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Cothill or Summer Fields - advice

(14 Posts)
catanddog Thu 13-Nov-14 18:23:25

Ds7 is very sporty and bright (top of top sets) and a bit of a general allrounder. We've done the rounds of schools and are left with 2 that we both like for different reasons and would appreciate any thoughts. He'd be starting next year at 8, with a view towards Eton or Radley. We are really torn between the schools. We feel that SF looks a little bit more serious, studious and slick, whereas Cothill looks more fun and muddy (I may of course be wrong). SF feels almost like a university it's so impressive yet I do appreciate the boys aren't 8 forever and need room to grow! I worry less about the academic side at SF, whereas I do slightly worry about Cothill. I worry too about the pastoral care at Cothill and am not mad about the lack of "house system" and prefer SF's boarding system. We've been more "impressed" with the boys at Cothill who seemed a bit more happy-go-lucky than the SF boys that we met who were much more focused and bookish but that may also be pot luck. We prefer the slightly more rural feel of Cothill but prefer the slightly more organised feel of SF. Final worry is the Cothill Trust rumours, but they may be just that and should be ignored. None of this is helped by the Headmasters being so different. We want an academically robust school(DS's current school in SW London which has a vibrant prep have said that if he were staying on and moving into their Prep next year they would have put him forward for a full or all rounder scholarship and expected him to get one) that can tool him up to get into his next school, where he can play loads of sport, and have as much fun as possible. Any guidance much appreciated.

Parsnips3 Wed 26-Nov-14 15:10:18

Hello catanddog. I could have written this a year ago, totally summed up my sentiment. I opted for SF after rather a lot of deliberating and wine, and am highly impressed with how warm, friendly and reassuring everyone is. My ten year old son has moved from a very different coed, nonselective school overseas, and loved both when he visited. He has been accepted and the transition has been v v straight forward. He truly couldn't be happier, and with lots of pudding and tons of variety in the curriculum, who could blame him. There is little pomposity, huge opportunity and all seems very organised. I was bowled over by the head of Cothill, and friends there have eulogised about it. They loved tuck, scooters, and again phenomenally talented teachers. I'm sorry I can't be much help, has your son visited or do you prefer not to confuse him? Only gripe is a slightly impersonal website that could have a few more photos, silly but nice to see a bit more for a boarding novice like myself. Cothills is fab.

summerends Wed 26-Nov-14 15:55:14

IMO for a really bright boy ie potentially Eton scholarship candidate, SF a safer academic bet to deliver the higher end curriculum It is a very "straight" school though.

vixsatis Thu 27-Nov-14 11:44:59

Both great schools. My boy left SF last summer having had just the happiest time. Teaching in the schol class is fabulous. One or two weak spots elsewhere; but all schools have some weak spots. I think it is quirkier than it looks- they happily accommodated my son's Marxism and the staute of chairman Mao which he had by his bed............

peteneras Thu 27-Nov-14 21:59:16

”He'd be starting next year at 8, with a view towards Eton or Radley.”

catanddog, although you said you’re torn between the two (prep) schools but somehow I detected a slight bias towards Summer Fields. And why not? If the view is towards Eton (particularly), I think SF would do a better job than Cothill. I’ve met many SF boys in Eton previously and I’ve always been very impressed with the way they carried themselves, their confidence and ease in talking with adults, their good manners, etc. Once upon a time not too long ago, Summer Fields used to dominate the Eton Election Roll and if your boy has an eye on the Eton Scholarship, I’d have thought SF would be a safer bet. But having said that, it’s the other Oxon prep school, Dragon, who’s currently dominating the Election Roll together with Westminster Under School with 3 Scholarships each this year alone, i.e. the two schools fill up almost half the entire KS Roll!

summerends, I’m impressed with your knowledge of feeder schools for Eton scholarships, not just here but your other postings too. grin

summerends Thu 27-Nov-14 22:43:33

rather sad is n't it peteneras grin. Derives from the Venn diagram of schools. In certain schools with a critical mass Eton and Winchester scholarship candidates are taught in the same group so they tend to know each other and what their previous schools were like.

peteneras Fri 28-Nov-14 09:09:52

Why is it rather sad, summerends? You should be quite proud instead. So I take it to mean your DS is a Collegeman at Win Coll?

summerends Fri 28-Nov-14 19:03:15

hmm I would rue the day when my secondhand knowledge of any school was a source of pride. No to your second question smile

Nimboo123 Sat 09-May-15 23:14:27

I'm sorry I didn't see this post earlier as this could also have been me writing it a year ago, word for word! You have probably made up your mind by now but I case you haven't, I can only recommend the choice we finally made which was Summer Fields. Our son came from a SW London day school and he has adored it since day one. Exceptional pastoral care, great fun activities in the boarding Lodges, endless competitive sport and a gorgeous group of new chums....

Hameldown Sun 19-May-19 00:05:56

Too late for OP but in case others are asking this question a few years down the line.... we also had the same dilemma but unlike other posters took the Cothill path and haven't regretted it for a moment. We too were hesitating between the undeniable polish of SF and the warmth and charm of Cothill. We chose the latter because of the interaction we observed at each school when we visited with our boys. The Cothill staff showed a much greater interest and engagement with our sons, while those at SF spoke only to us. We also wanted our sons to have an idyllic boyhood, and not grow too sophisticated too soon- they are a long time grown. But choosing a school is an art, not a science. There is a different feel to these two but they are both excellent schools, and with a clever boy either will prepare them expertly and convincingly for entry to the school of your choice. It's worth bearing in mind that SF is selective on entry and Cothill not so, and I think this broader entry is sometimes mistaken for lower academic standards. The Cothill Headmaster's advice was that of the schools we were considering (Cothill, SF and Pilgrims)there was no poor choice, and we should go with whichever felt like the community we most wanted to be part of. Incidentally, a similar conversation at SF went along the lines of 'why choose a Ford if you could have a Bentley'.
There isn't a poor choice here, just a choice that est suits you and your son. Good luck!

FiveofUs123 Mon 24-Jun-19 22:16:06

If SF parents are saying in a conversation that refers to Cothill , 'why choose a Ford if you could have a Bentley', I think that might help some people make their final decision.

Hameldown Wed 26-Jun-19 19:40:32

It was a member of SF staff! And Yes, it certainly helped us choose Cothill.

Beyondthesea123 Fri 05-Jul-19 23:13:33

Cothill is a lot of fun. It is a lot more relax than SF. SF although is more competitive in sport and study. It is really depend what do you want for your child and what his character is like?

Both are excellent school. If you want boys to be boys, fun and relax send them to Cothil but if you want your son to be very competitive and being abit more structure send them to Summerfield.

Both school ends up sending boys to great senior schools so either way they might end up in the same senior school. Child's character are somehow very difference.

Windowboxgardener Tue 01-Oct-19 18:09:35

I just want to say that we went to Cothill for an open day last week and it was FAB. Boys seemed so happy, staff were great fun and really enthusiastic, and it was just the right size - big enough to have all the space and facilities you could want, but small enough not to have any cliques, or for a boy to be lost in the crowd. Everyone who wants to gets to join in and play in teams, you don’t have to be a superstar.
I saw it has just been shortlisted for Boarding school of the year today as well.

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