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Independent day school or state boarding. Anyone decided between them?

(54 Posts)
Neim Sat 01-Feb-20 13:39:45

We are fortunate enough to have the option of choosing independent day school or state boarding. Either would be a struggle financially ie a few sacrifices, not major debt. But I was wondering whether anyone had chosen state boarding over local independent and why.

Our local independent is King Edward Boys in Birmingham. It’s one of be best here. Its a day school and doesn’t accept borders.

DS has mentioned boarding so we’ve considered it and it might work. We wouldn’t be able to afford an independent boarding school, hence, looking at state boarding. We have picked out a couple but haven’t been to see them yet.

OP’s posts: |
Zodlebud Sat 01-Feb-20 15:08:02

Have a look at Old Swinford Hospital School for state boarding. Academically strong but nowhere near the same level as King Edwards Boys. I doubt any state boarding school is to be fair.

Neim Sat 01-Feb-20 16:09:04

Old swinford hospital is one of the schools we picked out. Going to look round in a couple of weeks.
I’m fully aware that state boarding schools are never going to produce results any thing like KES because there not selecting their intake on academics. By this isn’t necessarily the driving factor for choosing a school. Although it’s an important consideration (also considering local grammars, again, DSs choice - I’m not so keen but I don’t have to go there), I’m more interested in the oppotunities, experiences and pastoral care the schools have.
I know there are some big differences between state and independent. Just wondering if anyone had made the choice between state boarding and independent dah school and the reasons why you chose what you did?

OP’s posts: |
Malmontar Sat 01-Feb-20 16:32:23

Have you looked into independent boarding school bursaries? The threshold for income is normally v high and with you being able to contribute it may be worth a try as you will only need a partial one. It's much easier to get them in boarding than in day schools.
I've heard state boarding aren't that academic tbh

Zodlebud Sat 01-Feb-20 18:04:18

Many state boarding schools only have a handful of boarders each year and to be honest would put me off. To get the benefits it really needs to be at least 50% boarding. Old Swinford Hospital and Hockerill Anglo-European College have high numbers of boarders and good results to match.

I’m not sure why you would choose one over a regular state school though unless your local school is a disaster or you have a need to board (e.g. military family, parents working away a lot etc.). They are just not as “full on” as independent boarding schools and whilst they do have some extra curricular stuff in the evenings and at weekends it pales into comparison versus the independents.

What is it you are looking for exactly in a school? If King Edwards is a possibility then I’m not sure you will really better that - unless you look into bursaries at boarding schools.

BubblesBuddy Sat 01-Feb-20 18:25:43

The Royal Grammar school at High Wycombe in Bucks has boarding for 70 boys. There is a big RAF base nearby and boys from there might well be boarders so they have s stable education when parents are posted. It is also a requirement to pass the Bucks 11 plus. As a grammar, it does have great results.

Burford School in Oxfordshire also is a state school with boarding houses.

My DDs did standard boarding and this is more of a way of life. The top boarding schools are very special places. State boarding (my old grammar was one) are not in the same league.

In your position I would have faith in the iCal Grammars and your local independent school. I wouldn’t go chasing all over the country for cut price boarding. It largely doesn’t exist for parents like you. It mostly is there for parents who have to work abroad and are forced to leave their DC in the uk.

BubblesBuddy Sat 01-Feb-20 18:26:26

Local Grammars...

poseysbobblehat Sat 01-Feb-20 18:27:23

Lancaster grammar ??

lovelyupnorth Sat 01-Feb-20 18:27:53

Lancaster Boys Grammer has boarding
Dallam school has boarding as does Keswick school.

SurpriseSparDay Sat 01-Feb-20 18:41:14

I never really understand the criteria for entry to state boarding schools - but had assumed there most be some element of (logistical?) need. Didn’t know people considered them as a straight alternative to independent boarding.

Certainly I’d have said a child clever enough for King Edward Boys might have a shot at a bursary for an independent boarding school. Is there a particular reason why you haven’t considered this possibility, OP?

Mumto2two Sat 01-Feb-20 23:50:00

Would agree with Bubbles here..a friend’s child has just left state boarding for a nearby independent. The experience was poles apart from what they had expected.

