Overseas mum more research done so more questions..... Sorry(17 Posts)
I have now completed another 10 hrs research over two days and have some comments and questions if you will bear with me
Our first choose schools were to be single sex, full boarding and accessible to Gatwick
1st choice - Harrow
2nd choice - Charterhouse (due to location)
DS is not academic enough for Winchester and we are already too late for Radley (location not great either)
Now all of these school are what I would call top tier - ie:the well known names particularly for us overseas folks and therefore numerous students vying for only a few spaces. We do not have the luxury of a prep school head advising us on whether our son will make the grade academically so these schools are a long shot. So I need to understand that second tier of school that meet our criteria.
Now I know there are second tier schools lesser known but equally good with academic results and fabulous pastoral care. My brother many years ago went to Bromsgrove school - awesome school amazing facilities and results, but off the radar, simply ideal for my Midland based parents.
If I forego the single sex - would Canford and bryanston school come into this catagory?
I have researched fully Christ hospital and am a little anxious about that school. There are so many negative comments. We may well go and visit the school but need to find some schools a little less quirky any ideas for that second tier?
I should say straight off eton not considered because I don't like the size and Wellington was discounted because I am not a fan of the headmaster!
I'm not one of Etons biggest fans but I think you would find that the size is not such a problem as you might think. Most on MN are not fans of Anthony Seldon so your not alone there!
Most of the negative comments re CH will be about full fee payers. Most Old blues are very against the idea of overseas and day pupils who pay the full fees, as they feel this is against the ethos of the school, and of course they themselves benefited from the substantial bursery system and wish this to continue.
Sadly the world has changed in the last 10 years with the financial crisis hitting the endowments hard, and some changes were needed. All I can say is that my son has been there for 18 months and is very happy.
Parents won't be moving in the same circles as those from eton etc though
Your biggest problem is that many of the "second tier" schools e.g. Bryanston which Im not sure is that convenient for Gatwick by the way and no less inconvenient than Radley which is not that far from the M4 are primarily weekly boarding e.g. going home on Saturday after matches coming back Sun night or even Monday morning (I think thats what friends at Canford do). Don't get me wrong there are full boarding schools in the second tier but the real ones like Radley are often in the "top tier" so you do need ti be careful.
Magdalen College School or St Edwards Oxford (a little further but pretty easy run down the M40 to London airports)
Magdalen doesn't have any boarders! Kings Canterbury is definitely worth looking at full boarders in the majority the rest day. We know lots there it takes a very board range of personalities all bar one have been happy. Its can be an easy 1 1/2 hour drive to Gatwick but some bloody idiot has put the M25 in the way so it can take forever!! Lots from all over the world so there might be transport at to airports. Tonbridge is fab ex.surmaster at St Pauls so very modern ethos fantastic sporting facilities and good links in to London but only 60 -65% boarders and Tim Haynes (the head) would be the first to admit hardly any full boarders so very empty at the weekend
Thanks we have friends children at tonbridge and they spend weekends on there own - disappointed to hear that about Canford. That was a real hope for me
Kings Canterbury really is too far as any family is guild ford based but I guess I will have to consider it.
Bryanston will be the same a friends DS was only telling mw the other week how most go home at the weekend. Marlborough? Very similar to Kings lots of full boarders and a few day children. Goodish for Guildford I don't think they would think of themselves as 2nd tier! Very sporty but crap train links etc. Re: Radley there is another list least there used to be I think its called the wardens list for people who have not registered in time its possible to get a place if your on it becasue it will be on the same radar as those wanting Eton for their DS's but who don't find out till yr 6 or even later if there on Eton's waiting list. Talk to the admissions office.
St Edwards is also full boarding; the vast majority or day. Not as academically selective as Kings or Marlborough although new head addressing this, good sporting facilities and renowned for its high standards pastoral care it is also cosmopolitan and liberal which might or might not suit depending on your point of view. Oxford is another great city plenty to see and do if you visit and good links for Heathrow but M25 (my pet hate) problem again for Gatwick.
Have you considered Whitgift or Caterham? Both with excellent results and convenient for Gatwick.
Its worth checking numbers of proper full boarders very carefully. The independent schools inspectorate details on their reports how many "full" boarders there are in a school but I suspect their definition of full boarders may not be mine; in all weekend and not going home for Sat/Sun night. According to their report Tonbridge has 477 full boarders and no weekly ones I'm sure your friends will testify that that's not correct.
I endorse Happygardening's view that you have to do your own research on the subject of whether a school is really "full boarding". For example, contrary to what's been said earlier in this conversation, at Canford all boarders must spend 50% of weekends in school, and this rule is actively monitored. In five years, I've never had a request to come home because the house has emptied out, and if DS does come home, he often brings an overseas friend with him. Having said that, it would be quite a trek to and from Gatwick each term, although there are a few who do it. Can I suggest you phone the admissions offices of the schools on your list? I'm sure you'll learn a lot from the way they answer your very sensible questions.
No idea of full boarding numbers but what about Hurstpeirpoint or Ardingly
I also wouldn't rule out Eton because of size alone, it doesn't feel like a big schhol. The houses are quite small (about 50 boys in each) with a very strong community spirit. It's most definitely full boarding, lots of overseas boys and lots to do at weekends.
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