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What's it really like to be a day pupil at St Edwards?

(16 Posts)
homewardbound16 Fri 07-Mar-14 03:48:45

We are trying to plan our relocation back to the UK from abroad and are looking at schools for our DS and DD in the South of England commuting distance from London for DH . We like the look of Oxford - it's a bit of a long commute but we're working on the assumption DH could maybe work from home a couple days a week. Having never considered sending our children to boarding school we're struggling to find a day school for our son that's not enormously academic (thinking Magdalene College School etc). He definitely has potential but not sure a) he would get a place b)if he managed to squeeze in he would be happy…so came across St Edwards and really like the look of it - it says it has a broader intake - BUT - it's 80% a boarding school. Just wanted advice/opinions on the realities of being a minority day pupil at a boarding school - what are the logistics of picking up a child at 9pm for example? How do they fit in with the boarders? The other school I've noted is Abingdon School as it is a proper day school with some boarding but it seems to be very popular and so have very competitive entry process..any thoughts on the pros and cons of Abingdon vs St Edwards also much appreciated!

Antaresisastar Fri 07-Mar-14 11:16:54

St Edwards is a lovely school, BUT, the few children I know of who started in yr 9 as day pupils all ended up boarding at some stage. I think it would be "doable" if you were going to live in N Oxford. Do you have younger children? What will you do if you are the only parent at home in the evening? Will they have to be dragged out of bed at 9pm to collect ds?
I have a ds at Abingdon and am a big fan of the school, feel free to ask any questions.

homewardbound16 Sat 08-Mar-14 05:22:19

Thanks Antareisastar. I think that is exactly what would happen - sliding into boarding by default - but at the moment boarding is not what we would choose. We did really like Abingdon and would definitely go for a place like a shot, just been put off by how difficult it would probably be to get a place, especially as DS is coming from an international school and has not been prepped for any entrance exams or even studying the UK national curriculum. We will give it a go but need to have plan B…really like the look of St Edwards but just not sure we could manage the logistics. Yes, we do have a younger DD - how do the other day pupils with younger siblings at St Edwards manage? Do you know what Cokethorpe is like? Where do boys who don't get a place at Abingdon usually go? Thanks for your advice!

Antaresisastar Sat 08-Mar-14 08:05:38

Hi Homewardbound, can I ask how old ds is? Assume you are looking for a 13+ place, do you plan to return just before he is due to start or is there any chance of yr 7 and 8 at a prep school? Abingdon, of course, also has 11+ entry (mainly from local state schools).
Actually the children I am thinking of who went to Teddies were all youngest siblings. I do have friends with dcs at Cokethorpe and have heard no complaints, kids all seem happy ( obvious advantage is that your dd could go too, and they have a prep school on the same site), they have a good bus service.
I have no idea how hard it is to get in to Abingdon these days, it's 6 years since ds did the pretest (blimey that went quickly). Other options taken by boys from his school were Bradfield, Bloxham, Pangbourne ( all have day/boarding), Cokethorpe, others went to board at Radley, Cheltenham, Rugby etc. if you want a coed day school you could also look at Our Lady's, Abingdon. It is a Catholic school, but takes all/no faiths.
Hope this is useful.

MissYamabuki Sat 08-Mar-14 08:15:52

Hi op

DP attended St Edwards as a boarder in the 90s. He says the day activities (lessons, sport, homework) would go on till 9-9:30 so if they wanted to stay on after lessons non-boarders could basically be doing the same as boarders until that point in the day.

Good luck with the rellocation smile

Myrtille Mon 10-Mar-14 12:01:10

Our son was a day boy at Teddies and left a couple of years ago.
We live in N Oxford and he was able to cycle home each night. N Oxford is very quiet in the evening and pretty safe.
The school day at Teddies either finishes early, then they play sport, and then have late lessons or prep. Or it finshes at a normal time, they then have some free time and then do prep till 9pm.
Being a day boy there suited our son as he experienced many of the boarding school benefits but we were able to keep tabs on his progress which was important given his character. I think he would have struggled as a full boarder.
Teddies' housemasters and tutos are brilliant at identifying what works for particular pupils. For instance they will let them go home early if they can see they are exhausted or they will put them in more supervised prep sessions if they are struggling to organize themselves.
It's a great school if it suits your situation. I can see it would be very hard to get in the car every evening to go and pick him up if you live outside the city.

