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End of year 7 at prep school and still not sure of where to send her.

(15 Posts)
IwanttobeShirleyValentine Wed 15-Jun-11 22:30:35

DD boards at her prep school. She is coming to the end of year 7 and about to enter her final year there. Next year should be common entrance year for her senior school. She needs to board as we are mobile with the army and we claim CEA against the fees. Without CEA we could not afford the fees. Even with CEA we have a limited budget as my husband is not an officer.

One problem though - she is not registered with any senior school.

We have trawled numerous schools. Bored ourselves to tears with endless open day visits etc etc and not found one school that we actually like. We find somewhere academically suitable (languages is where DD excels) but then the boarding is abysmal. Why do so many senior schools have old spinster maids running their boarding houses? Who on earth thinks a little old maid will be able to relate properly to 14/15yo girls??

That aside, we find amazing boarding facilities and lovely house staff,only to find the academics are not upto much or the language department is quite lacking or there is something that just does not sit right about the rest of the school.

We have found one school that ticks our boxes. We really like it, although I have not had the same "This is the one" feeling I had when we found her prep school. We like it enough, so we are/were about to register her (having visited 4 times and recently spoken to the registrar who confirms its not too late yet).

However, we are the only family out of the 45 in her current year sending her onto this school. This is not a problem in itself. DD has been used to moving as the sole new girl before starting boarding and the prep school system means she has not expected to move on with current school friends. The problem seems to be other peoples opinions. Now usually I could not give a shit what other people think, but several parents have shown their dismay when they have asked where DD is going and we have said. Then last Friday after a school concert one mum told me that she knew of a few girls that had gone there from the prep school and most had left within a year due to "not liking it". Another mum, piped up that we should consider other options but did not specify why.

I asked the head of her current prep school if he was aware of problems and he did then say there had been an incident with 2 girls. 2 different years, both left within a year due to not settling in. Both had full boarded (like DD) at prep school.

So now I am in a quandry. We really like this school. Have had it in mind for 4 years at least and visited alot. The senior school had a new head 3 years ago and the boarding side has grown tremendously, so much so a new boarding house is being built to accommodate the amount of new boarders.

I am so stressed out by this. I dont know where else we even like to bother going for a 2nd look. The fees are a factor as well because even with CEA with a limited budget, so alot of schools we cannot even look at. I have emailed one or 2 more expensive schools to ask whether we would be allowed to apply for a burasry intop of the HM Forces remission they offer but the answer has been quite negative. Not a definate NO but a kind of well the CEA is a massive amount, along with our 15/20%, and I doubt we could offer you any more.

Just dont know what to do. I am sick to the back teeth of looking at schools and to be quite honest, I think I have most UK senior boarding school prospectuses here, as I think over the last few years we have looked at several in loads of different areas. I just dont know what to do. DD should be registered somewhere by now and obviously most exclusive schools will now have closed their books for registration (we are not interested in any of these though).

Aaarrrgggghhh!!! please someone wave a magic wand and help us out!!! Anyone else still not chosen the next school or still not 100% happy with their choice this late in the game?

goinggetstough Thu 16-Jun-11 07:18:37

There will be a school!! I believe you need to have a senior school confirmed by next February for CE purposes but even then I know of people who have changed their minds at Easter. We are Forces parents too.
Which schools have been looking at as maybe a mumsnetter has more information on it. Children leave schools for many reasons eg family etc which actually have nothing to do with the actual school which could possibly be the case with the school you like and why those children didn't settle. Other parents don't always know the real reasons.
Have you looked at any of the Woodard schools eg Kings Taunton and Ardingly which I believe give good military discounts and bursaries and good results?
Good luck...

seeker Thu 16-Jun-11 07:33:05

"Why do so many senior schools have old spinster maids running their boarding houses? Who on earth thinks a little old maid will be able to relate properly to 14/15yo girls??"

