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Magdalen, Abingdon, Habs

(24 Posts)
Mumof3ds Mon 03-Feb-14 14:18:06

Hi There,

I am new to UK. My son who is year 3 has offered a place (after assessments) in
1. Magdalen college school, oxford
2. Abingdon school, near oxford
3. Haberdashers asks Boys schools, watford.

I have looked at many league tables and different analysis online,most of them shows different results. My son is academic, not that interested in sports.
Like any mum I wish to send him to the best place, and it would be great if some one could guide me choose the best decision for an academically well child. We are willing to relocate based on the selection.

many thanks,

ZeroSomeGameThingy Tue 04-Feb-14 07:35:44

Mumof3 You really need to ask for this to be moved to the "Education" topic.

There should be plenty of people with experience of these schools.

Congratulations to your son by the way. Where are you currently based?

MoreBeta Tue 04-Feb-14 07:46:22

Mumof - those schools are all extremely selective.

We used to live in Oxford and we have friends with children at Magdalen and Abingdon or trying to get into those schools.

What you have to consider is whether your child can cope with intense and constant academic rigour. If your DS cant keep up he will a) hate the experience and then b) be asked to leave.

Do you have more than one child? It is a major problem if only one child makeS it through the selection and you have to send the second child to a different school. I know a family where that has happened.

Other than that, if DS is academic then he will do very well in any of those schools. They all deliver a lot of children with outstanding results but are highly selective.

They are very good at sport, music and extra curricular as well.

Post in education though. You will get more answers.

ZeroSomeGameThingy Tue 04-Feb-14 08:18:11

MoreBeta Goodness, your post is depressing! If the OP's child has been offered a place at all three of these schools I doubt that academic rigour is going to be a major problem. He's obviously very able.

(If it was only one school then it might be valid to wonder .... But three....) Getting used to a new school in a new country is a different question of course but many, many children manage it without major problems.

I am interested to read whether the OP primarily wanted day or boarding as they have offers from both.

MoreBeta Tue 04-Feb-14 08:59:05

ZeroSome - year 3 is not really where the testing happens to be honest. Pre-prep and Prep are testing and preparation grounds only. Some children get asked to leave and don't make it to the senior school.

Both my children were in a very selective Oxford prep school. My oldest was heading for Magdalen but we moved to another town as we felt his brother would struggle to get in.

We have friends with 2 boys, struggling to get in to very selective private schools in Oxford. Another friend with one child at a selective Oxford school but struggling to keep up and their other child not quite able to reach the selection standard.

I just want the OP to know that at Year 3 there is no guarantee the child will make it into the secondary school at Year 7. The competiton for places is intense and becomes worse the higher up the school you go.

Oxford is the destination of choice for many parents looking to get out of London to put DCs in a good private school. Competition for school places is intense in Oxford. Its as bad as London.

To make it into the most selective Oxford schools the child has to be in the top 5% of ability range. To be considered outstanding in those schools you have to be in the top 1% of the ability range.

My oldest son is in that range my youngest is at the 25th percentile. Both are in a private school in another town. Both doing well, oldest with a scholarship but without the insane competition of London and South East schools. There is so much demand in the London and South East areas the best private schools have no option but to be hyper selective - the demand is so high.

ZeroSomeGameThingy Tue 04-Feb-14 09:13:31

Interesting MoreB. (My (long, long experience is with other extremely competitive prep and public schools in the area.)

But I'm sure the OP is capable of assessing her son's potential and level of resilience. Of course things can go wrong - in any school at any level - but it would be a pity if she denied her child the chance to even start!

Beastofburden Tue 04-Feb-14 09:25:06

The key thing is, you are not going into the senior school, but the lower school. Be careful, it's not the same thing.

I had a son who went through Magdalen senior school and that would be my first choice if he is academic. Abingdon senior school is more focussed on sport and music. It's also partly a boarding school, where fees go up to £30k a year, so the vibe is slightly richer, whereas Magdalen is more a grammar school. Haberdashers Aske is OK but not as good as MCS academically. MCS regularly tops or near-tops the league tables, especially for boys schools.

Magdalen junior school is just that- a junior school on the same site as the senior school, sharing some of the facilities, events and even teaching staff in some cases. It's true there's no guarantee that he will progress to the senior school, but it's a very good education in the lower school anyway, so he will easily get into Abingdon senior school if he fails for MCS senior. Whereas I dont know much about Abingdon prep school. But I do know it's not on the same site as Abingdon school, it's out in a little village somewhere (Frilford I think).