homewardbound16 Tue 11-Mar-14 04:39:20

Hi Antareisastar
DS is in Y6 and DD is in Y3 currently but we're trying to plan our relocation in time for DS to start at a school in Y9 as that's a main point of entry and I think we'd be hard pressed to return in time for Y7 by now...We could try to relocate in time for Y8 - either at a prep school but then he'd have only one year in a school and that could be too disruptive and backfire..not sure..? Or we try to join Abingdon or Cokethorpe in Y8 (DO places come up in Y8?) OR wait to join the CE route for a place in Y9 at St Edwards/Abingdon/Cokethorpe -so I'm really trying to get a feel for the different schools so we can decide how to proceed. Hadn't heard of Our Lady's Abingdon so will look in to that. Thanks! Any thoughts on OLA/Abingdon/Cokethorpe pro's and cons much appreciated!
I was concerned to read other posts that Cokethorpe not so well regarded for A'level results and leavers' destinations but I'm wondering if this year's cohort are more competitive at every school so standards will rise at Cokethorpe - e.g. if they're getting lots of kids who don't quite get a place at Abingdon?? Does anyone know what the teachers at Cokethorpe are like? Possible reasons for A'level results?
Part of our problem is we don't know where DS 'fits' in the UK system as the international system does not have any 11+ type exams or even a friendly headmaster to steer us in the right direction of which school. We think he has potential to get a place at Abingdon but we just don't know. They would have to be looking for 'raw potential' rather than a child prepped and drilled for the last two years for their entrance exam put it that way! If he managed to get a place at Abingdon would you recommend it as a school? Is it very pressured? What kind of boy really enjoys Abingdon would you say? You said you were a big fan?
I also really like the sound of St Edwards (I have to say it sounds more 'fun' than Abingdon?? Is that wrong?)
Ha! I think what I need is for St Edwards to be a day school or Abingdon to be co-ed!
And of course not forgetting our DD!! Any thoughts on Headington School if DS goes to St Edwards or St Helen's/Katherines if DS goes to Abingdon?? Maybe Cokethorpe is the easiest solution!
Sorry for such a long-winded post and so many questions! Feel free to be selective in your answers!

homewardbound16 Tue 11-Mar-14 04:55:46

Hi Myrtille and Miss Yamabuki
Thanks for your info on St Edwards. I do really like the sound of it. Just trying to work out how the day/boarding pupil combination works. At the moment DS and DD are at a day school and I agree that it's a major plus point to feel that I know how they are and how they're progressing which I guess would not be so much the case at boarding school? I have no experience of boarding schools so it's a big unknown. Myrtille how did your DS feel being a day pupil? Were there ever times he felt left out? Did he feel less 'independent' or in any way 'less important' than the boarders? Did he prefer being a day pupil and why? How long did it take him to settle in? Did he like the school? What time do they come home on Saturdays? Is Saturday compulsory? Can day pupils invite boarders to come stay at the weekend? All input gratefully received!
I like the sound of being able to cycle home - guess that really restricts the location for house hunting!
Thanks for your help..

nibs777 Tue 11-Mar-14 10:35:01

homeward...why don't you register your DS for St Ed's, Abingdon and Magdalen College School...these schools know what they are looking for and if he has what they want, he will be offered a place ...if he gets offered more than one, you can then weigh your options.

Abra1d Tue 11-Mar-14 10:39:34

There are a few other threads on Abingdon, OP, if you search. One was quite recent, I think, or towards the end of 2013. It is a good school but not necessarily for every boy. I have a sixth-form son there. He is sporty and quite bright. Academic expectations are high and I think a boy who is not naturally bright would find the work pressure intense. Magdalen is even more academically intense. Teddies is regarded as less academic, and Cokethorpe even more so, though I have heard its academic selection is becoming more rigorous. The parents I know with children at Teddies seem happy.

longtallsally2 Tue 11-Mar-14 10:48:25

We have close friends with a son who is a day pupil at St Edwards. He is very sporty, so loves the chance to do sport from 4pm - 6.30 every night, (2pm - 6.30 on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.)

He is able to cycle home, or bus - there's a busstop right outside the school - so that is not too much of a tie. Our friends say that the parents of other day boys who live in Headington or South Oxford have to collect their children every night which is much more of a bind - no social life 6 days/week for them.

He does get very tired but I echo the comments above about the house masters being good at supporting them to get the balance right. And they do have longer holidays/ a weekend off every 3 weeks to recover. They need it!

Day boys are fully integrated into school life - they basically come home just to sleep - but obviously miss out a little on being there all night/the chat over breakfast etc.

Also know folks at Cokethorpe and Abingdon. They are all nice schools - you wouldn't lose anything by applying to them all (although registration at St Eds is costly, so you need to be serious about it.) And getting into Abingdon isn't impossible if that is your first choice.

