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What is application process for top Boarding Schools / best SW London Prep Schools

(26 Posts)
Bellseybub Tue 19-Jan-16 13:42:35

Hi smile

I have been heavily focusing on top London prep schools with a view to giving my DD the opportunity to apply to some of the top Public Boarding Schools (e.g. Wellington, Marlborough, Wickham Abbey etc). Does anyone have any recommendations on the best prep schools? We are South West London based (Putney) and looking for something that is an achievable commute (i.e. keen to know about any relevant school bus systems that some of these schools may provide).

Also, do I need to put her name down with the Boarding School now, or can this be done further down the line? She will go in to reception in 2018 and just trying to get up to speed with the process as conscious we haven't done it yet and she is 20 months old! Any help greatly appreciated smile

You need to get going with the prep school side of things quickly as some have short deadlines or first come first served approaches. Look on prep school websites for the senior school destinations of the leavers. If they don't send DC to the boarding schools you are interested in then they may not be as clued up on the entry process.

Senior schools have later registration dates, as far as I know, very few require "from birth" registration anymore and as long as you are registered by the cut off date you are fine. You will find the cut off dates on their websites.

I can't recommend specific prep schools as I am in a different part of London (and have boys in single sex schools).

Gruach Tue 19-Jan-16 14:49:16

It would be sensible to google each of the senior schools (public schools) you are interested in, read their websites and send for prospectuses. If you do that with even half a dozen you will immediately have a better idea of the timescale and application process. Each of the schools will probably also indicate the range of prep schools that habitually send pupils to them.

It's actually important to consider senior schools first. There is no point in choosing a prep school that is not qualified, by intake or experience, to prepare for the places you want.

Bear in mind that almost all schools will change over time ...

Needmoresleep Tue 19-Jan-16 15:12:32

Not an obvious one but Newton Prep is easily and quickly accessible from Putney by train. Most go on to London day schools (the full range) but they do send children regularly to schools like Wickham and Wellington. Thomas' (both Battersea and Clapham) has more of a reputation for preparing for Common Entrance and trad boarding schools, but worth applying to both and then decided which you prefer...if you get a place. Fulham Prep might be another.

I would aim for a 13+ prep in case you want to delay sending your daughter till 13. I think there is advantage in coming from a co-ed prep if you are trying for a co-ed secondary. (At minimum it shows that a child is comfortable in a co-ed environment.) And I would not worry too much about a school's hit rate as long as they get pupils regularly into a good range of schools. Honestly at 20 months you don't know whether your child would fit comfortably into Wickham or whether the first question you will be asking secondary schools is the level of their SEN support. There is no better way of destroying a child's confidence than by having them trail towards the bottom at Prep, perhaps because of something like undiagnosed or unsupported dyslexia.

happygaerdening Tue 19-Jan-16 15:51:38

If my calculations are correct you DD is 2-3yrs old. I wouldn't be overly worried about senior schools at this stage very few require registration this early especially the most selective. As said above you need to find a prep with a good track record of sending pupils to a wide range of big name boarding schools. I cant help you there as I'm not London based.
My advise is don't decide this early in the process as to where you want your DD to go, when our DS was the same age as your DD we never had any intention of him ending up where he is now. Be open minded, and when you've got her at the right prep and they've got know her, listen to the their advise on where to consider, a good prep will have lots of experience of what senior schools are like, what sort of children they are looking for and also what sort of children will thrive there.they will also know your DD's strengths and weakness and advise you accordingly, wise parents listen to their advise.

AnotherNewt Tue 19-Jan-16 16:13:09

The potential senior schools you list do not require early registration (though it is encouraged), so you have plenty of time to see what your DD is like and which school might be the best fit. It might be one of those, or it might be one that has not yet occurred to you, depending on her emerging personality and talents. She might want to board, or she might not.

So what you are looking of now is a pre-prep/prep (either through or change at 7/8+) which will prepare pupils for a wide range of both day and boarding destinations at both 11+ and 13+.

You may be too late to be towards the top of the list for 'first come first served' pre-preps, but but should be fine for those which assess for entry.

Newton Prep would certainly fit those requirements, and as long as you can bear the train in rush hour, it's easily reached from Putney. But there are lots of other London preps which could do this. Do you have any sort of short list, even if it's simply those with a do-able journey?

