Stamford School or........no idea! Last minute posting from overseas....(19 Posts)
We have a total dilemma. My husband has just been posted from the US to London. We are British but have lived overseas for 6 years and our boys have spent the last 2 years in an American private school.
We visited Stamford School last summer thinking we would be living near there, however surprise surprise we are going to London instead, to live in the Richmond / Kingston area. We have only visited Stamford so far and we really like it but were thinking in terms of a day school at the time. We are now reluctantly considering boarding as many schools in the London area are totally full. Having read many, many posts on this site about the differences in many boarding schools and the need to visit several, I feel very lost. I don't feel like I have enough to go on to make such an important decision however we have no choice. Stamford have given us an acceptance deadline which hardly even gives time for us to hear back from the local LEA about state school options. I would prefer day private some ways though it would be a financial struggle but ultimately I want the children to be nearer to home and there are some fantastic state schools if only we can get a place. The children have mixed feelings about boarding......but seem to be getting keen on the idea.
I suppose I'm most worried about whether it is the right school for them, which is hard to say without having anything to compare it with. The boys are both slightly above average academically but certainly not total high fliers. We are very international and I'm not sure how they will fit with what seems to be quite a traditional rural set of children. I did like the fact that Stamford seems quite rounded and not wholly rugby types though that does seem to predominate. My boys like football, basketball and cross country plus drama and music. They are a product of an overseas lifestyle so very open minded but also very disciplined and used to being challenged. We don't want somewhere ultra traditional and uptight, but we do value a hard working ethos where the children respect the teachers and the school and will be encouraged to develop a real love for learning.
Any advice / comments would be very gratefully received! I'm driving myself crazy reading about hundreds of different schools without any way of knowing whether they will be suitable for my children!
How old are your children? When will you be arriving in UK? Much depends on which entrance points you are looking for.
If you are in the London area and are looking for your children to be admitted to a state secondary school in any year other than Y7 (11 years old) you are in a strong position as places become available as families move away and the schools have to offer you one if they have one. You usually need an address before you can apply though.
If you are looking for Y7 and can afford private there are lots of places at 8 - 13 day preps as many children move at 11. These schools can then help with secondary transition. You need to pick up the phone and call the registrars.
If you are looking for boarding there are many more accessible schools in the S East which will be way more convenient than Stanford. To be honest if your children are above average and sporty and you can afford the fees they will be welcomed almost everywhere.
There is a lot of talk about how difficult it is to get into English private schools - but it is only a handful of big names that are over subscribed. Many boarding schools are finding it hard to fill places. There is a lot of movement right up to the start of the Autumn term.
Again there is a lot of talk about how different all these schools are - and they all have beautiful brochures full of smiling children. But as far as I can see they all have a similar, high quality, offering. You can narrow your choices by deciding on location (ideally no more than an hour or so from home), single sex v co-ed, religion or not, boarding options (day, flexi, weekly, full).
Also, looking at the boarding numbers at Stamford, I do not think your children will enjoy the experience. Far better to send them to a school with a larger proportion of boarders......
Do send the ages of your boys and I can send loads of suggestions for Richmond/Kingston area. Stamford is a long way from West London, if you are going to board at least make it a distance when you can visit for matches etc, i.e. 90 mins in the car.
Noble, not sure if I asked this before. But, which textbook do you favour for Ed Excel. My kid's school uses My Maths, I have Pearson at home,and the CGP Textbook. I don't like CGP revision guides but the textbook is a great tone.
Apologies, I posted in wrong thread. Gnome the above.
The boys are 13 and 10 so going into Y9 and Y6. We are not sure exactly when we will be arriving but looks like end of June / early July. I have already called a lot of schools in the area and so far Hampton Court House, Hall School and St James have indicated they may have places. KGS, Kings, Hampton etc were all full. Many preps have told me they are full for Y6.
I should have said, they would be weekly boarding, not termly. Also, another factor is that we will probably move to near Stamford after 3 years if not before, for my husbands work. So, there is another draw there for that reasons.
My head is all over the place. I should have explained this before......my husband is in the Forces hence boarding will give the children protection from future moves. However we have never planned to do it as a family and really the only reason for considering it now is a lack of other available options so late in the day. We were hoping that a 3 year posting would get the oldest through GCSEs if we opted for a day school and then another 3 years would see the second through too but it is a gamble and no guarantee. Perhaps it is kinder to just let them board and not have to move again and again. But the thought makes me feel awful......
