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If you were choosing between Rugby and Oundle for 2016 entry, which would you choose and why?

(59 Posts)
stealthsquiggle Wed 23-Jan-13 13:12:24

Just that really - deliberately not being too specific about our own criteria, but wanted as much of a cross section of opinion as possible. Having crossed Winchester off the list after visiting (great for some, I am sure - but not for us and just could not imagine DC1 being happy there), it now looks likely to come down to one of these two...


Thewildbanshee Sat 27-Feb-16 23:46:54

Hi, I've got a Son at Oundle boarding. We live in the oundle Uppingham Oakham triangle. All three schools have got a very different vibe. Oakham offers day, half boarding and termly boarding. Uppingham is full boarding and Oundle is mostly full boarding, over 850 children to 250 day children. The day pupils integrate very well with the boarders but inevitably they are more self contained. Tuition is fantastic as is sport. Music too is good but not as inclusive as Uppingham so more pressure is I think put on the few who do play an instrument. All these schools place a huge emphasis on rugby so if your child likes hockey and football and tennis then Repton would be worth looking at.
Pastoral care is very good although Matrons also vary from house to house. We have a lovely new head mistress who seems to be on the ball and very caring. Oundle is hugely academic and although they do take in children who scrape through common entrance, pass mark is around 70% these children are in the minority. Locally it is perceived to be the most academic with Uppingham coming second then Oakham third. The plus for Oakham is the Ib. They are the only local boarding school to offer it and they get very good results. Most parents of Oakham children I know send them there for flexi boarding or sport although sport is slipping there. It is also a lot, lot easier to get into.
We have so far no regrets sending our son to Oundle as a boarder. He is well looked after in every sense. When you pay over £32000 a year you need to feel sure he/she will be stretched. We have no worries on that front. You mentioned rowing, Oundle has a rowing team and sits on a river. Hope this has helped 🤔

Pepperpot69 Sun 22-Feb-15 00:10:19

Chasmedyou maybe new to MN not sure, but this thread is from 2yrs ago! Yes both schools are well acknowledged on MN as being good schools for different reasons as are many others, it's great that your DCs are so happy at Rugbŷ but that doesn't make Oundle or any other school any lesser of a school or any particular school a 'no brainer'!

Chasmed Sat 21-Feb-15 23:55:31

DD and DS both at Rugby and doing very well. No brainer

Chasmed Sat 21-Feb-15 23:52:31

we have DD and DS at Rugby - both doing extremely well. DS had place at other top public school but preferred Rugby as it does have day houses

Gunznroses Sun 03-Feb-13 17:39:40

Thanks Stealth! i had thought Oundle's was around the 70% mark.

Sharpkat Sun 03-Feb-13 10:26:07

Oakham is a fantastic school. I am an OO. PM me if you want more details but I would send my kids there without hesitation. The Good Schools Report sums it up perfectly. If you want a well-rounded, well educated, polite and erudite child Oakham is for you.

stealthsquiggle Sun 03-Feb-13 10:19:24

Gunz - I think both schools have a nominal CE pass rate, but only to filter out those who really couldn't cope - they both put more emphasis on reference from current head and interview. DS would be going through scholarship exam route for either, so I didn't pay too much attention to what those nominal levels were - sorry.

stealthsquiggle Sun 03-Feb-13 10:16:24

Fianccetto - oh yes, the Oundle science block is amazing - but then Rugby has great (albeit not so visually stunning) facilities too, and a very large proportion doing sciences at A level. confused

happygardening Sun 03-Feb-13 09:03:14

A friends DS who is at Oundle was told when he sat CE a couple of years ago that it was 60% cant remember if that was on all papers or maybe just the core subjects. Interestingly he was well off that mark in one of the core subjects but still got in.

Gunznroses Sun 03-Feb-13 08:48:36

What's the CE passmark for Oundle?

Fianccetto Sun 03-Feb-13 00:15:29

You have a great choice to make between Oundle and Rugby. You are wise to put off the decision until your son has had a another chance to have a look around. Ideally, if he were to meet some of the boarders there and have a chance to ask questions, that would be great.

I'd recommend you book tickets for the Stahl theatre in Oundle one weekend, have a look around the art gallery, shops and just get a feel for the place. See if you can arrange to see a rugby match, and visit the sailing and music facilities to get a feel for the place. There is an international music festival at Oundle and the music tuition there has always been terrific (though I was sad to see the music shop in the town go.) The science facilities and tuition would be what would swing me towards Oundle, but I do think the pastoral care must vary house to house. Do you apply to a house, or does the school choose which house each child goes to?

