Sporty/all round schools for children transferring from Australia(11 Posts)
Thank you for all those who posted on an earlier discussion who gave me the confidence to bring the family back to the UK from a few years is Melbourne. I have reflected on how my choices of school have changed. The children will have had three years in an 'academic' private school in Oz (no selection over here, diff schools have diff emphasis) but still do loads of sport and really enjoy it, much to my surprise. And I mean lots - 7 periods of maths ,6 periods of sport plus loads of extra curricular matches, training - maybe another 10 hours a week all told. And my kids are average sporting ability, but they just enjoy and have embraced it. AS well as dance, drama, triathlon, debating. 12 year old boy/girl twins - boy is probably academically number 1 or 2 in his year (out of 40), girl in top 10 %. Before now I would have sought academic grammar, but now I look at what they do in Australia with emphasis on sport, drama, debating etc (and my kids are year 6 in Oz, would be Year 8 in Sep in UK) and wonder where to go? Husbands job in central london, we last lived in Midlands, so where in Berks, Bucks, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire do we start? Prefer coed school, would pay 20k a year at most (but would be really really pushing it). Happy with comps - I had a great time at mine and ended up at Oxbridge. When you don't know many people with kids same age as yours it's a bit tricky. How do you see past the school website????
education relocation 'expert', but she said it would be impossible to find a state school without an address and actually being in the country (copied from your other thread).
This is not totally true - many State Boarding schools do not require a UK address for boarders, just a UK passport. You could put your DC in for boarding and then locate close by. The SBS local to us has a lot of boarding-families living closer to the school than day-families! (because it's a legitimate way of circumventing admissions rules). Boarding schools generally have a lot more going on than day schools eg lots of sport.
SBS are State schools so education is free. You only pay for food and accommodation so the total bill is about the same as a (cheap) independent.
Are you aware of the plan to build a new railway line, HS2? Check where you will be in relation to it.
Some of the Co ed Bucks Grammars seem quite rounded, e.g Borlase in Marlow has a performing arts specialty and also seems to do quite a lot of sport. Also maybe look at Henry Floyd in Aylesbury and Chesham Grammar.
Most day independent schools in south will be about £6,000 per term so I am assuming that you mean £20, 000 per DC?
The last minute admissions will be a problem but worth trying the two independent schools in Abingdon (although single sex share buses and drama for example) Abingdon School and St Helen's and St Katherine's. Both are academic schools but especially Abingdon School will have good sport.
Don't forget that especially with the shorter days of the state school system there will be the time and opportunities for adding in sport clubs, dance etc outside school.
What you've described is most readily available at highly selective boarding schools here (If you want academic challenge as well.) Sport for part or all of the afternoon every day with more "school" in the early evening then clubs and society meetings til late.
You've obviously missed the normal application timetable but if your DCs are unusually clever it may be worthwhile to look into having them sit scholarships as this route can be slightly more last minute. (At least for boys, not entirely sure about girls' schools.) And, of course, you may qualify for some means tested bursary support if they are successful.
(But all this may already have been said on your previous thread!)
Once again, thank you all for taking the time to respond.
senua, I am not sure my children would wish to board but it is certainly worth a thought. They sound amazing institutions. And it would provide them with a strong peer network quickly.
sendsummer, thank you for that. I had vaguely thought of Abingdon as an area but was unsure of schools
Gruach, boarding was not really an option I considered. Both kids love being home and I think it would be incredibly hard for them to be apart when we are starting over yet again! (We have moved every 3 to 4 years since they were born) The added complication is that yes, they are bright by Australian standards but maybe not by UK anymore - they just haven't covered the curriculum in Maths for example and have a single language lesson a week where the focus is actually on the 'culture' rather than the language. That is partly because they have to move from Year 6 Aus to Year 8 UK (different age date cut offs), but it is also because of the different academic standards of each country. Many of their Australian teachers have taught in the UK and are flabbergasted by the way some schools push kids so early. Wherever they end up they are going to have to play catch up.
All of this really is helping - slowly! Thank you all so much
I think you need to decide where your priorities lie in terms of money. There is no doubt that a good independent school will provide more sport and other extra curricular opportunities than most state schools. However a good independent will cost you between 12k per year per child in the Midlands and 18k in the South East with maybe some level of reduction for child 2. It may well be that you are better off finding a state school that can fulfill some of their needs in a town with lots of other opportunities and then using a portion of that money to buy awesome extra curricular opportunities for them in a whole range of sports and arts.
If you can cope with West Berkshire, Willink in Burghfield Common has a lot of lunchtime and after school clubs and the village is just south of Reading with all the opportunities available there. Another 'village comp' albeit further out is the Downs School in Compton. This is a bit more isolated. You may want to avoid South Oxfordshire (Henley and around) as there are 4 or 5 schools there which are 11-16 (Henley College mops up 16-18) therefore they are all quite small an day we'll have fewer opportunities just for that reason. However Piggott in Wargrave might be worth a look (over the river from Henley in Berkshire). Places to (probably) avoid: Maidenhead and Winnersh/Wokingham as the better schools in both are single sex. Windsor as it still has a middle school system until year 8 and then y9-13 are again single sex. Reading itself as opposed to its outskirts. The schools in Reading seem to be either super selective single sex grammars, or failing (e.g Majeski Academy).
We moved from Sydney back to the UK when my eldest DD was mid way through Year 6 in Australia. Being a summer born child I spoke to the independent schools we were considering and decided to place her into Year 7 (rather than Year 8 which would have been the 'correct' year for her age). Obviously it meant an extra year of school fees but it was the best thing to do for her in terms of integrating into the UK system. Not sure if that's something you can consider?
I found the schools here are more academic but she has coped very well and is mostly in top sets. Although things are much more structured here they still do heaps of sports, drama and music, although a lot of it on an extra-curricular basis. I do miss the Aussie lifestyle though!
Serious sport at secondary age often takes place in sports clubs, rather than in schools. You may be better off picking a town with a good selection of clubs. Guildford springs to mind, but there are other places. You then can pick a school based on other criteria. The best outcome is a school whose facilities are used out of school by a sports club. You then get access to good training without having to travel.
The Bucks Grammar schools mentioned above are obviously selective and will test regarding entry at any stage. Year 7 (11 plus exams already taken by Year 6 pupils last September) and thereafter at differing stages of entry. They may not have places in the year group you want. If you are interested in Bucks it is worth looking at the Bucks CC web site about late entry. I think the Abingdon independent schools are very popular so are there actually spaces? You could try St Edwards, Oxford or Stowe near Buckingham - both co-ed independent and have day pupils as well as boarding. Sport is high on their agendas.
Where my DDs boarded, the day fees are now around £8000 a term, boarding around £11,000. The day fees did cover right into the evening though and there was sports galore! £18,000 is possible at some schools.
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