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Any people who know about independent schools in the southwest...

(34 Posts)
frogs Tue 16-May-06 13:07:32

Does anyone know what the current grapevine says about Downside School?

Wd be grateful for any info.

maltesers Tue 16-May-06 13:10:23

Its a boys catholic public school. Dont know bout it now but had a couple of male friends who went there and they were pretty well balanced young men.
You may not hear much on a mumsnet thread. Put in a similar thread bout my old school in the southwest and heard nothing. But good luck anyway !

beety Tue 16-May-06 13:23:08

MY KIDS PLAY THEM AT SPORT...dont know much apart form that. all boys catholic...ummm....

beety Tue 16-May-06 13:23:43

MY KIDS PLAY THEM AT SPORT...dont know much apart form that. all boys catholic...ummm....

fairyjay Tue 16-May-06 13:34:19

Know someone whose son boards there. Not terribly happy - don't think it's changed much since his dad was there!

marialuisa Tue 16-May-06 13:53:28

Have 2 cousins there at the moment, both seem happy enough.

Sorry, not much help is it?

frogs Tue 16-May-06 14:01:12

No beety, they have girls now! Not that ds would care, since he's got two v. bossy sisters...

Am just toying with the idea of going to have a look, since we have family connections with the school, but going back awhile. I suspect the success of the whole boarding thing depends on the child's personality a lot too, and ds might just be the kind of child for whom it could work.

beety Tue 16-May-06 18:42:53

where do you live?

DumbledoresGirl Tue 16-May-06 18:49:49

I have been on retreat there, but I don't know anything about the school itself. Set in beautiful countryside IIRC.

DumbledoresGirl Tue 16-May-06 18:50:47

Don't you live in Bristol? Are you specifically looking at the boarding option? Aren't there some good independent schools in Bristol?

mutley1 Tue 16-May-06 19:07:59

Its a mixed school with a very strong sports reputation. I don't think the boarding side is very strong. I was talking to someone on monday who has 2 boys there but not boarding. There are only a dozen or so boys who board and at one stage they were thinking of stopping this.
If you are not needing boarding I would recommend Bristol grammar school

PrincessPeaHead Tue 16-May-06 19:16:24

downside known as a bit of a disaster area for the last few years. numbers down hugely, they are now co-ed to try and get the numbers up and are offering a "buy one get one free" - ie if you send your boy your girl goes at an extremely reduced rate. doesn't really inspire confidence! having said that the numbers ARE going up, which has to be a good thing for morale, retainment of staff etc. personally I wouldn't touch it with a bargepole, but horses for courses.

PrincessPeaHead Tue 16-May-06 19:18:45

also the academic results are SHOCKING considering you are paying +/- £22k per annum. of all the independent schools in the country, they are in the bottom 10 or something. well below even schools like Milton Abbey and Kings Bruton that take children with serious dyslexia/learning difficulties (and do bloody well with them).

but there are a hard core of RCs who don't seem to look at that, and still send their kids because daddy went there and they like the whole RC thing. hmmmm.

frogs Tue 16-May-06 19:25:20

Thanks for that, PPH! We're looking a few years ahead, so can keep an eye on how things develop. I know someone working there who is quite excited about how it's all going, so wanted to sound out some local gossip.

Mutley, I think we may be talking about different schools -- Downside is a pretty trad boys' boarding school just south of Bath which had its first ever intake of girls in September, and have 85% boarding.

We're in London, where most of the good Catholic state schools for boys involve commuting right across town to eg. the Oratory. Ds is a very bouncy, physical little boy, and the thought of him spending up to 3 hours a day squashed on London public transport in the rush hour breaks my heart. We have family connections with Downside (my Dad, brothers etc), so might be able to wangle a bursary, which is the only way on god's green earth we'd be able to afford boarding fees.

Just an idea atm, but all input is helpful -- thanks!

PrincessPeaHead Tue 16-May-06 19:37:54

well that is good, I think it does need at least 3 years to bed down so you can see where it is going. keep an eye on the good schools guide (who gave it the worst review I've ever read of a school about 2 years ago but this years' edition is much more complimentary about it), also (hate to say it) Tatler's schools guide is worth a read (between the lines if you know what I mean) and also keep your ears open to what your fellow RCs think of it. Couple of after-service chats at Farm Street will give you ALL the info!

PrincessPeaHead Tue 16-May-06 19:39:30

here is tatler
"Like its Catholic rival Ampleforth, Downside is now fully co-ed and it will be interesting to see how the atmosphere changes. The ethos is likely to remain the same: a reverence for tradition but enthusiastic acceptance of the modern world. The library has to be seen to be believed. Classics and languages are in fine fettle. Boys are polite and amusing and don't take themselves too seriously. The girls will not be disappointed."

You see what I mean by between the lines!!! ie currently crap, all subjects badly taught except classics and languages, boys have a lovely time but is that really what you are paying fees for...! pretty spot on I'd say

frogs Tue 16-May-06 19:44:33

Thanks again, PPH! Not sure how objective Farm Street wd be -- Downside is Benedictine, and Farm Street are the other lot (Jesuits). And I'm not driving all the way up to flippin' Stonyhurst, when all my family are in the SW.

Also, sadly, seriously posh Cartholics tend to bring me out in a rash. But I might have to grit my teeth and cultivate some, as our part of London is the dark heart of Catholic new Labour -- think Ruth Kelly, reach for the garlic and cross yourself.

shalom Tue 16-May-06 19:46:29

pph where do you get a full performance list for independant schools. I know the 'Times 'does it sometimes but that is only for the top 20

Enid Tue 16-May-06 19:49:21

near babington house though for those weekend visitations

Kings Bruton is a very nice school

beety Tue 16-May-06 19:52:04

wells cathedral is good to...Not Catholic though but stong relegious eelment

Ellbell Tue 16-May-06 20:15:45

Schools - particularly independent schools, perhaps - can change quite quickly. I went to a very small independent school in the far South-West (much further SW than this...!) and when I was in the Sixth Form there was talk of it closing down (variety of reasons...). It was really going nowhere. But they got a new, dynamic Head, a new name, possibly a cash-injection, and judging by their website (which I have looked at casually - haven't been back there for donkey's years) is now thriving. It changed from single-sex to co-ed, and is also now a bilingual (French-English) school, which I find interesting. Not specifically helpful to your original question, but just wanted to make the point about things changing quite dramatically.

PrincessPeaHead Tue 16-May-06 20:17:33

times does the whole lot once a year (not just top 20) - makes for v interesting viewing!
ahhh, didn't get the benedictine/jesuit thing. bit like Shia and Sunni, eh???!!!

cod Tue 16-May-06 20:18:23

Message withdrawn

PrincessPeaHead Tue 16-May-06 20:26:31

yes but how does that help frogs?

unless the downsider was a particularly good shag. in which case we can conclude that his catholic education was probably rather lacking...

cod Tue 16-May-06 20:26:55

Message withdrawn

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