Just found out going overseas. Marlborough or other boarding school?(49 Posts)
So we just found out we are going overseas for the next 3 - 4 years. Our DS will turn 13 while we're away, so we need to find a boarding school for him, and potentially later our DD. Looking for co-ed, not too far from Heathrow, and easy distance to families that are west/ south, so Marlborough comes up as a potential option. But do any parents have current experience of the school? We would want strong pastoral care, preferably not too 'hair flicky'/image-conscious, but somewhere friendly, that stretches and inspires children, builds their independence and social skills, and (hopefully) puts them on path to a productive and happy future! Not asking too much then. Would Marlborough work? Is there anywhere else Mumsnetters would suggest instead? Both children reasonably bright (middle of top sets), DS enjoys sport, DD art.
Friends very happy with Bradfield although it does empty out at the weekends so might not suit you if you are overseas.
We has friends who looked at Marlborough for their DD they are well known hereditary peers, with lots of money, their DS's were at Eton but they are
rather scruffy very normal they felt they weren't "smart" enough for it! But it is a proper big full boarding school with everything you would expect from a school like this, loads of different opportunities and it only has a handful of day pupils. It does pre test in yr 6 and it is over subscribed.
St Edwards is worth looking at, approx. 80% full boarders again a broad curriculum with something for every one, friendly, not rammed with the "hair flicks/image conscious", good pastoral care, it's fairly liberal unlike Marlborough, it does well with all abilities and it's in Oxford so more opportunities to be independent, as there are lots things to do there and public transport. Marlborough is nice to visit but it is basically only one small high street and could boring at best stifling at worst for teenagers, no public transport, etc.
Friends have a DS at Bradfield they love it but there only gripe it's completely empty at the weekend as are many boarding school, True full boarding schools are very much in the minority. I went to a Bradfield for a sporting thing (unrelated to the school) one Sunday afternoon and it was totally empty.
If you don't mind removing the "not too far from Heathrow" criteria Kings Canterbury and Uppingham are also proper full boarding schools. The latter gets a bad press on here but friends we know who's DC's have very recently left talk very highly of it.
Christ Hospital (Horsham so very good for Gatwick) is also primarily full boarding but no everyone's cup of tea and Oundle is big and has quite a lot of full boarders, Oakham had day, weekly and full boarders but again is big so might have enough full boarders to be ok.
Also check out Rugby I think that's predominately full boarding.
Be careful school's
lie are very economical with the truth, when it comes to numbers of full boarders, never forget they want your money, all but a tiny number of *very big names and usually super selective full boarding schools are struggling to fill their vacencies and most UK parents have no appetite for proper full boarding. Be sure that they understand that your definition of full boarding is having to stay in all weekend not be allowed home Saturday nights, maybe get actual figures in writing. Beware ISI reports aren't worth the paper they're written on lump weekly boarding and full boarding full in the same numbers.
I haven't got experience of Marlborough as a parent, but do have in terms of my profession (caveat - I'm not in education). I have done work with other boarding schools too.
We would never be able to afford it anyway, but having seen it, Marlborough is somewhere I would never, ever send my children to. I think it would be fine if you have a resilient uber confident child, but I wasn't impressed by the pastoral care at all. I'd push very hard in terms of questions about this if you are considering it!
What about Christ Hospital? DS has close friend who is there and he is flourishing.
I am not sure what age your DC is but i know the normal pretests for Marlborough have been completed for this year and a waiting list in operation. They pretest 2 years before entry.
If you do have the chance of a place however please do go and look at the school. From my limited experience (my DD joined for 6th form) I agree that you need to be relatively robust to survive there. But for the right DCs it is tremendous. We have had no concerns to date about pastoral care - but to be fair we haven't needed to test this as our DD settled so quickly.
Also we are definitely not smart set. My DD says everyone mixes well and no one cares who or what you are. The village is lovely and provides just enough given the DCs have very little down time and there are so many activities offered by the school. Hope that helps. PM me if you want to know more.
Thank you all. Will take a look at St Edwards. Sounds like Bradfield is out if it totally empties every weekend. Christs Hospital, Uppingham etc too far from family in West unfortunately. Our children are happy and confident but not uber confident by any means. Definitely want the school to have good pastoral care/ encourage kindness and consideration for others. We would enter for pretest next year if going for Marlborough. Dancing, will PM you separately - thanks!
If you want the West Country about Sherborne girls/boys I believe both schools are in the same town and that the girls and boys come together for lots of activities and ?lessons in the 6th form. A friends DS was there 9-10 years ago and I'm pretty sure it was full boarding. But schools are adapting changing all the time so you would need to check they are still full boarding now.
We've looked at st Edwards for day pupils, looked amazing great atmosphere but we discounted it as was too boarding focussed. Loved it though. Could be great for your DS. Bus from Oxford to Heathrow, or train .
CLFS in Ashtead? Pretty normal, mixture of boarders and day pupils.
Rugby school is co-ed and full boarding. I have a DS there. There's a handful of day students but even that has further dwindled as they have now phased out entry in yr 7. It's now only entry at 13+ but it's always been predominantly full boarding, buzzing with life everyday of the week with tons to do. I can't fault their pastoral care either. All the kids from our prep that went seem very happy and the parents haven't raised any concerns. Academically although they are not terribly selective they have very high standards and get very good results.
Some people don't like the actual town, personally all I do with the town is to drive in and out, it's looks pleasant enough whenever we've gone there, and we had a nice day out the newly constructed retail park.
Charterhouse in Godalming might fit location-wise (I think they also do a Year 6 pre-test, though)
happy - what's the MN concern about Uppingham?
I know pupils (not my DCs) and staff at Uppingham who think it's great. Don't believe everything you read!
Would you consider Millfield?... if you're children are sporty or arty they would love it there- amazing facilities and very cosmopolitan
I think at some stage and quite a while ago there might have been issues with drugs at Uppingham because whenever it's discissef on here it's either mentioned or implied by some posters. It's inevitable that a small % of children at boarding schools will take drugs and most boarding schools take it very seriously and the friends we know with DC's there are not the sort of people who would tolerate a school with endemic drug problems.
Charterhouse has lots of weekly boarders a friend who works there is always off at the weekend and it's not coed until the 6th form. OP if your DS is at a 13+ prep where do they suggest?
OP I've PMd you.
Canford in Dorset? Quite an academic boarding school.
According to a friends whose DC's are there and chose it for this reason, a combination of weekly boarding and some compulsory weekends, most go home on non compulsory weekend in although if your family are in the West Country it could work.
Whereabouts will you be flying from? Heathrow might not be the only airport option. Have you considered any of the schools around Edinburgh?
(is there no option to take the children with you?)
Definitely consider Sherborne girls/boys. DB considered it for DN but eventually went for Millfield instead. Small town but good transport links to London and Bristol. Don't think it's too 'smart set'. Leweston also in Sherborne has a good reputation locally for girls but might have too many day/weekly boarders for you.
Canford is lovely but not super academic... friendly place and fab grounds but don't expect academic stretching... used to be known as a breeding ground for future estate agents...
A quick look at A level exam results for both Marlborough (which is generally considered to be at the very least to be "quite academic" although not super selective) and Canford there is basically no overall
difference between admittedly I haven't bothered to look at individual subjects.
The OP says her DC's are "reasonably bright" "middle of top sets" so I doubt she's looking for or indeed her DC's would get into the super selectives.
There's a world of academic difference between the super selectives and Canford surely?
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