Mumof3ds Tue 04-Feb-14 10:32:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Mumof3ds Tue 04-Feb-14 10:38:21

And we are looking for day places and that is what offered in all three.

Beastofburden Tue 04-Feb-14 11:26:53

Lots of older kids commute to MCS senior by train, but at junior school stage I would live in Oxford, as for junior age it might be asking a lot. I commuted Oxford to London for years and so does half north Oxford, that's how people afford the house prices!

Junior prep in Abingdon i think you would struggle to get there, it's not close to Oxford or any mainline station to London. It's a village and the traffic can be heavy- you'd need a nanny with a car.

I have to be honest and say I dont know anyone local who would turn down a place at MCS senior school to go to Abingdon senior school.

Beastofburden Tue 04-Feb-14 11:29:08

last post- honest! the advantage of Oxford over the other options is that you have more backup choices if MSC doesn't work out. There are lots of good schools catering for all sorts of skills here. We dont have a grammar school but the Cherwell comprehensive is a good one; or if you stay private there is a huge range.

antille Tue 04-Feb-14 21:04:50

If you are in Reading Mumof3ds, why not look at Reading Boys also ...if your DS are able enough to get into MCS, they should make it into Reading Boys or is private your preferred option by far?

Antaresisastar Tue 04-Feb-14 21:05:09

Beastofburden, we turned down a place at MCS for one at Abingdon!

antille Tue 04-Feb-14 21:07:07


How do the older kids get from the train station to MCS - walk or bus? Just wondered how long it takes.

antille Tue 04-Feb-14 21:08:07


Do you mind sharing your reasons....?

Antaresisastar Tue 04-Feb-14 22:11:24

Antille, it was ds's choice. He felt Abingdon was a better fit with his interests (mainly sports), he also thought the head at MCS was "a weirdo". There was also a logistics issue as his sister is at school in Abingdon. He is now a sixth former and I am sure we made the right choice, he has been really happy. Indeed, he says,if he ever has a son, he would like to be able to send him to Abingdon, which is a great accolade.

antille Tue 04-Feb-14 22:16:42

ah thanks for the response to be fair to current Head of MCS, I assume it was a different head when your DS

antille Tue 04-Feb-14 22:17:56

does he row by the way...I guess that's a strong draw at Abingdon if your kid is into it ?

Antaresisastar Tue 04-Feb-14 22:21:27

No, same head as now! He doesn't row, plays cricket, rugby and football.

Mumofds Wed 05-Feb-14 11:00:03

Antillle, As Iam new to UK, just collecting all information regarding schools. I heard about Reading boys, do you think that is better than MCS or any high performing private school (moving away the expense in private education)?

ZeroSomeGameThingy Wed 05-Feb-14 11:42:42

Mumof Could you not say a little more about how you came to choose the three schools you applied to - and whether / when you and your son have visited them?

Surely the most important thing is how and why they each appeal to you. have you asked yourself:

Whether you can see evidence of good leadership?

Whether you feel you can talk frankly with the staff? Do they seem caring, kind, patient, energetic?

Whether the children in the corridors look you in the eye or can hold a conversation. Are they the sort of children you would like your Ds to grow up amongst?

Whether you have seen activities that would appeal to and challenge your not sporty child?

Whether or not socializing with other parents is important to you?

What do you think?

Beastofburden Wed 05-Feb-14 12:01:16

Antille, most of them keep a bike at the station and cycle over, I think. I would be a good half hour walk

ecritee Wed 26-Feb-14 00:40:23

Hi,I read your thread and some question regarding MCS because my son (already attending Abingdon) offered a place of MCS. He is very academic. (top 10 percent in English,Science and Math,in abingdon)

In abingdon, he only spends in 30 min for revision during weekdays.
how long do you think he needs for revision ?

1805 Wed 26-Feb-14 13:36:10

I think you can't go wrong with with MCS or Abingdon - don't know about Habs.

I think MCS has a more city feel, whilst Ab is more country.
Boys do go from Ab prep onto MCS Senior School at 13, but most go onto Ab Senior School. As others have said, entry into the prep is no guarentee of a place in the senior school. Both schools weed out along the way. Even then, there are surprises.

I think just go with which school is most convenient and you like the feel of. Well done to ds!!!

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