Neim Sun 02-Feb-20 14:21:55

I’ll be honest, currently anything affordable is a possibility. I’m looking at lots of options to see what might work and would suit DS.

@Zodlebud we’re looking for something that suits is the best answer. A school which will provide DS with opportunities to do and experience new things, good pastoral care, good teaching, somewhere he is happy and somewhere which listens and works with the parents. A school which can get the best out of him but not an exam factory (he’s cleaver and intelligent, but push him too far and too much and forget it, he’ll switch off). If he’s allowed to do things under his own steam he’s capable of a lot. This is one of the reasons I though state boarding? But could be wrong.

We are looking at the grammar schools and he will be doing the 11+, and the entrance exam for KES. But we are aware that he might not pass the tests (his English isn’t brilliant despite being extremely good at maths and science). We will also be putting in an application for local schools. We have some good ones close by (although our nearest is just a big no - teachers on strike, an extremely high turnover of staff and at GCSE they can only choose options from BTECs and there is no triple science, which to a boy who loves to figure out how things work and is interested in science isn’t brilliant, it’s not even an option).

KES is just amazing. We looked round and DS loved it (but he just seems to love any secondary school at the minute, and we loved it) there’s a possibility of getting an assisted place there.

A few have mentioned it, I honestly didn’t think we would be we would be able to afford independent boarding, the fees wouldn’t need to be the same as independent day school or state boarding. But I will look into it and see what’s available.
@SurpriseSparDay you’re right. Most people don’t consider them as an alternative.

@lovelyupnorth I’d thought about keswick, I know the school well having gone there myself (although admittedly many years ago) I still have family in Cumbria so it’s definitely feasible. I’d forgotten about Lancaster grammar. I’ll look into it.

At the minute there’s nothing set in stone. I’m just exploring all options. He mentions things, we have a look into it and let him have his input.

OP’s posts: |
SurpriseSparDay Sun 02-Feb-20 15:03:48

the fees wouldn’t need to be the same as independent day school or state boarding.

Sorry, what does this mean?

The point we are making is that because you couldn’t afford independent boarding fees you may well be eligible for some degree of means tested bursary assistance at such schools. Have a look at some of the best known full boarding schools - these are the ones that have well established and well funded bursary schemes. Although you’ll need to get your skates on so you don’t miss deadlines.

Neim Sun 02-Feb-20 15:19:40

Sorry, I missed that. That’s a mistake. I’ve been autocorrected.
I was meaning, the fees would need to be the same as that of independent day or state boarding. Anything more is impossible for us financially.

I shall certainly take a look at those schools you mention.

OP’s posts: |
coelietterra Sun 02-Feb-20 15:23:17

In the nicest possible way (honestly), I think you need to think more closely about what exactly your priorities are. Independent day and state boarding will give you very different things. If it's school facilities, smaller classes, curriculum enrichment and academic but non-exam factory ethos that are your main drivers, then I would go for a good, academic independent day school (DS is a day pupil at a mixed day/boarding school of this type, and we get all of this in spades). But if it's the boarding experience that's the main draw, then go for state boarding, or look at bursaries at the big public school names. (Boarding wasn't part of the equation for us, as DS definitely didn't want to board, quite apart from the cost.)

SurpriseSparDay Sun 02-Feb-20 15:35:07

I was meaning, the fees would need to be the same as that of independent day or state boarding.

Ah, I see. Obviously the fees at traditional independent boarding schools (public schools) are extremely high. But if you find a school you think would particularly suit your child you shouldn’t be put off without enquiring further. If you’re lucky you could be awarded a bursary of anything up to 100%. But it takes organisation, determination and luck.

Zodlebud Sun 02-Feb-20 16:00:33

Christ’s Hospital School offers a huge number of bursary subsidised places each year. Schools like Eton, Harrow and Winchester also have large bursary funds.

If you think boarding would suit (and he’s happy to do it) then what do you have to lose by asking the question to the schools about level of bursary you might be eligible for?

Like I said previously though, not all state boarding schools will be able to deliver the perceived benefits of boarding. St George’s in Harpenden is one of the best non selective state schools in the UK but there are only 10 boarding places each year - in a school with over 1,000 pupils. That could be just four other boys with which to make friends. I just wouldn’t do it unless there are large numbers of boarders.

