Abingdon school or Uppingham School(14 Posts)
My DS received offers from both Abingdon and Uppingham's schools, to join in September 2016 for year 9.
But now we have the difficult decision - which to choose?
We currently live overseas, so location is flexible. DS is fairly academic and sporty, but not particularly strong. Abingdon seems to be have a better reputation in academics and sports as well. The thing is, most students are day pupils in Abingdon while Uppingham is a full boarding school . I suppose lives will be very different between the two schools.
Any opinions about these two schools will be appreciated !!
My DS has full boarded since yr 2 now yr 13 so I write with considerable experience of boarding. A day school with a small number of boarders is a completely different school to a full boarding only school in your position the latter will always be better. Uppingham is a well regarded school I'm sure your DS will do fine there.
Uppingham is a bit middling academically compared to Abingdon, which also has a day school's advantage of some parents being much more involved and keeping an eye on things. It also has a phenomenal range of activities in the Other Half programme. It is a different experience from an all-boarding, but I'd be wary of dropping notably down the academic pecking order for what I think are rather nebulous benefits of absolutely everybody being in the same boat. Before deciding I'd strongly advise re-reading www.abingdon.org.uk/boarding and talking to the head of boarding and maybe a housemaster to see what goes on at weekends, for example. I'd be wary of Uppingham myself - a school that highlights holistic drivel on its website puts me off right away and it seems to have a bad case of Seldonitis (or he might have stolen the idea from such schools, and repackaged it like all his other vacuous self-promotional BS). We had to endure a speech by him at Abingdon last week, sneering at people who value Firsts from Imperial. I digress. Figure out what you think is best for your own DS - only you know him. If you want holistic, all boarding and a gentler academic environment Uppingham might well be the way to go.
I think for a young boarder (year 9) full boarding is almost a must so I think on balance Uppingham.
In the sixth form full boarding school may be relatively less important for self sufficient international students who are happy to be in a small group of mainly international boarders.
We declined a place at SPS (higher up the "academic pecking order" than Abingdon) with all that it has to offer including amazing results, fantastic extra curricular activities, a modern 21st century ethos, multi cultural tolerant liberal, and in London , we loved everything about it for a full boarding school (admittedly on a par on the academic pecking order), SPS and Abingdon are basically day schools with boarders the whole ethos of the place is geared up for the majority who will go home at the end of the day. A full boarding school like Uppingham is a 24/7 community with doing things in most of a child's waking moments and the cameraderie that this comes with this.
Schools that achieve amazing results to do by selecting the brightest and chucking out those who aren't going to get the results, Uppingham is less selective and this is reflected in their results but I'm sure bright children do well there.
Finally one of the other great advantages of boarding schools are that parents aren't "much more involved" this is especially good if you yourself can't be involved because you're not in the UK.
roguedad the nebulous benefits of a mainly full boarding school are those making the difference between a DC being happy and stimulated with a large potential group of friends and all the teachers engaging in the whole package of boarding compared to the risks of a restricted group of friends, (mainly not British) and only a few teachers engaged in delivering care and activities to the boarders. Abingdon is extremely expensive for full boarders and does not have Saturday school. I am sure it does its best for the boarders but that it is to the level of a mainly full boarding school.
I think the most telling judgement is that IME boys who have boarded at prep school and know what full boarding is about would not select boarding at Abingdon compared to a mainly full boarding school.
Thank you for your insight. My only hesitation is with the academic side of Uppingham as ultimately we are hoping that my DS would achieve well for his GCSE and then to enter a good university. That said, a holistic environment that has a strong sense of bonding is also key.
Petett knowing that Uppingham is non selective and therefore will have a range of results check whether they also get the top end results in their GCSEs for the subjects that your DS may want to do. Another consideration is whether your DS will be demotivated or motivated by the relative academic position he will be in each school.
It is also worth considering that exam results will be from full boarders whilst the results from Abingdon may reflect a variable amount of term time input from parents of day pupils. Both schools will get some further pupils in the sixth form that may boost A level or IB results.
Uppingham's exam results seem pretty respectable and I notice it says on their website that they offer the Pre U for physics and chemistry. Both are significantly harder than the A level equivalent and understand the chemistry is very difficult up nearly up there with the notoriously difficult further math. The Pre U generally remains the preserve of the super selective, top grades (D3 -D1) indicates good teaching and able students so might be worth checking it out.
I have PM'd you but think that was a bit of a ramble so will try to be more concise here.
The ' holistic drivel' is actually very important if you are 13 /14 years old and at school 24/7.
The advantage of having everybody in the same boat is the knowledge that all your friends are there all of the time. They share all the same highs and lows , successes and failures and the bonds are very strong.
Academically Uppingham have a wider range of academic ability and that is reflected in their destinations after sixth form- however the academic children are well catered for.
My DC are there and get a lot more out of the school than academics - the holistic approach means they are very happy there.
I too am not a fan of Seldon (old head at Wellington OP) and his approach to education. But a holistic approach to education is significantly more important at a boarding school, no child wants to live in an exam factory 24/7. Abingdon is an excellent school but over the years I've met quite a few Abingdon parents, pleasant as they are they also seem as rouguedad says very involved in their DS's education I personally found
as a completely slack parent this level of involvement rather intense,. This is so very different from a boarding school environment parents cannot be that involved they'd wear themselves out trying to to this and drive the school up the wall, for methis creates a more healthy approach to education and dare I say it bringing up our children, I think can produce a more rounded individual who will have acquired essential life skill whilst boarding at these type of schools. I suspect most who choose full boarding schools don't believe that this a " nebulous benefit" but is an actual fact. Roguedad I think you'll find has no actual experience of having a DC at a full boarding school, so perhaps doesn't fully grasp the difference between a full boarding school like Uppingham and a day school with a small number (in the grand scheme of things) boarders.
If you are an expat go with full boarding. That was our mistake and we won't make it again. Try to find a school with plenty of expats or they can find it difficult though I'm not sure there is such a thing. We may be off again so now plans may have to change and we will look for full boarding this time based on past experience.
FWIW I walked past the Abingdon football field on Sunday and there were a group of students having a friendly kick about. thy looked mixed ages, very relaxed and happy and I recall thinking, oh they must be the boarders. They looked to be an international group of boys
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