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Public schools

(36 Posts)
AmandaHuggankiss Sun 30-Sep-12 19:25:12

DS has been at day prep school, we were thinking of a day senior school, but before we commit to that, I wanted to check out some of the real public schools (Eton, etc.) for full boarding at 13.

He is quite outgoing, likes the company of others, computer games, etc, but is not sporty. He benefits from structure, rules and routine, rather than somewhere liberal and self-motivating.

Any thoughts on which of the top public schools might be a good fit?

goinggetstough Sun 30-Sep-12 19:48:16

What area of the country are you looking at, would you consider co-ed and is he academic? You mention Eton so can we assume he is academic?
There are so many schools out there it can be difficult to suggest schools without some extra facts.

happygardening Sun 30-Sep-12 19:54:57

Eton certainly is structured with rules and routine but pretty sporty. Winchester is more liberal you do have to be self motivated but not so sporty no compulsory sport after yr 10. Marlborough is structured but lots of sport.

AmandaHuggankiss Sun 30-Sep-12 19:56:11

He is inclined towards maths/science rather than the arts, and quite able yes.

Not sure either way about co-ed.

I didn't think there were that many true 13-18 public schools, I think considering you only do pick up half-a-dozen times a year anywhere is fine, though we are in south-east England.

happygardening Sun 30-Sep-12 20:00:39

Most boarding schools offer activities every afternoon and they are often sporty. The good news is that the sports offered are usually significantly broader than at prep. My DS not a kean team sports player is now free to follow his own choosen sports and is significantly happier not be made to stand fielding all afternoon.

happygardening Sun 30-Sep-12 20:09:01

"Quite able" that might rule out quite a few Eton Winchester entrance requirements are on a par with St Paul's Westminster what London schools has your prep school head advised to look at?
I'm not sure about picking up 6 times a year either my DS ful boards and we're unusual as we don't have many exeats and I've just counted 20 trips picking up or dropping off and that's assuming you never watch a play or listen to a concert.
Bryanston I believe offers a wide variety of activities quite arty but lots of weekly boarders but coaches to parts of London, stations etc. I understand.

AmandaHuggankiss Sun 30-Sep-12 20:24:45

The head has told us he could potentially get in anywhere in the country, but it is not guaranteed, so he suggested we apply for a highly selective and less selective backup(s).

DS likes to get outside and get some is exercise but is not co-ordinated, so is poor at things like tennis, rugby, cricket, football. He is good at rock climbing though.

kerrygrey Mon 01-Oct-12 05:43:46

To achieve 'pick up 6 times a year' chose a school with a railway station in the town. Then he can get himself to and fro for half-terms and weekend exeats, and you will only have to do the heavy stuff at the start and end of term

Knowsabitabouteducation Mon 01-Oct-12 07:00:42

Eton is a huge school and it caters for all sorts, including the less sporty.

The best thing is to follow the advice of the prep school head. Make an appointment to see him for a frank talk, not to some back-slapping remark made in passing.

There are timetables in the admissions processes for each school that have to be met, as pre-tests take place from Y5 to early Y7, depending on the school. An offer of a place is given after the pre-test, conditional on Common Entrance results. Very few students "fail" Common Entrance, and disasters usually only happen when the parents have been adamant about pursuing and inappropriate senior school.

AmandaHuggankiss Mon 01-Oct-12 12:01:20

We had a frank talk with the head last week. However we didn't discuss boarding schools because I hadn't considered them.

Hence just wondering if anyone could help us with a list of such schools that might be suitable for further investigation.

elastamum Mon 01-Oct-12 12:06:48

How about Repton? Mixed and a wide range of ability, quite sporty, but lots of other stuff for those less interested. My DS1 is day, but absolutely loves it and spends most of his time there socialising, even when he doesnt have to

Chubfuddler Mon 01-Oct-12 12:09:51

Clifton College

there are loads. You need to ask the prep school for more of a steer, it's what they are supposed to be doing.

Chubfuddler Mon 01-Oct-12 12:11:12

Also if you are totally at sea there are scholastic agencies which help you identify suitable schools - Gabbitas is one.

IndridCold Mon 01-Oct-12 15:16:24

From your description of your DS I would definitely consider Eton as a possiblity. My DS started there this term and absolutely loves it. As long as your boy enjoys trying lots of new things, and likes to try his best in every endeavour he will do well there.

Regarding sport, my DS enjoys sport, but is not what I would call sporty, but they have 6 rugby teams for his age group so he is playing with other boys at his level (in the E team!) and they are so far unbeaten, which has boosted his confidence no end. There are so many other things to try too - fives, fencing, rowing as well as kayaking, climbing and things like the Ten Tors challenge. So long as boys are busy with something the school doesn't seem too fussed about what it is.

We started the process by having a good discussion with his prep HM, who had made some suggestions but did not mention any of the elite schools. We asked him whether DS had the smarts to try for on of the other top schools; he said that he certainly had the potential, but he recommended Eton rather than the one we had first considered.

I won't pretend that it was plain sailing getting there, DS was promoted from the waiting list in March this year! But please don't assume that it is beyond your DS to win a place there.

