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Marlborough College - views?

(29 Posts)
Prittstick Wed 24-Oct-12 14:47:30

Anyone got any views on MC, especially with the arrival of the new Head? Do they make sure the kids work hard, especially at the beginning? How are the music, sports? Do the boys and girls just work normally alongside each other or are there any issues (relationships and more?). DH and I are debating the coed and single sex issue for secondary. Thanks

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happygardening Wed 24-Oct-12 16:26:03

The new head is very good and very friendly, yes the children work hard although probably not as hard especially in the beginning as they would at places like Win Coll ultimately they are not expected to get the same grades to go into the 6th forms. Sport is very strong, as is music and the boys and girls all mix together happily, no one can stop relationships forming and why would you its a school not a monastery.

Prittstick Wed 24-Oct-12 17:48:48

Thanks for that HG. You make a good point about it not being a monastery - I suppose I meant does the school have a reputation for being a bit lax from a discipline point of view such that there is sex going on in the bushes? I rather like the fact that boys and girls live and work alongside each other - it is normal. I want to try and make sure that the DC fulfil their potential rather than coast along, so any views on that would be gratefully received. I really like the setting, the fact it's in a town, the staff we've met. Thanks again for your time.

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happygardening Wed 24-Oct-12 17:55:08

No sex in the bushes well lets put it this way they would be expelled if they were or at least the last lot were. This is not a school for those who want to coast I think the head would consider it an academic school with high academic expectations ok maybe not Win Coll Westminster high expectations but still pretty high.

Prittstick Wed 24-Oct-12 18:32:10

That's great. Thank you for that. Does anyone else have a view?

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dapplegrey Thu 25-Oct-12 07:41:30

My dd is in her last year there and she has been very happy and made loads of friends. We've hardly seen her at half term because of her busy social life!

Prittstick Thu 25-Oct-12 08:21:26

Hi dapple grey. What do you think of the new head? Does he want to make any major changes? Do you feel your dd has fulfilled her potential academically? The pastoral side of things sounds vey good from what I can gather. Thank you for your time. Pm me if you'd prefer.

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Milkshake3 Thu 25-Oct-12 22:51:37

..watching with interest....

dapplegrey Fri 26-Oct-12 08:20:39

Prittstick, well my daughter isn't very academic so she was never going to get really brilliant marks, but she has done ok and many of her peers have got top grades. The music provision is excellent and my daughter's piano teacher is a truly inspiring person .

Whittonside Fri 26-Oct-12 08:52:38

Brand new member here ... it looks like there's an abbreviation convention on this site so my apologies if I get it wrong! I have a girl currently in the Lower Sixth at MC and have some thoughts to offer ...

In my view, if a child chooses to get their teeth into academic work and other interests, the school is superb. In our experience, the mixing of boys and girls has been totally relaxed and natural, and has not been a distraction from work / other activities whatsoever.

But there is a significant streak of children who see school as simply the starting point for having as much fun as possible. Some of these are definitely failed by the school, are never brought to book and seriously under-achieve. My view is that parents are not always kept fully in the picture (??or are judged by the school to be not quite "on side" with the school about reining their offspring in - but that may be unfair to some of the affected parents???) so they do need to keep a watchful - almost managerial - eye on progress. The school does issue very helpful notes about what to expect - and accept - from blossoming teenagers, and the lines they can spin! I've found these very helpful to keep everyone within sensible limits, while allowing expansion of boundaries as the teenage years progress.

The school has had a discipline problem (including plenty of "fun in the bushes") - this was improved but not fully sorted by the last head. The new head has made his intentions on this patently clear (summarily expelling a duo caught in the act, early this term) so I expect the line to be held much more firmly. I have met him briefly and I'm not certain where he wants to take the school academically. My first impression - which may be a touch hasty - is that he's more interested in a rounded education (lots of emphasis on arts & sport) than in pursuing academic excellence in the heavy-weight subjects.

Hope that helps - happy to expand if needed!

happygardening Fri 26-Oct-12 09:45:53

"is that he's more interested in a rounded education"
Yes I agree but I think at the top of the selective schools category but not aiming for super selective.
l also think the children like being in the town my DS is a boarding school in a small city and he likes it admittedly we are rural so its a nice contrast. I personally wouldn't choose a rural boarding school unless my DC's were horse mad or something similar.

propatria Fri 26-Oct-12 10:56:13

Very interesting,has he gone public on his idea of compulsory Ice Hockey yet?wink

happygardening Fri 26-Oct-12 11:21:50

"Some of these are definitely failed by the school, are never brought to book and seriously under-achieve."
You can lead a horse to water etc. In most schools there will always be a some who for some reason dont engage. This IMO is not necessarily a reflection on the child or on the school just something is not quite right they are not a good fit for each other. If children parents and and school were perhaps more honest with each other as soon as it becomes obvious that this is occurring and not just a temporary blip and thatwhen this happens given positive help in finding alternatives having exhausted all in school help them maybe both the schools and the parents/children would not feel so let down.
This is not a criticism of Marlborough because I personally know of no one in this position but I've friends with DC's who've been at at other independent schools whose DC's are fulfilling their potential and who are being provided with little constructive help in finding alternatives just being told to give it a "bit longer".

