What can anyone tell me about Ludgrove boarding school?
The pastoral care?
Any personal experiences with the school will be very much appreciated.
I am sending our summer baby boy to Ludgrove at 8. Fell in love with the school very kind feel with traditional old fashion values but friendly atmosphere. Didn’t look at other boarding options even though weekly wild ovaipusoy mean seeing him more often. They spent 1 weekend Home and 1 weekend Home but as we get to see them wednesdays for sport and then Saturdays again when they are in.. it really does feel like he won’t be far away. Have heard excellent things from past and present parents and our school. Everyone raves about it. Feel lucky to be gong there. My son would easily have entered most top to second tier london day preps but I am running away from the london hothouse of over tutoring
What were your thoughts on the boarding accommodations?
The boys sleep in about 8 per room . 4 bunks and one single bed with a boy from an older year.
I liked the smaller style 8 per room rather than tiny cubicles alone w singe beds ( Sunningdale documentary?! V creepy) and also Much more friendly Ian scary old fashion 20 -30 style dormitories which I have heard son Exist. Otherwise Boarding accommodation felt like the boys just live all over me what looks like a large country house.. they move around outside classroom to art block ertc like it’s a house rather than scary School. The bathrooms and showers were all impeccably new and clean and the matron seems to hVe all their clothes etc beautifully Organizer for them. Boys get to take their own duvets and fluffly toys or posters. I liked it.
Dorms are a bit varied, some smaller (4-5), some slightly larger (10). The boys move from term to term, choosing friends they want to dorm with along the way. Personal kit (posters, teddies, bedding, endless "stuff") is key and the subject of endless discussion, comparison, but create very homely feel.
In first year (VIs) Miss Bridge is, quite simply, divine. I was a little disconcerted at first to see/hear just how much she does for all the boys, but it does successfully promote a very strong sense of "family" and shared experience and cohesiveness (just rather a posh family!)
Dorm life seems more important, to the boys at least, than Div ("class") or Set ("house") activity. It's rather like having an indefatigable and always-cheerful grandmother constantly on hand to fold clothes, check toothbrushing, put away shoes and find your xxxxxxxx (insert whatever item you tend to lose five times every day.) . Even if your home life comes replete with fleets of "help" it is unlikely to be as cheerful and orderly as Ludgrove dorm life I suspect.
Post lights-out intra-dorm "Stump" (by torchlight) is a long-held tradition apparently and may explain Ludgrove boys ability to bat with their eyes shut.
Thanks nottinghillsam. Sounds like you have first had knowledge and been through it. Being a first timer to send boarding.. at 8!.. how bad will it be if DS hasn’t had sleepovers and although independent and i know will be happy daytime... how badly can it hit them the sleeping away for 10 days at a time.. he sleeps in his own bed but wakes at 5:45 every morning and runs to find ours..
Hey Richmond - yep: done it, been there, got the cap. As a London day-school product myself I was inherently sceptical of boarding at 8 and just felt it wasn't "modern" and didn't take sufficient account of significance of family life and support in the ever-more challenging environment that our children's generation have to thrive in. DH was himself sent off to board at 7 and was a strong proponent of boarding at 8 for DSs and at 11 for DD. The Ludgrove experience converted me I have to admit - to the point that I would now start from a default position of "...if you have the resources you should consider boarding as the best choice..." I feel slightly weird about this.
We share some experience in common. DS1 was also an early riser (04:45-05:30) from 4yo although from 6 this thankfully gestated into reading quietly in the sitting room without apparent harm, tiredness or other issues. Strangely, as soon as he got to Ludgrove he confirms he moved to 07:15 rising within 48hrs. Make of this what you will!
I had always thought DS1 was a bit inclined to worry and rather quiet/shy/diffident/academic/booky. In the weeks before departure to Ludgrove I wound myself in to a complete state about contact protocols (particularly as Ludgrove is strict about contact in first half term and still "strict" in its interpretation of "boarding", no flexi-weekends etc.) DH consistently said "don't jinx this, he'll take to it like a duck to water" a prospect I found even more worrying than thinking about his potential homesickness.