I wish you luck!!

amber2 Mon 01-Oct-12 15:45:42


You are describing my DS! And my dilemma (day vs weekly boarding vs full boarding and in my case grammar vs independnt also) ...he likes team games and sports to a degree but is more inclined to activities like rock climbing, sailing and golf and really wants to try fencing but he is never going to be an A player in competitive team sports liek football or rugby. He is very able at certain subjects (top sets) in a very good large but unselective country prep which does send a couple of boys to Eton each year but whether he has what it takes to get into likes of Eton I am unsure of and unsure whether it would suit him also - it's fiercely competitive to gain a place I know to places like Eton (as it is to certain grammars around here). Assuming he had the brains, while aspects of Eton are very appealing, the full boarding, single bedrooms from the outset and formality (and perhaps conformity?) are the things I have some doubts about and I simply don't know how my lad will develop between now and 13+ about to be sure he that he will suit full boarding but Eton is on my "to consider" list as I need to find out more.

amber2 Mon 01-Oct-12 15:58:30


Is there any advice you can give on the pretest /Eton admission in general? - I am not getting any extra tutoring for my year 5 DS outside what he does at prep school (other than some diy by myself in maths where it interests him and he reads widely also) and I am wondering if that (not tutoring) is a big mistake given the fierce competition to get a place at somewhere like Eton or Winchester...I feel (perhaps naively) if it is the place for him he should be able to get in on his merits and I would not want him to end up in the bottom third (intellectually) of any school he goes to. But I have friends who swear by extra tutoring especially at crucial selective stages.

happygardening Mon 01-Oct-12 16:11:55

amber2 it is possible after a few weeks of each term in the first year at Winchester to give up all team sports never play team sports again and sell those 3 virtually unworn rugby shirts to the 2 nd hand shop! Instead fence for example three times a week or rackets badminton fives rowing swimming etc etc and maybe he would prefer a non sporting activity they are available too.
We did virtually no preparation for the Winchester interview/Pre test or St Paul's interview and were offered both. For Eton you DS does need to able to read/understand instructions very quickly!

DrSeuss Mon 01-Oct-12 16:16:53

DH went to Abingdon.

AmandaHuggankiss Mon 01-Oct-12 16:23:14

Amber, I just got off the phone from Eton, the two ladies I spoke to were both very helpful, I was a little nervous about speaking to an institution with such a reputation.

I said that he was 10 years and 4 months and they drew my attention to the 10 year 6 month deadline for registration, I asked about testing and they said that their test is really an intelligence test, which is good I think for DS, although I don't want to get carried away.

She said if you are not sure about ability the best thing is to come to an open day where you can ask questions of the admissions tutor and get more of a feel for the school.

She said she would send me a list of dates by email.

amber2 Mon 01-Oct-12 16:43:05


Yes I found Eton admissions office very helpful too, and will be going to an Open Day (not sure whether to take DS or not). I also am not going to get too carried away either - DS is excellent at mental maths etc. but whether he will sail as easily through a general IQ test, I have no idea as he has never done one to my knowledge...but it must be nice if you are a parent whose DS is a dead cert for somewhere like Eton or Winchester ! Mine is less predictable but has potential. At some point, you have to say, it's up to DCs to succeed or not...mine has more books in the house than we have space for...we get subscriptions to all sorts of magazines, go to art galleries, thaetre and museums so I feel he has all the opportunity...but at teh end of the day having the motivation and the smarts is really down to him.

I have a good friend with two very different DSs - one extremely academic, self- motivated and ambitious at a superselective - who probably thinks he can be PM one day if he put his mind to it, the other is while bright, is somewhat lazier and certainly less ambitious. They get the same encouragement at home although the lazy one needs some more forceful encouragement. That doesn't mean the less academic one will have a less happy or fulfilling life, but my conclusion is, producing an academic child can't all be down engineering by (helicopter) parenting and environment.

amber2 Mon 01-Oct-12 16:45:51

thanks for that insight...yes, I am trying to avoid getting into the tutoring "arms race" so that is encouraging ! Will just continue to encourage DS to read, read and read !

AmandaHuggankiss Mon 01-Oct-12 16:52:01

TBH we are quite 'lazy' parents and haven't gone out to expose him to Mozart or Shakespeare, but he chooses to spend his time reading, that is when he's not watching TV....

amber2 Mon 01-Oct-12 17:05:30

No Mozart here either, but we did see his first Shakespeare play, Taming of the Shrew at the GLobe recently which was excellent and DS's main conclusion was he did not realize Shakespeare was so rude!

happygardening Mon 01-Oct-12 18:17:58

"but it must be nice if you are a parent whose DS is a dead cert for somewhere like Eton or Winchester"
There is no such a boy who us a dead cert for either of these. Eton in particular which doesn't really limit the number of applicant has I understand at least 6 applicants for every place, Winchester does limit the number of applicants and has 3 for every place. More and more children are also applying from abroad so the competition for places is becoming increasingly fierce. Certainly at Eton having brothers already there does not swing it at all.
We know many who tried for Eton who appeared on paper to be perfect for it who didn't get it! The interview at Eton is very short so you dont have long to shine. In contrast the interview at Winchester is long and you do have time to shine but if your interests are very rehearsed and shall we say superficial or not genuine you will be found out!

IndridCold Mon 01-Oct-12 18:23:12

amber2 I have PMd you, but just wanted to add that I would take your DS to the open day. For a start, he may hate it and then you won't need to worry about it any more grin.

When we first went we had a tour of the school by the wife on one of the Housemasters, then the boys went off for tea with some present pupils and the parents had a presentation and Q&A with the Admissions Tutor.

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