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Join a day prep for 2 years or go to boarding senior school choices, what might you do?

(14 Posts)
Cwandry Wed 08-Mar-17 10:54:32

Ok, so the back ground is we live abroad and have done for a few years. i have a 13 year old dd is going to boarding school let's call it school A (full but allowed to go home Sat for 24 hours if they like) in September for year 9 onwards. This is her choice of school, it is a 13+ school. I have another dd who is in year 6. She is desperate to go back to live in Uk as misses friends. So, we are considering a move back to accomodate her wishes.

My DH is very pro private schools and doesn't want to use the state option in our area, although it is very good. We have the finances set aside for private options so that is not a factor.

Ok so dd2 wants to go to UK and has been offered a boarding place at a lovely local private school let's call it school B that is half boarding half day but heavily weighted to day in the earlier years of years 7 and 8. She has visited the school, loves it and wants to go and board. They can go home for 2 nights at the weekend if they like although it is full boarding, I think lots do.
The other option is to put her into a day prep school let's call it school C for two years then at 13+ she can go either to school A which intakes then and she has been offered a place to or school B which has quite a big intake then too but only boarding.

So the reason I am struggling with the decision is this. Firstly I am not Ken on the boarding idea at 11 and will strip ugly with losing both my dad's to boarding school the same year, but yet she really wants to go and it keeps things simple as she doesn't then have to do Common entrance or join a prep school where all the friendship groups are already made and she will only be at for 2 years anyway.
There are other factors such as she would really like to go to the state school with her old friends but my DH feels we can't do that as the eldest is getting to go to a top private school and so although dd2 wants that now he feels it won't seem fair to her later. He is also really into the idea of lits of sport and extra curricular stuff.

She DD is pretty ok about either option although prefers the boarding from 11.

So yes, am after lots of opinions, thoughts ideas and advice but positive though please. I am already struggling with the idea of boarding from 11 so maybe that is the deal breaker. My Dh is pro the prep school as he thinks 11 too young for boarding but I think the upheaval of having to start at a prep where everyone is already settled for just two years out weighs the possible disadvantages of earlier boarding. What would you do?

If you have got this far thanks for reading, and thanks for your thoughts if you post them. If you are totally anti boarding or anti private then of course you can post those thoughts but that is not the issue here and is another conversation.
I am really looking for help choosing between school B and C. Both are great schools.

Cwandry Wed 08-Mar-17 10:56:53

*strip ugly..... Umm struggle. With dd's leaving for boarding. Sorry typed on iPad! Auto correct!

Mary21 Wed 08-Mar-17 11:48:35

Are you going abroad again if you come home?
I understand the struggle of both dd starting boarding at the same time. However once dd1 starts to board family life will be different for you all.
Taking dd2's wishes out of it what do you and your DH think is best?
How many boarders are there in year 7 and 8
How will you manage events at 2 different boarding schools on the same day e.g. Carol concerts
Do your dd have widely differing needs so need different schools
If everything is equal and you are back in the uk I would be inclined to send your dd2 to a day prep then join her d sis at 13. Especially if you go back abroad as they can support each other. Have common points and it simplifies guardians, flights etc.

happygardening Wed 08-Mar-17 13:06:41

I've lots of experience if boarding DS2 boarded from yr 2 he left ye 13 last year. I personally wouldn't want to send my DC to a prep school in another country (have I got that right?) that is "heavily weighted to day in the early years" unless I've got family/friends near by who are happy to have my DC every weekend. The fun of boarding for this age group is living with lots of different people of your age including and in fact especially at weekends when you can all have lots of fun together not being stuck in school at weekends with mainly older children who may be studying or hanging out with their own age group.
I can't comment on schools outside of the UK but in the UK many join prep schools for the last two years and settle very well.

AnotherNewt Wed 08-Mar-17 13:17:50

My option would be for her to go to the local state school for two years, and plough the money you would save on fees into a tutor to maximise the chances of her meeting the standard required for entry to school A.

Then you have been fair as you have funded private school for both for the ages 13-18.

But of course you need to check what the entrance process for school A is for UK candidates as they might not be the same as for overseas. And if they use Common Entrance, then you need to be realistic about how achievable that is if you are not at a prep.

Cwandry Wed 08-Mar-17 13:33:59

A thank you for the comments. We may go abroad again so boarding school now who do have her settled and leave us able to go if she was happy. I am a very devoted Mum and woudl probably yo yo for the first couple of years so can see a lot of them.

She already has an offer of a place at the school dd1 is going to. I am not bothered about them all going to different schools. I don't work right now and won't especially if they are at boarding school as I want to be able to see them in the holidays. well I kinda do work but at home and can do it any time as own boss but aI won't go and work for a company where wont have that freedom.

I personalky think the sate for 2 year options is nice. Her best friend and lots of other friends go to that school and it is nice. My DH is against it though because he thinks it woudl be a real wrench for her to leave at 13 to go to a private school. I am state educated though and liked school so this is a difficulty between us.
The money is not really a consideration we just want to find the best option for her. what she wants is 1. State 2. The local boarding school 3 the prep school for 2 years then decide.

Shoudl we let a 10 year old make that decision. She wants the state because her friends go there and she wants to finish at 3 and hang out at Greggs. (Like I did haha)

She has the place already t school A so won't need tutoring as wouldn't have to doCE if went to state school.

Allthebestnamesareused Wed 08-Mar-17 14:43:47

Personally I would go to the private prep as there may be subjects that she won't be able to access at state school that she will at prep school (such as Greek, Latin, other languages such as Mandarin etc).

