MCS vs Winchester?(10 Posts)
This is the current debate in our house and I'd be grateful for any thoughts and experiences out there to contribute to our family discussions...
pretty straight forward decision I'd reckon - Does ds want to board or not?
DS not keen on the idea of boarding now but most teenagers can't wait to get away from their parents right and maybe that's why as kids get older they do more and more boarding where schools have the flexi-set up? Should DS be deciding this or is this a thing where parenting takes over?
I think you have to work out if you think ds will cope with full boarding.
It may not be the case that he will want to board later on. You can always change for 6th form don't forget.
How will boarding effect the family dynamics?
Do his friends board?
Does he have friends going to either school?
Personally, I would not send a child to boarding school if they didn't want to go.
How about Abingdon? Then he would have the option without having to change schools?
We have boarders, so I am not against the idea.
But I do not understand why families who have no particular boarding need and a first class local option would choose it.
"DS not keen on the idea of boarding now but most teenagers can't wait to get away from their parents right"
No, not sure that is right. Majority of teenagers don't board, and I don't know of many day students who wish they were boarding. Obviously some do, but i wouldn't say most.
DS2 went to Winchester he left last year. I know MCS. Both are excellent schools but totally different schools. I also know parents at both.
Boarding versus day. Liberal very broad curriculum (partly because the boys are there 24/7) versus pushy exam focused curriculum with a pretty typical amount of extra curricular activities that you would find in any good fee paying day school. Hands off parents versus
over very involved parents. MCS to my mind feels like a paying grammar, Winchester is a traditional boys full boarding school.
If your DS doesn't want to board then Winchester is not the place for him. It is currently one of only a few remaining full boarding school, boys can only come home on Sunday. If you and your DS looked at MCS and liked it then that to me seems to be the obvious choice.
We wanted boarding so MCS was never on our radar, even if we had wanted day I doubt it would have been I don't feel it would have suited us as family.
The biggest difference is the boarding, IMO, followed by mostly 11+ entry rather than 13+. DS is at WC and in retrospect he would have benefited from changing school at 11. However, he does like the sense of independence now he's boarding and there are times he's solved one or two problems at school without our having to be involved at all.
Div is another big difference. DS loves it and I think it's great for him to have such a broad subject without exams.
However, I have noticed a stronger focus on exam results at WC than I expected. I don't know to what extent that's a real change, or whether my expectations were a bit off. What I do like about it is that I genuinely don't worry about his results at all and that seems to make being his parent a lot less complicated.
Oxford has a much more urban feel than Winchester.
I am slightly biased of course as indicated by my user name. MC was also a possible option for my DS. No question however that Winchester College due to the full boarding and package (with the inevitable price tag) provides a much broader education academically and extracurricular than MC. The boarding comes also with an extra dimension in pastoral care as other adults are strongly interested in your DS and acting on his behalf (although of course there will be some lazy or less caring staff as well).
I remember one boy who was at MC and then got a scholarship at Winchester for year 9 saying that he had got bored at MC. There is an awful lot more to keep a boy who is always on the go engaged and interested at Winchester including the easy socialising. For a musician the music opportunities and teaching are superb for a non specialist school.
However as for all boarding schools boys at Winchester have to be self motivated to get the most out out of it. House staff just like parents can only do so much pushing.
If your DS is very focussed in his academics and unlikely to want to explore or take up other possibly unthought of opportunities then MC will suit better. It will provide a very bright peer group and good solid exam grade focussed teaching. If you prefer to be very involved educationally then MC again.
My son is due to start at Winchester College in 2018. It was suggested to us by his current headmaster within a few weeks of starting at his current Prep school. The other school suggested was St Paul's but because we loved Winchester and everything it has to offer it was our first choice.
I particularly like the entrance procedure as I felt the person who would be responsible for my son ,while he is at school has had chosen him. You will probably be advised by your headmaster to have a back up plan as their applications seems to be very high and many boys who would probably do well there don't get conditional offers.
My son enjoyed the interview and test and I did feel the housemaster was very happy with him when we picked him up ( although l did try not to get my hopes up).
My son is currently at a full boarding prep where he is expected to play rugby etc and I think he is looking forward to less of that ! He is a keen fencer and loves drama , debating and music. We felt after our initial housemaster visit that they like the boys to be busy but they have freedom do what they enjoy.
I would say go to visit Winchester ( if you haven't already) and put your sons name down. Then you can make a decision when you have your offers. Best of luck .
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