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Desperate for guidance but please don't judge me!

(22 Posts)
ohgodmumyouresoembarrassing Tue 21-Mar-17 12:44:06

My 14 year old has been offered a scholarship/bursary to Tudor Hall. We could never afford to send her to private boarding school without big bursary and she is currently in local state school. She is an A* student and v. happy at her state school, but we are not so happy with how she needs to behave in order to fit in (it's not cool to be clever, she wears lots of make up, her behaviour isn't particularly nice towards us because it's cool to talk back to your parents etc) But she doesn't want to go to TH. Both I and my OH went to boarding school and really rate it as a life experience. This feels like a fantastic opportunity for her but we are unable to explain the less tangible benefits that she may get in later life in a way that she will understand at the age of 14. For example, just the fact of being offered and taking up a scholarship, is great for her.

I'd like help with two things please. The first is whether there is anyone on here that I could PM, that has a daughter currently at TH. I'd so appreciate some inside info.The second is, what would you do? My heart says if she's happy leave her where she is. My head says she'll be better off in an all-girls environment with extra opportunities and great extra curricular and I know I made the most amazing friendships that have lasted me a lifetime - I'd like my daughter to have all these amazing benefits as well.

Most of the adults in her life are telling her it's a fantastic opportunity and she'd be crazy to pass it up. They also say that we, as her parents, should simply just tell her that she's going. But we've always tried to get her buy in to things and not sure what will happen if we put our collective feet down on this very emotive subject.

TeenAndTween Tue 21-Mar-17 12:53:09

I have no knowledge of Tudor Hall.

I boarded.

I think that it would be a big thing to send your daughter to board if she wasn't up for it. It has the possibility of ruining your relationship with her. As she is that bright, is there not a similar day school that would offer a similar discount?

I also think you would need to be really confident of the ethos of the girls in the school. At my academically selective all girls boarding school in the 80s there was still pressure against the 'clever' ones, lots of pressure to have the 'right' clothes etc. And at a boarding school you can't get away from it if you don't fit in.

The talking back is pretty much teen standard behaviour isn't it? You have to stand firm and ride it out. Maybe ensure she is doing stuff out of school with a different mix of people?

Given that she is doing well at her current school, I think it is a pretty big gamble to take to move her against her will to a boarding school at her age. (It maybe would be different had she gone at 11/12). However, as I said, I don't know Tudor Hall.

homebythesea Tue 21-Mar-17 12:57:37

Another ex boarding schooler here - totally agree about the benefits.

BUT - 14 is an odd age to go away and she will have to break into already established friendship groups. How far away is it from home? Friendships are ALL at this age - the possibility of moving away from her group right now seems far more important to her than the possibility of great exams, school facilities etc etc

She must have done some sort of exams / interviews to get offered the scholarship so there must have been some kind of buy-in at that stage? Did you look at or apply to any other schools? What was discussed as to the reasons or a potential move? You say she doesn't understand the intangible benefits as explained to her but that she is a A student - this doesn't tally with me! Frank talk is key surely?

But definitely don't just send her away without her absolute say so - this is the key to all sorts of issues at a time when she needs to be able to trust you. And I can assure you girls at private schools wear too much makeup and talk back to their parents too (personal experience!)

ohgodmumyouresoembarrassing Tue 21-Mar-17 13:44:22

Thanks for the comments so far. Yes, she's done the scholarship papers and stayed there for a few days. She seemed to really enjoy it and got on very well with the other girls whom she said were really friendly and can't wait to welcome her in Autumn. She loved the 'no make up / no boys' / fun in the dorm etc. But she doesn't want to leave her current friends and she doesn't want to do longer hours of school (evening prep and Saturday mornings). The move is because we felt that she would benefit from boarding - she's an only child and frequently complains of feeling lonely and / or bored. Most of her friends have siblings and are not so 'needy' of peer time. She was offered a Drama Scholarship. My implication (which you got I think homebythesea) when I said that she didn't understand the intangible benefits, was not that she didn't technically understand them, but that at the age of 14 it's difficult to appreciate them, when all you can see is the immediate 'pain' of leaving your current friend group. I suppose my difficulty is this - isn't parenting sometimes about making unpopular decisions that you know could be great for your child even if (or especially if) they don't know it?

