HELP! From International IB into Boarding Prep..(29 Posts)
Hi everyone, anyone.. :-)
Totally new to this but kind of desperate and I have found so much help on MM threads.
My son has been at a pretty small and really lovely International IB school with fantastic pastoral care since Yr 1- Now his dad (and him too) are keen to get him off to a boarding prep school. For a great number of reasons, I am finding this difficult.
Our son is bright, confident, sporty & quite outgoing (though sensitive still). His school is not particularly rigorous academically but caters for all abilities and till now, this has suited us because we consider the pastoral care, friendships, skill sets and values he has gained over the years to be tremendously important.
I see that he needs more & worry as mums do that it is right to give him the best we can and enable him to reach whatever potential he has. I also worry though that a prep school (a system which I admittedly know little of but hubby is a happy byproduct...) may be really prescriptive and hence somewhat restrictive, especially in comparison to the IB.
My son is so keen to go boarding though (yes, I'm questioning my mothering too Lol!!) and likes Port Regis where he has cousins. I dont want him to go but have no reason to do anything other than continue to support and encourage him as he needs therefore, trying to be open-minded about all this & try to seek the best fit for him and us as a family... So stressful!
I'd be deeply grateful to anyone who has patiently read all my jabber so far for recommendations for a school/s that is not crazy far from London, is broad and progressive in its approach to learning, embraces diversity & balance yet is strong on values(such as tolerance, respect)... a great environment that not only encourages but values their individuality...
Basically, a wishlist asking for very little huh?
Any help at all would be greatly appreciated!! Thank you!
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Thanks for all the recommendations & advice everyone!
Sorry, I have been offline for the last few days. It's really lovely to find so many willing to spare time to give such helpful responses (so very helpful...)
@Munashe, your post on IB vs the others is worth a thread by itself! I am admittedly pro-IB due to my own background, educational experiences and the like- but it certainly is, like everything really I guess; not for everyone. At the primary level however, in good hands, like you- I'd choose it's values and attitudes anytime, for any child. Your description of sevenoaks has me laughing (would love to hear detail on the car park to start with! :-), will definitely be taking your advice to go look see thank you.. May I ask where you did end up then? Cottesmore? Reviews do seem very, very good.
I'm yet to come across a Windlesham naysayer interestingly- surely, it can't be the perfect school, can it? Cannot wait to see for ourselves in about a week- seeing Edge Grove tomorrow and keeping my mind as open as you have all ever so graciously role modelled here- fingers crossed!
At the end of the day, our hope is that our kids are able to be happy and confident wherever so they can do the best they can- for themselves and others. To my way of thinking, having choices to explore is in itself, a great privilege.
Ardingly College, Sussex, offers IB, and has a prep school attached.
Haileybury College in Hertfordshire do IB as well.
I think you need to work backwards. Where you want him to go at 13+ then look at the prep schools.
Sevenoaks is incredibly hard to get in at 13+ for boys and even the feeder school manage to send just handful of children. Have you actually visited Sevenoaks? It has a very different feel to public schools. You really need to visit it and see if that's what you want. I loved the school and was dreaming about it for a long time but the moment I stepped foot in their car park I just knew it wasn't the school for us.
If your son is self motivated and doesn't need hand holding then Sevenoaks will be a great fit. Some of the stories I heard from the student who gave us a tour about what happens in the International Boarding house made me run even faster. Most have all nighters and don't sleep studying and while the student who showed us around was a day student he felt that pushed him to work hard at home. He was incredibly happy there and had moved from a highly sought grammar school Judd. So for the right child who is highly academic it is a fantastic school but you need to see it. It has a much more modern feel to it and has a forward thinking international outlook. It has much more of a university campus feel to it, the grand glass swimming pool on our way to the massive impressive theatre.
Do you want your son to continue with IB? Even at Sevenoaks they still do IGCSE at 16+ so you don't necessarily need to go down that route for him to take it in 6th form.
I think IB is fantastic but there really is just Sevenoaks doing it now. King College Wimbledon is reintroducing A levels. IB is fantastic but most universities demand higher points than A levels equivalent. I think this is what holds most schools from fully embracing IB and stops parents from being enthused about it. If Universities demanded like for like, I would choose IB anytime but as it is now A levels would be our choice. I know you are miles away from A levels but just another thought to make you even more confused. There are other day schools doing mix of IB and A levels, some seem to do very well but grapevine suggest its really the brainy ones who do IB so there results don't always tell the bigger story behind the headline breaking IB results.
By the way if you need information on Cottesmore you can pm me.
DS loved his boarding prep school because there was so much to do, including team sports and swimming-as well as lessons and communal meals. There was also plenty of company, which he thoroughly enjoyed. His whole perception was that it was really fun. He was succeeding and doing really well all around.
Prep school really suited DS - he was the kind of child that would ask, "What can I do?" whenever he had a free moment, so he just fitted in with all the activity.
I also enjoyed meeting the other parents.
My first-hand knowledge is limited to just one school I have PMd you its name. DS is now at a very good senior school
My suggestion would be to visit a few schools with an open mind and see how you and DS and DH - like them.
Have a look at Abberley Hall - might fit the ethos you are looking for, and whilst they don't struggle to fill places, they will generally make a space as needed, IYSWIM.
That wasn't meant to say anything about Ludgrove. Just that it is very well known.
Also, you mentioned looking at Sevenoaks. The feeder preps for that school are mentioned on their website:
^"What are the main feeder schools?