ALso the sporting and extra curricular activities she would access too may lead to her having a lifelong interest and an easier transition into the private secondary school. What sports do each offer and do they match up to what School A offers?

I have heard that some state schools only offer the choice of 2 MFL rather than a variety and with you living abroad maybe certain languages would be more advantageous.

Also the private prep school will have a similar day to School A and going to a state school that finishes as early as 3 and then going to boarding with a longer day may be a shock to her system whereas the private prep set up would have eased her into this leaving her just to cope with the GCSE courses rather than all the other adjustments.

Cwandry Wed 08-Mar-17 15:54:10

Thank you Allthebest, all good points. The state school is 'outstanding' we are lucky in our area to have it and our home is in the catchment. DH just feels it worul be such a wrench to pull her away from friends at end of year 8. Also I don't want her friends at that school to feel like we think the school is not good enough etc. I a think it coudk be socially decisive so since we are in a position to do the private thing we should. Also if they like boardign and it works out it does give us more freedom to choose where to live. Gahhhhh, why m I so crap at align decisions.

happygardening Wed 08-Mar-17 17:18:18

IME of my DS's and other friends who s having DC's at different schools is a pain in the backside unless they're very close together. Parents evening carol concerts exeat/1/2 term/end of term pick up drop off are frequently on the same day/time. What about watching matches etc, you might be keen to watch both and will you feel torn?

SoulAccount Wed 08-Mar-17 20:03:41

Allthebest's points are good but you may find that your outstanding local state school is:
One of the many that offer Latin / Mandarin etc
One of the many that offers a range of MFL
One of the many that finishes later than 3, and like most, offers loads of after school clubs,

SoulAccount Wed 08-Mar-17 20:10:33

If you have come home because your younger dd misses her old friends, how will she see them if she goes to boarding school?

I do agree that few teenage girls want to be wrenched out of their social circle at 13 / 14..

Is it homesickness she is feeling? How would she really be, boarding? I am sure she will make new friends, but is she needing something else? Was she worried about staying abroad while her sister left to come back to school?

Would you even get a place at the state school now? Offers have gone out...

Cwandry Wed 08-Mar-17 20:30:38

happy gardening, that is a good point. Dd1 is not that sporty so can't see matches being an issue but yes there might be other stuff.

soul account. The local state school is really very good. They do do Latin and after school clubs. it is just DH really feels that opportunities at a private school are so much more both academically and sport, art etc.

I keep trying to think... What woudl I do if I were single making this decision... I still feel if I am truly honest I woudl feel a tug to the private schools, beautiful grounds, smaller classes etc... Maybe a tiny bit of snob value too, although it pains me to admit it.

Also really good points re the homesickness thing. It certainly could be an issue. She had dreadful homesickness at a Pgl holiday 3 years ago but keeps assuring me she woudl be fine. The inky way to know if that is try is to let her go.

She woudl see her best friends as we woudl live in the same town as them when in UK. I am really good friends with their Mjms ... k hope that friendship woudl survive this social division... Can't be sure of that of course.

happygardening Wed 08-Mar-17 21:42:59

At a good boarding schools even the very non sporty usually get into a team and will be in some matches.
Beautiful grounds/Medieval building are lovely but shouldn't influence your choice in a major way they are just a bonus IME. Most kids don't even notice them after a few weeks. DS2 was often stunned when visiting schools starting photographing College. I agree most private schools will offer more opportunities than a state school particularly a boarding school but are they opportunities your DD is interested in? No child can do all of them, some will do none. With regard to academic opportunities again many will offer so much more than state ed but it is very school dependent, Its inevitable that small independent schools may offer less, particularly when it comes to A levels, and not all offer a lots of MFL's and Latin. Perhaps you should go and look very carefully at all your options, take off your snob value hat and ask lots of questions, look at subjects offered, extra curricular activities, after schools clubs Saturday morning school etc try and thumb screw the actual number of boarders out of the admissions office, schools lie about number of full boarders in particular because they want your money notoriously economical with the truth about this. Stop looking at daffodils, tweedling birds and manicured lawns look at the education offered do you like it, do you like the staff, try and watch them with the children, do they all look happy and relaxed? Do you like the general ethos what's your gut feeling about the place? If your not sold on the idea of boarding for an 11 yr old don't do it. If you DD becomes home sick she'll need you to be absolutely convinced boarding is the right thing.
I think gut feeling is important I recently visited three state comprehensive schools for work, one was "good" the other two outstanding and one of those has one a prestigious award. I've observed lessons and talked to pupils and staff. From the moment I walked into the school that's "good" my gut feeling was this is a special school, happy pupils and staff very committed teachers the bonus of a breath taking setting. I talked to other staff in other schools a couple had also visited it they agreed with me. One of the outstanding schools I would send my dog too, I struggle to find a good word to say about it, the third school is ok but I wouldn't send my child to it. Again I've spoken to others since both parents and teachers interestingly they agree. What I'm trying to say is go and look at all three with critical eyes, be very observant, watch everyone cleaners reception staff teachers pupils etc just goungvabout their everyday school day, be open minded decide what you want from a school, no school will tick every box but hopefully you'll find one that will tick most of them.

Cwandry Wed 22-Mar-17 13:18:47

Thanks HappyGardenign all good points. Have seen both schools twice. Like them both for different reasons. I don't love th Perelman nor did dd2 plus she woudl have to deal with the CE there too and looks much kinda... Posher. Which we are not. .thank you for your continued help. We will get there!

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