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Choice of boarding school for boys

(40 Posts)
Mater20 Tue 14-Feb-17 13:27:25

We are considering an independent boarding school for 13+ for my son. September 2017. Is it too late to apply for this year? I think there are some schools who are taking the exams May/June this year.
Looking for a well rounded school with good sporting facilities and very good pastoral care, my son needs an environment where he can be challenged to maximise his full potential.
Any thoughts on pastoral care at charter house in Surrey or St Edwards in Oxford? Or any other school?

happygardening Tue 14-Feb-17 17:16:17

Charterhouse as it states here pre tests in Yr 6/7 and offers places in yr 6/7 I would have thought it has a waiting list and you'd be very lucky to get a place this late in the day. St Edwards doesn't Pre test but I believe is becoming increasinginly popular again getting a place might be difficult this late in the day. (It's pastoral care is excellent). But you nothing to loose by contacting the admissions office of both.
St Edwards is full boarding with about 15% day, Charterhouse is primarily weekly boarding (according to my friend who works there) which one are you looking for?

Mater20 Tue 14-Feb-17 18:15:32

That's great feedback. I like both but st Edwards is much farther. Charter house is about an 1 hr 10mins . Although I like the idea of weekly boarding but we don't want to be under pressure to pick him every weekend. Is there option to stay if he chooses not to come home weekly .im more particular about their pastoral care if he's also farther away.

happygardening Tue 14-Feb-17 21:33:36

If a school is predominately weekly boarding although your DS could stay in he's going to be one of only a handful in school so could find it difficult. My advise if you're not able to pick him up every weekend then you need to look for a full boarding school although don't forget they will then tell you when you can take him home and when you can't.
Most boarding schools are caring they want their pupils to be happy, but St Edwards does really pride itself on its exceptionally high standards of pastoral care.
What about Bradfield? Definitely weekly boarding according to a friend whose DS goes there (their only gripe with it) basically all go home at the weekend but lot of opportunities and might be more convenient for you from what you are saying than St Edwards

thebakerwithboobs Wed 15-Feb-17 07:26:38

don't forget they will then tell you when you can take him home and when you can't.

I've never known this to be the case (we have six sons and four of them are at boarding school due to my husband being in the military). They are all full boarders but if we want them home for the weekend or if we want to visit in the evening they are more than happy, we just contact the school. It's not a great idea to do that in the first few weeks in our experience as they don't settle as well. I suppose it's possible other schools might ban visits or full boarders going home but I have never known it-it's school, not prison!

thebakerwithboobs Wed 15-Feb-17 07:28:00

To clarify (totally irrelevant but my post makes it look like we have favourite children grin) the other two will be offered boarding of they want it but not until they are starting secondary school.

AnotherNewt Wed 15-Feb-17 07:42:19

Is your DS currently in a prep?

Because the 13+ exams taken in May/June will be Common Entrance which confirm conditional offers (which are often made in year 6).

If your DS is in a school which does not prepare for CE, then it gets a bit more tricky, as the competitive 13+ exams are usually earlier (ie already taken this round in schools I know, and offers about to be made).

You are probably going to have to hit the phones to any school you like the sound of to see if they will take a candidate now and what their entry procedures would be. If they still have a vacancy, then yes they will want to fill it (paradoxically, they might not know until later on though I think CE schools require their 'first choice' letters about now so numbers will be settling).

Roughly what counties would you consider schools in?

happygardening Wed 15-Feb-17 13:58:11

Anothernewt at Winchester you can only take your children out at exeats you are not allowed to take them out on any other weekend. This is made clear when you start; basically don't ask if your child can go to his grandmothers 90th as the answer will be a polite but definite no. Other full boarding schools I know are the same.

happygardening Wed 15-Feb-17 14:07:03

Sorry thebakerwithboobs not anothernewt we were also not allowed to visit in the evening either it's prep time. It is a school not a prison but I suspect once a full boarding only school starts letting children go home for the odd weekend then soon you become a weekly boarding school. Full boarding is at the heart of a school like Winchester they make it very clear what they expect of parents and they pretty obviously take the view if you don't like it go somewhere else there's plenty of others who do like it to fill you space. I know of at least three other full boarding only schools who also take this view.

thebakerwithboobs Wed 15-Feb-17 15:02:45

It must depend on the school because ours are all full boarders and we are allowed to take them out whenever we want to. Whether they want to come out or not is another matter-they have serious FOMO!-but it's clearly something worth asking if it's something that would bother you. I have to admit I wouldn't want mine in a school where I couldn't bring them home but they would probably love it!

Mater20 Wed 15-Feb-17 15:26:00

The feedback has been very helpful. What are your views of Abingdon school vs st Edwards ?

happygardening Wed 15-Feb-17 15:35:37

Very few boarders at Abingdon it's basically a day school with boarders do a completely different animal to a school like St Edwards which is a full boarding school with day pupils.
Out of curiosity baker do your DC's go to full boarding only i.e. In school 7 days a week schools or schools with a mix of weekly full and even flexi? I'm guessing the latter.

happygardening Wed 15-Feb-17 15:36:50

I've PMd you OP.

