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Boarding school suggestions for bright (but not very motivated) girl

(106 Posts)
foreverintraining Sat 10-Jan-15 11:26:48

We are looking at 13+ (or 14+) boarding school options for DD. She is an avid reader who reads practically anything with words on it, from classic novels to maths mysteries to our parenting handbooks. While she is definitely bright, her grades do not reflect that except for the subjects she enjoys.

She has a lot of energy but not sporty because she's unfortunately rather uncoordinated like me. Our friends comment that she is confident, an independent thinker and will be happy anywhere because of her easy-going temperament.

Right now, she's in a top school in Hong Kong with a lot of very driven kids or kids with very driven parents and her confidence is slowly being eroded because of her grades. While she has a handful of good friends, a lot of kids cannot understand her quirkiness, sense of humour and non-conformist attitude, as a result she also feels a little out of place. DD is also a non-sequential visual learner which makes learning in a traditional big class environment a little challenging.

We (incl. DD) would like to find a boarding school that is nurturing, but academically strong with teaching staff who are able to encourage and stretch (and push if necessary) her to her fullest potential. DD specifically says that she wants peers who are willing to help each other, both in school work and in growing up. A good community service programme will be a bonus. We'd prefer a school that offers IB or Pre-U in the sixth form.

The schools we are considering are:

Downe House
Sherbourne for girls (but concerned about the distance)
Oundle (will it be too big? Plus co-ed...)
Christ's Hospital (absolutely love the ethos)

Would really appreciate any feedback/suggestions. Thank you!

barrackobana Sat 10-Jan-15 12:35:02

I'd add Charterhouse school to that list. Coed sixth form, offers both IB and Pre U. Excellent academics.

foreverintraining Sat 10-Jan-15 12:41:22

Thanks, Barrackobana, but we are thinking of 13+ or 14+ entry.

waterhorse123 Sat 10-Jan-15 12:55:21

Well, I should cross Christ's Hospital off your list right now if your child is quirky.

yetanotherchangename Sat 10-Jan-15 13:02:15

Have you thought about who her guardian is going to be, and do you have a house in the uk yourselves? That could help narrow the field geographically. Agree not christs hospital.

LIZS Sat 10-Jan-15 13:05:08

Benenden or Roedean?

foreverintraining Sat 10-Jan-15 13:14:12

We have relatives in the London/Surrey region who are potential guardians.

I'm curious to know the reasons for crossing CH off as I thought it would be the school with the widest range of different personalities.

LIZS, Benenden only offers A levels although friend's DD is loving her time there. Roedean is really a little far. But thank you for the suggestions.

barrackobana Sat 10-Jan-15 13:17:35

Ahh! Sorry, got carried away with the mention of sixth form at the end of your post.

barrackobana Sat 10-Jan-15 13:19:13

Ah! Sorry, got carried away with the mention of 'sixth form' at the end of your post.

summerends Sat 10-Jan-15 13:20:45

From what you say of your DD would she need reasonably long free times on her own to withdraw and just to read during termtime or is she happy to be kept busy and with lots of girls all the time? The latter is the reality of most boarding schools. What about somewhere like Bryanston? (Unfortunately also quite far away).
I don't think CLC would suit at her age, quite competitive and don't think they would do the best by a quirky girl.

foreverintraining Sat 10-Jan-15 13:34:08

Summerends, she enjoys both! She needs her quiet/alone time to read but she also loves playing with her friends. I suppose when she has too much of one she needs to balance out with the other spectrum. Sometimes in school, kids don't understand why you don't want to hang out/chat with the group ALL the time.

happygardening Sat 10-Jan-15 15:36:47

St Edwards? Fantastic pastoral care, primarily full boarding important if you're abroad, liberal so lots of different personalities, results improving with the newish head and does IB and A levels. Might suit a bright child who is not getting the grades to reflect this.
Wanting the Pre U as an option (some might say why?) is going to limit your choices only the very academic do it e.g. Westminster, Winchester (I don't know of any girls schools offering because I don't have DD's) and they are likely to have very competitive entrance at 13+ and you may even have missed the boat if your looking for either 2015 or 2016 and they are unlikely to have vacancies at 14+. They are I suspect also likely to want see proof of academic ability; top grades. But you could always move for the 6th form.

Xpatmama88 Sat 10-Jan-15 15:37:13

Both CLC and Downe House are academically very strong and pretty competitive. Very good schools. HK students boarding in these top schools, are either very good in Maths and science or very able musicians.

I think if her grades are not that good, she may find that even harder in these competitive boarding envirnoment. There will be many very driven kids in these top schools too, and even more very driven parents (they are paying $$$$$)

If you are considering Sherborne, you should also consider Roedean, if the guardian is based in London/Surrey, how about St.Catherine or Prior Fields in Surrey? Entrance will be less competitive than CLC and Downe House, but still pretty decent schools.

