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Good indy school for average boy

(90 Posts)
bulletpoint Thu 15-Nov-12 21:02:24

Colleague of mine is looking for a very good independent school for his academically average boy. Child has flashes of brilliance from time to time but rather lazy so dad looking for school that will stretch him/keep him on his toes. So basically not Eton, but not Shiplake either. Colleague leans more towards traditional type boarding schools.

I was going to suggest Oundle but looked on gsg and now not so sure, does Oundle do well by average boys ?

difficultpickle Fri 16-Nov-12 20:05:13

Dauntsey's - gets really fab results but a bit under the radar. They have their own sailing ship.

bulletpoint Fri 16-Nov-12 20:17:41

It's a pretty easy exercise you look at aposition in A level tables

And this is what it all boils down to for you isn't it ? league tables! You simply glance at the tables and pick a school. Do you really think people come on here asking advice about schools because they've never heard of the league tables ? only the super bright like yourself have heard of them ? I came to ask on here because i want to hear people's inside opinions/recommendations for a school, the league tables cannot and will not tell you everything.

I am not making all this up and I was asked to recommend schools for boys who were average or not very bright. Millfield is a good suggestion particularly if you are into money and a bit new money ish too perhaps.

What i didnt ask for was derogatory remarks about a lovely child whose only crime in your oh so perfect world is to be academically average, but you just can't help yourself can you ? Even when trying to redeem yourself you still cant help but add in some nasty jibe, a put down, a sneer!

New money, old money, who gives a flying shit! for all your acclaimed success you seem to be missing something very vital, you sound souless when you post, an empty barrel that clangs on and on dancing to your own tune oblivious to the fact that your audience has long ceased to listen and are now staring at you in horror.

Xenia Fri 16-Nov-12 21:40:02

I was just saying the schools at the opt are going to be ones the lovely average boy won't get into and those further down he will have a good chance. That's all. Lost of those middle ranking schools add a lot of value although my own position is that the risks psychological of boarding are so great and can be so damaging that it is better to avoid it if you love your child and want to live with it but I put all that aside to help on the thread instead.

BabsJansen Fri 16-Nov-12 22:51:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

bulletpoint Fri 16-Nov-12 23:15:21

Babs - what makes you think he isn't ? You're assuming a lot based on a simple thread.

difficultpickle Fri 16-Nov-12 23:28:33

Canford is another lesser known school with a good reputation.

Yellowtip Fri 16-Nov-12 23:29:35

if your colleague is intent on boarding then the field is wide open. Not Winchester of course, because no kid who goes there is average. And not Eton either. But anywhere else at all I'd have thought.

Day schools are a different kettle of fish altogether.

joanbyers Sat 17-Nov-12 01:21:58

I wouldn't expect Harrow to let just anyone in, either.

happygardening Sat 17-Nov-12 11:08:21

"and this is what it all boils down to you for you isn't it? League tables!"
OP this is an interesting point. The problem so many parents face iss that most boarding schools are pretty similar. They are heavily regulated by the ISI the boarding schools association and even Ofstead who used to inspect the boarding aspect. Then add in the fact that bar a few exceptions all are sitting the same exams GCSE/IGCSE or A level/IB/Pre U most of the ones mentioned above will have very similar facilities. If you read the websites prospectuses attend open days most schools are depressingly similar. Few are now only sporty or only musical they can't afford to appeal to only a small group so all have theatres music departments extensive art departments etc. IME it is in the day to day nuts and bolts details where differences occur and as someone who has close links with three boarding schools Ive now realised that it is important that these match our expectations as parents and our DCs. Sadly these details don't always become clear until your DC has started.

bulletpoint Sat 17-Nov-12 12:01:15

Happygardening - i couldn't agree with you more, and hence why people come and ask on MN, because you get parents who are currently or have been through the same process, MN is not the only source of information on schools its just one avenue that people use, and amongst the barrage of opinions you manage to get one or two that are really worth the thread.

happygardening Sat 17-Nov-12 13:52:56

The problem is that what I think is good or what I expect maybe not what your colleagues wants or expects. I'm liberal so like a school that liberal, would cheerfully ban school uniform so am not overly bothered about how strict schools are about their uniform policy if there's a problem I don't expect to be contacted every 10 minutes I expect the school to sort it out, I don't want or need progress reports every couple of weeks others do, my DS has boarded since yr 3 we understand boarding but do have certain expectations e.g. resident matrons if you've never boarded you might not even think about these things. As I say the difference between school A and B maybe quite subtle. This is why people resort to league tables it's a definite difference between one coming 9th to that coming 236th.

joanbyers Sat 17-Nov-12 14:21:50

I think the RG/Oxbridge league tables are more interesting than GCSEs.

