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Best boarding prep school for Eton

(49 Posts)
cathy2016 Wed 13-Jan-16 09:25:08

Hello wonderful mums and dads.

My DS got a conditional place for 2018 entry and we need to send him to a boarding prep school to prepare CE/KS. As my husband works abroad, it's got to be a boarding school. And we would prefer all boys' prep.

My DS is bright, gentle and conscientious in nature. Not particularly good at sports but happy to join in.

Please advise.

MuddlerInLaw Wed 13-Jan-16 10:07:23

Well done to your DS.

Depends what you want. If he's a pack animal and works best as one of the crowd then proceed straight to Summer Fields. He'll have the most wonderful prep experience.

However, E is quite keen on gathering pupils from as wide a variety of schools as possible. As he already has his place any of the preps that have a consistent record of CE/KS success should be ok.

Bear in mind that at SF and probably everywhere else there is a relentless round of holidays, half terms and compulsory weekend leaves. He will never be able to stay at school for more than two and a half to three weeks without a break. So you will need a close and interested guardian if you're not available.

ChazsBrilliantAttitude Wed 13-Jan-16 11:51:55

It might be worth checking the KS election roll for the last couple of years to see which schools the successful KS went to. It should come up if you good it.

cathy2016 Wed 13-Jan-16 12:00:33

Thank you Muddler and Chazs for all your advice!

BTW, do you think that Summer Fields is fine for non sporty boys as well?
My DS plays football but honestly not a great player. I think that he might be happier in a prep with strong emphasis on academics.

Is there any other prep you would recommend?

ChazsBrilliantAttitude Wed 13-Jan-16 12:09:49

not good google

Gruach Wed 13-Jan-16 12:17:22

As he will have compulsory sport several times a week (even if not in a team) at senior school you might be wise to fall in with plan from now.

The advantage of a reasonably sizeable prep is that even the non sporty will have the opportunity to represent the school in a team.

As Chaz says, take a look at last year's Election roll. You do need to investigate all the possible boarding preps, both the big names and the slightly less well known.

Try looking at all the schools SF plays major sports against. Readily available on their website. Or look at the incredibly long list of preps on the senior school's website and narrow it down to your favoured areas.

Sorry not to be more specific but it's impossible to be so. You could concentrate on preps in Oxford and Berkshire - but I cannot tell you exactly how successful each has been recently or whether they would suit your son.

cathy2016 Wed 13-Jan-16 12:26:11

Thanks Gruach! I will look at SF's website. That's a great idea.
And Chaz, I googled it. Thank you both of you.

cathy2016 Wed 13-Jan-16 12:43:51

How about Sunningdale?
Any opinions or comments?

ChazsBrilliantAttitude Wed 13-Jan-16 13:56:48

I have heard positive comments about Windlesham House on here before and they do send boys to Eton.

cathy2016 Wed 13-Jan-16 14:51:04

Thanks Chaz! Windlesham House was in the KS election roll as well. Must be a good school but it's co-ed. I wonder whether I should look at co-ed as well.

Is there a full boarding all boys' prep school? Somewhere pupils are allowed to go home only once a month or so? I don't want my DS to feel left alone every weekend.

MissTeriName Wed 13-Jan-16 15:10:39

Windlesham House is amazing. And plenty of full boarders too so no worries about lonesome weekends.

sendsummer Wed 13-Jan-16 16:03:13

Horris Hill sounds a very happy place and sends to Eton. Cothill also does but for CE rather than KS level.

peteneras Wed 13-Jan-16 17:20:18

cathy2016, many congratulations to your son and of course, yourself, for securing a conditional place at Eton. You know, Eton in the present day is so hard to get into that you wouldn’t believe what some parents (especially overseas parents) are prepared to do in order to get their son(s) a place there.

A conditional place at Eton these days is as good as a guaranteed place for, in the past few years all conditional place holders had gone on to meet the condition of the offer, i.e. passing the CE.

To my knowledge, there are a handful of prep schools in the last 15 or so years that regularly succeed in winning the King’s Scholarship for their boys, sometimes as many as 3 or 4 KS’s in a single year.

They are:

•Summer Fields (Oxford)
•Dragon (Oxford)
•Papplewick (Ascot)
•Westminster Under School (London)

Needless to say, these schools feed Eton with droves of Oppidans too over the years beside the Collegers. They also feature strongly in the lesser scholarships, e.g. the Oppidan Scholarship and the Annah-Shaw Scholarship, etc.

Increasingly, in the last six years or so, overseas boys are giving the local boys a very serious run for their money in the KS exams although they had limited successes in earlier years. For example, last September saw 3 overseas boys entering ‘F’ Block College in addition to at least a couple each year for the preceding few years. At the rate this is going, College is going to look like a special house for overseas boys in years to come.

