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Oxfordshire Schools Magdalen College or Abingdon? Again....

(10 Posts)
Nickers1 Wed 11-Feb-15 23:57:21

I realise that other people have addressed this question but seemingly for junior school children.

My DS has been offered places at MCS and Abingdon School (Well done DS!). He missed the Bucks Grammar School test by 6 marks from an Oxfordshire primary school and Not Very D EX-H has said that he doesn't want DS to go to MCS because he will be overpowered by the academic requirements of the school. I love MCS. Normal kids with normal parents. Fantastic results, excellent pastoral care and small enough to care. MCS have told me that he came near the middle in the test but they saw bags of potential in him and the Deputy Head (Usher) who interviewed him had written "Must Have" on his interview notes.

Please could existing parents give me some advice on this and make comments on how their child has fared there, particularly when coming from a state primary. Also could Abingdon parents please advise me on the pastoral care at the school as I am concerned that there have been some issues with yr 7 boys that have not been dealt with well? I do know parents with boys at Abingdon but only people whose children have now left MCS (they rate it highly but I need an updated view).

roguedad Thu 12-Feb-15 19:40:34

My son is in Y7 at Abingdon and is having a whale of a time. The Other Half programme allows boys to choose, within sensible constraints, how they allocate their extracurricular time, so you can go heavy on team sports, heavy on personal sports, heavy on music etc to your own choice. He came from a non-competitive private junior but has made the transition well. You will get fans of both schools and your really need to think about fit. Abingdon does have an outstanding music department, an amazing swimming pool and the nearby athletics track at Tilsley, if that matters. I'm not sure what the circumstances were, but I think a couple of Y7 boys did not settle and left, but my son was baffled about it. It's a bigger school and that has plusses and minuses. The size creates the resources for boys to do a wide range of subjects including some less popular ones, as well as having the huge Other Half range But it might seem a wee bit intimidating to a kid from a small village primary. But the pastoral stuff I think is excellent and there is a dedicated lower school housemaster who does his damnedest to help boys settle in. My son has friends who were offered both MCS and Ab and chose Ab. I also think MCS is an outstanding school academically, but I reckon Ab is a bit better balanced.

celestialsquirrels Fri 13-Feb-15 16:36:13

I suspect if you chose MCS over Abingdon for reasons of pastoral care you would be the only parent who did so! Pastorally Abingdon has a much more humane and well rounded approach. MCS is all about the exam results. Pressure is much greater there, excellence in sport, music and the arts is much less celebrated there and MCS take a ruthless approach to chucking out kids - at any stage- whose academic performance threatens their league table position. Irrespective of whether their miserable 5a* 3As and 2 Bs is actually a huge achievement for that boy. Abingdon would celebrate it.

So, yes, choose MCS for academics - not because it is any better at teaching but because it applies relentless pressure and discards those who crack and what is left MCS will get into Oxbridge, Yale or LSE. But don't choose it for pastoral care or extra curriculars.

Nickers1 Sat 14-Feb-15 18:39:54

I don't choose MCS for pastoral care. I choose it because academically it is one of the best schools in the country. The ex husband is paying half and trying to dictate so things like boys leaving because they are being bullied at Abingdon is important to me. He chooses it because of the "wraparound bus driver care" I think MCS is right up my sons street and want to make sure we don't make the wrong choice. We share 50% of the care of our children and I feel that my ex husbands motives for sending my son there are childcare driven rather than best suited school. I have heard some terrible stories about Abingdon year 7 this year and was just trying to solicit opinion given that I favour MCS.

Nickers1 Sat 14-Feb-15 19:08:56

And I like ruthless!

summerends Sun 15-Feb-15 08:20:20

What is your DS's preference? Is he caught up between your two opinions? Is he a boy who needs physical exertion to achieve his best academically, in which case Abingdon would be better suited. If he is more quirky in his interests then he may be happier at MCS. The journey time would also be a major element in my choice.
Academically he will achieve very well at both schools and there is always the option to change at sixthform.

roguedad Sun 15-Feb-15 20:40:09

Pressed son hard for evidence of bullying. He did say there had been some annoying attempts to scrounge bacon rolls purchased at morning break.

Nickers1 Sun 15-Feb-15 22:16:17

I'll message you tomorrow. One child left on Friday and another boys parents gave notice.

celestialsquirrels Tue 17-Feb-15 00:59:27

Well if that is true I'm sorry to hear that Nickers. I have one boy in 3rd year (y9) and have seen and heard of no problems in the last 3 years beyond one last year, which was dealt with swiftly and decisively by the school. I will see if my son can tell me what you are talking about.

skylark2 Wed 18-Feb-15 21:20:29

DS is at MCS and is very happy there despite being a loner misfit who has at various points dug himself into deep holes of not doing homework. I don't know of any kids who have been chucked out at any stage - the one kid in his year who it was rumoured about, the mother was furious and very explicit that no, he'd chosen to change school.

My suspicion is that "MCS throws out anyone who isn't a genius" is up there with "all the girls at OHS are anorexic" (not something DD ever experienced) and "everyone at Oxford University is a posh snob". People say it to make themselves feel better about their kids not going there, for whatever reason.

And no, you would not be the only parent who chose MCS over Abingdon for reasons of pastoral care. Not even close. What on earth is "wraparound bus driver care" - do you mean it would be a very long journey for your DS? It might still be quicker than MCS. One issue with MCS is that it's in central Oxford and travel is horrid. DS is on the bus at 7.20am and back at 5 - and we only live 10 miles from the school.

MCS also has more extracurriculars than DS can possibly ever try. He finds it a bit frustrating. I'm afraid I laughed out loud at celestial's description of a school where sport, music and the arts aren't celebrated. You do know where MCS is, right, celestial? That we're talking about the one in Oxford? The one with two full orchestras, two jazz clubs, a non-auditioned choral society, a shedload of other groups, and which is having a whole school day singing Carmina Burana in a few weeks? That MCS, not celebrating music? Seriously?

DS was at a state primary until year 5 - we'd planned to leave him there until the start of secondary, but things came to a head sad

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