Thanks ever so much for all your replies!
Thanks for the welcome! Both schools have produced Welsh Internationals but one (the furthest at 35 mins by car) has a much better rugby reputation than hte other. This may be exaggerated though as the school alegedly recruits rugby talent via generous scholarships in the upper school. Lower down the school there is nothing between them results wise. Both only play rugby for one term but do play rugby sevens in the Spring term.
If DS goes for a sports scholarship then, yes, he still has to pass the entrance exam & interview.
I took your advice and gave some NVR to DS last night. To start with I explained generally what it was all about and just let him attempt 6 questions (one of each type I think). i told him it didn't matter if he got them right or wrong but that we would use that as a starting point and then work through them together. He got half of them correct at the first attempt and with some prompting could see the correct answer for the others. The idea seemed to click after that and he said "oh now I know how to work these out". Fortunately I have always been quite good at these 'puzzzles'- my brain just must be wired in that way, unlike hubby who simply can't do them at all (despite being privately educated, being an Oxbridge candidate and having two degrees. I was hoping DS's brain was wired like mine not his father's and the early signs are good. I didn't push it last night but will put in more sessions over the coming week to build up number of questions and a time limit.
We are hoping that both schools will, as you say, want him for his rugby and leadership skills and be lenient on the exams. He excells at many sports: cricket, football, basketball so can also show diversity. He played U11s cricket in year 4 for school and town too. I agree, playing U11 rugby in year 4 is a big leap forward. It's not that he is tall or 'big' for his age, although he more than coped physically. He is lean (not skinny) and muscular and a bit above average height for his age. In year 4 he played as hooker and now everyone who sees him remarks that he is a natural openside flanker (which has been his position since year 5). For the district he plays full sized pitch, 15 man rugby. He is marked out for his (legal) physical agression, strength, leadership and natural game sense.
He is actually pretty bright. Just after Xmas in year 1 they gave him a year 2 SATS maths paper to do and he got 1 mark off a level 3. Unfortunately the small primary school he attended was forced to close by the LEA. It was so sad but there were only 16-20 pupils in the whole school! At the large primary he was moved to we did ask that he continue to be stretched in maths but I don't think this has happened, combined with him coasting a bit. We don't do year 6 SATS in Wales, just teacher assessments based on the same kind of papers. He is predicted level 5s in everything. I'm just worrying that he hasn't had much practice for the NVR or time limits for maths and english papers.
Thanks for the suggestions. Mmmmm I know that Milfield is a great place to be for rugby and it's tempting but I couldn't send DS to board. I know many people do and make no judgement on that. It is probably the best decision for them and their children but it's not for us.
Yes, we are struggling with the idea of having to make a decision for DS which he will only thank us for later (or not). We have visited both schools. One is literally at the end of the road and the other is a 35 min car journey (there is a school bus which would take longer due to pick ups along the way). He prefers the more distant one of the two. I think it has something to do with upper school boys having all their rugby activities built into their timetable. For example, it might go: maths, history, agility session, english, fitness suie, lunch, etc and all players have a personal development plan including diet sheets etc.
I like your comment about if it doesn't work out. It helped to bring things in perspective a bit. If he absolutely hates it then we could always move him to the local comprehensive school but it would be more difficult the other way round. Funnily, when I pointed out that there were boys from his year and from the two years above attending (or going to attend) the independent school at the end of the road so if he was worried about having no friends then that might be the better choice, he said: "If I can't be with my best friends then I might as well have no one I know and go to the school I think is the better of the two", which I thought was pretty mature. He is confident socially and very popular so I suppose it's not the having no friends that bothers him it's not being with his best buddies, some of whome he's known since the age of 2. I have pointed out to him that he will still see his friends at the rugby club and play with them on Sundays as well as sleepovers etc.
Anyway, thanks again for all your interest. I will let you know how it goes.
Now I'm worrying that if he goes to the prefered (furthest) school he may have to give up his club rugby in a couple of years. This is what an experienced head teacher has told me. If he knew that then there would be no chance of persuading him away from the local comprehensive!