Agree that Cokethorpe is clearly trying to raise standards at A level now. It has always had a good reputation for supporting students, and not being pushy academically - quite clever marketing as there are other much pushier schools around! However, I get the impression that they are looking to encourage the top students now and ensure that they have more high achievers too.


longtallsally2 Tue 11-Mar-14 10:56:09

I can answer those from our friends son, as we have chatted a lot about it:

Did he feel less 'independent' or in any way 'less important' than the boarders? No, though he feels he has to wake up quicker in the mornings, as he has to cycle in for 8am, rather than wander over to breakfast!

Did he prefer being a day pupil and why? In some ways he would love to board, but lives so close it really would be silly. On the other hand he also recognises that it's really nice to be able to keep in daily touch with his family, even if it is just for a quick update and a hug, so it is the best of both worlds.

How long did it take him to settle in? Err about 30 minutes! They are not allowed home at all apart from to sleep, for the first 2 weekends as there are lots of activities to ensure that boarders and day children alike settle in well, so school 7 days a week for 3 weeks!

Did he like the school? Yes, though like any children he has his ups and downs, but largely yes.

What time do they come home on Saturdays? After sports matches so between 4 and 6pm depending on whether the match is home and away. Pretty much everyone plays in a team, so this means everyone.

Is Saturday compulsory? Yes, lessons until 1pm, then sport.

Can day pupils invite boarders to come stay at the weekend? Yes, if there is parental permission they have a leave weekend every 3 weeks, and friends can be invited.

Myrtille Tue 11-Mar-14 14:47:30

I agree with what longtallsally2 has said about Teddies.
To emphasize how integrated the day boys are - the houses are all mixed day/boarders, for the first two years he had a desk and sometimes a bed in a dorm with 2 boarders, in the senior years he shared a room with another day boy and eventually got his own room. Day boys are allowed to sleepover by arrangement. Our son settled in immediately compaed with his prep school which he hated.
We had one of the boarders stay with us but H&S concerns make it difficult for the school.
I can't remember what the arrangement was on Saturdays. I think there is a prep session until 6/7pm but a housemaster might be flexible, Our son was into rowing so seemed to spend every moment he could there.
Re breakfast, we found out around year 12 or so that we was allowed to go in for breakfast. That would have saved us a lot of bacon over 5 years.
The big factor is cost. To live in N Oxf and go to Teddies is expensive. The day fees were as much as boarding at Abingdon when we started.
Abingdon property is much cheaper.
In terms of academic standard I wouldn't worry about the difference. Abingdon is harder to get into but Teddies will allow your child to acheive their potential whether that is Oxbridge, art college or straight into work.
A word of warning - visisting there is like going to see puppies - difficult to resist. The staff, quad, chapel, playing fields, gym, boathouse, pavilion, music facilities, theatre, DT workshops, food, dorms are fantastic.
If you are in N Oxf your daughter can go to Teddies, Headington, Oxford High, Wychwood, Cherwell and a couple of others. All have a different feel but provide a great education.

celestialsquirrelnuts Tue 11-Mar-14 17:46:49

I have a DS in year 8 at Abingdon. Can't sing its praises highly enough. He loves it - he is bright but not the brightest there - probably bottom of the top 1/3 though. A lot of his friends from junior school joined him there and there is a variety of ability although it is selective of course. Don't assume your DS won't get in though.

It is a proper day school but they fit a huge amount in - as well as lessons they do a lot of extracurricular stuff - my DS this term is doing badminton, fencing, the lower school magazine and shooting as well as the usual timetables sports and swimming. There is a focus on the whole child, it is not just an exam factory.
The admissions registrar is very approachable - Jane Jorgensen - phone her up and have a chat. Tell her what you have told us re his international schooling etc and ask her if there is any possibility of year 8 entry or whether he sounds like he has a shot at 13+.

I know a few boys entered in year 8 this year - taking places of boys who had moved abroad etc so it is definitely worth asking.

People who have kids at at Edwards seem mostly to be happy with it - I know of a couple of unhappy ones but tbh you can find a few at every school. It clearly is not as selective as Abingdon - equally I don't think you would find many who said it was a better school. It is a good local boarding school, no more no less. I would certainly choose it above cokethorpe for your average bright child. You need to go and look at them all and see what you think but I personally would find the school hours of St Edwards a huge drag.

Antaresisastar Tue 11-Mar-14 19:31:27

Hi Homeward, sorry don't have much time now, but you should know that the Abingdon pre-test (for 13+ entry) is usually in October of yr 7, but I'm not sure if this applies to overseas applicants. I would give the Registrar a call, as mentioned above she is v helpful and friendly.

homewardbound16 Sun 16-Mar-14 13:20:53

Thanks everyone for all the insights, have been reading with great hoping it will become clearer after visiting the schools and that we can have real choices open to us..

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