Mutteroo Sat 02-Feb-13 23:36:51

DS's friend has been at Rugby since September. She's a boarder in the sixth form and apparently enjoying it so far. My SIL's children attended Uppingham but knew of friends who had children at Oundle & Oakham.

On paper all are excellent schools and if we lived nearer I think Oundle or Oakham would have suited our family more so I guess it's a case of you and your child getting that gut feeling too.

stealthsquiggle Sat 02-Feb-13 21:29:15

Thanks, Susie.

SusieInOundle Sat 02-Feb-13 18:46:33

Hi, I've just been reading through and as a Mum with a 14 year old boy at Oundle I can thoroughly recommend the school. It has a strong academic focus but this is not at the expense of sport or the arts. The schools facilities are excellent including a recently built science department, and various buildings which are intertwined in the town. We decided to move to Oundle (a beautiful market town) so that our son could be a day pupil. Although he has many friends who drop in for tea who are boarders, they similarly love the school and enjoy boarding. The school provides a bus for the boarders to go to Peterborough (15 mins away) and catch the train which has an excellent and regular service to London. My son has been at the school for three years now and he is being stretched whilst also receiving excellent care and support from all of his teachers. He loves playing Rugby as well as the academic studies and has recently started to explore new languages such as Chinese. He's not a musical child but informs me that the music dept is in his words is "very very good" . The school believes in children being independent, well rounded individuals and has recently won Tatler's independent school of the year. The schools academic results are consistently high and testament to the high calibre teachers.

stealthsquiggle Sat 26-Jan-13 15:45:57

<<sits on fence >>

Personally, I think I can see past the sales pitch, but in the process of hearing it, and then looking round a school (preferably not on an open day) you do get a reasonable feel for the atmosphere and character of the place. Thinking back to my first impression of DC's current school, I think it was pretty accurate.

I do agree about the websites, though - someone is making a fortune producing the same website, video and prospectus for dozens of schools.

happygardening Sat 26-Jan-13 10:06:28

"I would like a school to explain what they think they could give my child"
Is this where we as parents go wrong, Im only thinking out loud not criticising anyone. When we go round these schools would we not be better off if the schools said this is what the school does like it or lump it and then ask ourselves will it fit my DC and as importantly us as parents? Or perhaps parents should be given an opportunity to meet current parents who can give an unbiased view of how they find the school the nuts and bolts of it. Part of the problem is that a small minority aside most are desperate to fill their vacancies I get the impression they'll say anything to get your money. Im sure Oundle and Rugby for example know that they competing with each other for the same future pupils and although it is a free market the fees are virtually identical so they cant say send Orlando here we do what St X does but we're £10 000 PA cheaper, so they have to give you the soft sell instead. So many independent schools are so samish same wording on their website, the video on their websites are the same, same bloody music on the video (someone really ought to tell them about that), same earnest teachers saying how wonderful the school is, when you visit you meet bright eyed bushy tailed students telling you how wonderful the school is showing you around virtually identical facilities, the schools proudly they display their results (although don't tell you how they've achieved them). No wonder you cant choose between them stealth.

stealthsquiggle Fri 25-Jan-13 17:25:25

"this is how we are take it or leave it" pretty much sums it up, I think - and I agree with the self-selecting thing.

Don't get me wrong - I hate smarmy too, but I would like a school to explain what they think they could give my child and why they want him. We have had some very succinct descriptions elsewhere of the sort of child they are looking for and why. DH very directly said that he was there to find out why he should/would send DS to Winchester rather than anywhere else, and the HM's face was a picture - it didn't seem to be a question he had ever been asked before confused.

happygardening Fri 25-Jan-13 16:35:16

In retrospect I wonder if the non selling approach or in my case initially feeling under whelmed is because Winchester take the view; this is how we are take it or leave it. Perhaps many do leave it and it becomes self selecting.
I personally loathe the hard soft sell we experienced at some other schools I can't bear smarmy people it makes me want to run for the hills.
I have to say we never felt we had to "sell" our DS or "persuade him to do us the favour of accepting our DS" but then being slack parents we just pitch up at these sort of things and just go with it and then see what happens.

Amber2 Fri 25-Jan-13 12:44:07


yes agree - for 30k plus a year I would want to be sold to ...even if it is subtle selling point going anywhere and lumping out all that cash ...if DS is going to sink rather than swim there or be miserable. It's that part that I am most interested in...I would want him to fit in naturally as much as they would. And no point me trying to make him something he is not by sending him there if it won't work out.

