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13+ boarding SOS

(194 Posts)
firstboard Fri 25-Jul-14 20:49:10

Dear moms,
My DS will got to Year 6 in Sept . My husband is being transferred to Switzerland and we may be moving countries frequently. We have decided to take DS to Swiss for 2 years and then send him to UK boarding schools from 13+ age.
I live in Manchester, so we don't have local boarding options. I have been franatically searching internet and have managed to register DS for Winchester, Westminster, Eton, Kings, Tonbridge, Harrow and Whitgrift ( Yes, I am paranoid !!) .
DS is very bright, managed to get through Manchester Grammar for Boys here. His maths is good and English is also above average.
I have received test dates of Eton and Tonbridge. Where should we begin preparation.
Getting registered and getting a test date all happend in span of 15 days and I am now wondering if I should prepare DS or leave everything to his potential because there is not much time left to shift gears.
We will be doing 11+ English, VR, NVR and maths - GL assessments . What else should I do?
Thanks for your replies .

ZeroSomeGameThingy Fri 25-Jul-14 21:10:22

Oh, I sympathise with your headlong rush...

It sounds as if you have everything in hand. Is he at Manchester Grammar at the moment? If so I don't think you need have any worries about his managing the academic exams for the schools you've mentioned. (I've known boys from far less stellar schools in the area who've managed the Eton pre-test with just a tiny amount of extra work and an enthusiasm for all that boarding offers. A little light preparation in 11+ exam technique and not being nervous at interview should be fine. (Don't over-prepare. It's not necessary and only causes unhelpful stress.)

The main question is whether you feel, and whether he feels, that boarding would truly suit him. None of you can know how he'll mature in the next two years - what does he say about it now? (I do have the impression that Manchester grammar boys are pretty robust.)

Do you have family or close friends in Manchester who might be covering exeats and half terms? If so Tonbridge might not be the best option.

summerends Fri 25-Jul-14 21:24:48

firstboard hope you have a great experience in Switzerland.
I am going to be a bit more forceful than Zero. Why on earth do you think your DS needs any more preparation for those pretests? Are you still in drilling eleven plus mode? Let him be, he is obviously bright enough and the pretests will help make your decision. BTW I would n't send an overseas boarder to Westminster at 13. Tonbridge is also mainly weekly boarding which might be a factor to consider.

happygardening Fri 25-Jul-14 21:32:26

Tonbridge which I really liked when I looked at it is slightly less day, I think about 40%, and then the rest are basically weekly boarders the head was quite open about it not being a full boarding school when I talked to him so possibly not ideal in your situation
Frankly I wouldn't bother to over prepare him we didn't really do any and my DS got places at Win Coll and SPS. The Eton test is computer generated they make a big thing about it not being possible to prepare for it, the interview less than 10 mins (unlike Win Coll where it's 1 1/2 hours) so he does need to show himself off well in a relatively short period of time but hopefully that shouldn't be problem assuming he was interviewed for Manchester Grammar.

happygardening Fri 25-Jul-14 21:37:34

I would also ask about the exact number of full boarders in his age group at Whitgift make your question very specific:
Exactly how many full boarders are in yr 9 now and how many have registered in my DS's year group to full board. Schools however over subscribed they might be are notoriously vague about these figures.

firstboard Fri 25-Jul-14 22:40:12

Thanks for your replies. I forgot to mention 2 important things:
1) DS is keen cricketer and wants to go to school that offers good cricketing facilities
2) He passed MGS in year 5 from his prep and would join MGS in year 6. So technically he is not MGS boy right now. However we will complete year 6 in MGS .

Tonridge - I searched school with "Cricket" and this is only result that came up.

Happy - I have to get my head around this "full board" and "seemingly full board". Its all very new for me. I will keep your questions in mind.

Zero - No family in Manchester or UK. So we may have to look at options very carefully.

