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Which full boarding prep school for DS?

(27 Posts)
Schoolsearch2015 Sun 22-Nov-15 13:33:39

We live in Bermuda and are just finalising our search for schools for DS to start aged 11 (he is 9 now). We want a shortlist of 3-4 schools.
As we live overseas it has to be full boarding. We also have a 7 year old DS and 5 year old DD who are likely going to go at the same age if it goes well. DH and I both went to full boarding prep schools and onto full boarding senior schools after that so are familiar with the concept shall we say!
We are definitely going to put his name down for Port Regis (DH's sister teaches there and is 3 miles from Grandparents) - the only reservation I have is its further from Gatwick and my parents in Essex than I would like but close family would be a great thing, of course, Windlesham is another definite. Then we are looking to find 1-2 more. Accademically our son is abpverage in Bermuda so is probably below average standards, he's very bright though and has many interests. He has some attention issues which have been diagnosed too. So which other 2 schools would you recommend? Any comments on Windlesham and Port Regis also good.I'd probably prefer a co-ed school only because we have a daughter too but would also consider all boys. Thank you!

Gruach Sun 22-Nov-15 14:03:53

Are you sure you want to wait till he's 11? (Which I think would be year 7 here.). The reason I ask is that the sort of preps you're looking at send to senior schools which may well have pre-tests in year 6. Are you planning to manage those yourselves or perhaps only look at schools that pre-test later or not at all?

Whatever you're planning you should probably be thinking first about possible senior schools and working backwards. It's much more comfortable to be applying to schools your prep has a record of success with.

MarmiteAndButter Sun 22-Nov-15 14:09:28

Port Regis is excellent. I would ditto thinking about starting in year 6 though.

Gruach Sun 22-Nov-15 14:17:45

I'm not for a moment suggesting you can't manage yr 6 pre tests yourselves, of course you can, but it may be slightly problematic to arrive at a new school in yr 7 if the child doesn't yet have a conditional offer for a senior school. Many (most?) of their new classmates will by that stage know where they're going next.

MsMargaretHale Sun 22-Nov-15 15:21:11

I would work back from the senior school(s) you want and echo what others have said about the Y6 pre-tests.
Port Regis sounds like a no brainer if you have a family connection there. Windlesham House is one of the few full boarding co-ed preps left and prepares for a range of senior schools. Junior Kings in Canterbury is good at dealing with Y7 entrants most of whom will go on to Senior Kings, one of the few genuinely full-boarding co-ed secondaries. Dragon School Oxford also has lots of boarders and would be a good stepping stone for King Edwards - again full boarding ethos.
There are more boys only full boarding schools. Have a look at Sunningdale Summerfields, Ludgrove and Cothill. Remember there are a lot of preps out there who claim to be full boarding but are not - and you do not want your child to be one of 3 overseas students in at the weekend.
But boarding preps are really not competitive. Very much a buyers market.

goinggetstough Sun 22-Nov-15 15:58:12

I would definitely recommend Windlesham. Apart from the excellent pastoral care, it has high academic standards despite a broad intake and it is also close to Gatwick for flights home.
I know at Port Regis when my friend's DD was there, there were few younger full boarders but if your DS is starting later that shouldn't be a problem. It is always worth checking though how many full boarders there are and the girl/boy split in each year.

Schoolsearch2015 Thu 26-Nov-15 10:48:57

My son will be 10 in March 2016 and 11 in March 2017. What year would he go into if we sent him in Sept 2017?

cakeisalwaystheanswer Thu 26-Nov-15 10:54:31


Beware if he is at S's. DN returned from there and had a nightmare getting a senior school place, and a friends DD had to drop a year to get into a very good Indy.

nightsky010 Sun 29-Nov-15 03:49:05

Have you thought of the Berkshire ones? A taxi ride from Heathrow.

Horris Hill

Or near Gatwick
Ashdown House

SettlinginNicely Sun 29-Nov-15 13:29:05

I have friends with children at Felsted, who are very happy with it. It is co-ed, so would work for all your DC. It's in Essex, so near your parents. And it takes children for boarding from 9 years old.

I also know a family using New Hall. Their daughters have done weekly boarding there from the age of 9. Again, all very satisfied. It is in Essex, and co-ed too.

Themodernuriahheep Sun 29-Nov-15 13:43:32

If not co ed, think about Horris Hill for DS s and Hanford for dd. Hanford some way, but fabby school. Horris hill brilliant for my nephews.

BlueSmarties76 Tue 08-Dec-15 17:56:29

Any news OP? I'd be interested to hear reviews on any you've visited.

loopygoose Sat 23-Jan-16 10:48:15

I have a child at Cottesmore and know that there are parents from Bermuda who have a child there also my friends lived in Bermuda before moving back here and schooling their kids at Cottesmore. I could try to get their opinions for you.

BlueSmarties76 Sat 23-Jan-16 13:27:46

The Cottesmore Head is the one who says he can get any boy into Eton. biscuit

Superstar1234 Sat 23-Jan-16 23:13:40

Hi there,

I have two DS at Windlesham who are very happy. There are quite a few children from Bermurda already at Windlesham. I know this at my DS has two boys in his class from there. We have had them stay with us a few times.

