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Ideas for boarding school for British girl coming from abroad, west of London

(27 Posts)
Flum Mon 28-Apr-14 03:29:08

Ok, so we live abroad in the carribean now but probably not for ever. Our eldest daughter is in year 5 at an International school now.

We are in a position to be able to send her to a private boarding school in the UK if that is what she would like. We have discussed it with her. She says she would like to but probably prefer to go at 13 than 11 as that feels too soon.

Now how to pick a school. I would like it to be quite near where we used to live ( Wiltshire) as we would probably settle there again if we moved back and might get a small flat somewhere as a base. Also we have lots of family and friends in Oxfordshire and Hampshire for her to visit on expats etc. I would be in a position to come over and see her quite a bit too.

She is very bright, capable and interested academically. She is not traditionally sporty. She lives music, plays couple of instruments. Loves science, art. Very into drama. She is confident and mature for her age but she does suffer from anxiety in competitive and exam situations. Gets herself in a real little pickle. For that reason I don't want to send her anywhere too hothousey as anyway I am pretty confident she will do ok academically anywhere as she enjoys that side of school.

So how to choose a school? I don't know much about them as didn't come from that background myself. My husband went to a public school but was boys. So I thought I would ask the ladies of Mumsnet, who are always brimming with knowledge and advice. Don't mind if girls school or mixed really, and she says she doesn't mind, can see advantages of both.

So hit me with some ideas and recommendations.... Also there must be a review website. Also need to know how we should prepare her for the entrance exams from over here!

Many thanks in advance. Never thought we would be in a position to be able to do this for our kids, so chuffed that we are but don't really know where to start.
Hope you are not all going to say should have out her. Name down at birth, as clearly too late for that!

Flum Mon 28-Apr-14 03:30:46

Exeats, not expats. And loves music not lives music. Doopid ipad.

Expatmomma Mon 28-Apr-14 06:13:19

I know an overseas family with children at Monkton Combe near Bath... They can not speak highly enough about the pastoral support and nuturing nature of the school.

mummytime Mon 28-Apr-14 06:52:49

I'd suggest St Catherine's Bramley - traditional start is 11, but I know they do take girls at 13 both from to 13 Preps and overseas. Strong Music and an inspirational Head,

However, I would actually start with the Good Schools Guide or the Gabbitas trust.

Good questions to start with are: does she want to stay international? Girls only or Co-Ed? And make sure its convenient for the airports/lays on transport.

outtolunchagain Mon 28-Apr-14 06:57:15

Kent but I would suggest Beneden if you want all girls , mostly because it is full boarding so for a slightly wobbly boarder no problems with people going home and also a full weekend programme. you will need to move quick though there lists get pretty full.

DPotter Mon 28-Apr-14 07:19:14

Please think through the starting age carefully. Many girls only private schools start at 11 even if they have an intake at 13, so it can pose integration issues even for the most confident. This was important for us when we moved DD (although we were only looking at day schooling).

MillyMollyMama Mon 28-Apr-14 11:51:45

Girls only secondary boarding tends to have a bigger intake at 11. If you want 13 then you need to continue her education somewhere for 2 years. Are you ok to do this in the Caribbean or would you need a boarding prep here? If boarding prep is a good idea, you will not do better than Godstowe at High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire. This gives 2 years preparation for senior school and lots of their girls go to senior schools at 13 so this is the norm for them. Godstowe girls also go on to a wide variety of boarding schools so you will get good advice regarding a suitable school in your preferred area. All your DDs interests would be accommodated at Godstowe too and they are non selective. A big bonus. If your DD is flustered by exams, you will find some senior schools easier to get into than others. For example Heathfield in Ascot, Berkshire.

bestboarding Mon 28-Apr-14 12:01:33

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

jo164 Mon 28-Apr-14 17:13:27

St Mary's in Calne is definitely one to look at in that area. Kingswood School, The Royal High School or Monkton Combe in Bath may be worth a look, but unsure of how many full time boarders. Dauntsey's is also a co-ed boarding school in Wiltshire which may be worth investigating. St. Mary's is definitely the most academic of those mentioned, but not sure of boarding numbers in any of them, which would be important for a full time boarder. They all start at 11 though.

