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Whitgift School - Comments appreciated

(24 Posts)
SugarHoney Sat 08-Dec-12 08:26:01

My DS has been admitted to Whitgift as full boarding, any comments appreciated. Whitgift dropped to rank 109 (2012) from 48 (2011) in FT Secondary School league table, anyone knows the reasons behind? We are from overseas and plan to visit school soon. Thanks.

Ladymuck Sat 08-Dec-12 15:15:29

Whitgift is a great boys school. Obviously the boarding option is new, but is being launched with enthusiasm. Certainly as a day school it is still hugely in demand, so i would expect if anything the league table position to climb further as they will be able to recruit some very good overseas candidates. They already have a very strong languages program, and for an independent school have a reasonably diverse selection of nationalities amongst the parents, so I would expect overseas boarders to thrive. They have always had a small number of overseas 6th formers who live in a house on site with a member of staff and his family in residence on the floor above, so whilst the boarding house is new, the concept of having overseas students is not.

I wouldn't be that worried about its exact league table position. The league tables focus very closely on what can be measured, so generally the grades. These can skew easily depending on what subjects being taken in a particular year (eg if you have a lot of able mathematicians choosing to take further maths as well as maths then you bump up the A* stars for normal maths as well as getting an additional A level result). In my experience reasonably small changes in numbers sitting for particular subjects have a potential to skew A level statistics, but not say university offers. Whitgift suffers in the league tables more than some of its peers as boys can opt for International Bacc orA levels or even BTECs if that is what suits the boys (admittedly it is only those pursuing professional sporting careers who end up with the BTECs), and most league tables have difficulty in managing a fair comparison of IB outcomes vA levels - often they end up in a different table.

Lfs2126 Sat 08-Dec-12 23:11:39

If you go on the website there is a section called publications which outlines the a level and ib results. The ib results are outstanding and increasingly seems to be the route that whitgift are pursuing. This may be why the a level results seem a bit askew. At the moment, the head boy and deputy are both international students, American and German I think so there is definitely a cosmopolitan feel. The school embraces talent in all fields; there are several truly gifted sportsmen as well as academic rocket scientists, one pupil is an international chess master.This leads to a more mixed population than the average public school and is all the better for it IMHO. Hope this helps x

SugarHoney Sun 09-Dec-12 01:44:46

Many thanks for your comments. Should I be concerned that the % of boarders will be small for Whitgift? Are the boys happy in general?

Lfs2126 Sun 09-Dec-12 09:35:16

Tricky. There is another quite lively thread covering this.Personally, I think that because whitgift is fairly urban, the boys won't be as cutoff as they might be in a more remote
School.The boarding house is central to all the facilities so it has a campus feel and the teacher looking after them comes from Harrow so plenty of experience. I'm sure you will get a gut feeling when you visit but I think the boys are generally very happy and are very proud of their school.

Ladymuck Sun 09-Dec-12 12:17:41

Whitgift has always been a school with an awful lot going on - the sporting ethos has always ensured that. Have a look at the website and search for Whitgift's fixture list - it is pretty full on from 7am to 7pm 7 days a week. And its facilities are widely used by the local community too.

Whitgift is pretty well funded by the underlying foundation, and so the facilities are exceptional, and I suspect that the boarding accommodation will be far superior to many of its peers. That said it is a new venture, and so there is no track record for you to call on. In general I would see the pastoral care in the school to be very good indeed, and for the few overseas students they have had to date frankly exceptional.

