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Magdalen vs Abingdon vs Haberdashers

(29 Posts)
Mumof3ds Tue 04-Feb-14 10:28:01

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,

KathySeldon Tue 04-Feb-14 11:55:00

for me - Abingdon.

Depends where you live though.

Badgerlady Tue 04-Feb-14 12:28:25

I grew up in Oxford. Magdalen boys had a terrible reputation for being very arrogant and unpleasant. One bright but sensitive friend of my DB went to Magdalen and was badly bullied.

However, this was at least 15 years ago and I imagine the school has changed now. It certainly had, and has, a stellar academic reputation.

Mumofds Tue 04-Feb-14 13:43:11

thank u for your thoughts.

ballylee Tue 04-Feb-14 14:16:51

I really don't think you can make a sweeping statement about a school from an impression over 5 years sounds too subjective. They are all good schools academically and since they pass that bar, forget the league tables for a minute, and focus on where you think your son will be best suited and the happiest based on his interests, personality and abilities. The best way is to visit of course and ask a bunch of questions to children and teachers and if you can meet some current parents.

ballylee Tue 04-Feb-14 14:17:13

over 15 years ago even!

antille Tue 04-Feb-14 14:32:33

We are torn between 1 and 2 on your list OP also. A lot of folk around here apply to both. Waiting to see if DS gets into either for 11+ from Oxford primary. If he gets into both, it's going to be a touch decision.

antille Tue 04-Feb-14 14:32:59

tough decision.

claraschu Tue 04-Feb-14 14:45:04

Magdalen is a little bit scruffy, in a good way. There is a nice mix of parents and children; it is not particularly rich and posh, and it feels more like a grammar school than a public school. There are no boarders at Magdalen, which gives a different atmosphere too. On the down side, the head is unusually pompous, teachers are often fantastic but they leave after only a few years, the school does so well that it is pretty "up itself".

If you want personal anecdotes and advice about specific departments, PM me-

antille Tue 04-Feb-14 14:47:14

Curious KathySeldon...why impressions so far are if a bot turns out to be are brilliantly academic both M and A will do well by a boy, if not, then A may be better because it is more all rounded but he might struggle at M because of the academically pushier ethos?

But that's just an impression...not sure how accurate it is.

antille Tue 04-Feb-14 14:49:40

must admit...A wins on its facilities and campus

Slipshodsibyl Tue 04-Feb-14 14:53:16


Hiphopopotamus Tue 04-Feb-14 14:53:48

This won't help you at all, but just had to say that I saw this thread pop up in active convos, didn't see what section it was posted in, and had a horrifying second when I thought it was a baby names thread grin

(Which if it was, my vote would be Haberdasher - I reckon he'd be the only one in his class...)

Beastofburden Tue 04-Feb-14 14:54:02

MCS changed an awful lot by the time DS went there, 2003 to 2010. I dont think you could call the boys arrogant now- there are other schools where that is said, but mainly the boarding/semi-boarding ones, where a lot of money congregates. I personally think that the current head is less strong than the one before him- the previous one was much better with the parents but apparently less good at keeping the teachers happy. Staff turnover is certainly right down on what it was.

Interesting that former MCS staff have gone on to be heads of Brighton College and Kings Wimbledon, both improving very fast. Actually, our local comprehensive (Cherwell) also has a former MCS teacher in charge and it is also improving a lot.

You get an excellent academic education there, especially science. The current head puts a lot of pressure on boys to participate in extra-curricular things; it is less easy than it was to be a contented nerd.

antille Tue 04-Feb-14 14:54:25

why though?

antille Tue 04-Feb-14 14:55:13

sorry aimed at slipshodsibyl

Beastofburden Tue 04-Feb-14 14:56:06

beware on saying Abingdon for facilities and campus- the OP is considering the junior schools (Y3), not the senior schools. Abingdon prep is in a little village quite a way from the main campus. MCS junior school is on the main MCS campus.

MakesAMessWhenStressed Tue 04-Feb-14 14:57:16

I've heard very good things about Abingdon. It sounds like it has a really nice ethos and atmosphere.

Have you asked on the local threads? You might find more Oxford parents see it...?
Oxford Mumsnet

Beastofburden Tue 04-Feb-14 15:02:34

Antille: I would say:

MCS for a boy who is naturally very clever, especially if he is scientific. They work very hard and very fast in senior school, not so much in junior school.

Abingdon for a boy who is academically sound but not brilliant, but wants to enjoy himself and do lots of sport and music, and might pick up a bit when he's older.

Abingdon is more traditionally posh and has richer parents knocking around, able to pay the full £30k whack. MCS is an ex-grammar/direct grant school, scruffy apart from the new bits, focussed on traditional subjects.

MCS does have an excellent arts festival and does a lot of music and drama, but the kids are much less likely to do music or art to A level- they will keep it as a hobby. Their parents are aiming for medical school and Oxbridge (over a third go to Oxbridge) so they only take "hard" A levels.

LaVolcan Tue 04-Feb-14 15:12:54

Abingdon (senior) school also had a period as a direct grammar school, and is predominantly day boys.

Don't know about the prep - it used to be called Josca's and is, as others say, in a village away from Abingdon.

AmIIndecisive Tue 04-Feb-14 15:23:27

Wow, that is amazing that your 3 year old has been offered a place at Habs Boys bearing in mind, it doesn't even start until age 5, your son must be a genius.

My vote goes for Habs!

AmIIndecisive Tue 04-Feb-14 15:24:19

Sorry totally misread post - year 3 - still say Habs!

Slipshodsibyl Tue 04-Feb-14 15:25:37

Op said Year three, not three years old.

Beastofburden Tue 04-Feb-14 15:35:40

OP isnt really choosing between MCS, Abingdon and Habs- she is choosing between MCS junior school, Joscas as was, and Habs junior boys.

Joscas is I am sure lovely, but hard to get to in a morning if you also have to get to work. And when it was Joscas, not known for being all that academic. MCS junior would allow him to choose between the senior schools later on, and its easier to get to. Its the same campus as MCS main school and shares a lot of the facilities.

Is Habs boys the same school all the way through? that would be a factor- but I know nothing about Habs except what we can all see from the league tables.

Mumofds Tue 04-Feb-14 15:40:52

smile thank you all. yes DS is in Year 3 aged 7 years old

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