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Help! Need advice on senior schools SW London/Surrey/boarding

(58 Posts)
Twickenhamum Thu 25-Oct-12 21:28:58

Hello everyone, this is my first post and I need your help!
My son is in Year 4 at a Surrey prep and his head has advised parents to start researching senior schools now.
My natural inclination would be to register for the most academic ones, either day or boarding (St Paul's, Westminster, King's College Wimbledon, Hampton, Eton, Winchester College in no particular order).
However, and it's a big however, I am not entirely sure whether my son would really thrive in a highly pressurised academic environment (and that's assuming he would pass the tests) and would welcome any suggestions for good schools.
My boy is very bright but easily distracted, and is as capable of acieving peaks of academic excellence as of completely switching off and making really silly mistakes. While he will spend hours reading books on topic that capture his interest, he will happily do the minimum work required on stuff he finds boring. At present, he is towards the top of Set 2 in English and maths, average at sport (average to good in rugby) and a beginner (with moderate interest) at two musical instruments. More importantly, he is not very emotionally robust and am not sure how well he would take it if he were to sink to the bottom of the pile in a very competitive environment.
Good university exit is important to me, but obviously my son's happiness takes precedence. Does anyone have any suggestion for suitable day or boarding schools? We are considering both at this early stage.
Many thanks!

Tuppenyrice Fri 27-Jun-14 12:01:12

Sorry to resurrect this thread but just wondering where you decided on?

SavoirFaire Fri 18-Jan-13 23:36:43

I think you need to chill out. No one can look at all those schools and stay sane. Shorten your list. Your child will probably achieve similarly wherever he goes.

corlan Fri 18-Jan-13 22:47:55

Have you thought about Twickenham Academy?

moimaman Fri 18-Jan-13 15:34:32

I agree with Annelongditton, it's not easy choosing that early. A child that age changes so much... I have a daughter in a single sex grammar school and one at Dover College. I would say that Dover College offers my year 7 daughter (who sounds a bit like your son) the ideal combination... the teachers know her very well and ensure she is pushed when needed and supported when she is day-dreaming. So far a great choice. What I really like too is the mix of British children and internationals. Her outlook on the world is very open. University wise, their results are good and there is a wide range of courses attended. Check their website it is very comprehensive. At the end of the day, it's a bit like buying a house, you need to get a feel for the place. Good luck!

Annelongditton Tue 30-Oct-12 12:43:36

See where you're coming from, and having a prep that scatters in all directions doesn't help. I think you are right to start looking at schools early, schools always seem to pick the same open days. If you are at a leafy Surrey prep with lots of facilities these are probably more important to to you than you realise, you just take them for granted and assume that all schools have them!
Cranleigh may suit you, it has been suggested to quite a few friends for their DS's, it is very popular with prep school heads along the A3. I have never been, but someone on MN will know it.
I am looking for somewhere for my DD for 13+, ideally not to board, but with boarding school standard facilities. My favourites are Epsom and City London Freemans. They both have big school bus networks, and shuttle to the rail stations. As someone has said you need to think about transport, especially if you are working.

Knowsabitabouteducation Tue 30-Oct-12 09:39:26

If you are looking at weekly boarding, check out the public transport options.

While you may be happy to drive back and forth twice every weekend, that sentiment will soon wear very thin.

difficultpickle Tue 30-Oct-12 07:28:32

Same here Twickennamum in terms of working but I'm worried that arranging visits so early will be a waste of time. I chose ds's prep when he was 3 (he started there at 4). Good school for him then but completely the wrong school by the time he was 8. I couldn't have predicted how he would change which makes me concerned about senior school choices. Good luck with your visits.

Twickenhamum Tue 30-Oct-12 06:59:05

Thank you so much for the detailed information. I am a bit wary of fashionable schools so Wellington, and possibly Marlborough are looking like a less appealing prospect at the moment.
AnneLongDitton, my son's prep is unusual in that, even though it is day, it feeds a lot to many different boarding schools, plus the usual day hothouses and a bunch of local schools. The most academic tend to go to St Paul's, King's, Hampton, Tonbridge, and Eton, while the least academic usually go to Reed's or St John's.
My son falls in neither camp: he is doing well academically but is not a superstar (he is at the top of the second set); he will not take well to being bottom of the pile and doesn't thrive in a hugely competitive environment, but at the same time, he will, perhaps paradoxically, do significantly better when he is stretched and challenged (he tends to lose focus otherwise).
So I am looking for a strange beast, an academically challenging school (boarding or day, coed or single sex) that doesn't out enormous pressure and (but that's my preference) ideally sends pupils to good universities. Radnor House sounds like the right mix, for example, but it's somewhat telling that the head and staff at your son's prep didn't send their children there...
Bisjo, I work so I have limited time to go and visit schools and need to spread this across two years (4 and 5) especially because it looks like I will have to visit a lot of them to find a couple that could be right...
If I ever live again, I am going to send my children to a 4-18 school and save myself all the stress!

difficultpickle Mon 29-Oct-12 21:30:11

That is the only school I definitely know I won't look at for ds!

EBDTeacher Mon 29-Oct-12 21:27:06

Wellington is 13+ only.

difficultpickle Mon 29-Oct-12 21:18:20

Anne I thought Wellington didn't start until year 9?

blue2 Mon 29-Oct-12 20:51:41

I'm not far from Frensham Heights etc. The heights is still going strong.

