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Winchester for girls?

(72 Posts)
SchtenGraby Tue 27-Nov-12 16:09:32

My daughter is wilful, clever, arty, sporty (more in the 'tries hard, but enjoys it' side of things), not a massive self-starter (at this stage at least), eccentric (views the world through different glasses), a strong personality, kind and sensitive. She is also an only child.

We are not minted, so £30Kpa will be a big stretch. My wife and I are professional people who are Directors in our respective organisations, but we're socially liberal, libertarian types with friends in the media who think we're the most right-wing people they know because we send our daughter to a fee-paying school.

We're looking for a school South of London (we'll move) in the box bordered by Weymouth, Bath, Guildford and Brighton. We're possibly thinking of Bedales, Canford, Bryanston or a good state school that people can recommend. We definitely want a school that offers a day option rather than 100% boarding. Relaxed about co-ed (though she will definitely be distracted by boys!) or single-sex (though eating disorders are a fear!). We like a liberal ethos (uniform, teachers' names etc.), but worry about drugs, fashionable cliques, under-performing etc.. I'm sure this is all classic stuff :-)

Given her personality, our background (and therefore the hope that she doesn't fall too far from the tree) and the financial side of things which schools would people recommend?

Given her personality (self-starting aside, which I think will pass), I was bemoaning the - seeming - lack of a girls/co-ed version of Winchester or Westminster. Perhaps others know better - maybe such a thing exists? Or wouldn't suit anyway?

It's a mine-field - please help!

ChazsBrilliantAttitude Thu 29-Nov-12 13:47:32


The OP did ask a specific question about fee paying schools so you can't really be surprised that this thread is focusing on fee paying schools.

lapucelle Thu 29-Nov-12 13:52:31

The children don't have to board if they go to their nearest school. Bursaries generally come with help for trips etc. They may come with help for bus fares if that is needed. Second hand uniforms are really not that expensive. And means tested bursaries are not the 10% academic scholarships of your local school, which is KES, I think? (we are also from Hampshire), but can be much higher, 100% for incomes less than 18k.

Of course not every parent wants their children to go to such a school, many are happy with the local state schools, but many parents exclude it entirely, thinking it not possible, when it could be possible.

My parents' choice to send me/us to such a school, on scholarships, was the best thing that ever happened to us and put us on the paths we wanted to follow (academics).

TalkinPeace2 Thu 29-Nov-12 13:57:39

a good state school that people can recommend in the OP

KES is indeed our nearest and St Swithuns not that far in the other direction
my point is that for parents to are not AB1 background, the shock of fee paying school is just too great. Also kids get VERY embarrassed about inviting friends back to their house.
Even with the range of demographics at DCs comp that is an issue - from 6 bed with paddocks and pool to council flats ....

mummytime Thu 29-Nov-12 14:33:19

Talkin the OP asks about an equivalent for Winchester for girls, which is why we have focussed on fee paying. My children are at State, and its fine (although even my older two do think my youngest might do better in a fee paying, because of her personality etc.; if we could afford it). I even choose their State comp. over private schools for my eldest, we had more money then.

However I would never describe their school as a Winchester equivalent, but then I'm not sure I would want Winchester for any of them (except maybe the youngest, but she is a girl too).

Admittedly I am not sure that what the OP is searching for is really a Winchester equivalent, because her description doesn't totally match my impression of Winchester (and yes I do have a friend with a son there).

derekthehamster Thu 29-Nov-12 14:41:02

My son is at Christ's hospital in Horsham which is co-ed, and has been educating girls since the tudor times, so it has a quite a bit of history. Of course you might not be happy with the weird traditions (although the majority of pupils love them). But it's full of bright children (the majority have to go through a fairly rigorous examination and assessment before they gain a place)


Jellibotti Thu 29-Nov-12 14:59:08

I went to Canford and loved every second of it. I probably underachieved, because I'm an idle swine, not really for any other reason. I still got a 2:1 from a top tier university. I only moved there for sixth form, after I pleaded with my parents to let me move from another school nearby. Schools change, but the atmosphere was fabulous when I was there. The boys genuinely liked and respected 95% of the staff, lessons were interesting and working hard was not something of which to be ashamed, as it had been in my previous school. I've said it before, Canford seems to turn out decent, bright, pleasant people. Many public schools don't. My eldest is currently at Dunhurst, when I've robbed a bank or gone back to work full time I hope all of my children will go on to Canford.

Regarding other schools mentioned, I have four very close friends who went to Wycombe, all say they loathed it and would never send their kids there. I have several friends who went to Downe House who are very disparaging about it, saying they were poorly prepared for life, a couple of good friends went to St Mary's Calne and were incredibly diligent, but I don't think they really enjoyed school in the way I'd like my children to. I can cope with my kids only getting 3As at A level, as long as they're enjoying winning Young Musician of the Year and playing hockey for England u18s at the same time!

Honestyisbest Fri 30-Nov-12 23:09:01

Move your box! Wycombe Abbey ticks your other boxes. In Oxford, Magdalen College School has a coed sixth form if she prefers a day option for sixth form.

Mutteroo Sat 01-Dec-12 02:01:47

Brighton College - 1000+ pupils overall with boarding numbers increasing. Great reputation but a little too PR savvy for our liking.
Roedean - 350 pupils 75:25 boarding/day ratio. Large number of overseas pupils, however the most delightful girls here that I've come across. DD went there and found it to be a fairly unstuffy place filled with relaxed yet hardworking girls. Yes a contradiction yet that's how it was." Fantastic quality teaching staff and worth considering. DD was a day pupil and felt just at home there as her boarding buddies.
St Bede's - Used to be known as the school you went to when every other school turned you away. Non-selective, sporty, arty, musical, academic and a school for all those square pegs out there. DS is very much a square peg and so it was perfect for him! DS cant sit still and as there's an amazing selection of activities to choose from, he found it extremely difficult to be bored. DS also an intelligent young man and I had no complaints about how he was stretched. 800 pupils 40:60 boarding/day ratio. Lots of professional and farming families.