A head at one school that has 60%+ A/A* at GCSE told me that we have no really bright children here, they are nice children, but ultimately GCSEs are just an exercise of jumping through hoops, and an A* doesn't show that you are super-bright.

The Oxbridge exit stats are more interesting, although again these will primarily reflect the ability of the intake, rather than the school, given that there are precious few truly BAD independent schools where Oxbridge entry is impossible if you are bright enough.

Knowing that School A gets 90% A*s and As at GCSE and School B gets 50% As and A* at GCSE doesn't tell you that school A is better, what it does tell you for certain is that School A is super-selective. School B on the other hand might add more value if it is taking in average children compared to another school that might get say 30% As and A* with a similar intake. But of course the intake is never that similar, although the GCSE stats do tend to be much the same year-on-year for any given school.

I think you can perhaps use league tables to identify a school that will (a) admit your child and (b) gets higher results for your child.

But to say that Westminster is a better place for your average boy than say Radley because it gets better results is obviously nonsense.

difficultpickle Sat 17-Nov-12 14:28:48

The only statistic worth looking at in league tables is 'added value'. That gives the most accurate reflection of how well the school has educated the cohort it has. Results are always going to be higher in percentage terms for super selective because they select the brightest cohort. It doesn't necessarily mean they did the best for those pupils. It is common to see lower added value figures for schools with supposedly excellent results.

joanbyers Sat 17-Nov-12 14:36:27

I don't think independent schools measure added value.

Xenia Sat 17-Nov-12 14:39:13

I always refer to the A level not GCSE tables for the same reasons but destinations of leavers is a very good thing to check too - there is a list in the Sutton Trust report I posted the other day.

On added value it depends on your child. If they are bright they will tend to do better in a schools which mostly has bright children so less chance they will be diverted into going to an ex poly or leaving school at 16.

difficultpickle Sat 17-Nov-12 14:43:28

I didn't know that joan. Shame if you are correct as even leavers destinations doesn't say much about whether the pupils have fulfilled their potential. I'm planning to send ds to Winchester so he can play golf and sing grin. No idea about added value there but ds would love to go somewhere that takes golf seriously!

joanbyers Sat 17-Nov-12 14:47:39

The government v-a scores are based on SATs taken at 7 and 11.

Few prep schools subject children to SATs, and for this reason the senior schools don't compile stats on this because the sample would obviously be very skewed if they compiled it for the children who did have SAT scores.

middleclassonbursary Sat 17-Nov-12 15:01:01

What the hell is added value? My definition would be the opportunities available to a child that he wouldn't have if he didn't attend school. Astronomy club at the schools observatory, rackets, lectures fr

middleclassonbursary Sat 17-Nov-12 15:06:04

Lectures from those eminent in their fields the opportunity to mix with other like minded people whether those like minded by cricket nuts musicians or even the terribly clever. Who measure this how can a government ISI or any other organisation truely measure added value because these things are not measurable. Ive read this term added value before and don't know what it means.

joanbyers Sat 17-Nov-12 15:38:26

Added value is published for state secondary schools, middleclassbursary, essentially children sit SATs (in English, Maths and Science) at age 11 in state primary schools, and basically the 'expected' level is Level 4, Level 5 or above is therefore above average, Level 3 or below is below average.

This is then compared with the GCSE results at 16. A child entering at 11 with Level 3 who gets a C at GCSE, will a positive value-added (compared with the average achievement of all children entering secondary school with level 3), whereas one who enters at 11 with a Level 5 would have a negative value-added if he gets a C.

There are lots of weights and adjustments, e.g., if the child is in care, and 'equivalent' qualifications, e.g., a Merit in a GNVQ versus a GCSE B grade, so it's possible for two schools to arguably add the same value but school B gets a better v-a score because they understand what works and what doesn't.

But mixing with cricket nuts would count for nothing.....

Yellowtip Sat 17-Nov-12 20:53:55

Obviously there's a problem using added value for schools which are highly selective Joan.

Xenia Sat 17-Nov-12 21:00:34

Added value can be connections, confidence, a posh accent, learning the kind of code of what to wear when and a range of middle class hobbies which probably you get a bit more of in fee paying than state schools.

joanbyers Sat 17-Nov-12 21:29:37

On that measure, yes.

Although most schools, including independent, cannot be highly selective.

RichTeas Sat 17-Nov-12 22:03:16

Xenia, where can I find the Sutton Trust report which you have posted?

PS. Good point on "true" value added.

Xenia Sat 17-Nov-12 22:07:54


From memory - I opened it the other day - it was on about page 29 that they listed schools and how many children went to good universities. It certainly gives a good picture because you might get a comp with great A levels but all in needlework and media studies where people go to ex polys (or a private school for that matter) and where children are told Oxford is not for the likes of you and the raw A level results in a sense do not give such a good picture as whether people go to the few universities from which the best employers recruit.

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