state boarding for age 13 -18?

(40 Posts)
firstchoice Mon 16-Jun-14 11:12:54

Hi,
We are completely rearranging our lives and considering a remote area which offers Middle Schooling (around 15m from house) and then offers a state Boarding option (mon-fri_ for ages 13-18 as High School will be over an hours journey due to remoteness of locale.

We could never afford Private Boarding but feel our bright but shy children might get opportunities this way that we could never afford for them.

Does anyone have any experience, please?

(the school is in Northumberland, btw)

MillyMollyMama Mon 16-Jun-14 11:31:46

Do you realistically have a choice? The journey sounds too far and how would they do after school activities if they did not board? I am concerned that you say your children are shy though. Generally boarding does not always suit shy children unless you really do some preparatory work beforehand. Will they, realistically, cope with boarding? Only you can tell this. If you truly think the answer is NO, then you must move! Do you not have a school nearer in Northumberland? I though you were going to say you were on an island off Scotland!

The best boarding schools do provide wonderful opportunities but state boarding is not the same as Eton so don't get carried away! I am not sure state boarding gives such a wonderful opportunity. I went to a state grammar school with boarding and the boarders there had no opportunities greater than the educational/extra curricular opportunities provided by the school for everyone. However, if this school is educationally superior than a nearer school, then you should look for a place on that basis, not because boarding is a superior lifestyle. To judge how they might fare, I would suggest you send them to residential camps where they stay away from home for a week or two in the holidays to see how it goes. If they relish being away they will be fine, if they want to come home and hate it, maybe think again.

firstchoice Mon 16-Jun-14 11:51:10

Hi MillyMollyMama

Sorry, we are thinking of moving TO this situation, not away from it grin

We are currently 1/2m walk from a Secondary School.
My ds has dyslexia / processing issues and gets no help at primary (and is bullied) and will receive little help at Secondary, from what I hear.

The school we are thinking of is Ofsted 'Good with Outstanding Features'.

I realise it wont be Eton grin but it does offer a lot of extracurricular, help with homework during prep time and lots of socialising for the kids.

Ds has just come back from a 48 hour camp which I didn't think he'd cope with (bullied at his current miserable school) and he was like a different child - just euphoric.

Hedgehogsrule Mon 16-Jun-14 11:59:12

I'd be a bit worried about sending a child who finds schoolwork difficult and gets bullied to boarding school. What if it is the same there - he'd have a really tough time trying to keep up with the work without parental support, and could be bullied day and night.

firstchoice Mon 16-Jun-14 12:09:58

He wont let us help him at home anyway re the homework!
Just gets distressed and chucks his pencil around.
Homework is so unclear to him (and us) that it is impossible and he is just getting further and further behind.

He would still have 4 years at Middle School (not boarding) to go before he faced boarding. I met the HT at the Middle and was v impressed. He said his proudest achievement was waving off a child to the Boarding High this year who he had been told would 'never manage mainstream'.

I would love for ds to be in an environment where his difficulties were recognised and he had staff help on hand?

I don't think he would be bullied in a decent school.
He is bullied in his current school as it is like a zoo - most of them bully each other.

Hedgehogsrule Tue 17-Jun-14 10:09:15

It sounds as though you've made up your mind. I'm quite pro boarding, but from what you've said I think it would be quite a risk.

Hogwash Tue 17-Jun-14 10:32:37

I think putting children with shyness/dyslexia /processing issues/bullying issues/history of being told they wouldn't make it in a mainstream environment into a boarding school is a really, really bad idea. Sorry.

There wouldn't be staff to help him every step of the way, like you can.

firstchoice Tue 17-Jun-14 10:56:52

No, haven't made up mind yet.

Ds has been at the most awful school and I don't know how much of his probs are a result of this, rather than 'issues' iywim?

He went to a 48 hour camp over the weekend - never been before, new people, abseiling, canoeing etc

I thought we'd get a phone call after an hour.

He had a BALL and came back 'a different child'.
It was AMAZING.

I wonder how much he could thrive in the right environment with opportunities we couldn't give him?

Hedgehogsrule Tue 17-Jun-14 11:13:16

48 hours is so little. Imagine him at a boarding school where there may be little one to one attention and little real knowledge or concern over dyslexia. He's struggling with schoolwork, getting more and more behind, stuck in the low sets with disruptive kids who bully those who try hard. He's bullied by some children who are also boarders, so day and night he can't get away from them. He knows that there are no day school options at home for him, unless his family moves to another part of the country, so doesn't feel able to say anything to you, and knows that there is no way out.
Perhaps it would work for him, but if it didn't, what then? At least if he is at a day school, he is ok when he is at home, so the risk is far lower. And bullying tends to be much worse at secondary than primary.

firstchoice Tue 17-Jun-14 12:02:27

Yes, I understand what you are saying about bullying, I really do.