Well....what do you know? My shy, bookish young chap went away and hardly turned to wave us off that first drop-off and within three weeks was the absolute image of the nonchalant boarder. That's not universal. Three of DS1's year didn't cope so well: one had very distant parents and no family experience of boarding, but another had geographically close parents who had themselves both boarded and was a fourth generation Ludgrover... but who was almost inconsolable for the whole first term. The school reacted with really impressive and supportive caring and a simply "kind" routine that gradually worked for the boy and for his bewildered parents too. They didn't try to ignore it, just very calmly showed themselves to be a very real "family." He has become probably the pre-eminent star of his year.
So, the reaction to separation is not predictable. The way Ludgrove deals with new joiners (not just in the VIs) diminishes the chances of serious upset and naturally supports coping and can do so even when boys suffer real separation issues. Beneath Ludgrove's "trad" exterior there's a very effective structure...I think it's as good as it could get.
Nothing really prepares you though for the first few times DS1 can be heard loudly telling his Div Mistress that he'd "rather not" (talk to you on the phone) "right now" as he's just off for a round of golf/play cricket in the nets/off to camps, whatever. Or DH's amused look of "told you so" either.
Ludgrove is a fantastic school.
Just wondering if you are set on this choice or if you are still open to considering other schools as DS has had a great experience with Summer Fields.
We were pretty much against the idea of boarding so we chose the day option however, my son wanted to board from the 1st term!
The pastoral care is amazing and the head of pastoral care (Mr Aldred) sets minds at ease.
I don't mean to confuse you with options but if it's a good boarding option you're looking for then we can't speak any higher than Summer Fields.
It has also changed recently to give flexibility to borders and allow them to return home on Saturday after sports.
Again, Ludgrove is a fantastic school so I don't want to take anything away from them.
DS1 tells me that Smelly Fields is quite good too "if you like that sort of thing!" Funnily enough I was a fan of SF and I insisted that DS1 took SF entrance, despite his place at Ludgrove. Although DS1 was then offered a SF place, I lost out to a terrifying alliance of DH and DS1 who both loudly insisted on the superiority of the Ludgrove option.
I have to say that I didn't understand their Ludgrove loyalty at the time and in one memorable interchange was told that "if you don't understand the difference we can't explain it to you." Now I'm in the same boat: there IS a difference but it's very difficult to explain!
I can only encourage you to visit and talk to parents and pupils at both. The consolation is that I am quite sure that both schools are brilliant and that they both look at each other with very similar senses of innate superiority. My only significant caveat would be that if you have already formed a senior school preference for Winchester you should tend towards SF, if you have a preference for Eton or Radley you should tend towards Ludgrove. (There are other choices of course....)
I won't resort to childish naming of other schools.
I will say that there are a lot of good schools out there some just as good as others and it's really that gut feeling that you should go with after speaking with current kids, parents, teachers and most importantly, your own child.....nottinghillsam seems to have mastered that with a strong push from her DS....well done!
If it's senior/destination schools you're looking for then I would disagree with nottinghillsam and offer hard evidence for this:
SF: is a equally, if not bigger, feeder to Eton than Ludgrove and has recently increased entry to Winchester too.
The difference is that SF is it gives a good range of entry in to senior schools which I think is more important than being known for a feeder in to a single senior school as no one knows which senior school would be right for a boy at the age of 8yrs old (irrespective of parents preferences). They change so much!
So SF is good if you want to keep your options open. But I'm sure there are other schools too but I have not seen many that openly make feeder school information readily available per year.
SirMister - yes, fair enough...just joking. These places do inspire extraordinary loyalty.
DH has been tracking Ludgrove and SF results in senior school entrance for some years now (he's like that.)
But I agree that gut feeling should outweigh any analytical evidence at this level though - they are both great schools (and, as the advertising disclaimer says, there are other options too!)
Thank you for all your insights. I felt Ludgrove seemed so perfect a fit.. that’s what we are going with . Full stop. Still anxious about the separation and. Sleeping away but know otherwise it’s the right choice. Their exits are impressive given no entry exams
I hope i am not hijacking the thread - but can i ask a quick question on the exit results of the schools mentioned here. To what extent are the results purely a credit to the school or like London is some outside (weekend) tutoring also going on to pass / gain scholarship to Eton, WinColl etc?
