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Help choosing a boarding school

(16 Posts)
BertramOliphantWest Wed 08-Jun-16 13:39:44

DS is year 4 and will probably need to go to boarding school from year 7 - we are a forces family and move every 2/3 yrs so this will be for continuity of his education. This will be our family's first experience of boarding/private schools so are feeling a bit out of our depth.

Ideally we are looking for a school with excellent pastoral care, a fair number of boarders, good academic record, co-ed, good transport links to London and/or the M4 corridor, offering weekly as well as full boarding and preferably with a good tradition of educating service children. DS is quite bright, keen on modern technology, enjoys sport but doesn't excel at it (better at solo sports like running, swimming, climbing), he can be a bit shy but loves groups like Cubs. Fees ideally not more than £9000 a term.

Any suggestions for schools to look at and questions to ask of those schools. I need a dummy's guide.

Friends have recommended we look at Bromsgrove, Royal Hospital School, Gordon's School, Canford (too pricey), Barnard Castle (tricky journey?) and Kingswood in Bath. Have been warned away from Queen Ethelburga's.

Any help appreciated.

happygardening Wed 08-Jun-16 16:55:13

If Canford is too prices (understandably) then this reduces you options as most well know big names charge about the same. Friends in the forces sent their DD's to Cranleigh they are generally pleased with it but basically it's very much weekly boarding with a handful of full boarders and will be similarly priced to Canford.
What about Christs Hospital bursaries are available, it starts at yr 7 which is ideal for you but I think it's full boarding only (worth checking) and the right location.

mateysmum Wed 08-Jun-16 17:01:09

Have a look at thegoodschoolsguide.co.uk which has lots of advice and lets you search by area etc.

I live near Taunton which has 3 boarding/day schools all of which would meet your criteria - but check weekly boarding. They are King's, Queen's and Taunton School.

happygardening Wed 08-Jun-16 17:33:17

mayeys post has reminded me I used to work with a women's who's DH was in the forces her DCs went to either Kings Taunton or Taunton School the latterI think. They seemed generally happy with it but again not enough full boarders.

KellyElly Wed 08-Jun-16 17:34:13

Christ's Hospital.

mary21 Wed 08-Jun-16 19:07:39

Friends (army) has 2 ds at kingsw9d and are happy. Weekly board.
Other shools warminster, kings bruton may be full boarding onlyor state boarding consider sexeys and gordons

PotteringAlong Wed 08-Jun-16 19:09:11

Barnard castle is an excellent school but definitely not in the London / m4 corridor!

AlwaysTeaTime Wed 08-Jun-16 19:31:51

Kings Taunton would be great for your DS: there are plenty of full boarders, although I believe lots are international, and lots of forces families. I have heard that their pastoral care is excellent too.
My DC are at Dauntsey's and I cannot recommend it enough- it used to be known by the locals as 'the service school on the salisbury plain' as most of the UK boarders are forces so lots of experience with CEA etc and there are full and weekly boarders in equal numbers, although it has no CCF and no 'army' ethos. Most go home at weekends until Y9 and then choose to stay in. Pastoral care is great, academics are very much on the up but it isn't pushy and adventure type sport is huge- climbing, sailing and kayaking very popular. The issue is technology: although computing and DT etc are offered at a high standard the technology elsewhere needs updating desperately. Fees slightly more than £9000 but the HM has been talking about reducing boarding fees and they offer bursaries.
I would also recommend Pangbourne College (offers forces bursaries) in Reading- great pastoral, sports and academics, and it attracts service families as it has a military ethos- they parade!
As for the ones you mentioned:
Bromsgrove is lovely and has lots of boarders with a strong pastoral system
Royal Hospital is very naval with a strong sailing (and chapel) emphasis. There are lots of service families.
Gordon's School is state boarding so you would only pay for the boarding side. This is cheaper- I don't know much else about it.
Kingwood competes with Dauntsey's at sport- lovely kids, although I have heard that the pastoral side isn't as good as is is quite academic and that most of the boarders are weekly. Bath location a plus for the teenage years as there is a lot to do.
I wouldn't completely rule out schools like Canford because of price- if you are entitled to CEA this can help a lot and often the schools offer additional forces bursaries, especially the ones with more of a military ethos, so it is worth researching.

BertramOliphantWest Wed 08-Jun-16 19:35:13

Potteringon I know! Definitely tricky logistics-wise smile.

PotteringAlong Wed 08-Jun-16 19:54:53

It depends where you're flying in from though - Newcastle airport is very close and Wouk make it a much easier commute.

BertramOliphantWest Wed 08-Jun-16 19:59:08

That's true, but most likely we will be based in southern England or somewhere like Belgium or the Netherlands. In which case we would be driving back to the UK or using the Eurostar.

NWgirls Wed 08-Jun-16 20:25:11

Just to add some points to justify why Christ's Hospital should be on your list, as two other posters have also suggested:
1. Respectable/solid academic results - more than 70 percent A+ at GCSE
2. Although fees are 10.5k, the school is enormously generous with bursaries and give them up to a quite high income level - this from their website:
"Christ’s Hospital is unique for a UK independent school in that it provides more bursarial support to its pupils than any other school in the independent boarding sector and has done for over 460 years. Bursaries are granted to 75% of students who receive between 5% and 100% assistance with their boarding fees according to their household income"
3. This bursary generosity makes the student body more "normal" than at other boarding schools (less wealth/status which in my eyes is healthy)
4. I know two very happy girls there

mateysmum Wed 08-Jun-16 20:40:47

I also know someone who recently left Dauntsey's and were really happy there..

Katieweasel Wed 08-Jun-16 20:56:37

I went to boarding school for exactly this reason, my parents were military and moved every 18 months. I went to St George's in Harpenden. Co-ed, lots of army boarders with lots of day pupils too. It isn't a private school so you only pay for the boarding fees. The school was amazing. I can honestly say that the 7 years I were there were just fabulous. The friends I made there I have kept for over 20 years. Several of my friends from school, themselves now in the army, have sent their own children there. We looked at many schools before settling on St George's but I instantly felt at home there and never once did I feel the odd one out for being an "army brat".

Essexmum69 Thu 09-Jun-16 19:35:13

I have two cousins with RAF parents at the Leys school in Cambridge. Both seem very happy there and it is a lovely city.

Expatmomma Thu 09-Jun-16 20:35:43

Was going to second St George's.
I used to live opposite.

It is State Boarding.

Great transport links too.. A 10 minute walk to the station and trains to St Pancras. That would give you access to the Eurostar.

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