Prittstick Mon 29-Oct-12 09:45:46

Hi Whittonside. Thank you for your thoughts. It is good to hear discipline is high on the new Head's list of to do's. I also agree with HG that you can lead a horse to water etc and that there will always be some DC who don't fulfill their potential. I'm just reluctant to spend £££ on a school where the children are not watched, encouraged, cajoled into being constructive with their time and doing their best and see it as a chance to put pens down, party and get away with as little work as possible!!! I realise this description fits only a very small minority as Marlborough's results were pretty good this year. Any other thoughts or views are welcome!

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NorhamGardens Mon 29-Oct-12 09:59:21

Prittstick I understand where you are coming from. I value the academic side of things and sometimes wonder when schools say they concentrate on developing the 'whole child' whether this is really code for being generally less academically selective. I have heard it said that some of the boarding schools mentioned on this thread will take most that apply.

For that reason I would only consider academically selective boarding schools - a rising tide floats all boats etc. Very high academic expectations are important I believe. I would add a big caveat that the child must be academically capable and confident enough to thrive in that sort of environment.

I would hope any school would develop the 'whole child' as well. Of course, it's not just the academics that are important. I know plenty who I think have academically under achieved at less academically selective boarding schools - their peers were generally not that academically focussed and academic expectations not as high as they should have been IMO. Friends have said that Bs and Cs were ok for their children where privately I've thought (having known the children reasonably well) that this doesn't represent much bang for your buck and these children were capable of far more. They argue that exam results are not the be all and end all, it depends on your values and beliefs.

happygardening Mon 29-Oct-12 10:04:08

I think OP you are forgetting that these are teenage children and that they are at school 7 days a week 24 hours a day and as I've already said its not a monastery! It's not lessons all the time in the day and prep all night if this is what your looking for you are looking at the wrong school. Marlborough works hard to enable the children to have a work life balance. They do "party", but I'm assuming you like to party too occassionally, go up the high street and just flop around with their friends chilling out having a bit of a laugh. If you want a serious super pushy environment where the highest academic success is the overwhelming priority and jaw dropping results then perhaps you would be better to look at one of the super selectives.

happygardening Mon 29-Oct-12 10:07:52

Marlborough is academically selective OK not super selective it's not St Paul's but certainly more selective than others who would describe themselves as selective.

NorhamGardens Mon 29-Oct-12 10:22:46

I've heard that some boarding schools that we might think of as being 'selective' are not so much these days. They need to get children in - they are having problems in some cases. Some children who previously went boarding are looking at day schools. Many boarding schools are opening franchises overseas and expanding globally. They also have cohorts who increasingly come from overseas.

If you look at the results - which I know don't always tell the whole story - they are not as high as you might imagine for 'selective' boarding schools. It's always been tough to get into the most selective boarding schools, e.g. Wycombe Abbey - these have high status. It's never been easier to get into those 'selective' boarding schools further down the academic league tables than it is today - in my opinion. They've said 'privately if you can pay the fees, he's in'. In so many words to many I know.

happygardening Mon 29-Oct-12 10:29:29

NorhamGardens I agree many so called selective boarding schools will take anyone if they can pay the fees but Marlborough is in fact one a smallish group which is over subscribed! Selection takes place 18 months prior to admission and there is a waiting list.

NorhamGardens Mon 29-Oct-12 10:39:10

I can well believe it re: Marlborough it's fashionable currently along with Wellington wink. Don't mean to be disparaging re: Marlborough.

I have to admit I'd be tempted to look at Oundle if I wanted Co-ed boarding as this has the best academic results ( for Co-ed I think) & I don't think is super selective. It's also a great school that delivers on much I value. Not sure it offers the IB though and I think Marlborough does?

Anyway, it's all very personal and depends entirely on what you value and what's right for the child. I just think that if a child is academic (enough) I'd like to put them in the most academic school (in terms of results) that I possibly could that also delivered on everything else that we as a family considered important.

happygardening Mon 29-Oct-12 10:43:49

I thought Brighton College and Sevonoaks had better results than Oundle but I could be wrong!

NorhamGardens Mon 29-Oct-12 11:10:34

Yes, Brighton College has risen up dramatically I think through the tables - also independent school of the year. Some of the recent hires are outstanding, I know a few. Sevenoaks has good IB results I think but not sure where they rank.

happygardening Mon 29-Oct-12 12:08:46

independent school of the year don't actually know what that means it must be a subjective measurement done by a committee usually attached to Tattler or something similar, not sure Id take their word as gospel! Its certainly of interest but would not be my sole criteria for choosing a school.

NorhamGardens Mon 29-Oct-12 12:27:26

HG - Re: Independent school of the year, it's a Sunday Times award, Downe House won in 2011 I believe. Agree not something perhaps to base decisions upon.

Prittstick Mon 29-Oct-12 13:37:24

Hi HG - I take your point that the school is not a monastery. I have no experience of teenagers, but will have next year wink so I am looking for a school that will enforce the boundaries it lays down. I'm therefore glad to hear that the new Head is following through with that, as I had heard things were a bit lax under the old Head.

I also completely agree with NorhamGardens about a rising tide floats all boats!

I think it's a combination of picking a school that your child will thrive in (ie. right academic level and right extra curricular opportunities) along with the right housemaster and school ethos that let's the children know where the boundaries are and then enforces them.

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