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Boarding school for DD

(25 Posts)
always34never Sun 23-Feb-14 12:10:58

Considering sending dd to boarding school in the UK from Australia where we live.
DD is a good all rounder, would be going into sixth form for boarding. She isn't top of her year but definitely near the top, quite arty/musical, not super sporty except in water sports (loves water polo, swimming, sailing, anything water related) and each year competes at at least county level but it isn't a main focus for her. She has been to an all girls day school and hated it so not super keen on all girls but if it was the right fit she might reconsider. She'd quite like to go to a school where girls enter only in sixth form but we're not sure.

As we're overseas we haven't had a chance to visit at any schools but are looking at Marlborough, Canford, Shrewsbury, Caterham, Malvern college, Elham college and possibly Woldingham although dd would probably prefer co-ed. Does anyone have any advice/thoughts on these choices?
Thanks, any ideas would be appreciated!

MillyMollyMama Sun 23-Feb-14 13:31:33

Have you looked at compatability of the curriculum? Do you want International Baccalaureate or A Levels? Do you want a UK university? The schools you mention will have non UK students, but what will your DD do at exeat weekends when the schools empty? Some empty at other weekends too. She might be the only Australian in a sea of Chinese students with no UK based parents so check this out. Presumably you will need to appoint a guardian.

I know Marlborough is selective at 6th form entry, and not all applicants get in, so I would talk to these schools to see if they will take her due to possible curriculum issues. Then short list the ones that are positive.

always34never Mon 24-Feb-14 06:24:57

The classes she wants to take are classes all schools offer, she's quite flexible about thee things, as long as there are good teachers and she doesn't mind doing either the IB or A levels, the subjects she wants to do fit into either. She would like to go to a UK university. She has relatives in London and throughout north wales so in any compulsory holidays/weekends she could stay there and appointing a guardian isn't a problem.
What sort of curriculum issues?
Also, if anyone could suggest some good schools we'd be grateful.

nickymanchester Mon 24-Feb-14 09:55:41

Perhaps also have a look at Oakham. They do both IB and A levels

It's co-ed and the vast majority are boarders.

About 12% of pupils are from overseas. They have a wide mix of different nationalities amongst the overseas students so you won't have the situation that Milly mentions above. A number join in the sixth form from other European countries to do the IB there.

Water sports is strong there and they've got amazing sailing facilities, being next door to a 12 sq km reservoir. They compete in different dinghy classes at national, European and world championship levels.

It's also less than 2 hours on the train to get there from central London. So, it wouldn't be a massive journey.

nickymanchester Mon 24-Feb-14 09:58:24

Also forgot to say art and music also very good there as well

EasterHoliday Mon 24-Feb-14 09:58:28

what about one of the UK boarding schools who've opened in malaysia / singapore? it's a hell of a lot of travelling / jet lag to deal with

Dustylaw Mon 24-Feb-14 20:13:12

Have a look at The Leys. It is a co-ed boarding school which also has day pupils. Facilities are fabulous and it is a 10 minute stroll into Cambridge. That is really important not only for the extra-curricular activities but also because a sixth former coming all the way from Australia would surely enjoy being on the doorstep an interesting and beautiful place (as a parent you would also be interested in the fact that it is a very safe place as well). Also 10 minute walk to the station with 45 minute trains into King's Cross. One thing that also makes it suitable is that a proportion of the day pupils leave at the end of the fifth form in order to go to one of the excellent and free local sixth form colleges and new sixth formers arrive for A levels - hence your daughter would not be the only new girl and indeed could choose one of the boarding houses for new sixth formers. Very good teachers, nice ethos, renowned for all round education and yes, they do sailing. By the way, I think there is a real advantage if choosing a boarding school to go for one where girls are not just an add-on in the sixth form.

always34never Mon 24-Feb-14 20:52:48

nickymanchester, thanks for your suggestion. DD actually isn't too keen on oakham (from what she saw on the website), not sure why, she said it just doesn't 'feel' right although she hasn't visited.

Malaysia or Singapore aren't really options. She has lots of relatives who can act as guardians in the UK which is not the case in other countries.