Er - all the other parents in your dd's prep school??

franticantic Thu 16-Jun-11 08:44:40

Look at the state boarding schools. Half the fees of other schools as the education is free and you are only paying for the boarding element, and priority is given to children of HM Forces. Look at Gordons (Woking), Alexandra and Albert (Reigate) or Hockerill (Bishops Stortford) amongst others. Look at the SBSA website. Good luck!

Colleger Thu 16-Jun-11 10:50:21

I think you are being too choosy and looking at academic results and not individual results. One of my son's current schools is not selective so it is fairly average in the leagur tables, however it still sends it's brightest pupils to Oxbridge, medicine, engineering, maths degrees.

I also do not believe in the "feel" for a place. I felt nothing for the two schools my other children are now at and yet I have been so surprised at how fantastic they are. The schools we did get a "feel" for were very disappointing and we eventually removed our kids.

In every school there is at least one incident and one unhappy child every year. It happens, it's normal and it's not necessarily the schools fault. Do not focus on the two children that left but the 99% that stayed!

One more thing: It is very unsettling for a child not to know where they are going onto so make the decision and do it now.

Why don't you write down your top 3 and mumsnet parents can give an opinion.

Irksome Thu 16-Jun-11 11:04:09

heaven forfend some old maids should look after the daughters of all those other people, or anyone's daughter.

If only there was some way that people's daughters didn't have to be looked after by people of the wrong age/marital status for their parents' taste. Quite a poser!

swanker Thu 16-Jun-11 11:13:12

Is it worth considering an international school in Europe that offers boarding? (no idea on fees, so this is a shot in the dark)

It must be a very distressing situation to be in, and I hope your DD isn't getting upset or anxious about it, I hope you resolve it soon.

oshgosh Thu 16-Jun-11 11:22:11

What frantic said.

You are being unfair, Irksome. OP didn't object to a certain type of person, she was objecting to the fact that there was no alternative. Having said that, Housemistresses (and Masters) live with a large number of teenagers, year-in-year-out. They probably know more about 14/15 y.o. girls than you do, OP!smile

100lilgreen Thu 16-Jun-11 11:48:14

Since you haven't stated a part of the country in which you want to be in here are a few to look at :
Wycombe Abbey
St Mary's Calne
St George's Ascot
Malvern St James
St Edward's Oxford
Downe House
Marlborough College
Bradfield College
Cheltenham Ladies College
Clifton College

These are just a handful of the many across the country

mrswoodentop Thu 16-Jun-11 12:13:19

Talking of state boarding,you say your daughter is good at languages have you thought of Anglo European ,also Wymondham college is very good.Are you looking for single sex or coed

seeker Thu 16-Jun-11 12:55:32

But watch out for those "old spinsters". hmm

Miss Beale and Miss Buss must be turning in their graves.

Colleger Thu 16-Jun-11 17:30:32

Most boarding houses consist of a Married couple in their late 30's-50's with kids, a dog, and a matron in her 40's-50's. It works because Matron is like a grandmother with more energy who a boy can confide in. The Married couple mimic the home and the kids and dogs often help the house feel more like a family. Children have been known to find comfort walking Woofy or even playing football with little Johnny when they are feeling homesick and vulnerable.

seeker Thu 16-Jun-11 19:48:03

'The Married couple mimic the home and the kids and dogs often help the house feel more like a family. Children have been known to find comfort walking Woofy or even playing football with little Johnny when they are feeling homesick and vulnerable."

I know I'm going to get shot down for this, but that is one of the saddest things I have read for ages.

goinggetstough Thu 16-Jun-11 21:33:48

seeker OK I'll do the shooting!!!!
You are exactly correct Colleger and I see that as a major plus.

mrswoodentop Thu 16-Jun-11 23:04:32

Though it is true that single sex girls schools do often still have the model that I was subjected to being mad spinsters .Most single sex girls boarding schools do not have the family set up

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