Donthackmenow Tue 29-Apr-14 03:47:59

St Swithun's in Winchester.

Flum Wed 30-Apr-14 11:58:28

Great thank you. They mostly all seem to be girls schools. We would also be happy with mixed. So far have Marlborough and Dauntsey on list just because they are near our old house and have good reputations.

Flum Wed 30-Apr-14 12:02:35

She can stay at school here until 13 and it is a good school. Getting fluttery tummy at the thought of sending her at 11. Am going to research these schools anyway though.

Flum Wed 30-Apr-14 12:13:49

Really appreciate all the suggestions, everyone. Going to register with Good Schools Guide and start this process.

MillyMollyMama Wed 30-Apr-14 18:20:03

Girls boarding schools that start at 11 also have intakes at 13. However, you have to consider that friendship groups have already formed.

Shootingatpigeons Thu 01-May-14 01:44:07

I am a returned expat and though our girls returned day school I have ended up supporting / being Guardian to several.

Cheltenham Ladies' College very popular with expats with daughters, especially first time buyers. Plenty on the coach to Heathrow and they have taken the trouble to talk to international school teachers, who it is very popular with for their own children, to make sure they swap best practise on integrating cultures and making sure that , unlike other boarding schools I have visited, they don't treat anyone coming from overseas as different "others" so it becomes tribal. It feels like a good day school as pupils go back to their houses across town which I think feels more normal.

With Marlborough I think the previous Head was keen to change the ethos in that direction, not least because he was saddled with old "get your name down in time" admissions, but now new head and new popularity in UK hmm. You have to visit and decide for yourself whether any school is the environment in which your child coming from an International School would feel comfortable.

Have you not got a boarding school network where you are living now? Generally where there is an expat community of any size UK boarding school parents will come together to network. If there is that is bound to be a source of wisdom, and it usually arises from former International School parents.

mummytime Thu 01-May-14 06:17:52

What about Wells Cathedral School? A friends dd just went there and I also know a girl who was there a couple of years ago.

If you wanted somewhere "alternative" you could look at places like Frensham Heights - which certainly has a lovely Theatre etc.

Flum Fri 02-May-14 06:05:08

Thanks shootingatpigeons and mummy time. Small UK expat community here. Most people keep their kids at the INternational school or send them to US
schools. We may do that but not sure how long we wil stay yet.

mummytime Fri 02-May-14 06:26:00

Are you likely to stay until she is 16?
Where are you likely to go next?
There are IB schools and international schools in the UK, so that could also be an option.

Flum Sun 04-May-14 13:32:19

We can return whenever we want as we came here by choice not for work. Have ordered good school guide.

Flum Tue 27-Jan-15 17:56:23

Mmm, going to re-activate this as still unsure. We looked at Dauntsey's, Marlborough and Wellington when we were in UK last June. Wellington because her Grandad went there and it is very close to both Grandparents. She loved it. It also seemed a good choice because it is an IB school. She currently goes to an IB school so is doing the PYP and is very familiar with the learner profiles and all that jazz.

However, I am just not sure about it. It seems kind of 'londony', I don't know... just not sure.

I have been looking at a school called Canford, which would be a bit of a schlep for the Grandparents and guardians at exeats and weekends but it looks really nice and low key. Wellington seems a bit, I don't know in your face.

Eastpoint Tue 27-Jan-15 20:09:25

A friend of ours has just moved her dd to Bryanston (schlep for grandparents) and she is thriving. Wellington is v popular with people living in Fulham/Battersea from what I understand.

TreeGoats Tue 27-Jan-15 22:40:53

Have you looked at Prior Park in Bath - it's lovely. V caring ethos and lots of music and drama going on.

Flum Wed 28-Jan-15 02:36:50

Mmm, yes have heard of both of those.... Will read about them in the giant book of school knowledge that my husband dragged across the Atlantic for me last trip. The Good Schools Guide. It has mostly been a doorstop but Wellington just sent the info about the pretesting and I got To thinking about it again.

geebie Wed 28-Jan-15 17:32:34

Have a look at Leighton Park, sounds like it could fit the bill.

Eastwickwitch Wed 28-Jan-15 17:35:11

Canford has a great reputation locally but I'm not sure how many students are full boarders, the ones I know seem to come home most weekends.

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