Peanutbutterrules Tue 21-Mar-17 14:03:23

Oh tricky. I'd get her back to TH for another visit. Can she meet the drama teacher? Can you show how the school will help her achieve her dreams better? Agree she can go back to her old school for 6th form if she wants to?

I think she has to be at least accepting of you saying 'go', rather then really against. Sometimes kids need a push in the right direction. We sometimes say 'right - this is what's happening' and then we find out what DD really thinks as it gives her a firm choice to accept or argue about. Mind you DD can be a bit faffy sometimes.

Bottom line - I wouldn't send her if she is really against but I think you need to sort out if she's against, or just (naturally) afraid of change. Its good that she like it when she visited. Oh...and I'd also offer her the face saving with friends of 'my parents are making me', so she doesn't have to say 'I'd rather leave'.

bojorojo Tue 21-Mar-17 14:22:10

My DDs boarded (elsewhere) and I know a few girls who went to TH, but not currently. It is quite a country school and small.

Leaving friends will be a problem. Can you assure her that she will see them on exeats and weekends? They will grow apart, that is inevitable. Also, do not think that going to boarding school stops back-chat. It does not. If she has got into bad habits, do not expect change for the better overnight. My DDs found that doing prep at a set time was the best thing to do. Saved it from piling up. They did not do Saturday school, but they would not have minded. Their school did sports matches on Saturdays and not on a Wednesday afternoon as is usual in some boarding schools.

Try and explain the drama benefits. What else could she do there? Friendships are a big bonus, but she already has these at home. Make up and boys will still be on the agenda though. You will struggle to stop that once it has started. Mine loved boarding but you are starting very late and she will know it is because you do not like the young person she is turning into. Not sure you can put the genie back in the bottle!

teta Tue 21-Mar-17 14:28:43

I was in a similar situation to this with dd1 several years ago.I moved her for year 9 from a state to a private day girls school.She really didn't want to leave her friends and was cross and very sulky the whole summer holiday before the move.Now in year 13 she reckons it was the best thing I've ever done for her.But it was tough for her to break into friendship groups and she was lonely the first year.Her old friends treated her as if she wasn't cool any more and her new ones I guess assumed she was a bit chavvy.

I Reckon you have to come to some sort of deal with her.Maybe a bit of bribery - promise a lovely holiday,new phone whatever if she sticks it out.She will make friends so quickly in a boarding school.

homebythesea Tue 21-Mar-17 14:42:50

Teenage = short termism. Always has, always will!!

I agree on active parenting where we have the longer term perspective but not if that means sending a child away from home against her will.

However it sounds like you are half way there. If Drama is something she wants to pursue can you go to see a show at the new school, point to amazing drama schools alumni are at etc etc? And contrast with current school? Can you appeal to her vanity e.g. Only x scholarships, they clearly think you are v talented etc

With regard to friends point out that she can still FaceTime and Snapchat etc and see her friends at weekends/holidays. It probably will fizzle out but more organically if that makes sense.

Ultimately you could say give it a try, otherwise you might regret it or kick yourself for not taking the opportunity with the fallback that she could leave after a year if she really wasn't happy.

HPFA Tue 21-Mar-17 14:53:50

Can't better the advice here - just agree with everyone that 14 is too old to be forced into something as big and life changing as this. Forcing her against her will would probably militate against her making the most of the opportunity anyway.

ohgodmumyouresoembarrassing Tue 21-Mar-17 15:17:00

So far, some fantastic comments, thank you. Most of the 'try it' suggestions we've already done (bribery made her very cross!). But really appreciate the range of sentiments and the universal (seemingly) agreement that force is not a good thing. We too, feel that she's half way there and is flailing against what she doesn't want to do but sees as inevitable. And yes, it's the change that's she's fearful of. Her feeling is, if I'm an A* student then why move me? And I can't help half agreeing with her. But then I have to remember that what she's being offered is an enormous privilege and the benefits will stay with her for the rest of her life. But agreed - not at the expense of a teenage-hood of misery. So grateful to you all for your sensible and constructive inputs thus far. Thank you.

swingofthings Tue 21-Mar-17 15:36:01

A very difficult one. On one hand, what she raised as reasons for not wanting to go could be long forgotten. My DD had a massive breakdown after she started 6th form because she chose a school where she needed to be from 8 to 3pm M-F and wearing a uniform when all her high school friends ended up at the local college only going there 3 days a week, but she got over it after a few months and now isn't bothered.