I don't think that the %age of boarders will be an issue, but the question is more of whether there are sufficient for your son to have good friends with whom he can bond. My observation from the boarders in ds's school is that pupils from the same country still like to hang out together in the evenings, so you may wish to enquire about that. I would also ask about the make up of the "matrons", and again best practice seems to be to have a mix - at least one or two "mumsy" figures, but also some younger ones as well (even men can be matrons now!).

basildonbond Sun 09-Dec-12 13:34:27

The head is very keen on the IB so a lot of the most academic boys are being encouraged to go that route - their average IB score last year was extremely high with a couple of boys getting the maximum points and several with 40+ tallies

There is a very high staff:pupil ratio and ime the pastoral care is very good - the teachers get to know the boys very well not just in lessons but with all the co-curricular stuff going on. CCF is compulsory for Y9 and optional thereafter so if you are a pacifist family that might be an issue

I'd say it's a happy, busy very boyish school - I don't know how it would suit shy retiring types but the boys we know there (happy, busy, boisterous types on the whole) are thriving

SugarHoney Mon 10-Dec-12 04:23:33

My son is the happy, active type so it sounds like he may fit in. We do not have much information about the school here, all your comments really help. Is Whitgift strong academically? I read another discussion quoting it as 2nd or 3rd tier school. Any comments? My son is studying at a local school with good reputation in my country, we would like him to pursue his study in an academically able school and have the international exposure.

Dustylaw Mon 10-Dec-12 13:17:31

It is such rubbish to talk of 2nd and 3rd tier schools in the first place so please pay no attention - even the people who talk about schools like that don't even mean it as a description of quality. Whitgift is an excellent and very well regarded school - strong academically and in sport, music etc. Any school which is so far up the FT league table is very strong academically. Even schools well down the FT league table are academically very good in the sense that pupils will perform to the highest levels of their ability - the position is usually just a reflection of how selective the entry is.

SugarHoney Mon 10-Dec-12 14:09:36

Thanks for the reassurance. I also read the ISI and Ofsted Inspection reports of Whitgift, the reports were positive in general. Are these the kind of reports you will read to help you assess a school?

Ladymuck Mon 10-Dec-12 16:26:36

Agree with Dustylaw. Yes it is a strong academic school. In my view a good school will concentrate on the boys first and the league tables second which is why there will be a few boys who have underperformed: other schools would have asked the boys to leave or not allowed them to sit the exams.

The ISI is made up of independent schools teachers reporting on one another by and large, so it is unlikely that you will ever see a negative ISI report. When I read an ISI report therefore I am mainly looking to see what has NOT been included, and I would always read the section on parents comments and complaints quite carefully. It is not uncommon to find something along the lines of "there have been a few complaints from parents but we find that the complaints process has been followed diligently" (which tells you nothing about whether the complaints have been dealt with or not!).

Mainly I look at university destinations, the range of academic subjects covered esp languages, arts subjects etc, and the range of co curricular activities. Assuming those are fine then it is a matter of trying to work out how my dcs would fit in, given the ethos of the school. Whitgift tends to suit boyish sporty boys who are full of testosterone rather than shay sensitive types. But it is a large school and there will be some sensitive types in there somewhere!

I'm surprised if there is an ofsted report? Usually it is one or the other although I think ofsted do inspect boarding (but Whitgift's boarding isn't fully up and running yet).

SugarHoney Tue 11-Dec-12 09:35:36

Thanks Ladymuck. There are a few boarders at Whitgift now and the Ofsted report dated 2010 commented on this group of boarders. According to its website, 40+ students from Whitgift were admitted in 2011 by top universities like Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial and UCL which I found to be impressive. Does anyone know about Oundle and King's Canterberry please?

Ladymuck Tue 11-Dec-12 09:53:14

You probably will want to start a new thread as they are in different geographic locations, and currently no UK mums have boarders at Whitgift - we'll all be local to the Croydon area. If you are visiting Whitgift, then there is another boarding school down the road from them, Caterham, which is co-ed, but has been a boarding school for longer. It is a slightly more rural location, and will allow you to compare and contrast.

Dozer Tue 11-Dec-12 20:32:39

I regularly get on the train with lots of whitgift boys, they come across as "naice boys": polite, nice to each other / other people and studious!

