Bedales 6th form(51 Posts)
Any views on Bedales 6th form for a not particularly academic but hard working girl, into drama, quite sociable but needs a degree of nurturing and encouragement? Looking at boarding although we don't live very far away because I think she needs to (gently) edge away from home so whatever her next steps are won't be such a massive shock to the system!
I googled Bedales and an article by Tatler popped up. Not that I would suggest anyone chooses a school by this but it does mention there is no uniform at the school and what clothes you have can be competitive. No doubt young people can escape this and often 6th forms are relaxed on uniform anyway, but if your DD is sensitive you might want to look into this aspect further. Otherwise I think it would offer what you want but will she want to come home all the time if you live nearby?
My DDs loved boarding and it does suit the more outgoing type of child who wants to get stuck into lots of the activities on offer. Joining in the 6th form does mean you have to be able to make friends easily. Sometimes students stay in their cliques and are not very welcoming. However, I think Bedales probably might suit but it is famously laissez faire - is it still first names for teachers? You will have to decide if this suits your DD and no doubt others who know more will be along soon. I talked to someone in admissions when we were looking for my arty DD for 6th form and they didn't seem to want a less academic child and questioned whether History of Art was a sufficiently adacemic A level to go with Art, Photography and French.
Thanks Milly. She's ok with boarding, precisely because we are not far away, and it will be weekly. The lack of uniform, first names etc is a plus as far as she/we are concerned! Her current school doesn't have a 6th form so it wil be almost impossible to avoid being the "new girl" unfortunately (although we are also looking at Hurtwood where everyone will be new).
Interesting about the academic aspect- the website isn't clear about post GCSE entry requirements, instead talks about the student being someone who might get the best out of what the school offers. We will go to an open day in the Autumn to get a feel but first hand experience especially about the 6th form will be very useful!
lizs haven't heard of that before- thanks. Just had a quick flick through the website and it looks quite formal/traditional which is not quite what we are looking for- or is that impression wrong?
I don't think it is particularly alternative but good for drama and performing arts, sport and not overly academic. Hurtwood House is another specialist 6 th form but £££.
This is just a general observation not necessary aimed at Bedales in particular. I wonder from watching and or listening to others (including DS2 who's boarded for 10 years now) how easy it is to be one of a few who join a boarding school in the 6th form, do they ever in the two years they have ever really fit in? Boarding schools are close knit communities, assuming most will have been together since year 9 at the very least, firm friendships by now will have now been established, if children are in dorms it's often in the 6th form that most now share or get single rooms, so making it harder to get to know others, add in the fact that many in the 6th form will be focusing on A levels, universities etc. I'm not saying all who join in the 6th form struggle to make friends but I suspect you have to be quite an an outgoing personality so maybe it's better to choose a school which has a large intake into it's 6 th form or like Hurstwood House? Or some schools have a significant intake into the 6th form.
Secondly I don't think calling teachers by their first names or not wearing uniform is necessarily an indication that a school nurtures and encourages it's pupils, I looked at it for DS1 many moons ago and I thought the although the pupils appeared very happy there but my gut feeling was that it was very tribal and not quite as informal touchy feely as one might think it will be, I known someone who went there and left after a couple terms interestingly that was their experience as well.
Finally from what I understand HOA is an academic A level.
I went on a course with one of the matrons from Bedales, they have mixed aged dorms, so maybe the double/single thing doesn't happen in the sixth form (unless they maybe have separate houses for the sixth form?) In my school, those girls who start in the sixth form are generally made to feel very welcome, new blood is always appreciated , as long as she makes an effort to join in I suspect she will be fine.
Thanks for your input happygardening I know that you are something of a boarding guru in these parts so I really appreciate your comments. I agree that numbers of newbies into the 6th form will be one of the questions we will be asking as we enter this search. I boarded myself and we had a few new 6th form boarders and I don't recall many issues with integrating but I totally take your point! This is one reason why Hurtwood is attractive, but the academic offering is quite limited there hence looking elsewhere.
derek yes that was my understanding, which again is attractive as maybe a slightly easier way to integrate- not quite so full on maybe?!
Will admit to being not that up on boarding schools but have you looked at St. Christopher's in Letchworth Garden City. Similar ethos to Bedales but far less pretentious!