At the same time, what would happen if she moved there, struggled to adjust and make friends, missed her friends massively, started to feel depressed and this affected her grades and ability to perform?

Have you considered and discussed with her whether she could go back to her current school if it didn't work out and if so, how long would you leave it until you would agree for her to give it up?

ohgodmumyouresoembarrassing Tue 21-Mar-17 16:18:09

Yes swingofthings - all sensible comments indeed. However she was given a taster 4 day stay there to see if she could handle boarding, and she seemed to enjoy it. She did say she missed everyone massively and was quite homesick, but she clearly had enormous fun as well!!! She said everyone there was really nice, and that they made her feel really welcome. From what I gather, Tudor Hall is exceptional on that front. Yes, we would be prepared to bring her back again if she hated it. And I think that may be the thing that swings it.

homebythesea Tue 21-Mar-17 16:28:21

Is weekly boarding an option? Might be the best of both to start with and she may actually eventually end up staying weekends as she gets involved in school activities and make friends

ohgodmumyouresoembarrassing Tue 21-Mar-17 16:48:14

homebythesea that's sadly not an option. But it's not far off - home every three weekends... and some visits in between.

happygardening Tue 21-Mar-17 17:19:53

I totally believe in boarding but I'd be the first to admit its not for all and also believe its only great for a child who wants to go and by 14 your DD is forming strong views and opinions of her own.
Secondly all the stuff you state she's doing "it's not cool to be clever, she wears lots of make up, her behaviour isn't particularly nice towards us because it's cool to talk back to your parents" is pretty normal stuff for many teenagers. They reached that age where they're trying to work out so many things, their experiencing new things/ideas because they are no longer solely doing what and being influenced by their parents, so they wear make up/clothes that you don't necessarily approve of or use yourself because they're its new and exciting and they're wondering whether they look cool or good. They're also want to be liked by others they're now seriously moving away form parents unconditional love into the big wide world and want friends and are experimenting how to get them. Talking back to their parents, its also normal for many teenagers and I don't think proving you're not at war 24/7 unhealthy, teenagers are trying to find their own identities and independence and its not easy, breaking away from your parents and their values. It causes considerable anxiety and often over reaction. Finally teenagers are also programmed to push boundaries and will make mistakes but that is how they learn. I ride fairly seriously and am often being told a horse can only pull if its go something to pull against, teenagers are the same they can only agree if you agree with them. Do you know the story of the north wind and the sun? The wind bet the sun he could get a man riding by to remove his coat so he blew as hard as he could all the man did was tighten the coat more.But when the sun shone and it warmed him up and the birds sang and flowers looked pretty and he removed his coat in fact all his clothes and jumped in the river for a swim. I think life is very like this. I ride a very difficult horse I'm no great rider but she goes well for me why because I'm nice to her. I regularly have to attend training on defusing conflict, confrontation rarely if ever works.
Can you accept he place (Im assuming its for Sept 2017) and just back off for a while. Let her work it out for herself, tell you've accepted it but the decision is hers and you will respect what ever she decides. Stop talking about it, give her the space to work it out ands what she does.
Finally I know TH vaguely its not overly academic, and as said above its not very big, Ive just looked at its results they're only marginally better than my local comp, if she's a A* student would she not better at a more selective academic school and also ones thats bigger so that she can be with lots of other A* pupils? I personally believer that very bright children benefit form being around lots of other very bright children. I assuming she's going into yr 10 so you've probably missed the boat for a scholarship bursary into a more selective school than TH but you could try again for the 6th form she might also be more open to a move as the and of yr 11 is a natural break point.

happygardening Tue 21-Mar-17 17:22:27

"teenagers are the same they can only agree if you agree with them."
Bloody autocorrect!
teenagers are the same they can only argue if you argue with them.

jeanne16 Tue 21-Mar-17 17:27:15

I don't believe Tudor Hall is considered a particularly academic school. This may not necessarily be a problem but it may mean your A* pupil will be in classes with far less academically able pupils. This may actually pull her achievement down. Also there will probably be lots of cool girls there too. Many people automatically assume private schools will always be better and can be disappointed when they find out that is not always true.