Good luck in your school search.

happygardening Sat 10-Jan-15 15:46:52

Bryanston has few full boarders; friends just pulled their DC for that reason, (end of summer term 2014) apparently lots live locally and go home Friday, come in for Saturday school, and then don't come back till Monday am, so I would have thought completely unsuitable for an family outside of the Dorset region unless you've got a very dedicated guardian.

gonegrey56 Sat 10-Jan-15 15:50:37

St Edwards Oxford, perfect for the girl described . And Corfe House is the nicest girls house , not the swankiest in terms of accommodation but the housemistress is a fantastic woman and will do everything to support your daughter and help her thrive and blossom .

BathTangle Sat 10-Jan-15 15:59:10

Millfield? Definitely good for quirky and clever. Would also agree St Edwards Oxford is fantastic for pastoral care and results improving. Know there is at least one current 6th former with parents in HK.

summerends Sat 10-Jan-15 17:48:45

Forgot that Bryanston was n't full boarding.
Downe House does preUs and has a range of abilities. St Edwards (Rugby if not so far), Downe House and would be on my list.
Millfield is not good enough to compensate the distance required to travel.

Forever there is quite a difference in ethos between specialising with (normally) 3 preUs and IB. I would go for the best school for her rather than worry about preUs versus A levels.

Michaelahpurple Sat 10-Jan-15 18:35:17

Downed House isn't super selective , definitely a broader intake as is known around here as probably having the best pastoral care. A really happy school that seem to get good grades esp given the range of I take academically

I suspect oundle could be a bit hearty.

Do I remember a mix to beneden above? Otherwise worth a look. bedales is a bit less rigid than some but don't know how full boarding it is (few of the girls schools are truly full boarding, with weekends being chiefly long haul girls left, to various degrees, esp HK, so don't go somewhere too local-dominated)

Jumbooats Sun 11-Jan-15 00:06:27

I would suggest Bedales - they love a bit of quirk and there are many alternatives to sports. Heavenly school.

Kenlee Sun 11-Jan-15 01:07:09

I pulled my daughter out of the HK system for the very same reason. My daughter is now achieving top grades at boarding. She has lots of friends from boarding and day school.

They do have time for relaxing but are encouraged to get off their backsides and join in. Something which is quite difficult to do with teenagers.

My daughter is also the non sporty type apart from swimming. She doesn't participate in that either. She is rather lazy.

I do think Priorsfield school has the right mix. They really do encourage the girls to be the best they can be. Although for academics they do lag behind the power houses such as St Catherine in academic score. However they make up with good pastoral care and making your child happy. I think that also needs to be a consideration when your DD is boarding as an international student. We was sold on this point. DD is happy she does well.

I would say boarding wise there isn't many children. Which can be a blessing or not. DD has her boarding friends who are very close. So having massive amounts of friends is not important. The day girls always ask for sleepovers anyway.

happygardening Sun 11-Jan-15 08:18:53

Bryanston is primarily a weekly boarding school friends sent their exceedingly quirky and exceedingly clever there because it was primarily weekly boarding. They removed him because he was miserable but that's another story.

meandjulio Sun 11-Jan-15 08:26:36

I'm wondering why not Sevenoaks? Have you ruled it out for any particular reason? Others may have more up to date info about it but I would have thought it could suit your DD.

I thought Millfield was strongest in sport above all?

summerends Sun 11-Jan-15 10:02:55

Kenlee I agree that having large numbers of friends is not important, it is however an advantage to have larger numbers of DCs with more possibilities of friendships from a greater variety of personalities. Having said that even in large boarding schools, the houses often only have 10 to 20 in a year group so any very close (sibling-like) friendships will be limited to this number.
I don't know about Priorsfield but for any boarding school with mixed ability it would be worth looking at the number of highest grades in their sixth form exams across the subjects to get an idea whether there is any ceiling to teaching and student ability in some subjects. It is lonely being the only able pupil a particular subject. There are also some schools (including some more selective all-girls' schools) that achieve very highly grade-wise but that is n't mirrored in the spread of university destinations. To me that suggests teaching limited to an exam-driven focus.

foreverintraining Sun 11-Jan-15 11:30:09

Thank you everyone for your suggestions and valuable insights. Choosing a school is a tough balancing act: you want somewhere with enough able students with good work habits so that DCs can learn from them, but not somewhere where everyone is a genius; somewhere where they can be challenged and stretched but not hot-housed.

Meandjulio, I didn't choose Sevenoaks because I thought it was an academic powerhouse and highly selective. Although deep down I suspect it's because an arrogant girl from my boarding school went there for 6th forms grin.

I agree schools have very different ethos in going for PreU or IB, my take is these 2 curriculum can best prepare students for the academic reality of university study, but perhaps with the AL extended project qualification, it can help address this concern somewhat.

I can feel a headache coming on and my shortlist is nowhere near getting short!

happygardening Sun 11-Jan-15 11:40:34

Sorry meant to day Bedales not Bryanston in my last post.

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