a prep school for two years before going onto senior school. I think Godolphin offers flexi-boarding which means she could board a couple of nights a week to break up the drive if you are anti full boarding.

chicaguapa Tue 07-Dec-10 14:24:12

Able Gifted & Talented. smile

wolfbrother Tue 07-Dec-10 15:30:54

Not really my world (children at comp) but my DD does know some very nice girls who are at St S! They aren't all bitchy!
(And they all seem to go out with Winchester College boys...grin)

chicaguapa Tue 07-Dec-10 16:11:27

Not my world either really, but feel I should investigate all the options for DC's sakes. Wasn't sure about single sex education either, but they clearly manage to meet up with the opposite sex then!

wolfbrother Tue 07-Dec-10 16:29:50

Ooooh yes! Social events arranged between the two schools, roses on valentines day...we laugh that they are being steered to mix with the right type of gel/boy.

I presume you have thought of KES too, or wasn't that the sort of private school your father had in mind?

sailorsgal Tue 07-Dec-10 16:38:04

I used to nanny for a girl who was at St Swithuns. She was a lovely girl but I think when you get groups of girls together there can bitchiness. Lots of her very affluent friends went there too. Not uncommon to here "how many acres does your daddy have?" grin

chicaguapa Tue 07-Dec-10 17:19:41

I have only just started looking tbh. We will be living in Winchester, so just assumed DC would go to Kings - before my dad's offer.

ThoseArtisticTypes Tue 07-Dec-10 17:40:06

If your dad is willing to pay 60k per annum for your children's education then you are very lucky! shock

chicaguapa Tue 07-Dec-10 18:31:50

Yes I know! And he has 8 grandchildren!! shock I know he always wanted to send me and my siblings, but could never afford to. I'm not convinced it's neccessary, living in Winchester but my brother and sister live in Surrey and are less happy with the secondary school options. Which is why it has come up tbh. And he feels he can't pay for some and not the others.

chicaguapa Thu 09-Dec-10 13:46:53

Does anyone know what it's like being a day pupil at either school?

I've now looked at KES btw but think DC had may as well go to Kings, rather than trek to Southampton. I know they do a bus but it leaves Winchester at 7.40am! Not sure what you're paying for at KES but feel like we'd get more value from a more selective school.

ivorytower Thu 09-Dec-10 17:06:50

You could ring the school and ask what percentage of the pupils board/day. I would think that a high percentage board but it may have changed. St Swithuns is weekly boarding I think or used to be.

DH went to boarding school and there were only a few day pupils who didn't really integrate with the boarders.

gramercy Thu 09-Dec-10 17:17:46

The Winchester boys I've encountered have been very nice; the girls from St Swithun's very stuck up. I know that's based on a sample of about twenty kids, but there you go.

shock that your father can pay 8 x £30k a year fees!!!

ivorytower Thu 09-Dec-10 18:14:50

Just looked at the website for St. Swithuns and their reception fees are cheaper than ours. shock

propatria Thu 09-Dec-10 18:41:33

Day boys are day boys in name only,they will be expected to be in school for morning chapel and will prob not leave untill 9 or so at night.

chicaguapa Thu 09-Dec-10 18:51:50

Thanks everyone. I know the costs are quite high, but it's only DS that would cost £30k. I think StS is half the price and my niece and nephews (only 4 are school age at the moment) would be going to a similarly priced school I think, as none of my nephews would be able to get into Win Col. (not wanting to sound unkind blush)

Propatria - I'm sure DS wouldn't be home till late etc. I just feel I need to be able to give him the choice of sleeping in his own bed - even if he ultimately decides to board, at least it will be his own decision. It's hard to imagine him as a 13 year old almost-man, when he's only a little 6 year old poppet at the moment.

jane1993 Sun 19-Dec-10 22:28:06

Both my daughters have been/currently go to St swithuns. My elder is 21 in her final year at Exeter and my younger is 17 in her AS level year (year 12 - but called L6 at St swithuns)

Although i am probably bias, i can genuinely say that 99% of the girls that go there are very kind, respectful, bright young individuals. At any all-girls school you will find bitchiness as hormones are raging and all! However, Swithuns has had probably one case of bulling in the past 25 years. All the girls are very close and bond well as, being all girls, they become very comfortable with each other. My younger daughter always tells me that it is a godsend that she doesn't have to put on make up everyday or constantly try to impress anyone!
And just to say, yes there are girls whose families are very well off but, ironically, they are not stuck up at all and are actually very modest.

Swithuns has full boarding and weekly boarding, as well as being a day school. The boarder/day girl ratio is about 50/50 and the good thing is that there is not a divide between the boarders and day girls and there are no 'cliques' - all the girls are friends with each other and are very close.

The girls all work very hard and get good results - the teaching is second to none - and nearly all the girls come out with A/B grades at a level.
In year 10 - start of gcse courses - the girls take 9 subjects including maths, english, a language (either german or french and if they are allowed too, spanish as well) and at least, a science - either combined science, all three sciences, biology and chemistry or physics and chemistry (science department is strongest in the school).