Dustylaw, The leys doesn't seem super academic but we will definitely explore the option. I think DD thought if all the girls entered in sixth form it would be easier to find friends (rather then breaking into an already established group) but I'd be very interested to know your opinion on this, thanks.

So far her favorite by far has been Culford except that they don't get very good results, Maybe a school similar to that would suit her. Does anyone know of one?

nickymanchester Mon 24-Feb-14 22:32:56

There was a recent thread about Culford here from 2012, I don't know if you've seen it:-

Culford is quite small as well so that might be what your DD is looking for.

As an alternative to Oakham, perhaps look at Oundle and Uppingham. Although there are very few places at Oundle in the sixth form, a lot of girls do join Uppingham in the sixth form. Both these schools have very good results:-

Uppingham School recruits approximately 195 new pupils each year. The majority of these join us at age 13 when there is space to accommodate 90 boys and 60 girls in the Fourth Form. In addition to this approximately 30 girls and 15 boys also join at Sixth Form level.

It might be worthwhile sending a private message to one of the MNers that seem to really know the independent sector very well. One MNer that comes to mind is happygardening

One thing I would say from what I have learnt myself is that you cannot just rely on the website. You really do need to visit each school to really understand what it is like.

nickymanchester Mon 24-Feb-14 22:33:29

Forgot to do the thing with the links again:-

Gigimama Tue 25-Feb-14 02:37:18

More schools for you to consider:
King's School, Canterbury
Rugby School
Sevenoaks School
Wellington College
All co-ed boarding schools with many extra-curricular activities

Eastpoint Tue 25-Feb-14 03:30:52

What will you do about the time she'll have off? Don't Australia have their long holidays in the northern hemisphere winter & then start the new school year at a different time?

Ozboz Tue 25-Feb-14 05:20:21

Look at Frensham Heights. It's alternative school but brilliant for free thinkers, especially musical, artistic, creative types. Not academically selective but still gets good results.

always34never Tue 25-Feb-14 22:55:46

Eastpoint - Do you mean what will she after she finishes year 10 in Australia? Or what will she do in school holidays?

Frensham looks lovely but not quite sure about the number of full boarders - we definitely don't want her to be lonely on weekends if everyone goes home.

Eastpoint Tue 25-Feb-14 23:30:10

Yes I meant after she finishes yr10 (or whatever it is in Australia, yr11 here). She will have a long time without school.

EdithWeston Tue 25-Feb-14 23:37:16

Oakham and Uppingham would both be a bit of a PITA if relatives are in North Wales, and Cambridgeshire and Suffolk are even further.

I don't really know the schools on your list, but have always heard positive things about Malvern.

The key question is how many of the boarders stay in school for non-exeat weekends. If the school empties out, then it could be rather dull even miserable to be left behind.

Dancingdreamer Tue 25-Feb-14 23:47:26

I haven't any direct experience of boarding yet but my DD has been looking at boarding options for 6th form so can pass on my experience so far.

Charterhouse takes intake of girls into 6th form. Not sure if you have looked at them. Seem to want highly academic entrants. Not sure how may foreign students join but was told lot of girls come from local independent girls schools.

Malvern has a big intake of foreign and UK students into 6th form. The feedback I have had from Mumsnet is that kids generally happy there.

Visited Rugby and was very impressed with school. They have a girls 6th form house for new entrants. It's only 40 mins away from Birmingham which has direct flights to UAE where you can then connect to Australian cities.

Hope that helps.

AliM999 Wed 26-Feb-14 00:05:20

As others have said, the most important thing for you to establish is the weekend culture. Uppingham, oundle, rugby are all full boarding schools including weekends (limited exeats). I have children in 2 of these schools and weekends work well. Culford is different. It is possible to go home every weekend if you want to and many do. There are many schools like this. Draw up your short list including other requirements only after you have kicked out weekly/flexi boarding schools as no matter how good the results, your daughter won't fulfill her potential if she is unhappy and one of the surest ways to find an unhappy boarder is to look at one who watches all her friends go home at the weekend! Second on my list would be to ensure a healthy sixth form intake.

always34never Wed 26-Feb-14 04:30:19

DD would probably start year 11 (year 12 in UK) and then go to the UK halfway through the Australian school year (start of UK school year) - I think most schools which take international students are OK with that and she's on the younger end of her year at school so she wouldn't be older than the other students in the UK.