Dustylaw Wed 12-Dec-12 00:47:20

SugarHoney, Oundle and King's Canterbury are excellent schools and so is Whitgift. As is Caterham. You won't go far wrong if you choose any one of them. So in that sense you can relax. However, Oundle and King's are in different parts of the country and there are definite differences between all the schools. If you were looking at Oundle I'd probably say have a look at The Leys and Oakham and Uppingham. Do please don't worry too much about league table positions - any reasonably motivated child will fulfill their potential at all these schools - it's more a question of what sort of location, environment, feel and experience you and your son want eg how much do you want the school to be all or mostly boarders. You can get some of that by studying the schools but visiting is far better. On the other hand, they are ALL very good schools and well regarded.

racingheart Wed 12-Dec-12 12:33:38

Only thing I know about Whitgift is that the boys I know who are there absolutely love it.

SugarHoney Wed 12-Dec-12 13:45:35

In this part of my world, the UK boarding schools that are well known are Westminister, Eton, Harrow, Tonbridge and Brighton etc., am very thankful for all your comments to help me better understand our options.

Lovelandhope Mon 17-Dec-12 15:37:52

Hi all, I am also new here. Thank you for the info above.

We are from overseas, and my DS has been admitted to Whitgift boarding next year for Y10. We have done some research on the school, talked to the admission head both face to face and in writing, and have a few London friends visited the school.

We are very happy, and unless we have a confirmed offer from Tonbridge (on waiting list), we will join in September. Hope that this is a good decision.

Lovelandhope Mon 17-Dec-12 16:10:18

Can anyone give us advice on the necessary elements to be put on a scholarship ( sports/ music) applications to be seriously considered ?

My son has a Grade 8 in Viola, would that be "good"enough ?

Thank you.

basildonbond Mon 17-Dec-12 17:53:47

Hi - grade 8 at 14 (especially on a 'useful' orchestral instrument) should be good enough to put him in for a scholarship, however no idea how much (if anything) you might be offered. There are a couple of staggeringly talented musicians at the school who must be way past grade 8.

Sports scholars would need to be a minimum of county standard and at this stage of joining the school would probably need to be higher (regional or national standard) and it would help if your son is particularly talented at rugby, hockey or cricket - or fencing, running and swimming and he could enter modern pentathlons

LIZS Mon 17-Dec-12 18:03:18

They ask for minimum Grade 5 by age 13 although in practice it is often higher and by audition. Sports scholarships tend to go to those competing at county/good club level or with potential to do so. However scholarships are awarded for intakes at 11+ (year7) and 13+ (Year 9) and the deadline to apply for one of those in 2013 has already passed so you may be too late.

Lovelandhope Mon 17-Dec-12 23:17:32

Many thanks for your kind advice.

I will try to provide info re the above, and hoepfully can also get some good referrence from DS's music teacher. DS has just turned 13 last week, and so he is a year younger. Not sure if this is an advantage or otherwise, as many schools are suggesting us to go Y9 next September.

But in his school here, he is studying the last year of KS3 , and so we do not prefer to spend one more year doing probably the same syllabus.

He looks and acts younger, but he is also a very active, kind and sociable boy. Hope he can fit in quickly.

LIZS Tue 18-Dec-12 07:07:54

Are you sure he is being offered a Year 10 place? iirc Whitgift doesn't use NC year groupings. Also KS3 is a very vague term as it encompasses all the Year Groups between years 7 and 11 including GCSE and there are a lot of options within that so you don't necessarily cover the same syllabus. If he is having to make such a big transition to UK and to board then having a year to settle before exam work might actually be to his advantage.

Lovelandhope Tue 18-Dec-12 13:44:53

Thank you.

All the acceptance documents are saying 14+ or Y10, so it should be Y10, which is what we applied for.

Yes agree that starting with Y9 will allow more time to play and to settle down. But we do not want to "waste" a year's time if DS can do Y10. We know it is not easy, but my son is keen to try too.

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