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Help choosing 13+ school

(29 Posts)
SmokingCurtains Fri 10-Apr-20 13:05:31

Dear MNers!

With all the emotional and financial uncertainty around, I am trying to be positive and plan for the next steps for DS. With no more open days or school information evenings, I am hoping MNers can guide me to the right school for DS who will be sitting the pre-tests next year!

- We would like to move out of London when DS goes to secondary, so really flexible on location. We are both self-employed and can work out of anywhere, may be coming in to London for meetings once a week or so.
- Completely ambivalent on boarding/day, boys'/co-ed - all of these have pro's and con's which I am keeping aside for now.
- DS is reasonably academic and works well in a competitive atmosphere. He got offers for 7+ from Dulwich and Eltham without any tutoring, but not for Westminster and SPJ, so I suspect he is reasonably brilliant but not a genius (we don't want to tutor for 13+ either).
- The prep environment suits him well and he gets involved in many different activities. He is not exceptional in anything, but he likes to "try" a wide variety of things.
- A good drama and singing programme would be nice
- Compulsory rugby is a no-no (he says!). Happy to play football and cricket - plays in B teams at the prep
- We are not Caucasian, so a high level of diversity is an absolute must

We looked at the Dulwich/Croydon schools but would really prefer to be outside London. I think Wellington is out because of rugby and Tonbridge because of its seeming lack of diversity. Not sure what to make of Brighton and its pursuit of academic excellence. Harrow seems to be good for all-rounders, but not sure if DS should have at least one exceptional skill to get in.

Any advice on what schools I should be looking at would be super helpful!

OP’s posts: |
Zodlebud Fri 10-Apr-20 15:17:32

Haileybury and St Edwards (Teddies) are worth a look. Great all round schools. Haileybury is quite diverse, not sure about Teddies.

reefedsail Fri 10-Apr-20 15:27:42

Agree that one of the 'all rounders' is what you are looking for.

Charterhouse, Oundle, Uppingham, Abingdon- that sort of place.

King's Canterbury maybe?

reefedsail Fri 10-Apr-20 15:28:23

People think more of Stowe these days too- might be worth a look.

NeedingCoffee Fri 10-Apr-20 15:49:45

In Oxfordshire, Abingdon boys and MCS (Magdelen) both have a good percentage of families with Asian / Indian-subcontinent heritage but very few black families. I would say nearly all the other independent boys or co-Ed schools in the area are overwhelmingly white.

SmokingCurtains Fri 10-Apr-20 16:17:35

Thanks all.

Kings' Canterbury seems to come up quite often in our research. Will check out Abingdon and MCS. How are the academics at Stowe, Oundle, Charterhouse? Would they be on par to, say, Dulwich?

OP’s posts: |
reefedsail Fri 10-Apr-20 16:32:44

Don't know if this will be visible..

Br1ll1ant Fri 10-Apr-20 16:35:39

Reigate Grammar? Great drama program and although rugby is autumn term, contact isn’t compulsory.

LIZS Fri 10-Apr-20 17:01:49

Sevenoaks? Lots of dc commute to Whitgift and Trinity from outside M25 even though they are in Croydon. Think about IB vs A level.

SmokingCurtains Fri 10-Apr-20 18:40:48

reef - Thank you, where is this from?

LIZS We went to the open day at Sevenoaks before lockdown, and was impressed by the campus and the IB curriculum. Definitely on the list!

Br1ll Hadn't looked at Reigate yet, the drama programme sounds interesting - will check it out.

OP’s posts: |
reefedsail Fri 10-Apr-20 20:36:20

@SmokingCurtains I just typed some of the schools you mentioned into the government's school comparison tool.

It's useless to compare GCSEs for INdependent schools, but as good as any other thing to compare A Level performance.

dyscalculicgal96 Fri 10-Apr-20 22:14:43

Which activities does he enjoy? Make a list and then slowly whittle it down from there. Also make a list of all secondary schools in your area and take a look at their websites for more information.
You can find a lot of helpful information on the website about school policies, curriculum, homework etc. If possible try to obtain a school prospectus or brochure. I also recommend briefly reading the school inspection report too. Also the published GCSE options booklet is a good source of information. When the schools are open again, try going on a normal school day to look at the classrooms and watch a actual lesson in progress.

alonglongtime Fri 10-Apr-20 22:56:17

I would also say that Sevenoaks ticks a lot of your boxes. Good day/boarding split so that leaves your options open. Loads of extra-curricular stuff going on for a kid who likes trying lots of different things. Good music and drama facilities and opportunities. Plenty of sport but not a big rugby focus. Diverse school community with students from all over the world and a real commitment to not letting one or two nationalities dominate. Half an hour into London but surrounded by lovely countryside and villages. Pretty academic though, and the IB is no walk in the park. And it's a bloody expensive town to buy a house in.

NellyBarney Sat 11-Apr-20 20:16:43

Abingdon? Don't know much about Sevenoaks but always thought of it as fiercely academic, on a par with the big academic names like Westminster etc, while Abingdon is academic but not fiercely so. It has football and rowing as alternatives to rugby, good music and drama with the girls from St Helen and St Kathrine's. Good commute into London from Didcot. Day pupils are local and boarders from around the world, so very diverse. Good value, too. There is also St Edward's in Oxford, but much dearer. Very allround, arty place. If you'd consider boarding, Radley is pretty good on music and drama, as is Marlborough College.