Gruach Tue 19-Jan-16 16:25:23

(To be clear - I'm suggesting the OP reads a few websites/prospectuses so that she gains some overview of how everything works. I've seen too many MN posters bemoaning an apparent waste of years of money because they didn't understand what they were buying. Obviously once she knows more, including the correct names of various public schools, she'll be ready to get on with the realities of the very first stage of education. It's entirely possible that she might at any stage decide that her original plan is no longer the best one.)

Bellseybub Tue 19-Jan-16 19:31:51

Thank you all, this is really useful smile

MMmomKK Tue 19-Jan-16 20:53:57

Have you looked at Kensington Prep?

Bellseybub Tue 19-Jan-16 22:01:34

Hi I did consider it as I have heard such great reports. I wasn't sure whether it was focused on some of the top london day schools or boarding schools. Any feedback is greatly appreciated!

Gruach Tue 19-Jan-16 22:11:15

Have you looked at Kensington Prep's Leavers' page?

That should give you an idea. Although what they're doing now may be irrelevant by the time your daughter is 11.

happygardening Wed 20-Jan-16 09:03:33

Kensington Prep appears to only go to 11 that would mean that if say Marlborough or Wellington became your choice of destination you would have to move your DD. You could then consider a boarding prep I suppose and plenty do so its not a complete disaster but something you need to factor in. The other time parents change preps is yr 2/3 many boarding preps feeding into schools like Wellington/Marlborough etc either don't actually start till yr 2/3 or have another I take at yr 2/3 by then you'll have a much better idea what sort of person your DD is and what sort of school would suit her best. The other issue is that 13+ preps are obviously very knowledgable on boarding schools that start in yr 9 whereas I guess 11+ preps know all about those that start in yr 7.

Needmoresleep Wed 20-Jan-16 12:03:04

OP, the KP leavers page is pretty impressive. Good numbers to extrememly selective schools like SPGS. Plus as a GDST school plenty moving on to the well regarded GDST schools like PHS, WHS, NHEHS, SHHS. The problem is more being offered a place.

DD is in her final year of school so we have seen plenty who were initially determined to see their children through a process of "top" schools and Universities but are in a very different position now. Honestly look for a school that suits your daughter now. Yes check leavers destinations to be sure that doors are open, but the important thing is that she enjoys school and that she is engaged and stimulated but not over pressured. A prep school which delivers a love of learning, good study habits and a lot of resiliance is doing its job. The risk, from observation, is that the more pushy schools may achieve great results but they can leave half the year group feeling like failures whilst with the victors exhibiting some unpleasent alpha-female characteristics.

That said co-eds are a better bet if you are considering 13+ as more boys will be taking these exams whether for boarding or day schools like Westminster, SPS or Kings Wimbledon. But be warned that you may find that a London child, used to having everything on their doorstep, is not keen on being shipped out at 13. Fine for the sporty ones, but a fair part of the London party circuit is made up of boarders home for the weekend...even though they are supposed to be full boarding.

BlueSmarties76 Fri 22-Jan-16 16:14:50

London Preps tend to feed children to London Day schools NOT Public Boarding schools on the whole. If you ar aiming for a Public Boarding school it would be more usual to use a London Pre-Prep then choose a country Prep from age 7/8.

The one exception I can think of is Broomwood Hall in Wandsworth which send 75% of girls to Public Boarding schools.

If you could consider Preps outside of London which have a school bus to Chiswick and Hammersmith, how about Lambrook?

BlueSmarties76 Fri 22-Jan-16 16:19:01

I forgot to add, Lambrook would have the advantage of allowing her to try out boarding, however the bus journey is 50 mins each way.... I think it also has Saturday school from Year 5.

BlueSmarties76 Fri 22-Jan-16 16:27:32

^ I agree with what needmoresleep said abut the culture of boarding vs London day.

I'd also add that the lifestyle is very different - full boarding is very 24/7 school focused with a lot of work hard play hard, a lot of extra curriculars and long days often until 9pm with extra curriculars plus Saturday school and Saturday afternoon sports matches. Sports will probably be compulsory every day too (so probably 8-12 hours of sports per week depending on the school and what clubs she selects).... London day school on the other hand, she could be home every day by 4pm if she wanted!