Richmondmum - can I ask how the boarding schools are different from the London day schools in terms of "hot housing". We are currently miserable in a London day school and considering the boarding option - but in our case it's not the challenge / amount of the homework but pushy parents that is causing more misery. Would that really change at a boarding school?
Hi sheeu- this was precisely my reason for Ludgrove boarding. The hothousing and crazy parents throwing money at tutoring seemed less. I have faith in the schools abikitiy to teach my DS and although he is quite above average academically and I simply won’t fall into the crazy loop that london Day School parents do... Luing to the schools and other parents and basically using the tutor to teach the entire curriculum before so DS s appear smart. My sons Iq or NV or VR scores show his capability. It’s up to the axioms to teach. I chose boarding to run away from the hysteria at age 7/8 and will see how he blossoms alone in the boarding environment on what I believe are safe hands... before muddling in and throwing obscene amounts of money at tutoring on top of already private school fees. How old is your DS?
We too were determined to get out of the London day-school parent madness and, having by necessity kept DD in London day school to 11, we have watched what is going on with families continuing along the London path with boys to 13 and the level and costs of their tutorial commitments with something approaching horror. (It has to be said that DH saw this from the get-go, it took me longer to see the madness for what it has become.)
Well... there were a few boys who had some extra tuition on exeat weekends in the Easter and Summer terms before their Autumn pre-tests, but we took the view that this could be counter-productive, which very much fits with Ludgrove advice. (The boys are basically TIRED when they come home on exeat and cramming in tuition seemed to us like a bad idea.)
BUT, to be fair, we did arrange for tutorial support in the Easter and Summer holidays before the pre-Test, specifically focusing on the pre-Test structure and doing practice papers both with pen and paper and online and I think this was close to ubiquitous amongst families hoping for Eton and Winchester.
There are a couple of tutorial outfits that have a (hardly publicised!) specialty in covering the needs of boarders en route to pre-Tests and CE/Scholarships and we were lucky enough to be referred to one of them by friends, which worked very well for us without impinging too much on family life or DS1 happiness (indeed, strangely, he really enjoyed it.)
Ludgrove is incredibly calm and professional about school choices and, once those are established in conversation with the Head in January of the year before taking pre-tests, Ludgrove calmly goes about building the case (and the capability) of the boys to reach their (and their parents') preferred destinations. It would be a brave parent who did not accept the school's gentle advice on this subject. DH still has quiet hysterics over my reaction to "the chat" which in some ways was more nerve-wracking than the pre-tests themselves.
Their calm confidence is a world away from the London madness.
Not London madness but also gone from academic day school to non selective prep (boarding) for one of my children and he is a lot less stressed.
The children are less jealous/competitive, there is less bullying, I believe as there is less pressure.. Some of the parents at the academic school were/are unbelievable..
Many children are getting tutored from.age 5, one boy I had for a play date told me his mother won't give him dinner at night if he hadn't done 50 maths questions first every night...
I couldn't agree more with nottinghillsam, Sheehu/Richmond.
Hot house London prep schools are really only for the hot house London senior schools...SPS, Westminster, etc. (IMHO).
Other public schools I suspect put more weight behind the child's potential as opposed to learnt (crammed) knowledge.
With the advent of AI, knowledge can come from talking computers/Alexa, Siri, etc.....so it's not what knowledge you have acquired at the age of 11/13 yrs that matter but rather what can you do with the knowledge.
No dinner unless 50maths questions! Sounds like a perfect slave to parents anxiety.
I agree with "Calm confidence is a world away from the London madness."
So glad that I'm not in that London bubble! My kids would hate me if I subjected them to that.
Thank you all. That is very reassuring. I had assumed that post 7+/8+ the London tutoring madness would be over but it seems it continues up to 13. I agree probably some familiarity with computer based testing is useful especially as the pre-test can't really be prepared for as such.
We have already done the 7+/8+ but nonetheless not happy with the London madness and so are considering a move in Year 5. I am not sure if Ludgrove would have spaces but we were looking at SF and Dragons. The idea just sprung in our minds over half-term and we are newbies to the boarding idea, so still trying to figure things out.
sheehu - it would be worth asking Ludgrove, SF and Dragon...there are a few places that "come free" every year I think!
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