NellyBarney Sat 11-Apr-20 20:22:28

Oxford is a pretty good place to live in terms of diversity (and of course other things) and has good schools, from the more genius level to the very good (Magdalen College, St Ed's, Abingdon, Radley, D'overbecks).

Statistician999 Sat 11-Apr-20 21:47:10

King’s Canterbury ticks all of your boxes. House prices pretty low compared with Oxford. Under an hour to get into St Pancras on the fast train.

TaggieOHara Sat 11-Apr-20 22:26:42

MCS is quite competitive academically, and is selective, but there is a reasonable range of ability. Ditto Abingdon. The teaching at both schools is top class. MCS is very diverse for Oxford. Probably about a quarter/a third non Caucasian.

As for sport, I can’t speak for Abingdon, but it is possible to opt out of rugby at MCS. My DS does rowing. He is dyspraxic and absolutely hated sport at his junior school, but the sports Dept have been wonderful with him, so positive and encouraging - and now he admits that he doesn’t loathe rowing (although he is a long way from being selected for a team!)

pinacoladapilates1 Tue 12-May-20 20:11:10

My DD attended Sevenoaks in year 9 and left before the end of the year. It is a fantastic school, very academically driven, diverse and has fantastic facilities, however we found the environment was cliquey and the students were rather wealth orientated... She moved to St Edwards and is now in her last year. We have had an amazing experience with the school and she has loved her time there. It is a very broad school, perfect for an all-rounder or someone with niche interests. Drama and music are amazing, so is sport - they offer so many options (rowing, sailing, football, badminton etc)

leftandaright Tue 12-May-20 22:04:06

Re Oundle
It’s 20% overseas
Proper full boarding (look into this as it’s not flexible)
Rugby is avoidable but have to do rowing instead . From year 10, hockey can be switched out for football.
Huge school
Big emphasis on academics - children are expected to and enjoy working hard.
Huge scope for extra curricular - but whatever interests your child. With over 1000 pupils, there is always something that appeals to everyone.
Nicely out of the London bubble gives it a much less frenzied/competitive atmosphere.
Rugby is a similar school.
Uppingham less diverse - more Caucasians there. By contrast MCS sports teams seem to be 100% Asian when I’ve seen them at matches.
Haileybury much closer to London
Stowe not as academic as many schools but trying to improve

Dancingdreamer Fri 15-May-20 23:04:41

Rugby is compulsory at Marlborough or at least it is difficult to avoid And it is full boarding. Music, singing and drama however is outstanding. It is also not particularly diverse although the non-white students I know who went there loved the school.

To avoid rugby, you may want to look at a football school eg Charterhouse or Winchester or if you really want to be away from London, then Repton in Derbyshire.

I personally wouldn’t live in Oxford. Shocking traffic and shocking house prices but agree there are some good schools there.

TattingerFizzer Sun 17-May-20 19:16:02

Oundle good choice for academics, rugby not compulsory. Drama, science, music and arts superb. Sport not great.
Stowe is superb all rounder but esp good for drama & music and academic boys get lots of extra support to reach Oxbridge. Fabulous headmaster.
Both schools easy access to London. Charterhouse is good for academic boys too, very close to London.
Others within easy reach of London, Marlborough, Uppingham (good drama & music) Kings Canterbury

SmokingCurtains Tue 19-May-20 13:32:00

Thank you for all the responses!

My long list now stands like this (how lovely to have such geographic diversity smile)

Kings Canterbury
Dulwich College
Trinity - mainly for the choir!
Reigate - thanks @Br1ll1ant for the suggestion, it was not on our radar and seems perfect for an all-rounder.
MCS - even though the school looks amazing and very diverse, not entirely convinced on the location. The houses seem to be even smaller than our current house for the same budget!

Oundle seems to be getting mixed reviews, would love to find out more from the current parents.

@pinacoladapilates1 - Really sad to hear that as Sevenoaks was top of our list and we really liked the campus. Having said that, two of my friends looking at Sevenoaks seem to fit into what you describe. Would love to hear any more feedback.

OP’s posts: |
ChnandlerBong Wed 20-May-20 09:01:47

Have lots of friends with kids v happy at Sevenoaks - it's a very sporty, very sociable school. The IBAC is a big decision though - it's very demanding and also means they don't have any subjects to the same depth as A level students - a problem for some degree courses?

All of the boys schools have fabulous choirs - ds had a choral scholarship to one of the schools on your list (not Trinity!)

DS's school plays Bedford and Epsom at sport - they both look like lovely schools?

HinHin Fri 22-May-20 20:50:37

Have u considered Perse at cambridge? Day school, 20-30% oxbridge every year, about £17500 per year. No homework at term breaks but still produce fabulous results. Winner of 17,19 schools challenge (school version of universities challenge). Many sports options.

houselikeashed Sat 23-May-20 01:24:11

Have you looked at Radley? Apart from the diversity, it sounds like a good fit. Drama and singing are BIG (and cool) there. Rugby is compulsory for 1 term in the first year, but the lower teams play tag, and don't do matches. Then after that, you can drop rugby altogether.
Academically it is quite diverse.
There are some Asian boys there, and a handful of other nationalities, but being honest, it's pretty white. I've never heard of any racial problems though. Worth a look I reckon.

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