Summer - I know only 11+ prep, 13+ is new for me. I discovered its existance only a forthnight back !!! so I will try to keep DS's brain ticking . Won't drill him, but just so that he is in "testing mode" .

firstboard Fri 25-Jul-14 22:51:39

DS and DH both feel OK about boarding. Its choice between moving country every 2-3 years or giving him stability. Since we are running out of time for beginning 13+ , we as a family decided to see how far we get in 13+ exams and we will visit schools during assessments, and decide how we feel about school . We would be able to bring him home during school holidays. But weekends would be unmanagable.
Ideally we should have visited schools and then decide which to target. Unfortunately we don't have luxary of time.

happygardening Fri 25-Jul-14 23:04:32

Lots of schools offer cricket in the summer term, I frankly wouldn't be over worried about that aspect it's a pretty standard sport in boarding schools.
Tonbridge is a good pretty academic school with outstanding sporting facilities. But as I said earlier we looked at it, liked it in many ways but we like you wanted full boarding so didn't even register my DS. We've spent nearly 10 years at boarding schools if like us you want/need full boarding then don't waste you time with those which are either day schools with some boarders e.g. Whitgift/Westminster or weekly/day schools Tonbridge your DS will be lonely at the weekends. Others to add to your list are Marlborough College nearly all full boarders, a good range of activities at the weekend, and maybe St Edwards 85ish% full boarders not so academic although improving but very good for sport.

Sharpkat Fri 25-Jul-14 23:19:14

Oakham is very good for cricket. Stuart Broad studied there. Vast majority of boarders at 13+ do not go home at weekends as Saturday school and Sunday chapel.

Perhaps not as academic as Eton or WinColl but read the good school's guide or Tatler reviews. They are spot on.

No connection other than a very happy old Oakhamian who sees a lot of very good things happening there.

Sharpkat Fri 25-Jul-14 23:20:37

Meant to say I went on to do a very rare degree at Oxford and out of the 25 of us in the year at least 18 were from MGS so I know the calibre of student they turn out

happygardening Fri 25-Jul-14 23:24:57

Uppingham is also full boarding only. A cricket obsessed boy at my DS's school went there.

firstboard Fri 25-Jul-14 23:31:57

Thanks Sharp and Happy. Googling Oakham and Uppingham now..

Happy - I selected Morshead house in Winchester college ( because most other houses were full at the time of my application). Hope it is good house.

firstboard Fri 25-Jul-14 23:33:42

Sharp - DS will get only 1 year of education at MGS . If MGS opens a boarding, I would select it in a heartbeat. Sadly, its a day school.

PoshPenny Fri 25-Jul-14 23:41:44

Have you considered adding Millfield to your list?

summerends Sat 26-Jul-14 03:47:31

firstboard, my DS's prep school which sent many to Eton, Winchester, Harrow etc did not do the sort of preparation you mentioned in your first post. Your DS would be better off spending time on his own interests and expanding his reading during these holidays. For Eton and Harrow the tests as you know are computerised so even time on a computer is good preparation smile.
More of an issue for you is selecting a school in Switzerland that covers a common entrance type syllabus or deciding how you do it
Eton, Winchester and Harrow all take their cricket seriously and to a high level. The outstanding cricketers I knew of at my DS's prep school went to Eton but there are many passionate cricketers at Winchester.
Be wary of travel time from a major airport if you are considering other schools.

happygardening Sat 26-Jul-14 09:15:55

I agree with summer re CE/entrance exam preparation. If I was you I would take advise from whichever school he's offered a place at/you finally choose. There is likely to be some flexibility, as children are increasingly coming from abroad. Win Coll for example definitely doesn't expect all boys to sit the Latin entrance exam, there is a geography paper for those outside of the UK and history (unlike CE I believe) is very non specific.
You will need a guardian in the UK this can of course be a family member If you are going to do that do think about travelling times, having spent a few years with a 3-4 hour journey (in good traffic) between us and my DS's school I now have a 1 1/2 hour one way drive rule. Manchester to Canterbury for example is a bit of a slog especially for an exeat. I also personally have a deep loathing of the M25 and wouldn't want that between myself and my DS's school.
Some schools (Win Coll) are very strict about not leaving early to catch flights etc I know this is less of an issue if he's only flying to Switzerland rather than Outer Mongolia but do think about this and ask if you think you may want a little flexibility. Marlborough I think are less strict as is St Edwards and Kings.

Xpatmama88 Sat 26-Jul-14 12:48:24

The list of boarding school you already registered is a very good starting point. And to be honest if he is doing well in his year in MGS that will be a very good indication of his ability.
Great thing of going to school inSwitzerland is he will acquire good language skills. I assume you will bring him there to spend 2 years for Grade 6 and 7 in an Int'l Sch, depends which part of Switzerland you are going to, he will get to pretty good standard of German and French, or spainish if he opt for that. That can really benefit him for the entrance exam.
The school in your list mostly go for 13+ CE, except Wincoll have their own entrance exam. If you think he is up to it, he can take both 13+ CE and Wincoll entrance. Of course that subject to your final choice of Sch.
I know it is difficult of sending DS away for boarding school especially you live in a different country. We did that, and DS really enjoy his boarding school and did extremely well.