Amherst Primary, Bickley Park, Derwent Lodge, Dulwich Prep (Cranbrook), Hilden Grange, Holmewood House, New Beacon, Russell House, Sevenoaks Prep School, Sevenoaks Primary, Solefields School, St. Michael's, The Granville, Windlesham House, Yardley Court."^
OF those, your only real options (i.e. the ones that take male boarders) are New Beacon and Windlesham House. Dulwich Prep (Cranbrook)and Holmewood House do weekly boarding as well
Of New Beacon and Windlesham:
New Beacon has about 400 pupils of which 18 are boarders. They do not mention flexi-boarding. They're leavers destinations are (for boarding) mainly Tonbridge and Sevenoaks, but they also mention that boarding destinations in recent years have included Eton, Charterhouse, Westminster, Eastbourne, Whitgift, Cranbrook, Winchester.
Windlesham has about 300 pupils of which most (sorry, not direct number) are boarders. They have a wide variety of leaver's destinations, mentioned on this page.
New Beacon is a boys school and Windlesham is co-ed.
Hope I've helped!
This is probably not what you're looking for and I am not trying to push the school (as I have no experience with it) but have you seen this documentary about Sunningdale? It was my introduction to the world of boarding preps and very interesting, though almost advert like!
The main preps I have heard about, apart from Sunningdale and Windlesham, that are near London are:
Cheam School (co-ed)
St. Anselm's (co-ed)
Horris Hill (boys)
Actually, I'm not sure how close they all are to London.
Some others that I have heard of are Ashdown, Maidwell and the Elms.
Another vote for Windlesham. DD has just started there from an international IB school and is doing remarkably well in a short space of time. Amazing school and the teaching is working spectacularly for her.
I didn't think state boarding schools like Hockerill applied catchments for boarding ? It seems often easier to get a boarding place than day but again you may be too late for 11+ entry. Also may not fit your dh's idea of Prep school.
Happygardening, thank you btw for sharing the valuable 'inside info' on PR... :-)
Thanks for the recommendation WillStringer, I've had a look and Hockerill appears to be a state school well out of my catchment- looks like a great school.
Happygardening, I felt bad for thinking PR were motivated by just that myself! They never asked for an assessment or previous reports. They simply asked us to confirm a place immediately after we sent the registration form & fee- (though we did have a tour and sit down with the Head..)
I have read the excellent reviews for Windlesham (mostly here) & even though it's further out than we'd like, will take a look for sure.
We also visited Sunningdale yesterday and will be looking at Edge Grove too- any opinions on either? The Head at S/dale is fantastic and it ticks a number of boxes but lets down a little on facilities- which IMO is not always everything in a school but helps when your'e making big sacrifices for the kids...
"he really wants to go and Port Regis seem to want him"
Of course they do I have inside info on Port Regis they are really struggling to fill their vacancies at the moment.
Windelsham (Worthing way) is the one everyone recommends on here its feeds into a huge range of senior boarding schools.
My children went to Hockerill Anglo-European College and took the IB. The College Has a very strong pastoral side and caters for Boarders. Rail time to London c 40 mins www.hockerill.herts.sch.uk/
Thank you Musu, it does say so yes but they said they'd let us know after the half term- spaces do open up last minute so we could likely apply.
I've had a look at the websites (Patricia & Lizs) both of which are pretty informative- I like the look of Junior Kings... Kids seem happy and confident though, a marketing video is not likely to be anything but I guess..
I would look at which preps are feeders for Sevenoaks and take your lead from there. I would check first whether you are in time for Sevenoaks as their website states applications need to be made at least 2 years in advance.
You can check which schools offer IB here. Some are more academic/sporty/musical than others, some will be 11+/12+/13+, others 13+ only. If you decide to wait (and miss out Prep school ) then you would need one which offers its own entrance tests in lieu of CE for non-Prep candidates at 13+.
You have left it rather late for a september 2013 start...but places do come up at the last minute! If you are looking for somewhere near London, have you thought about Junior Kings in Canterbury? About one hour from St Pancras by train. Although most go on to Senior Kings, they also send to Sevenoaks and other schools in the South East. We have a number of friends with children there - all very happy. Sevenoaks also takes boarders at 11 but mainly local children. It gets more varied at 13 plus. Port Regis is a bit of a trek from London if you are looking for weekly boarding.
Lizs, I didn't realise that was an option- later entry that is..
I'd love any good suggestions if you know any, thank you.
Seeker, so long as our son is happy and thrives- I'm sure we can ignore who overrode who..(smiley) so, I'd love any good recommendations if you have any thanks.
OP- you don't want him to board, your dp does. He is going to board. That sounds like his wishes over riding yours, to be honest.
tbh you have left it quite late and you may find already too late to register for Sevenoaks et al. In recent years they have been oversubscribed and closed registrations early. Others will have pretested in year 6 and shortlisted already. If the secondary is a CE entry school he may well have some ground to make up in terms of Latin, RS , History and Science in a relatively short space of time. If you prefer IB longer term why not look for a secondary now which follows it in later years , some will have 12+ entry which he can do in year 7 or wait until year 8 for the 13+ intake.
Thank you all for responding so promptly!
He is 11 in Yr 6 so looking for entry into Yr 7. His present school have all 3 levels of the IB but to be very honest, the facilities let them down higher up hence us seeking other options.
We have yet to look at Senior schools but we like the look of Sevenoaks mainly because of their record of IB- havent been anywhere or done anything yet- crazy..
His fathers wishes don't carry more weight than mine actually, sorry if it came across as such- we just find ourselves on different pages as to whether boarding prep at this stage is best for him but we both only want what is best for him...
We aren't overseas, we live in London and it'd be great if he could have flexibility in the boarding if he does go- too far to travel makes it harder to be involved with school events etc..
Time is not on our side and though he can stay where he is and it would be ok for the moment, he really wants to go and Port Regis seem to want him- but it's far and I know little of it or any comparison for that matter..
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