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St Olaves or Dulwich College

(11 Posts)
YouseeMe Thu 08-Mar-18 01:36:05

Hi all.
I'm very confused here.
DS got 100% bursary to DC (he also got 100% bursary to Alleyn's which we declined) and come March 1st, he got offered St Olaves!
Ds is an only child, he is quite sporty and academic and we are a single parent and low income family.
I'm not sure what school to choose without regretting in the future as both schools are great all round. please advice Many thanks

TJsAunt Thu 08-Mar-18 10:36:47

Tricky one. Is the journey OK to both?

I have a DS at DC - he didn't make the St O's cut on 1 March and for us that was the decision made!

My feelings were mixed - St O's had impressed me but I was concerned about him struggling to keep up with so many super bright boys. He's not the most confident kid (or at least he wasn't!) and I was concerned his confidence could be further eroded at St O's.

We felt happier that DC had a broader range of abilities, and had been impressed by the Master and the Head of the Lower School who are both very passionate educators. The Head in particular was keen to emphasise that a DC boy would get good exam results BUT that there was much more to his DC education than that - and the school has been true to its word with lots of co curricular weeks where boys attend seminars, and lots of team events where all the boys take part in singing/rugby/whatever and feel genuinely a part of something bigger.

Drawbacks of DC? I would say its size - it has 120 boys per year until Y9 when they add another 4 classes, and that feels huge to me? DS is not bothered by this and still seems to ploughing his own furrow - time will tell?

I obviously can't speak about St O's.

Do you have a feel for the pastoral care/enrichment side of things there? Can you go for another look around?

In terms of 'fit' - ds's class is very mixed ethnically and socially. The Dulwich Foundation is able to give bursaries to a large number of able boys - I don't think that would be an issue for you or your ds, but if you are concerned then I would raise it with the school? Mr Tanna is very approachable?

I wish you all the best with the decision - please feel free to PM me if you'd like to? I'm sure someone will be along to talk about St O's in a mo - there is no bad choice here!

Onesunnydayiniceland Thu 08-Mar-18 14:42:57

With a 100% bursary I would go for DC. One of my children was at a super selective grammar so I have direct experience of this type of school and unfortunately they tend to be exam factories. I moved her to a highly academic independent in year 9 and the education she receives is so much broader and beyond the curriculum compared to the grammar but still all A* at GCSE.

Firefox1066 Thu 08-Mar-18 20:39:00

This would be a no brained for me. With a 100% bursary... DC every time

YouseeMe Fri 09-Mar-18 16:12:52

Thank you everyone for your reply and advice. DS still wants to go to DC.
We'll visit St O again to make final decision

MrsPatmore Fri 09-Mar-18 17:48:11

I think if your son is sociable and confident then DC would be the choice, particularly on 100%. Lots of sons of bankers/media types. St Olaves is turning a corner after the demise of the previous head and pastoral care is rapidly improving. There is a much wider spread of ability at DC whereas it's mostly (not all) super clever boys at St O's. St O's can't match the extra curricular of DC but still has lots of musical, sporting and after school activities and obviously a wider social range of children. I think St O's pips DC purely on academic results at GCSE and A level. DC uniform is extensive and expensive - check if there is a bursary contribution to this. Also the bursary will cover the essential educational trips but not any extra trips if I remember correctly. Not sure whether you'd need to pay for clubs etc too. It can all add up surprisingly easily so look at the bursary fine print carefully.

ChocolateWombat Fri 09-Mar-18 18:12:58

Depends what you want. If you want him to be with a very very bright cohort go fOr the state grammar and if you value more the broader ability with very good results, the the benefits of more funding that DC will have, go for that.

Both are great choices and with 100% bursary I think I'd choose DC - the results of a very bright lad who gets into both and receives a full bursary, are likely to be excellent from both schools - either school can get him those great grades he has the ability for. Olaves would be great, but the experience difference due to class sizes and funding differences - so why not have those if you can have it for free.

For most people, for whom fees wouldn't be a drop in the ocean, I would advise the opposite - because the extras which are undoubtedly there and different experience, just don't warrant the fees for me, when the free alternative is Olaves.

ChaosNeverRains Fri 09-Mar-18 18:21:50

After the ST Olaves 6th form fiasco I wouldn’t touch them with a barge pole tbh.

I know people whose children go/have have been there and they have a shocking reputation re pastoral care.

TJsAunt Tue 13-Mar-18 19:33:12

MrsPatmore should declare that her ds goes to Olaves - just to even things up!

I don't think the uniform cost can be the decider? Olaves has a uniform too? DC uniform is fairly plain - shirts and trousers from anywhere, just the blazer and tie from school. The PE kit is pricier - as I imagine is Olave's - but there are always lots of second hand uniform sales and there are bargains to be had.

Bumblebzz Sat 17-Mar-18 07:43:41

Out of interest, why did you decline Alleyn’s?

sydenhamhiller Sat 17-Mar-18 15:12:34

Oooh, what a lovely dilemma! Congrats to your DS.

I have 3 DC, one at a local SE26 state primary, one at Newstead Wood, and DS is in y9 at DC. (In the interests of transparency wink

"After the ST Olaves 6th form fiasco I wouldn’t touch them with a barge pole tbh.

I know people whose children go/have have been there and they have a shocking reputation re pastoral care."

This is - unfairly in our experience - the reputation St O seems to have, and when we were lucky enough to have to decide between St O and Wilson's 3 years ago, the online reputation of St O as being purely an exam factory did give us pause. But DS really loved St O, and the commute is easier, so we went with it.

He was quite an anxious child, and found the transition to secondary school quite overwhelming. When I contacted school about it, they could not have been better at offering support/ strategies/ follow up. There have been a couple of other incidences, and they have been very professional , and I was (probably unfairly!) pleasantly surprised. I was not a fan of the previous head, and since he left there have been some very welcome changes such as the well-being week, and a no homework week once a term so boys can concentrate on extracurricular interests.

DS is extremely happy there, after having been spectacularly unhappy at his primary.

That said, if I had a full bursary from DC, I would bite their hand off. The 'new' (not so new now) Head has been committed to raising the academic results, and I am envious of their choice of extra-curricular activities. I have a couple of friends with children there (y7, y9 and y11 between them), and they are extremely happy with their experiences there. None of the boys are sporty - two are very involved in the school orchestra which has taken them to the US and across Europe.

You will know which the best fit will be for your son and your family: best of luck with your decision.

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