happygardening Sat 26-Jul-14 14:22:48

He can sit both the Win Coll entrance exam and CE (for a school you name) but you will have to have stumped up some sort of deposit for which is often 1/2 a terms schools fees for both before he sits either, I believe and will loose it when you eventually turn one down. Win Coll also send out the results of their entrance exam and conformation of a place before CE comes out and certainly the year my DS sat the entrance exam require a further deposit also before the CE results come out.
Frankly I wouldn't hold two places right up until CE you've got a good list of schools to look at, they are all slightly different some very different, find one that suits you and your DS's ethos and situation accept the place, assuming your successful and spend the next couple of years preparing for any entrance exam and enjoying your time in Switzerland content in the knowledge that your DS has a place at a school you and he like. Rather than spending two year summing and arhhing over which school to choose.

happygardening Sat 26-Jul-14 14:24:03

Umming not summing!

ZeroSomeGameThingy Sat 26-Jul-14 17:05:05

Could all be academic anyway... Perhaps after a year or two in Switzerland OP you may wonder why there's any need for a change.

Much as I love the things the present government hasn't yet managed to eff up, England can seem rather twee and insular with the benefit of a few months distance. (Admittedly Switzerland might not be the best example of an all-welcoming society....) If, in a couple of years, your DS is speaking fluent French and German with other people who do the same would he really want to come back to pre-GCSE classwork?

Switzerland used to have quite a few boarding schools - have you taken a look?


Michaelahpurple Sat 26-Jul-14 17:10:12

Westminster won't work. First year boys aren't allowed to stay at weekends and all boys must go home for exeats until sixth form. The prospectus specifies that it is unsuitable for overseas borders with no v close other family. At least that is my understanding - check with them. Even if you can stay the school empties at weekends as most boarders live in London.

firstboard Sat 26-Jul-14 19:21:42

For international students, most schools will let them take a test designed by schools at British embassy. So I am not worried about CE. I have asked this before registration and most have said that this will not be a problem.

I will have to look carefully at this weekend home option. Husband feels that it would be good to have DS on weekends for initial years. I am not so sure.

Zero - Swiss boarding schools are non selective and much more expensive than UK schools. I am positively biased towards good old UK education . Moreover we may go to some other country next, so UK remains our central point.

Happy - I will not hold on to two places and loose deposit. I have gone on a blind registration spree, but now that I am getting into details, with lots of help from you all, I will zero in 2-3 schools to target.

Xpatmama88 Sat 26-Jul-14 20:36:43

You can also arrange to sit the CE in the Int'l Sch, (if you are going to one) so you don't have to travel to the embassy everyday during the exam week, as the embassy may not be in the same city you live in. We did that for our DS. All the CE and Wincoll papers were sent to the Int'l Sch., they gave us the exam timetable! And the boarding school will ask for a reference letter and latest school report from your current school Headteacher. As Int'l Sch are used to student moving on, and very ready to help.
I don't think it is very practical to fly him over every weekend, he will miss a lot of sports activities on Saturday. I think best wait till Exeat weekend, and very doable to fly to Switzerland, normally every 3 weeks. And you can hop over to see him on some weekend too.

happygardening Sat 26-Jul-14 20:54:48

Those schools that are really full boarding schools Eton Win Coll Harrow Marlborough et al will not let him home for a whole weekend unless it's an exeat or holiday. All full boarding schools have lessons on Saturday morning till lunch time and then compulsory activities in the afternoon generally sport, matches are on Saturday afternoon as well. Usually children at full boarding schools can go home/out of school to friends on Sunday but normally after attending a religious service or they have to be back early evening to attend one.
If you want more flexibility, and closeness to an airport what about SPS (you may have missed the registration)? They have a small boarding house, no Saturday school, fab facilities, awesome results, a true 21st century education, you can take your DS out in the evening in the weekday if you happened to be in a London.

LIZS Sun 27-Jul-14 20:18:19

Realistically International school in CH will in no way prepare him for CE or any other competitive UK entrance exam, so do look at alternative assessments for o/s students. However you have the advantage of having got him to Year6 in UK system. Many of those schools you mention will offer 13+ places on the basis of a pretest, then you could use the Galore Park books to supplement the education he has for next 2 years so he isn't entirely out of the loop. Whitgift is the anomaly in your list in that it uses its own exams anyway rather than CE.

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