Pierrepont (I think its pronounced) is now a Christian Centre.

Annelongditton Mon 29-Oct-12 20:46:42

Going through your list in similar order:

Beware Hampton for 13+, they have some big feeder preps who take most of the places and it sounds like your ds isn't at one so it would be very difficult for him to get in, unless you move him now.
Kingston Grammar have stopped taking an extra class in at year 9, but they have usually got some places, I think there were about 10 this year, as they loose a few in year 7 & 8.
I am looking at Epsom and St Johns for DD at 13+, and would rank them in that order. Epsom is expensive and is known for expensive extras,that puts some parents off, but has the opposite effect on others.
Numberwise Wellington for boys was harder to get into than Hampton for DS's year, he is now Y8 - it is very popular and always in the news, and I do agree that is due to having the most self-promoting head in England. Marlborough is similarly fashionable courtesy of the Middletons.
DS's prep is very local for Radnor House, the head and staff make all the right noises about it, but they haven't chosen to send their own DCs there.

What schools does your prep have the strongest links with? Where do most go onto? Most preps have strong links with a small number of senior schools.

Issy Mon 29-Oct-12 15:59:09

Ah! This Pierrepoint:,_Frensham

Which was closed in the '90s.

mummytime Mon 29-Oct-12 15:13:43

Nope there was a school in Surrey/Hampshire called Pierpoint, just down the road from Frensham, Moore House and Edgeborough, but it disappeared years ago.

LIZS Mon 29-Oct-12 14:10:39

Hurst definitely still going but not the most academic - Ardingly and Worth similarly. You could perhaps consider Brighton College.

Issy Mon 29-Oct-12 14:03:55

"Pier point closed years ago"

If the poster meant 'Hurstpierpoint', I think it's still very much open as a friend of mine is the headmaster there! It's website is temporarily down for maintenance.

happygardening Mon 29-Oct-12 08:18:45

Isn't part of going to boarding school the camaraderie of being in a house and having the opportunity to mix with all ages. The older ones help the younger ones and also usually assist with prep supervision bed times etc. many house activities/interhouse competitions extend across all year groups again with older children taking significant roles.My DS has always spent time talking to those in the 6th form istening to their plans for gap years universities etc. this has without a doubt helped him formulate his own plans. For those starting at senior schools in yr 9 the next five years fly by now it's frightening how fast it's going. When we were looking at senior schools I thought that the idea of a seperate house for first years was very beneficial for the child who'd never boarded or a shy child but are we looking at it throught adult eyes many parents worry about sending their DC off to boarding school and does a seperate house for first years make parents feel more comfortable? Now we're actually at the senior school I personally think that the benefits of starting off with all years in one house might outweigh the benefits of starting in a house with only your yr group. I recently watched the concern shown by an older boy for an unwell first year in his house ensuring he had books snacks etc both have without doubt benefited from living in a mixed yrs environment.

difficultpickle Mon 29-Oct-12 08:14:20

I think a single year boarding house could work well for those not used to boarding but it would be a big change for those dcs who boarded at prep. Ds's prep boarding house has a complete mix of ages and I don't think he'd like to be stuck with just his year.

EBDTeacher Mon 29-Oct-12 07:50:28

We were there the year they set up Faulkners at Bradfield and TBH to start off with the behaviour up there seemed to be a bit wild. Putting all the Y9s together did give them confidence- maybe to the point where, within their little domain, they were too big for their boots!

I'm sure the school have got a grip on that now though. They were tightening up quite a lot of aspects around the time we left.

happygardening Sun 28-Oct-12 23:39:12

Bryanston also do the same thing with their first years and can then request two friends who they want to be with when they move for the second year and are guaranteed to get one. Initially I thought it was a very good idea but I now wonder if its unsettling it's like starting all over again when pressures of work etc are increasing so now I'm not so sure.

uoYekorByMredluomS Sun 28-Oct-12 20:57:56

St johns probably by your description. You have to be very robust at Epsom rather like charter house. I thought whitgift boarding was going to be mostly for overseas students.

goinggetstough Sun 28-Oct-12 20:52:09

We looked at Bradfield and were impressed by their first year set up. I think it meant that all first years got to meet all their year group although it is true that maybe friends could be split up for the 2nd year. I am not sure whether pupils were allocated or they chose their house.

Bradfield has a high number of weekly boarders which might be great for you OP as your DS is at a Surrey prep and I presume you are reasonably close? Plus the boys play football and hockey, not rugby. Overall we really liked the school but were put of by the weekly boarding.

We have friends whose DSs are at Radley and were concerned about the all male atmosphere but it has not been a problem.

happygardening Sun 28-Oct-12 20:19:01

Bradfield puts all its first years in houses on their own for one year. Could be good as you have a wider selection of friends and less intimidating especially for first time boarders. On the other hand there's no guarantee that when you DC is moved into a main boarding house in their second year that they will stay with their friends. Also some children may like mixing with older children especilly the more mature and the older children may be good role models and be very supportive.

happygardening Sun 28-Oct-12 20:17:19

Bradfield puts all its first years in houses on their own for one year. Could be good as you have a wider selection of friends and less intimidating especially for first tome boarders. On the other hand there's no guarantee that when you DC is moved into a main boarding house in their second year that they will stay with their friends. Also some children may like mixing with older children especilly the more mature and the older children in the h

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