No Saturday school at any of the above so great for family weekends. All have outstanding boarding houses.

Lancing, Hurst, Ardingly, Eastbourne are more traditional co-ed schools. All good but none of them sound like they fit your ideals?
Can't help with Dorset or Hampshire schools and it would appear this is where you are basing your search, but Sussex is right next door to Hampshire and has excellent rail links to London. Worth considering?

Good luck with your search OP.

happygardening Sun 02-Dec-12 09:43:51

Friends sent their DS with a very similar profile to you DD to Bedales initially it went well and then it didn't they were very disappointed. Other friends with DS at Bryanston are delighted with it but from listening to their description it's not as liberal as it used to be a fairly new head has tried to move away from that image. Canford is pretty middle of the road (as are nearly all of them Winchester is IMO unique) nothing wrong with that but doesn't meet your criteria.
I've looked at lots of school (we too are liberal with leftie leaning) for my DS's IMO if you want liberal multicultural etc etc you need to consider London day schools with nothing to prove especially super selectives eg SPGS outside of London Winchester aside the only other school I would consider is St Edwards Oxford results are going to improve with the new head and the school has an outstanding reputation for pastoral care and is definitely more liberal than most others l know of.

Matsikula Sun 02-Dec-12 11:02:42

I agree with happy gardening - you are not going to get a genuinely liberal ethos, reasonable social/ethnic mix and great academic results in a school outside London or a big or major university city.

You will either get highly academic schools stuffed with the global super-rich and the few British families whose grandparents have sold their houses to continue the family tradition, or schools that are decidedly quirky or less academically demanding.

You sound like you are in London at the moment - is your heart absolutely set on leaving? otherwise it does sound like you'll have to compromise on something.

happygardening Sun 02-Dec-12 12:01:45

Meant to add I believe Lancing (can't go back at the moment for some reason) was suggested above probably a perfectly decent school (I don't know much about it) but I do know it is high church/Anglo Cathlic which is incompatible with my liberal leftie leanings!!!

TalkinPeace2 Sun 02-Dec-12 15:26:09

I know little of Lancing other than the fact that its Chapel is the most stupendous building as you drive along the A27

it was one of the few schools that did not send people to my crammer :-)

londoner01 Sun 02-Dec-12 15:47:15

Guildford High is a very impressive school, really empowering girls. There are all types of girls there, they all do very well and are celebrated and encouraged by staff and their peers to be the best they can. When the time comes, they are helped to choose and follow the career path they are truely passionate about.
My daughters all had fantatic educations there. DDs and their friends have come out with their own views, ambitions and an excellent 'work hard, play hard' ethic as well as lifelong friends.
It is very popular due to the great number of london commuter and professional parents living in the area who want their daughters to be in a buzzing, academic environment.
Very competitive to get in but I think they are brilliant at spotting the girls which will suit the enviornment. Just won sunday times school of the year as well.

LeBFG Sun 02-Dec-12 17:16:32

Girls have gone to Winchester OP. There is a day option too. The girls were daughters of teachers so I don't know if they would accept 'outsiders' - might be worth contacting them if your heart was set on it?

Inclusionist Sun 02-Dec-12 18:51:33

Winchester has only ever taken daughters of staff LeBFG. My DH gets the alumni rag and the latest one had an article written by one of the girls. TBH she didn't write a particularly glowing account of her time there. DH was there at the same time as her sister who was, perhaps rather unfortunately, named Fanny. He reports that she did not have an easy time of it.

DH's Housemaster (now Head of King's Canterbury) sent his own daughters to St Swithuns. Nuff said?

happygardening Sun 02-Dec-12 20:15:13

Winchester is very firmly a boys school it knows and understanoyster educates boys. Why would anyone suggest you send a girl there you wouldn't send a boy to an all girls school. I know girls have been there as I too read the "alumni rag" but there are no girls there at present and obviously there are current dons with daughters of the right age.

happygardening Sun 02-Dec-12 20:19:57

Oh and contrary to what is stated above no day option at Winchester only 4-5 day boys.
A couple of parents we know wanted there DS's to be day boys and were very firmly told no. It's all full boarders.

TalkinPeace2 Sun 02-Dec-12 21:13:33

agree with Happy - I have a friend who sent her son to Winchester, while living 100 yards away and he was a boarder
and her daughter went to another school as WC is a boys school

LeBFG Mon 03-Dec-12 07:30:42

DH went and there definitely were boarders in his day (not many as most not close enough). Perhaps they've changed policy? But, of course, as a school set up to deal with boys I don't really understand why anyone would want to send a girl there. No harm in asking though - with a sufficiently bright girl of the right sort they may consider it?

Inclusionist Mon 03-Dec-12 08:36:24

I think they would laugh and put the phone down. It's not like they need bums on seats is it??

difficultpickle Mon 03-Dec-12 08:59:55

I read the most recent inspection report (can't remember which year) and they had no girls on only one day pupil. Why on earth would you want to send your dd to an all boys school? confused There are loads of very good girls or co-ed schools to choose from.

Wycombe Abbey is close to us. Maybe I should give them a call and see if I can put ds's name down? grin

happygardening Tue 04-Dec-12 07:37:59

LeBFG someone told me that the last head allowed more day boys but the current head put a stop to it hence there are only 4-5 day boys. Anyone not wanting proper full boarding should not consider Winchester.

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