VanillaSugar Wed 15-Feb-17 15:40:00

Do you want to strictly stay in the south OP? I know some good Yorkshire schools where you might get a place if you're quick.

School exams are generally held in January and places are awarded in Feb/March.

Mater20 Wed 15-Feb-17 16:02:51

Can you mention the schools in York? My preference will be not to have to drive more 1hr 30mins.
Anyone knows of good school in Berkshire ? Other schools in Surrey?

Needmoresleep Wed 15-Feb-17 18:10:05

"although your DS could stay in he's going to be one of only a handful in school so could find it difficult"

eeerrr. Certainly not true of Charterhouse. There is often too much going on at weekends.

Weekly boarding works well for many DC we have known. Teenagers seem to like the flexibility and choice. It would seem a pity to have to miss important family events like a Grandmother's 90th. Oddly having a number of day pupils can also work as boarders can feel less isolated from the local community.

VanillaSugar Wed 15-Feb-17 20:08:54

I think you really are going to have to phone all the schools and see what their admissions policy is. Get yourself subscribed to the Good Schools Guide and work through it.

Thinking of southern coast schools, Brighton College is excellent, as is Bedales. It really depends on what you want.

happygardening Wed 15-Feb-17 21:57:10

I'm not knocking weekly boarding its what works for you as a family, I was just trying to establish what the OP wants in the ideal world.

1805 Thu 16-Feb-17 21:22:18

for the record, we've never had a problem taking our son out on sundays, or sat afternoons, or whenever really. Plenty of official saturday nights at home too. Some terms he has more saturday nights at home than he does at school! Sounds like schools do differ with their approaches to 'full boarding'.

1805 Thu 16-Feb-17 21:23:23

Obviously they can't miss school commitments though.

happygardening Fri 17-Feb-17 07:25:47

This demonstrates how the term "full boarding" can have different meanings for different schools/families. For me if you can take your DC out of school on Saturday night when ever you feel like it then this is weekly boarding. I do think it's important to decide what you want and establish exactly what the school offers, I used to hear the odd parent at Winchester moan that their DS's couldn't be day boys how they'd be much happier if they were not boarding which always amazed me as it's pretty obvious it's a proper full boarding school why choose it? Secondly IME if a school allows children to go home on Saturday night then it completely changes the dynamics when compared with a school that doesn't not necessarily change it for the worse or better it's just different.

IdaDown Fri 17-Feb-17 07:41:50

Are you sure Happy about Winchester?

We've been to look at Winchester and they were (or at least the two houses we saw) quite happy for us to either go there mid week/weekends to visit or if there was family stuff at the weekends, to collect after lessons on Saturday.

i suppose as long as the DC is settled in boarding and it's not too disruptive to lessons/sports fixtures, what's the harm. If the DC are enjoying themselves with the extra curricular stuff at weekends, chances are they won't want to come home!

chatnanny Fri 17-Feb-17 08:26:17

I think the flexibility of exeats or other weekends is important. We live a flight away so wanted a school where there wasn't a mass exodus every Saturday night which tends to be the case in the Home Counties. Same with Uni actually. I've heard of children being sad at weekends as it's just them and the international (usually Chinese) children who tend to stick together. So ask questions about this.

happygardening Fri 17-Feb-17 09:31:16

Idadown my DS spent five years at Winchester he left last summer so I think I know it pretty well. Boys are or perhaps I should say we're allowed out of school on Sunday after chapel but have to be back by 9 pm. It was made very clear to parents by both his HM and the then deputy head on the day they started when we listened to talks from the head/deputy head etc that boys would not be allowed home on Saturday afternoon after lessons for family stuff however important. Regarding going out in the weekday evening the boys do prep in the weekday between approx 7-9 pm and up until yr 12 were only allowed to miss 1 evening and that was to attend a school thing e.g. a play/talk/concert. I know of no parents who were allowed to take their DS's out in the weekday evening. Top years we're allowed home 1 Saturday night every half term.
But when the boys are not in lessons, particularly Sat/Tues/Thursday afternoon when there are extra curricular activities/sport on they have/had considerable freedom in comparison with other boarding schools and if they choose not to do these activities they could go into Winchester high street and I do know a few met their parents for afternoon tea/early evening meal.
Having said all of this there is now a new head and things might be changing which but I would strongly suggest if this really matters to you then I would definitely check. IMO this would be a terrible shame, if it is changing, (although I'm not surprised) one of the things that makes Winchester what it is is that it is a very tight knit supportive 24/7 community of both boys and staff. Those few friends of my DS's who were meeting there parents for afternoon tea/early evening meal on a regular basis he would say were much slower to settle into school life and at least 1 was really not happy, they got less out of it, remained on the outside of friendship groups and they eventually stopped doing it.

happygardening Fri 17-Feb-17 09:36:35

Exactly chatnanny a mass exodus at weekends does leave often international children and a few who can't get home. The biggest grip we've heard over the years from parents with children at various boarding schools is that they thought they were paying for full boarding but it turns out the vast majority go home at the weekends, often Friday night coming back for lessons on Saturday and then going home back on Monday and they were schlepping around every weekend picking up kids who were one of only a small handful in school bored and fed up.

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