Then the girls, if they stay in sixth form, take on 4 and are offered new subjects like politics, philosophy and ethics etc...(Girls also have to take General Studies)
And then for A level (final year) - they drop one and continue with 3.

The school is recognised for it's Lacrosse teams and it's outstanding performing arts school facility.

Housing system - In year 7, day girls are put into the house 'Chilcomb' and boarders into 'Le Roy' (your stereotypical Mallory towers dormitory!)
Then in year 8, they move on and up to the senior houses. Boarding houses are Hilcroft, High House, Hyde Abbey and Earlsdown and Day Houses are Caer Gwent, Davies and Venta. These houses compete in competitions for house tennis, house lacrosse, house netball. And also at the end of the winter term - the six form in each house are in charge of organising either, House song or House Drama (it alternates each year). This is a fun end of term competition that all the girls look forward too.

I can say, hand on heart, that i am glad i ended up sending my daughters there - they have made life long friends and it will definitely be a part of their lives that they will never forget.

I also have two nephews at Winchester College. Winchester College is the 'brother school' to St. Swithuns. It is an academic school but it produces lovely young men (complete gentlemen). All the boys board their and on saturday mornings they have 'chapel' and they have sport matches in the afternoons. The boys and girls from SS mix at 'socials'. My younger daughter is friends with all the boys in her year from Winchester and they all get along very well. I think, being at an all-girls school - she likes the fact that she can just have 'boy' friends that she is comfortable with. And yes, their are a lot of relationships formed and this shows that there is no missing out on any socialising with the opposite sex which i think is important. However, they are all really close, brotherly/sisterly friends as well. A lot of the girls brothers/cousins etc go to Winchester and so naturally, everyone knows each other.
I think the boys are not 'steered in one direction' - they are all individual and have wonderful personalities. My nephew is very cheeky and charming with a girlfriend of 2 years from St Swithuns but he also is very bright, with a scholarship at Winchester and he hopes to go on and do medicine at Oxford. The boys are placed into different houses but they are all great friends.

If your son turns out to be sporty - At Winchester, they have their own game, like harrow and eton - it is called Winchester College Football (but 'Winkies' generally). It is a combination of football and rugby and their is a huge, greatly anticipated match between two sets of houses, Commoners (in red) and OTH (old tutor houses - in brown).

There is constantly plays and musicals going on in the QE2 theatre at Winchester from casts of 4 people to casts of 50.
I think the thing that I love about Winchester and old 'public schools' is the experience. The amount of history and culture at the schools is amazing.

KES is a great school and a lot of my friends daughters and sons go there. However, most left in the sixth form for a different 'experience'. Their main sport is hockey.
The sixth form college, Peter Symmonds, is very good. A lot of girls go from Swithuns there in sixth form and it is known to produce excellent results. Peter symmonds provides for the majority of students from the state schools, Westgate, Kings, Henry Beaufort etc. However, some students go to Eastleigh College or Sparsholt Agricultural College nearby.

If you want any more information about either school please just ask!

wolfbrother Mon 20-Dec-10 14:52:04

Not sure if you were referring to my second post, but I did not actually write that the Winchester College boys were "steered in one direction" or that they didn't have different personalities. I think your post actually agrees with what I did write! I wasn't being critical. smile

eatyourveg Wed 22-Dec-10 20:05:16

Does the Atherley school still exist in Southampton? Back in my day, if you weren't WC or SS material the girls went there and the boys went to King Edwards.

As a compromise you could always put DD in the junior school at SS and see how she gets on and get a feel for the set up. If by Y6 you're not happy then you can find somewhere else. Pilgrims will always stand you in good stead for any public school.

doglover Thu 23-Dec-10 15:36:00

The Atherley School doesn't exist now. It merged with Embley Park School a few years ago to become Hampshire Collegiate School and is based outside Romsey. It is co-ed.

Gubbins Thu 30-Dec-10 22:57:50

"Swithuns has had probably one case of bullying in the past 25 years"

Having recently attended an old girls event, I'd have to disagree. Although I was unaware of it at the time, it seems that quite a high proportion of my peers were the victims of bullying 20 year ago. What is quite likely is that there was only one case that came to the attention of the staff. I also snorted at the description of the relationships between SS girls and whykehamists as being "brotherly/sisterly". Times must have changed! (apart from when they were actual siblings, in which case the relationship provided an easy 'in' to the friends.)

Gubbins Thu 30-Dec-10 22:58:22

"Swithuns has had probably one case of bullying in the past 25 years"

Having recently attended an old girls event, I'd have to disagree. Although I was unaware of it at the time, it seems that quite a high proportion of my peers were the victims of bullying 20 year ago. What is quite likely is that there was only one case that came to the attention of the staff. I also snorted at the description of the relationships between SS girls and whykehamists as being "brotherly/sisterly". Times must have changed! (apart from when they were actual siblings, in which case the relationship provided an easy 'in' to the friends.)

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