" my gut feeling was that it was very tribal "
that is what I heard from my friend that went there. From what she described, it sounded like a horrible place for a teenager to be.
coffee could you expand- not sure I understand the tribal references!
what I heard from my friend who went there, was that it was a v bullying atmosphere, mostly based around personal appearance and parents' status.
That might not be everybody's experience of course, but as others have said, going into that kind of exclusive environment for just two years when friendships have already been set, might be very very hard.
That fitting in thing will be the same wherever she goes unless it's a sixth form only place. Our local 6th form college is a bit of a zoo and there will be big groups of established friends going from feeder schools (ie not my DD's school) which again will mean integrating may be hard. Ther's no one particular place DD's school "feeds" into and in any event they will all have differing wish lists (academic, sporty, arty etc) so going with the crowd may well not be the right thing for her!
Seems everyone is supporting Tatler's view! Non-uniform throughout a whole school can really lead to clothes competitiveness, especially amongst girls.
I am aware History of Art is academic, Happyg, but oddly Bedales admissions seemed to think it was not!
My DD did a different boarding school for 6th form but just found the tribes there to be different from the boarding school she arrived from! But tribes there were. She was in the arty one! Not in the yachty one, or the "my family is so dysfunctional I am close to having a breakdown" one. We could not compete in the fashion one for which her school is very well known! It just depends whether you are able to find a tribe to suit or are admitted to one.
We did have the strange experience at another school as DD was being shown around. Three girls in the metalwork workshop were making jewellery. They very obviously looked my DD up and down in a VERY judgemental way. DD definitely noticed this and so did I. My DD can pass muster in the looks department so not quite sure what all that was about! It is these little things that make you wonder what a school is really like!
Forgot to ask, homebythesea, where are her close friends going? Would she not appreciate continuing friendships?
milly it's a really mixed bag where the girls go- most go to local public schools, some to 6th form college, some to other girls' schools. DD has a particular interest in drama and not v academic so this is what is leading the search- not many
any of her particular friends have the same criteria
I've heard that Bedales leaves it very much up to the pupils how much work they do. If you have DC who are self-starters with good study habits, it could be a good fit. But those who need nudging can sink completely.
Interesting about the bullying thing our friends DC left for exactly this reason. Their DC is shall we unconventional (which is why they choose it) and they are very very wealthy but not flash it around wealthy and they also found that there was a lot of stuff about personal appearance and parents status etc.
I'm finding it a bit hard to explain tribal, I know what it looks like when I see it, there was definitely a feeling of a them (being teachers) and us (pupils) as it inevitably will be in any close knit boarding school and I'm not saying it's bad but I just got the impression that the pupils were very much doing their own thing. That education in terms of exams etc was not the pupils number 1 priority. I also got the impression that there's a lot of seriously monied parents there (our friends would agree) and I accept that this goes with the territory of being at a boarding school and don't get me wrong DS2's school had mega wealthy parents but the kids were telling me how at the weekends they go into London and spend the weekend in their parents/brother/cousins flat
drinking and taking drugs having a good time. I suspected those who couldn't or wouldn't keep up with this would be very much on the outside. I'm under in illusions I know this goes on in lots of big name big fee independent schools and I'm sure plenty of the Bedales pupils don't do this but there was just something about the whole thing that I didnt feel would be right for DS1.
The kids were also remarkably uninterested in the outdoor thing they run, most I spoke to never went there!!
I personally thought that the day pupils seemed more together and in fairness all we spoke to observed seemed very happy and chilled perhaps many too chilled? Not sure that makes sense.
Just a thought as your obviously south/south west what about the a Royal High School at Bath my friends daughter joined for the 6th form, they take a large number of boarders into their 6th form 30+, and have a boarding house only for 6th formers nearly all started at the same time, she's been very happy there, the staff have been very caring, all the girls Ive met have been delightful, and she's a lovely girl and not a designer label clad, eye wateringly sophisticated streetwise individual just a genuinely nice girl they've really encouraged and supported her, boosted her confidence and she's done exceedingly well and from yesterday now knows she's off to UCL. Probably out of your area but do PM me if you want to know more.
Milly I didn't suggest you thought HOA was not an academic subject I was commenting on the fact that Bedales are stating that it's not an academic subject which I find rather odd.
Bath further than Letchworth! We are in Surrey
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