Allthebestnamesareused Tue 21-Mar-17 17:32:17

Is she going into year 10 or year 9? If year 9 there will more tgan likely be other new girls too as many leave prep after year8

bojorojo Tue 21-Mar-17 18:14:43

I think Tudor Hall has a spread of girls. Don't forget that small schools tend to move up and down the league tables because intakes may vary a great deal from year to year and they will not consistently attract high flyers in large numbers. That does not mean they cannot teach them. Where my DDs went was not overly academic, but being bright in a smaller pool of talent can be an advantage and definitely helps self-confidence. As long as they get girls going to the best universities they have enough talent! We also found that going to as many events as possible in school helps. So be available for drama, music, house events, sport etc. Make the school part of your life too.

My girls wanted to be nearer London so we didn't consider it but their school does win Good School's Guide award for best Drama consistently!

ohgodmumyouresoembarrassing Tue 21-Mar-17 22:05:20

You're all really sensible - happygardening I particularly appreciate what you say. It's difficult - we just have the one child and we're older parents. I was brought up by my grandparents as well, so I don't have a great frame of reference for how 'normal' teenagers behave! And girls are really complicated!!! I think the trick is going to be not making her feel as if she has absolutely no choice in the matter. I like the idea of accepting and then backing off. How she feels now under pressure may not be how she feels in a couple of months when the pressure has receded. That's a really good plan. bojorojo does TH win GSG award for Drama or your girls' school? Hoping it's Tudor Hall! :-). I'm so grateful to you all. Just needed to hear some objective opinions. Really helpful. Thanks again.

happygardening Wed 22-Mar-17 14:38:32

"but being bright in a smaller pool of talent can be an advantage and definitely helps self-confidence. "
Im not completely disagreeing with this but you have to look at your individual child. I ride at one of the countries top training centres, they train to the highest level. Every time I go I see amazingly talented riders and horses training aiming for the top. I am a fairly competent rider Im not in their league. by any stretch on the imagination, but watching them inspires me to be better. Its inevitable that the "bar" for all of us is set much higher and expectation are very high. Does it knock my confidence? I know I'm not a brilliant rider (and never will be), I'm only ok I would say I'm realistic! The last time I set a toe in an normal riding stables (many moons ago before I was even as good as I am now) I was in the "advanced class" trust me `I'm to advanced. I personally like being inspired and learning in a place where excellence is the norm. On the other hand a lady came for a ride the other week she was totally intimidated by l these brilliant riders on their flash horses going round and burst into tears! We are all different. DS2 is brilliant at math he sat in a class with 17 math geniuses this is pretty unique few schools can offer this he learnt so much from them again the bar was set so high excellence was a given there were no limits and they could bat ideas around together. At his school being clever was just normal neither cool or uncool. Try and work our what type of environment your DD would thrive in.
"As long as they get girls going to the best universities they have enough talent!"
If this is all you want from education then its fine, but I personally believe that education is more than that its not about exam results and university destinations. DS2 would probably have got the same results and gone to the same university if he'd gone to our excellent local state school (assigning he hadn't died of boredom) but its pretty obvious that a super selective school has more time to go away from the prescribed curriculum, its likely to have more staff who are comfortable doing this, and do other things this hopefully making the individual subjects broader and more interesting.

bojorojo Wed 22-Mar-17 15:16:09

It is the school my girls went to. It is mostly weekly boarding now and quite close to London. I am not putting you off TH by the way - it was just a comment! PM me if you want to know the school but if you are around the midlands it would be too far away.

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