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Co-ed Boarding schools starting at 13+

(59 Posts)
boardingdilemma Tue 10-May-16 23:09:25

My daughter is currently at a standalone prep, so we need to find a senior school for her when she finishes there (must be full boarding).

We would ideally like to keep her in the South-West (Wilts/Dorset/Hampshire/North Somerset), but would consider further afield, as we feel quite limited with where she can go. She won't consider single-sex, and is adamant she doesn't want to go somewhere that has its own prep school.

Her first choice is Marlborough, and I think she stands a good chance of getting in, but certainly can't bank on it with it being so oversubscribed for girls. We've visited one other school in Somerset, and have two more scheduled to visit.

So, basically, we're after: full boarding, co-ed, no prep, starts at year 9, south west.


Dustylaw Wed 11-May-16 00:49:27

It would probably be helpful for suggestions if you could give more detail on what you mean by 'full boarding'. Do you mean full boarding in the sense that full boarding is offered or that there is Saturday school or that all are expected to stay in 7 days a week or that some of the 'full boarders' will slope off to local homes or London on Saturday evening and return on Sunday evening. Not necessarily bad provided a reasonable proportion stay in over the weekend but not good if it's only a few overseas boarders and your daughter. The thing is, there are quite a lot of boarding schools but actually very few of the '7 day a week for everyone' type left. Uppingham would meet yr criteria but it is not exactly nearby whereas you have some good choices if you are less demanding of absolutely full boarding.

boardingdilemma Wed 11-May-16 06:56:45

Thank you Dustylaw. I know there aren't many 'proper' full boarding schools left. Marlborough is perfect for us in that respect, but as long as it has Saturday school & matches, and healthy weekend numbers then I'd be happy.

I have looked at Uppingham's website before, and would consider schools in the midlands. I suppose I just feel more comfortable with the South West schools as I know more about them. We're supposed to be going to see Rugby, although I may cancel as I didn't realise it was 11+ entry.

SoGodhelpme Wed 11-May-16 07:05:06

OP, Rugby is not 11+ entry only. A tiny amount enter at 11+ they have two small classes for years 7 and 8 mainly to encourage the local state schools to apply. Their main point of entry is year 9. It's also full boarding from yr 9 upwards, everybody is in over the weekends and the school is full of activity. It is not weekly boarding. Everyone goes home at expats only which is every 3 weeks.
It is a fantastic school that does very well by the very academic as well as meddlers. The pastoral I can't fault. Please do go and see it.

LIZS Wed 11-May-16 07:05:26

Millfield technically starts at 13+ as its prep goes up to y8. Many senior schools also have a large 13+ intake even if they intake at 11+ - at dc it is about 2/3 11+, 1/3 13+. Or are you looking for somewhere where everyone is new at y9?

SoGodhelpme Wed 11-May-16 07:15:14

'Middlers', but meddlers too, good discipline.

MsMargaretHale Wed 11-May-16 07:29:24

There are very few schools where all/most the boarders stay in on a Saturday night. When we looked we whittled it down to
St Edwards Oxford,Uppingham,Kings Canterbury,Marlborough

King's is SE rather than SW. It does have its own prep, but it is on a different campus and the vast majority of girl boarders are new at 13 so it is not a question of slotting into existing friendship groups at 13. Even on the boys side you do not get more than a handful from the prep in any one house as they split them up.

Have you ruled out Sherborne girls? Single sex but apparently does lots with the boys school.

TinySalmon Wed 11-May-16 09:14:08

Have a read through the Tatler school guide. It will list plenty of co-ed options in the South West.

I'm pregnant with my first and this guide has been my bible for finding prep schools in London.

Good luck x

MadameCholetsDirtySecret Wed 11-May-16 09:33:12

I know it is out of your area but Leighton Park in Reading might fit.

crumpet Wed 11-May-16 09:34:39

My friends have been very happy with Cheltenham

mary21 Wed 11-May-16 10:29:22

Kings Bruton?? don't know how many full boarders. Only know it because ds stayed in one of the boarding houses while at mill on the brue

happygardening Wed 11-May-16 11:47:00

Cheltenham is primarily weekly boarding.
Your option are limited OP if you want proper full boarding, as you say Marlborough ticks all your boxes.
Where is your head suggesting?
Sherborne is one of those diamond schools I think, and the boys school is in the same town?
There are very few proper full boarding schools left, I would scrutinise the number of full boarders very carefully (schools are notoriously economical with the truth when it comes to this as they want your money) if you're looking at anywhere that offers a mixture of full weekly and even worse flexi boarding. The ISI reports seem to classify weekly boarding as full boarding so do be careful if your reading those. The commonest reason I hear friends grumble and moan about their schools is because they wanted full boarding and having sent their DC's there they discovered the vast majority go home every weekend and their DC is either on their own with a handful of others or they're driving back and fourth to the school every weekend to pick their DC up.

boardingdilemma Wed 11-May-16 12:30:07

SoGodhelpme, sorry I didn't mean Rugby was only 11+ entry, I just didn't realise it started before 13+. Thanks for the info though, good to hear that 13+ is the main entry. We are definitely going to visit. Is the town close enough to walk? Is it a decent town? Perfect scenario is a school integrated into the town (eg MC).