Location isn't super important if it's a full boarding school because she wouldn't be leaving much and distance from relatives would be manageable.

Malvern looks nice but there doesn't seem to be much information abut pastoral care on their website.

Yes, definitely don't want DD to be unhappy because of being left alone on weekends and we will be investigating the number of full boarders each school has before making a decision.

Pythonesque Thu 27-Feb-14 17:21:12

I'm not in a position to help you choose schools but would agree that starting yr 11 in Australia before switching is probably important; not just for continuity but also to ensure she is up to standard. I grew up in Sydney and would estimate that, at the time, our HSC was roughly equivalent to AS in many subjects, SC certainly nothing like GCSE standards. That was a while ago - but I know the NSW syllabuses were being lowered further and have read with horror about A-level syllabus changes that sound horribly familiar just 15-20 years later.

Good luck in finding the right destination! Sounds a potentially great thing to be doing. My parents suggested I could look at university in the UK and, having now lived here several years, sometimes I regret not seriously considering it.

Elizabeth503 Fri 28-Feb-14 10:07:16

Have you considered Queen Ethelburga's up near York?

I know that they have a lot of international and forces students, so there are plenty of students still there at weekends - they've actually had an increase in the number of full boarders.

They also have two sixth forms tracks, the College and the Faculty.

If you're worried about differences in academic standards between the Australian system and the UK then the Faculty might be a good match. It's non-selective, but students still do A-Levels (as well an enrichment subject) and get excellent results and has a good history of getting their students into Russell group unis.

nickymanchester Fri 28-Feb-14 10:51:00

You might want to read some of the threads on here before considering Queen Ethelburga.

A number of posters here have made comments about this school that the school did not like.

As a result, this school threatened legal action over defamation. I believe they have done this on other websites as well - not just Mumsnet.

I don't know if I would like to send my DC to a school that feels it needs to resort to this sort of activity

diabolo Fri 28-Feb-14 13:28:29

nicky you linked to my Culford thread. [fame] grin

We did pick it for DS and we are incredibly happy with it. A lot of new 6th formers join and from all over the world so there would be no issues being the only new girl OP.

It's not super-academic though, definitely more of an all-round school so maybe not what the OP is looking for. That being said it certainly caters well for the academic ones and pushes them hard to achieve what they are capable of. And the sports facilities are fab.

Sharpkat Sat 01-Mar-14 01:27:38

Would be interested to know why she said no to oakham after visiting the website.

I was there a long time ago but still have strong links and it is a great place. Yes, north Wales is not that convenient, but Rutland Water would be perfect for her interests.

I think it is a fantastic school for turning out very well rounded individuals and there is so much going on.

mc80007 Sun 19-Apr-15 11:45:29

My DD is exactly the same. Went to all-girls in Aus, but come yr9 we decided she needed an English education. Considered Cheltenham College, Dean Close, Marlborough and Malvern and as soon as she had the tour round malvern declared on the spot she wanted to go there! V into water sports as well, competed at a high level in wpolo, swimming and sailed regularly in sydney. Although there is no wpolo yet hoping there will be some in the future. They offer swimming training with the school everyday, although if they want to take their training to the next level they can swim with the county club which are very good and train at Malvern Colleges (gorgeous brand new) pool. Fantastic boarding/house system, everyone fits in and loves it, although important to chose right house for child. Malvern make sure every child excels in chosen area/all round, with hundreds of available activities every afternoon (DD telling us she couldn't do everything she wanted to because there were so many choices, so having to switch activities next year to try everything). Everything about the school is first class and DD couldn't be happier, constantly telling us how much she loves the school (even happy to go back after holidays and sometimes says she misses it when not there!) Sending DS here when finishes prep school.

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