If you may move within 3 years boarding would be best, try to base yourself north of Richmond like Chiswick to be nearer to the North Circular than around Kingston. If you want private day schools around Kingston try Ewell Castle, Claremont Fan Court, and of course ACS Cobham and (ACS Hillingdon) for an international feel but they teach IB so it would be harder to then move again. Near Richmond also try Radnor House and Kew House School which has a feeder Prep. Otherwise St James's that you say has space may be a good option. Good luck!
You can always move the 13 year old to boarding at 16 for A level. Many children move at that age. You can also send the 10 year old to a day school now and contemplate a move to boarding at 13. There are many transition points.
I would have thought that your 13 year old would get a place at a number of good state schools as Y9 is not a normal transition point to state. It will be difficult to get a commitment from the schools before you arrive and have an address. But you just need to work the phones.
You can travel in many directions from Kingston/Richmond.
Have you contacted State Boarding schools? For example Gordons or Royal Alexandra and Albert. The first is very good and certainly comparable to a lot of private schools. I don't know if they have spaces.
Another alternative is the American Community Schools.
Other schools to consider. Halliford, st Johns Leatherhead, Epsom, city of London freemans, Thames Christian College. Reeds. Some of the above also have boarding so if they had space they could start day then change. Oh and Whitgift.
Don't you get priority with state places as a crown servant?
No, we do not get priority. All that we can do as crown servants is to apply from our current posting location before we actually move to the area. But it doesn't make any difference in terms of school preference or getting a place.
I have literally just heard from the LEA that my oldest DS has been given a place at Hollyfield School. Any opinions? I've heard it's up and coming....
Accept the place at the school which has been offered. You can also go on the waiting list for other schools if you prefer them. Sorry, no personal knowledge of schools in that area.
If you are eligible for CEA you usually have priority at State boarding schools - though the problem you have is that you are late for a Y9 place and most will be full at this stage. But places do come up and you lose nothing by keeping your options open until late August - though I appreciate it will be unsettling for your DS.
Same applies to private boarding - places often become available between April and August As people's plans change.
Have you considered a boarding prep for the younger child. Many struggle to fill their vacancies and might have a place for next year. With regard to the older child it's inevitable that not all the places at boarding schools will be taken up in yr 9 or the odd child will drop out within a few weeks, (I've worked at boarding schools and this happened every year even at an over subscribed popular one) you could ring up a few boarding schools you like the look of explain your situation, they may be more sympathetic as your in the armed forces and say if a place became available would they contact you, suggest your happy to sit any entrance exam/pre tests etc in advance so that they can get an idea of your DS's ability. If he's particularly strong in anything academic, sport music etc really emphasise this. You might just get lucky.
If you are prepared to consider boarding do try and find a school which is boarding with day pupils in the minority not the other way round, as school running 24/7 not just day school hours as your DS's will have a much better time. If your going to need full boarding (in at the weekends) try and find one which is either full boarding only or full boarding with a small number of day, unfortunately these are relatively few and far between most offer a mixture of flexi, weekly and a small % of full but on a positive note not so popular. Good luck.
Just looked at Stamford boarding inspection report (I know nothing about it as a general principle I'm not critising the education offered), in 2013 it has 605 day pupils and 41 "full boarders" which weirdly for the purpose of these reports doesn't mean staying in Saturday night. My DS's went to what was a full boarding prep which by the time they reached yr 5/6 had become a weekly/flexi boarding day prep they were one of a handful of pupils in school all weekend and became thoroughly miserable. I have lots of boarding experience and have lots of friends who also have lots of experience I can assure you wouldn't recommend this type of boarding (we've all learnt the hard way) if you want/need full boarding and live a significant distance away.
Thanks everyone for all the advice. Research continues!
Try enquiring at Dulwich to see if they have any ad hoc places (the answer may well be 'no' but there's no harm in trying)
If they say 'yes' you have a get-at-able school which has boarding houses, so if they're happy there, they can stay if you move. Current head is former head of Oakham which is only 9 miles from Stamford, and which has way more boarders. So he might be able to help you with a move idc
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