LIZS, Millfield is ruled out by having a prep. She also plays matches there and isn't too keen.

MrsMargaretHale, I may try to fit a visit in to Sherborne; for me, that is the ideal situation - boys and girls who come together for lots of things but separate for lessons. She however, is not keen (she's a fussy one!). She knows the school from matches and visiting friends.

Crumpet, Cheltenham sounds fab to me. Unfortunately, ruled out again by having a prep.

Mary21, KSB is the other school we've visited so far. We really liked it, but were so disappointed by the lack of a swimming pool. There also didn't seem to be much of a push on academics (I may be wrong though).

happygardening, disappointingly, we haven't had suggestions from her head yet (I'm hoping it's coming soon). Her tutors recommended MC, Bryanston & Canford (ruled out for too many day/weekly boarders). We will look at Bryanston though.

I should say, she's very sporty and quite academic (top set in all subjects of a high performing prep).

Thanks for all your help so far.

boardingdilemma Wed 11-May-16 12:31:39

The prep she's at does get a bit quiet on weekends, but she's never there - she manages to get invited out by different friends every week, except exeats when I pick her up.

happygardening Wed 11-May-16 13:30:59

I'm surprised your prep head hasnt recommended anywhere, what year is she?
A friend removed her DC from Bryanston 2 years ago because despite the claim on their website she said it most definitely isn't a full barding school.
Ditto Canford another friend choose it (and is really happy with it) because it wasn't full boarding!
Have you ever been to Rugby?! It definitely isn't another Marlborough. Im not sure I would say that MC is "integrated" into the town, although its a huge employer in the area, the pupils are quite restricted as to where they can go (least they were might have changed with the current head and now one of the deputies is going or even gone). The locals do talk about a "town and gown".

LIZS Wed 11-May-16 13:36:42

What is her objection to those with a prep or 11+ entry? I wonder if you are giving her too much influence on choice based on some insecurity about settling or making friends. Presumably she is only 8/9/10 atm and she may find things change when others leave or join at y7. Wellington might be worth a look?

happygardening Wed 11-May-16 13:39:45

Not sure there are many full boarders at Wellington.

SoGodhelpme Wed 11-May-16 15:06:27

Rugby school is in the centre of town. They have lots of links and the students do lots of community service within the town. Some students do community service in the local state schools teaching show how to use a musical instrument or other extra curricular, some go to old people's homes to serve tea etc lots of various charitable projects to do with the town.

Some people on MN have complained about the town that it's not 'pretty', or hasn't got enough naice shops. Personally, it looks to me no worse than any other bog standard town. My interest lies with the school not the town as I'm not planning on moving there.
We've taken DS out before within Rugby and there was more than enough to while away time, it all depends what you're looking for. If you're looking for a nice seaside touristy place with lots of quaint coffee shops, then Rugby is not it. But I'd never discount a fab school because of the town unless it's inaccessible.

mary21 Wed 11-May-16 15:13:19


boardingdilemma Wed 11-May-16 15:58:27

happygardening, I've heard the same about Bryanston and had originally discounted it for that reason. Having ended up with a shortlist of only 2 to visit, I added it back on!

By integrated, I just mean they can walk into town for coffee (one of the girls' houses is on the high street) and they are involved in community work with local schools etc.

She's 11 (year 6)... would you have expected the head to have individually spoken to parents with recommendations?

boardingdilemma Wed 11-May-16 16:02:05

LIZS, I think you're right about me giving her too much say on choice. She just doesn't want to go to a school where the majority have known each other all through school. I'm sure anywhere with a decent intake at 13+ would be fine, really.

boardingdilemma Wed 11-May-16 16:05:21

We're too late for Wellington; you can only now register for 2019 entry.

Shrewsbury, I think we need to have a look at. It's been mentioned to me before. We're not too far from there at the moment, so a visit would be easy.

boardingdilemma Wed 11-May-16 16:09:56

I just realised why I'd previously discounted Shrewsbury; the fact that girls have only recently been introduced...

LIZS Wed 11-May-16 16:13:56

Y6 is really late for this. We were talking with Smt from y4 to start the process. So many 13+ intakes require registration and in some cases pretest in y6 or early y7.

sendsummer Wed 11-May-16 16:15:58

From your requirements (distance, full boarding timetable, coed and no prep school) I would shortlist Malborough and St Edwards. Rugby and Shrewsbury would also be good choices but a bit further.
Your DD must realise though that in any senior school even if there is no attached prep school there will always be several preformed groups who come from particular prep schools, especially from the larger or closer prep schools (Bilton Grange for Rugby or the Dragon for St Edwards and Malborough). By year 9 DCs are keen for fresh faces, new friends and moving on from their prep school so I am not sure that I would have 'the no attached prep' as an absolute criteria if the school was otherwise right and had a large intake from other prep schools.

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