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Overseas mum struggling with maze of Boys boarding schools - full Boarding??

(25 Posts)
Caribbeanpuss Wed 13-Feb-13 17:01:49

We live in the caribbean (have done for 16 years) and are now looking to send our 10 yr old to UK boarding school at 13.
Our son is no genius but he is bright, articulate and sporty so we had pretty much decided on Charterhouse as our first choice, with other options explored. But now talking to many mums the flexi boarding option means that Sundays these properties are like Ghost Towns.
Does anyone have experience of Charterhouse Sundays????
We are now also looking at Harrow (full boarding) Winchester(which seems to be full boarding) but I am not sure how he will stand up to the academic level at these institutions.

My other concern is that we seem to be moving further and further away from Gatwick, which was one of my main criteria - distance from the airport, particularly as his only guardian lives around that area too.

Does anyone have any opinions or advice to offer or even alternatives that we have not considered.

Many thanks

YouBrokeMySmoulder Wed 13-Feb-13 18:40:58

Have you considered Epsom College? Near to Gatwick, lots of 'foreign' dcs (Chinese, Russian etc) so presumably full boarders. It isnt a particularly academic school but is sporty.

FatalFlowerGarden Wed 13-Feb-13 19:47:47

Whitgift School is opening a boarding house this Sept. Worth considering if travel to Gatwick is an issue - East Croydon is on the Gatwick Express or it's less than an hour's drive to the airport... And utterly fabulous for a sporty boy!

motherstongue Wed 13-Feb-13 20:12:11

We looked at Charterhouse and were told he would have been their 1st Scottish boy in years!!! We felt it was perhaps a bit provincial, but I stand to be corrected. Also didn't like the boarding houses at all, we saw both old and new boarding houses and the boys who took us on the tour were scathing regarding the food. Based on the boarding houses alone I wouldn't have sent my son there. We looked at both Eton and Harrow, he was offered places at both, we chose Harrow as we felt the pastoral care was second to none. I think,according to what I read here on mumsnet, we must be one of the few families to ever turn down a place at Eton or at least that is how it seems especially in favour of Harrow!!!!

racingheart Wed 13-Feb-13 22:21:34

Reeds is also near to the Gatwick run and very good. Great pastoral care if he's 1000s of miles from home. They have an ex-pro cricket teacher IRRC and a great track record in sport. Tim Henman went there. Lovely school. It's on the up.

grovel Wed 13-Feb-13 22:33:47

Lancing? Christ's Hospital? Brighton College? Sevenoaks? Tonbridge?

OP, I don't know how boarding works at these schools - they are close enough to Gatwick. None have quite the same "kudos" as the schools in your post but they all will have champions on here.

happygardening Wed 13-Feb-13 23:42:43

Lancing: mainly weekly boarders and high church, Brighton College: no Saturday school and weekly boarders and day, Sevenoaks ditto, Tonbridge: very sporty but 60% boarders nearly all weekly, Christs nearly all full boarders. OP Harrow is quite difficult to get into I think 8 applicants for every 1 place definitely full boarding although I think all allowed home on Sunday, what about Radley your probably to late for normal entry but you can be on the "wardens list" and be lucky and get a place all full boarding increasingly impressive exam results sport is really big especially rugby, Marlborough and Kings Canterbury both mainly full boarding no weekly only a small % of day and again sport pretty serious especially at Marlborough and a good % of children from abroad, Eton only full boarding sporty they might be able to come out on Sat evening if the parents ask at least I think that's what a friend said the other day again very over subscribed, Winchester only full boarding but they can go home for day on Sunday but not Saturday again a reasonable amount of children from abroad about 1/3 iny DS's house/yr stay in, academic expectations are very very high but no rugby and team sports in general are not big.
My DS has full boarded for nearly 9yrs we've learnt from bitter experience that if you want full boarding which due to our ocation we do if it's going to work then you need to be in a school where the preferably all or the vast majority full board. Uppingham only full boarding but probably to far away.