I would suggest you look seriously at Papplewick for your son. My DS boarded there for 3 years and they successfully guided him to win a KS as they did with many other boys prior which was mainly the reason I sent my DS there. It’s a boys’ school just down the road from Eton (appx. 8 miles) and if like me, you have to use the M4 to reach Ascot, you’ll see Eton at the distance when travelling via the A332 Relief Road after leaving the M4. I always joked with DS each time we passed this road on our way to/from Ascot, “Look! That's your school”, pointing to the distant Lupton Tower. grin

cathy2016 Wed 13-Jan-16 19:39:14

Peteneras, Thank you very much for taking the time to give me advice. It's really helpful. I will definitely look at Papplewick.

I know that it's hard to get into Eton nowadays and we are so grateful for the amazing opportunity. My DS is in an international school where academics are not their priority. So he had to do it all by himself. I think that now is the right time to send him to a prep school. I am sure that he will enjoy learning and competing with his friends.

Thanks again smile

Gruach Wed 13-Jan-16 19:46:53

Well the nice thing is that you should find preps very keen to have him!

For what it's worth I honestly don't think any particular schooling (beyond the perfectly normal) is needful for the pre-test. What distinguishes the successful, I'm sure, is that they can demonstrate that they'll thrive in that particular environment. But it is great fun (from what I've seen!) to study for CE/KS amongst a small group of friends who are all working towards the same goal.

cathy2016 Wed 13-Jan-16 20:02:06

Exactly Gruach, My DS is already so excited to the idea of having a group of friends who are all working towards the same goal. It would be like his dream come true!

Gruach Wed 13-Jan-16 20:11:20

I've heard tales of long after-lights-out discussions on ethical issues raised in KS General Papers. And I'm sure there was a fairly knotty one from Radley a little while ago.

Just be sure you don't get too bogged down by your desire for an emphasis on academics. They really do need to prepare for a fairly robust communal life - being a team player and not being too floored by banter are also hugely important qualities to nurture during the prep years.

(I'm quite excited for you. Not least because they're so wide eyed and still listening at your DS' age. Different story by year 9 ...)

BlueSmarties76 Wed 13-Jan-16 20:37:20

I agree with Gruach about all round development. He will need to become a team player / get on with the boarding and will need to learn to love sports and ideally develop leadership skills. And become thick skinned! I would go for one of the standard Berkshire ones:

Horris Hill
Caldicott (I personally dislike this school with a passion, but PM me if you want to know more)
Or possibly Woodcote.
Summer Fields in Oxford is also meant to be lovely, as is Lambrook (though less Eton geared).

Sunningdale looks fantastic. Search on YouTube for the documentary "Britains Youngest Boarders".

cathy2016 Wed 13-Jan-16 21:34:09

Thanks Blue! Have you known anyone in Sunningdale? I watched the documentary and it seems like a friendly place.

My DS is a strong team player. He is a class representative and in his school football team. He loves football, tennis and swimming but not quite good at them smile

cathy2016 Wed 13-Jan-16 21:42:48

Oh my gosh! I have just found out how expensive those school tuitions are...

Kanga59 Wed 13-Jan-16 21:43:53

Have you considered Cothill?

Gruach Wed 13-Jan-16 22:04:30

School tuitions? D'you mean fees?

BlueSmarties76 Wed 13-Jan-16 22:06:49

Ah, yes, I forgot to say Cothill!

But presumably you can afford fees at Eton, which are more? Yes, boarding Preps are expensive.

Regarding going home at weekends, I imagine all the Preps will work on the 'traditional' system - term starts, in school for two weeks, long exeat weekend home (3 days), school for two weeks, half term, school for two weeks, long exeat weekend home (3 days), school for two weeks, end of term... making a total of about 10 weeks. They will usually have school Saturday mornings and games Saturday afternoons. Exeat weekends are commonly Friday morning to Sunday eve or Friday eve to Monday eve.

I think you should really check the OFSTED reports to see what proportion of boarders the schools have so you can judge if it empties out at weekends or not.

Sunningdale - I have met the staff and spoken to parents there. I was very impressed, but I did wonder how boys get on going from such a small school to a large one at 13+.

BlueSmarties76 Wed 13-Jan-16 22:08:45

In 2012 Sunningdale had:
89 full boarders
4 weekly boarders
12 day pupils

That's certainly v boarding focused.

BlueSmarties76 Wed 13-Jan-16 22:10:35

2013 Papplewick:
126 boarders (doesn't say what kind)
85 Day

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