Michaelahpurple Fri 22-Jan-16 20:57:32

I really disagree with bluesmartie about London preps not sending children to boarding school. It also makes no sense. Loads of London families send children to boarding and as v few send them to boarding preps they simply have to be going from London preps to senior boarding. Go and see where northcote lodge sent their boys - majority boarding- or Fulham prep - lots of boarding girls and boys. Why on earth would you bus a child miles into the countryside when you live in a city with so many good schools.

Op needs to think about whether she wants to keep 13+ as an option, in Escobar case there is little point going to KP or other 11+ girls' schools. That will narrow it down sharply to the Thomases , Fulham prep, Newton prep type

BlueSmarties76 Fri 22-Jan-16 22:16:36


Yes, I didn't explain very well. What I meant is that it's not their raisin d'etre to prep pupils for boarding publics though of course some do end up going.

I don't know anything about Fulham Prep, but I think Northcote and Broomwood (especially Northcote) are a big exception as don't they have their stated aim as prepping for Boarding Publics? I think 99% go to Boarding Publics at Northcote.

BlueSmarties76 Fri 22-Jan-16 22:17:27

^ and I'm not sure if Northcote would take a boy whose parents stated they were looking only for a London Day? Though I could be wrong!

innocuoussocks Sat 23-Jan-16 10:17:27

Loads of London Preps send a good proportion of kids off to boarding schools especially girls in SW London where the academic powerhouses like SPGS and NLCGS are too far to travel to every day.

Yes Broomwood and Northcote were designed to specifically prep for boarding schools but I think that has changed recently and I hear leavers from Northcote this year are close to a 50/50 split of boarding and day. Thomas' Clapham has close to a half and half split too as does Eaton House. Newton Prep sends lots to both too and further out DPL although that's obviously just boys.

I think that most of the preps going to 13 do so that's what you should focus on. All of the schools above will be sending a good number of girls to the boarding schools you mentioned.

BlueSmarties76 Sun 24-Jan-16 04:49:29

Interesting to hear that about Northcote! And about T Clapham & Eaton hse - obviously I was a bit wrong!

I wonder if my opinion is a bit squewed as most of my knowledge is of more central Preps, including the Hampsead ones.

AnotherNewt Sun 24-Jan-16 10:55:17

S London prep schools send those girls seeking an 'academic powerhouse' to SPGS (easily reachable) and JAGS (consistent high performer, often higher results than NLCGS).

I think most of the preps frequently referenced here will be able to advise well on preparing a pupil for day or boarding. As OP's currently list includes schools which start at 13, then it would make sense to look first at coed or girls schools which go to that age. Thomas group, Broomwood and Newton Prep are the ones which spring to mind, with NP having by far the easiest journey (train, not drive and struggle to park). I don't know so much about schools further out in the west, and have tended to rule out crossing the river, because that can be quite an embuggerance for congestion and unexpected delay.

innocuoussocks Sun 24-Jan-16 17:00:46

Depends where you are in SW London but Brook Green is a push from Balham/Northcote area whereas for boys SPS, KCS and Westminster are easier. JAGS has great results but hasn't traditionally had the volume into Oxbridge of SPGS or the boys' schools just mentioned (although I gather this year was a bumper year) hence my not quite putting it in the same league. It is of course a very good school.

Certainly SW London preps do seem to be more equally focused on day and boarding than their central/N London equivalents and I just wonder if the reason for this is mainly geography.

I think OP was in Putney which makes a difference to which schools are within range.

Luckygirlcharlie Mon 08-Feb-16 20:53:34

Hi. I'm also in Putney. I have boys but good for girls are Falcons and Prospect House. Also Putney High though they prefer you to go straight through and you might be too late as I know people who registered at birth! If you can travel a bit there's Bute House in Hammersmith too.

Abracadabra10 Tue 09-Feb-16 09:51:26

I've never set foot in the place, but there is a school called Feltonfleet (somewhere down the A3 - Cobham)? Local 11 plus preps such as Hurlingham or Prospect House are excellent at getting kids into their top choice senior schools, but are day school focused, as maybe only one or two per year will board. Feltonfleet is co-ed and apparently the place to go if you want 13 plus boarding for girls or boys.
Do bear in mind that it is impossible to say that you want a 20 month old to go to Wycombe Abbey - the school is the boarding equivalent of SPGS and break-neck competitive / academic. I would suggest keeping ALL options open at this stage and remember that if its academics you're after, you have most of the top schools pretty much on your doorstep in London. Good luck!

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