steppemum Thu 14-Feb-13 00:02:02

St Paul's? My brothers both went there, no idea what it is like now, but reasonable access to Gatwick
great for rowing if he is sporty!

goinggetstough Thu 14-Feb-13 00:07:01

Steppe sadly St Paul's doesn't have a great number of full boarders and as Happy mentioned above it really is important that there are enough full boarders especially if your family is abroad and I say this as a overseas parent of 2 boarders!

pugsandseals Thu 14-Feb-13 00:20:40

That would be an easy choice for me - Worth! Beautiful, monks, countryside etc. etc.

pugsandseals Thu 14-Feb-13 00:21:39

& 10 minutes from Gatwick by car/taxi!

happygardening Thu 14-Feb-13 08:08:22

St Paul's has about 30 boarders mainly 6 th formers most from abroad it would never claim to be a boarding school theyll telll you they are a day school where it's possible to stay! But my DS got a place and we agonised over it. If you have family in London or who visit London fremqiently its a very flexible in that you can take them out for dinner/ theatre etc in the weekday. My DS found that the boarders were very happy there and of course loved being in London and all it has to offer. It is also surprisingly sporty bearing in mind is academic achievment.
But the OP say her child is bright but no genius the teacher who interviewed us said that they only take "the best of the best" and this is reflected in the ever improving results as they have always done even when my DH was there now many moons ago want to get better results than Westminster. The year my DS applied there were 900 applicant for 75 places so they can afford toicky dry picky. Finally there is also a ridiculously early registration the OP doesn't say how old her DS is but I suspect she's missed it.
OP remember as a general principle most boarding schools (a small handful of big names aside) are struggling to fill there vacancies and will be vague about their actual numbers of full boarders especially once they know that is what you looking for. I've repeatedly told a story on here about a how "quite a few boarders staying in for the whole weekend" after putting the housemaster in an arm lock turned out to be 2 normally and 3 on a good day! Another friend literally stood at the end of every bed having found the house master rather "is this one in for the whole weekend?" found again the numbers were actually 2-3 rather than the "well err umm err about well obviously it varies I can't put a definite figure on it but well let me think about 15-20 ish shall we say".
Boarding is a big adjustment for a child what ever age they start all children will get home sick this is inevitable but as all housemasters matrons will tell you those who throw themselves into all that is offered get the most out of it, also boarders usually live in close knit communities most make friends within their own house and obviously no one can like everyone there is nothing worse for a child to find that his friends have gone home Saturday afternoon and aren't coming back till Sunday evening or even Monday morning and he's left with a couple of others one he's not mad on and one he can't stand oh and even worse if he's in tiny village in the middle of nowhere.
I don't know what experience others who recomend school on here have had and Im not disputing the quality of the actual schools mentioned but I have had lots of experience of having a full boarders in a weekly boarding school as had going who I think will agree with me and know how it works and how it effects your DS. Go for a school which is a "full" boarding school with a small % of day children. Those mentioned above, as Ive already said im sure are lovely schools; but Worth Reeds Epsom Colege, do not fall into the proper full boarding catagory I'm affraid.

Daisy17 Thu 14-Feb-13 08:15:10

Another vote for Christ's Hospital here, I was there for seven years and loved it. Gorgeous grounds, virtually full boarding, loads of activities and opportunities. The fees are also means tested so depending on your income can be far less expensive than some and also means a wide social mix among the pupils. Academic standards are good but not scarily high. Give it a look!

happygardening Thu 14-Feb-13 08:20:29

A MNetter called Derekthehamster has a DC there I'm sure she'd happily tell you all about it. It is I believe pretty over subscribed because of it's generous bursary policy but I guess OP you able to pay the full fees so I think it may not be such an issue. I too hear great things about it I personally couldn't hack the uniform but that's just me!