Pastoral care is excellent! Boarding staff friendly and caring. The school is only 20 minutes from Gatwick. Mainly boarding, so lots of children at weekends.

Our DS had trials at 3 schools, and Windlesham was both their choice and ours.

Defiantly worth send your DS for a trial at your chosen schools and see which one he likes.

Good luck and please PM me if you have any questions about Windlesham.

Schoolsearch2015 Sat 23-Jan-16 23:35:41

So the update is that we are visiting Port Regis and Windlesham the week before UK half-term and both DS's (aged 9 and 7) are going to do a taster day and night at each school.
At this point we are totally torn between the two schools!

I love the sound of Windlesham and have had many friends who have sent their children there or have children there from Bermuda where we live. All I keep hearing is how good the pastoral care is which is a very strong plus as DS #1 could potentially take some time to adjust to boarding. I hear nothing but good things about Windlesham but the location is not perfect given its miles away from both sets of grandparents.

Port Regis is still attractive due to the fact that his aunt teaches there and it's 3 miles from Grandparents.

I think DS will make up his own mind at the end of the day once he's done the taster....don't think can go that far wrong with either.

Am still searching for some first hand reviews on Port Regis - anyone?

BlueSmarties76 Sun 24-Jan-16 00:48:07

Well done OP.

My only knowledge on Port Regis is that (I think) the old deputy and head left fairly recently. I think the deputy went to a day school in London and the Head went to a boarding school in Sussex.

Both P and W are very long regarded, you probably can't go far wrong with either!

If it was me, I'd go for P due to the aunt and grandparent being nearby.

BlueSmarties76 Sun 24-Jan-16 00:48:33

^highly regarded.

Superstar1234 Sun 24-Jan-16 11:43:25

Agree..both schools look good options...for different reasons.

Forgive me for saying this, but perhaps sometimes having an Aunty/Grandparents so close by can have the opposite effect when it comes to your DS settling at a new school. There is always a 'Get out of Jail free' card close to hand. My parents would be very quick to whisk them off at the first sign of homesickness. Hence they are a about 90 minutes away.

Anyway, my DS x 2, did tasters at Port Regis, Windlesham and Sandroyd. All quite different, but really super schools.

Top of our 'must have' list was the quality of pastoral care. We then asked the HM of all 3 schools how many children were actually in at weekends. The Head at PR was very honest and said...not many! Sandroyd was the same. HM at Windlesham said they had at least 100+ children there on Saturday/Sunday nights. I can say this was true.

Finally, location was another factor. After a long flight, we did not want our DS to have to endure another long taxi journey.

Good luck and hope all goes well.

goinggetstough Sun 24-Jan-16 11:53:42

I would agree with superstar. We had friends with a DC at PR who was 8 and was very much in the minority during the week and especially at weekends. I don't know if this has changed. Do ask very specific questions when you are there next. e.g. how many boys/girls were in for the last two weekends.... it can be very revealing.
Good luck with your choice. I hope the sleepovers go well.

GinandJag Sun 24-Jan-16 16:22:36

For boys near Windlesham, I'd say Sunningdale and Woodcote House. Co-ed would be St George's Windsor Castle.

goinggetstough Sun 24-Jan-16 18:54:46

For PPs just in case they didn't realise. Windlesham (coed prep boarding school) is in West Sussex and Woodcote House, Windlesham is in Surrey. Sorry if everyone knew this already......

GinandJag Sun 24-Jan-16 18:56:26


Schoolsearch2015 Wed 10-Feb-16 08:33:13

Taster day for Port Regis was last night! We go for our tour and to collect them today. WIndlesham taster is tomorrow.

Schoolsearch2015 Sat 13-Feb-16 15:10:33

Boys have now done their 2 tasters and we really liked both schools - for different reasons! We didn't get a "gut feel" for either which makes life more tricky!
The boys also liked both of them for different reasons too.


Port Regis Pros
Aunt teaches part-time at school
3 miles from Grandparents so they can watch matches and have him for exeats - he'd basically have is room at Granny's when he goes for Exeats rather than having to stay in hotels as is a long way to come for weekends to grandparents.
Big Learning Support department which may be a factor with our middle child as there is a possibility that he is dyslexic
We can stay with grandparents when we visit for Exeats or any other time.
Facilities are AMAZING
His aunt is at the school so can keep an eye on him and we would likely get very good feedback on how things are going.

Port Regis Cons?
Think there are less borders staying at weekends (70-90)
We don't know any families who can give first hand knowledge of Port Regis
-Windlesham is more of a "known" in that regard.
- School has a "bigger" feeling.

Windlesham Pros
Close to Gatwick
We know many many families who have or have had kids at Windlesham
Smaller feeling school (although same number of children) - perhaps more homely?
Lots of families with kids there from Bermuda (where we live) - other parents can check in on him when they visit. Kind of a kinship" between the kids.
120 borders in at weekends - I think it's more of a "full" boarding school - although both schools have certain weekends when they have to stay.

Windlesham cons
2.5 hours from relatives which makes Exeats tricky
No family nearby (2-2.5 hrs away)
When we visit him, say on a weekend, we would have to stay in a hotel.

Difficult choice ....,

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