LoonyLunaLoo Sun 02-Feb-20 16:32:44

Lancaster Royal Grammar School is a good choice for state boarding. DS is going on Sept as a day pupil but from what I’ve seen of the boarders, there’s plenty going on and a good mix of boys. It’s a fantastic school and I’m so excited for DS to start! Dallam is just a regular school with boarding and we weren’t that impressed when we looked around. I don’t know anything about Keswick school though, other than the location will be lovely.

SurpriseSparDay Sun 02-Feb-20 16:33:50

Here you go, OP - scroll down and take a look. More than 70 boys at this school pay no fees at all - many others have bursaries that pay some portion of their fees.

And of course, the only boys who are awarded bursaries are the ones whose parents actually apply. (Trust me on this.)

crazycrofter Sun 02-Feb-20 18:15:33

What about Adams Grammar in Shropshire? I’m not sure how many boarding places they have but it’s a sought after, academic grammar school so similar in offering to KES plus he could come home every weekend as you’re not far away? The exam is the Walsall/Wolverhampton consortium one, similar to the Birmingham grammars

elfonshelf Sun 02-Feb-20 18:32:21

My DH went to KES and I went to a state boarding grammar (about 50/50 boarders v day, but run very much along the lines of a boarding school not a day school with boarders). Selective for day and super-selective for boarders.

My DH had by far the better education even though the intakes were probably pretty evenly matched for ability.

I would second looking at independent boarding schools with large bursary funds and see what is available. Having looked at them for my DD, the difference in terms of facilities alone is huge compared with state boarding.

coffeebeanchocolate Sun 02-Feb-20 21:23:37

I looked at independent day, independent boarding and state boarding for my DS and now we are stick to independent day for him. State boarding school which we visited offers lots of extra curriculum but independent schools offer more prestigious opportunities. Also, there are lots of talented children at indies and they inspire other children and often they lead school orchestra and sports teams. In addition, indies offer more subjects for GCSE. Academically, the state boarding was not enough for my DS. We also considered grammars but they were too academic for my DS and we didn't want to push him too much.

ChequerBoard Sun 02-Feb-20 21:30:33

Both my DC are at an amazing state boarding school. DD is in Yr12 studying the IB having dine very well I. her GCSEs last year, DS isI in Yr8. Both very settled and happy at school, and enjoy being at home with no homework to do every weekend.

We chose the school over local indies and turned down scholarships for DD and a place at grammar for DS in favour of state boarding. No regrets at all.

Happy to share more via PM if it's helpful OP.

crazycrofter Mon 03-Feb-20 08:58:44

Re the more prestigious extra-curriculars and the more talented children - this can be a double edged sword. Dd is at the girls school next to KES, which has a similar intake and they get together for drama and music. Dd always loved drama at primary, but she's not been able to get into the school productions as the standard is so high - she failed to get through the auditions. Music standards are also very high - lots of kids are already grade 8 when they enter year 7. So yes, the standards in the arts are incredibly high and professional, but your ds might miss out. I guess similar is true in sport - my dd found she was quite behind in year 7, not having done netball or hockey at primary school.

My ds is at one of the Birmingham grammars so I can compare their experiences. Certainly they go more off curriculum at KEHS, whereas state schools are very bound by the National Curriculum. By year 10 and 11 it makes no difference though.

Ozo6728 Mon 03-Feb-20 10:57:07

Pros and cons in both, I would say. Your DS sounds like he is looking forward to that independence in a boarding school and I like the idea of giving a child what he wants, within reason. Otherwise, there is always a possibility that the child might have his own regrets - note these are purely my personal thoughts about this topic. My DS, in contrast, does not like the idea of boarding and would have to be coaxed into doing so. Another point I would make is that the level of education provided by a good state school may not be inferior to that in a good independent school. We looked at Cranbrook School in Kent (which is a very competitive state boarding school)- a little far for you but might not be such a big deal for boarders. 52 boarding places for Year 9 entry in September 2020: 34 boys and 18 girls boarding places. A substantial population of the students are boarders although more than half of the school are day students. The proportion of boarders to day might also be a consideration for you.

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