Daisy17 Thu 14-Feb-13 08:24:16

I loved my uniform. grin But then I'm a bit of a history nerd so it suited me to trot around in Tudor get up all day..... Mind you, each time they canvas the pupils on whether to get rid of the uniform the result has always been overwhelmingly to keep it. Lovely and warm in winter, too.....

happygardening Thu 14-Feb-13 08:33:59

I've just got a thing about uniforms!!

derektheladyhamster Thu 14-Feb-13 19:04:38

I'm a lady hamster now grin

Christ's Hospital is doing wonders for my son he loves it there, If you're willing to pay full fees you'll avoid the scrabble for burseries.

daisy17 My son is also very proud of his 'Housey'

happygardening Thu 14-Feb-13 19:09:25

Derek you need a name change it just sounds so male!

derektheladyhamster Thu 14-Feb-13 19:18:36

I know, ladyderekthehamster was the other alternative grin

happygardening Thu 14-Feb-13 19:36:09

Derek is a fab name for a hamster!

Caribbeanpuss Fri 15-Feb-13 00:16:26

Thanks folks - Christ hospital school certainly deserves a visit. I am truly beginning to wonder if I am going to have to forfeit my distance to gatwick in order to get full boarding. We have been told charterhouse is not empty at weekends but each year that will vary based on the student mix so there is no guarantee is there?
Two of our friends have boarded their children from age 11 to guarantee a place in one of the top schools but I really do not think our only child will be ready by 11. He is only 93/4 now but is a home boy
Conversely I have also heard if your child is from overseas you stand a "little" more chance getting in that a local child of a similar academic standard? Does anyone have experience of this?
Sorry so many questions
Thank you so much for your help thus far.

happygardening Fri 15-Feb-13 00:28:35

"Two of our friends have boarded their children from age 11 to guarantee a place in one of the top schools"
My DS was at a boarding prep with some day children both day and boarders got into "top schools so I don't think it makes any difference especially as you're abroad. I'm a great advocate of boarding but I would not send a 9 year old to board in another country 13 is a much better age. There is a big difference between a 9 yr old and a 13 year old.
"We have been told charterhouse is not empty at weekends but each year that will vary based on the student mix so there is no guarantee is there?"
Obviously you cant guarantee the student mix at any boarding school but on a positive note the number of children from abroad in UK boarding schools is I believe increasing year on year. I personally don't like Charterhouse but I know others who rate it highly.
"Conversely I have also heard if your child is from overseas you stand a "little" more chance getting in that a local child of a similar academic standard? Does anyone have experience of this?"
Frankly a few notable exceptions aside most boarding schools are struggling to fill their vacancies.

derektheladyhamster Fri 15-Feb-13 08:03:31

Going back to my comment about the scrabble for bursery places, CH only take 10% full fee paying pupils (and that was a tricky increase to get past the Governors, from all accounts) But the kids and teachers have no idea which students are bursery places and which aren't.

I don't think they are running close to the 10% atm

Dustylaw Fri 15-Feb-13 14:08:26

There seems a knowledgeable answer from Carthusian in the thread above.

retvet Mon 01-Apr-13 01:16:45

Christ's hospital has its own train station. Its easy from Gatwick. They take full fee payers now and have open days. The matrons at CH are very good. I asked my son if he wanted to move for sixth and he wanted to stay. My daughter refused to take the entrance exam and has voted to go elsewhere. I think it depends on the child and I would let them go look and see. If he's bright articulate and sporty have you considered Gordonstoun. Most folks board there and it felt happy and there is a real mix of children and there is excellent sporting facilities and I've heard the head is very good. Its via Aberdeen or inverness airport but the school pick you up I think. I always felt at home there though only attended one year and still keep in touch with friends made there. I would check how many stay at weekends. CH Gordonstoun both mostly boarding and activities at weekends. Don't rely on league tables , go and look. league tables don't mean very much imo as don't relate to kids abilities or backgrounds.

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