It is a case of finding the right school for him, or he will refuse, boarding or not.

This is the boarding part of a state school which takes 40 pupils (the whole school takes around 600).

It has a reputation for helping with AN.

I have a friend with a son who is ASD and now mon-fri boarding and he is just THRIVING.

Hedgehogsrule Tue 17-Jun-14 12:18:34

If you had a back-up plan, then it might be worth giving it a go. The concern is that you intend to relocate to a v isolated area with no day school, and then send him to boarding school a good way away. If he is unhappy, what will you do? He will probably end up staying there, and being bullied for a few years does a great deal of damage, life-long. If he spirals into poor performance, how will you support him? You seem to be hoping for the best - but once the decision is made, there is no going back.

firstchoice Tue 17-Jun-14 13:18:24

Yy Hedgehogs, those are good points to make.

We are not able to stay where we are.

We can afford to move to the area with day school for the next 4 years, then boarding for 2/4.

Or, we can move to an area where we can only rent a teeny flat, with no rental security, which I think might affect both my kids quite badly.

I'd be looking for another option.
My son will be boarding from September at age 11. He is very academic, very intelligent, sporty, confident and outgoing. We are still anticipating problems because being away from home as a child is a scary time

I doubt very much that we would have looked t a boarding option for a child that isn't those things.

Are there really no other options ?

Hedgehogsrule Tue 17-Jun-14 13:31:50

Are there no other cheap housing areas that would work for you, within commuting distance of a day school? The vast majority of children are able to go to day school.

jeee Tue 17-Jun-14 13:32:16

I agree with all the other posters.

And also, can you afford the boarding fees - are they heavily subsidised in this kind of situation? When there have been threads about state boarding in the past the fees have not been negligible.

firstchoice Tue 17-Jun-14 13:56:23

There are no fees.

It is a state school in a remote area. Those travelling more than 1/30 hours to school each day are offered a boarding place, Monday to Friday.

My son is highly intelligent too. He is also dyslexic. However he has scored very highly in IQ tests. One does not discount the other.

JimBobplusasprog Tue 17-Jun-14 15:45:04

Mn is full of anti boarding posters. I boarded and dh state boarded. It was fun. We enjoyed it. Both did well academically from middling starts, both became confident and independent. If it's the norm locally then your dcs will know other kids at the school when they start. Sounds great to me.

titchy Tue 17-Jun-14 15:59:25

Blimey - who funds the boarding then?

I'd also advise caution. Most kids would be euphoric after spending two days abseiling and canoeing. Not the same as spending most of your week struggling to do homework without any family support around.

I did not say one discounted the other, nor did I assume that your child wasn't intelligent.

I was merely stating that my son is and is also very academic minded which, IMO these schools push for.
Should your child be shy, lacking in confidence or need additional help, I would be looking at another option

firstchoice Tue 17-Jun-14 16:10:46

Sorry, perhaps I've not been clear?

It is a STATE boarding school, not private.
It is not one of 'these' schools.
There is no entrance exam.

There are no fees. The LEA pays them for all kids who live 1.5 hrs away from a High school, as is the case in this v rural area.

titchy Tue 17-Jun-14 16:17:21

Most state boarding schools charge for the boarding element - in fact I thought all of them did. It's normally only the education bit which is free obviously being state. Lucky you if you get the board thrown in!

longtallsally2 Tue 17-Jun-14 16:25:16

I would be very impressed with this Head too - he sounds as if he has a lot to offer children, and with 4 years to go, your son would be in a good position to know whether the thought of boarding was for him or not. If he got closer and didn't like the idea, or if he tried it and hated it, presumably you would be in a position to move a bit nearer to the school.

I think you sound as if you are ready to give it a go, and that it's worth sometimes taking a risk. (My ds1 loved weekends away too, and would give his hind teeth to board somewhere. He just loves being with other kids.) I know exactly what you mean about that glowing look when coming home from time away.

firstchoice Tue 17-Jun-14 16:48:52

thanks, longtallsally

that's my thought.
Still 4 years to go.
I can rent till then.
If he hates the thought in 4 years, I can move nearer but it will still be an area I can afford.

titchy

The other one I know around here is for kids living on Lindesfarne (Holy Island). They cannot travel daily due to tides so their board is paid by LEA for Longbridge Towers which is a private school. There are no extra charges there.

sunshine75 Tue 17-Jun-14 22:27:42

Is it Hayden Bridge? I don't know much about the boarding side of things but it is a lovely school. I know people who have sent their kids there and thought that it was a great school.

sunshine75 Tue 17-Jun-14 22:30:35

Oh and if he hates it then lots of kids do travel for miles to get to/from school in rural Northumberland. Northumberland's transport bill is huge! Taxi to bus stop and then bus for an hour + to get to school (all funded by LEA).

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