Amber2 Fri 25-Jan-13 12:39:47

thanks for the detailed response, that's a good insight, yes I might PM you once I have had the tour - I feel I should visit if anything because if its excelent academics but not sure it will be for DS...who is bright and very good at exams but somewhat disorganized ...and so perhaps, unless he changes over the next 2-3 years, he may not be not independent enough for full boarding. and yes, I would need to wean myself off the helicoptering!

stealthsquiggle Fri 25-Jan-13 12:09:45

Amber - I think I may know what you mean, and, TBH, that was what really got us off on the wrong foot at Winchester. Given that we would be paying a very large amount of money to the school, we expected the school to sell itself to us (as others have) - and it felt very much indeed as though the first Winchester house master we met expected us to 'sell' DS to him, and persuade him to do us the favour of accepting DS, IYSWIM. It put DH's back up, big time.

happygardening Fri 25-Jan-13 11:23:43

Amber not sure what you mean by a two way interview? The first time we went without DS (who was 9 at the time) as we lived quite a way a way and if we didn't like any of them it seemed easier for us to eliminate them. One was definitely not for us so then we took DS back to meet the other two. Both were very good and it was an impossible decision. The first time we met them we talked to them, listened the most important thing to their approach to the boys, their interests, general ethos we didn't go with a list of questions just let them talk about how their house works. It was the little things/comments that eventually swayed our decision. You and your DS have got to like your HM at Winchester he is a very important person in your DS's life. We are no nonsense non pretentious say it as it is people and our HM is the same. I feel that I can talk to him if there was a problem and he would do everything to sort it out. A couple of minor things have cropped up in our family; sick elderly relatives etc and he has been excellent and reacted in the same way I would have done. From his comments on my DS's report he seems to know and understand him well. So for us its a perfect fit. My DS also has a tutor who he meets with once a week I've never met her or felt any need to contact her in the event of a problem the HM would always be my first port of call.
We only registered my DS for two super selective and we were advised by our prep school head that as both interviewed in yr 6 if we didn't get a place we would have plenty of time to find a fall back although admittedly it would have been a scholarship into somewhere. We were lucky at got both with 3 days of each other.
You are right its not until your actually at the school do you really know what the ethos is and whether it will suit you and your DS. This is why I write about my experiences because these are the things that you don't know till your in the door. I don't care that they cant come home a few days early at half term etc but a friend at another well known school said she wouldn't want to be so tied. I don't want to be overly involved (maybe Im a crap parent) I doubt I've sent more than 4 emails in 18 months and only that number because of the elderly sick family member. My DS needs to sort things out for himself or with help from the school but again friends with children boarding said they would hate this. I feel Winchester is actually very liberal and not petty when it comes to the individual boys, we're very liberals (perhaps liberal is another word for slack) so it suit us. I know of another very well known school that is very restrictive and petty frankly it would drive me round the bend. Winchester in a lot of ways is old fashioned unlike St Paul's are other option but now I've surprised myself and rather like it. But its not for everyone or every bright boy I really believe as parents if we're happy then our children are likely to be happy. When I fell out of love with my DS's prep school partly becasue he was unhappy its a chicken and egg situation he then knowing how I felt became really really unhappy, you start working against the school and it all goes very pear shaped.
My DS is being allowed to be himself unable and unwilling to conform to the norm no one minds I watched him at a match the other day with his team mates and he looked so happy; he's finally found his ..... Im struggling to find the right word but niche is the best one that springs to mind..
Do PM me if you want to know any more about Winchester.

yotty Fri 25-Jan-13 11:07:47

Canford is not a weekly boarding school. It has full boarders and day pupils, with the majority being boarders. It has Saturday morning school and matches on Saturday afternoon, except for about 5 weekends a year when there is an exeat. They have about 5 weekends a year which are closed weekends where no boarders are allowed home. It says on their website that pupils are expected to be at school more weekends than not. However, from anecdotal evidence the school does empty out from Saturday after matches if it is not a closed weekend. Weekly boarding to me means leaving school on Friday and not returning until Sunday evening or Monday morning, which is what I did for a few years and loved it. However, I always felt sorry for the full boarders because the weekend was pretty boring.

stealthsquiggle Fri 25-Jan-13 10:46:15

I am not planning on holding both indefinitely,FWIW, just for a year. We may also end up with a day option but there are only 2 practical options there, and I am told that I could leave it until the week before scholarship exams to "register" with either, so that's not on my "urgent" list for quite some time.

Amber2 Fri 25-Jan-13 10:26:37

So far I have three day schools and three boarding on my radar to look at ...but registering for all of them seems excessive ...and all of them are super selective so perhaps I need an insurance one. I am just wondering on timing ...and how feasible it woudl be to actually hold. What I am finding is, getting under the PR facade or mystique is difficult ... I am not sure you really know teh ethos until you join.

I also wondered how feasible it is to hold an offer from more than one or two senior schools after 11+ pretest.

Happy - ...and when you first met the housemasters was it like a two way interview?

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