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 Post subject: SEVENOAKS SCHOOL
PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 9:58 am 
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Looking very seriously at this school for DS1, boarding. Not being from Kent, don't encounter other parents.
Would be most grateful for any information or opinions not found in the brochures.
Particularly interested in the atmosphere, work ethic, pastoral care and discipline.
All info much appreciated.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 10:17 am 
Sevenoaks is a great school but I have advised others in the past to look for a school that has a majority of boarders if you want a good boarding education. Schools where boarders are in the minority often have poor activities and poorer pastoral care for the boarders as the teachers are very much day teachers. At a school which is predominantly boarding all the teachers generally live on site and that is of great benefit to pupils but also to parents as its easy to get hold of the teachers. My sons have been boarders where they have been in the minority (both at different schools) and it was impossible to get hold of their teachers during the day because they were teaching and they went home after 4pm.

When a school is more day than boarding you tend to find that most of the boarders are from overseas and enter at sixth form level and this is the same for sevenoaks with large numbers of foreigners post-sixteen, from over 40 countries.

But all that aside, it is a really nice school and one of the best day schools in the country. If you are looking for an IB curriculum then there are other coed schools which provide this but where boarders are in the majority such as Marlborough or Sherborne (coed for most subjects in the sixth form).


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 Post subject: SEVENOAKS SCHOOL
PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 10:28 am 
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Location: S East
Thank you TIPSY for reponse.
Did you not find that you could establish / maintain contact with teachers by e-mail?
I would have assumed that the tutor would be the main point of contact - is that not the case in practice?

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 10:36 am 
At DS current boarding school I have the email address of every teacher and I usually get a reply during lunch time or in the evening once the boarders are in bed. In his other schools it was a nightmare to get hold of anyone and unfortunately his tutors and form teachers did not reside at school.

I'm not saying this will happen at Sevenoaks but just be aware of this if you are looking for a school where boarders are in the minority. Also, having a diverse cultural mix is great but not, IMO, if native English speakers are in the minority - this too may not be the case at Sevenoaks although I know there is a high number post-sixteen. Its personal choice really and you may well prefer a boarding environment to be like that. Are you looking at other schools or do you have certain criteria in your search?


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 Post subject: SEVENOAKS SCHOOL
PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 10:48 am 
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Location: S East
My understanding is that a majority of the boarders up to sixth form would be "native" or ex-pat Brits. The 6th form intake (which makes up a third of the 6th form classes) is mainly overseas.
Not hugely bothered about that as we have lived abroad on occasion and DSs speak other languages.

Tipsy, you do raise a crucial point about communication however.

Does anyone have direct experience of communication (or other issues) at Sevenoaks or similar schools?

Also looking at Kings School Canterbury

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 11:03 am 
I know King's is rapidly rising up the ranks of the public schools and it is becoming harder to get into - though not impossible - and has 615 boarders and 175 day pupils. As you are not from Kent is there a reason why you are only looking in Kent? PM me if you'd rather not say. :)


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 Post subject: SEVENOAKS SCHOOL
PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 11:27 am 
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Location: S East
Not just looking in Kent - just have settled on these two. Considered 5 others.
Critical: Co-ed and academic, with boarding option.
I assume that all major schools have good sports, drama, music, art provision, so not overly fussed about that.

On the academic side my impression is that Sevenoaks is harder to get a place in than King's, but teaching excellent at both.

Thoughts?

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 11:55 am 
Comparing academically - percentage wise Kings have sent more to Oxbridge in the last few years. My main issue with Sevenoaks is that it exclusively teaches the IB whereas some other schools like Marlborough and Sherborne teach both. I wouldn't send my kid to an IB only school because if my sons turn out to be a specialists then A'level/Pre-U would be better for maths and sciences as it is taught at a higher level whereas the IB is more broad. If a school offers both then by sixth-form it should be clear of what would suit DC but at 11 or 13 I think its too early to tell. Of course this is just my opinion.

Sorry if I'm sounding anti-Sevenoaks - I am not but am playing devils advocate! :wink:

You are right about music, sport etc as they are all good but King's is one of the best schools for music. If you're sold on IB then Sevenoaks is probably the best IB school academically.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 1:21 pm 
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Tipsy.
No, no very happy to hear negative points. I want the warts and all picture. :)

Would respectfully take issue with your assertion that King's sends more to Oxbridge than Sevenoaks in recent years. The research by the Sutton Trust (where they sought to highlight how independent schools hog Oxbridge places) shows that between 2001 to 2006 the percentage going to Oxbridge was 17.7% for Sevenoaks and 16.3% for King's. No great difference, at ranks 31 and 35 respectively, and well behind the 49% achieved by Westminster and St Paul's Girls.
In 2007 and 2008, Sevenoaks has achieved just over 15% to Oxbridge. I am not aware of King's publishing their numbers, but please let me know if you have a reference.
Finally on this point, Sevenoaks also send a growing contingent to Ivy League universtities (no doubt at least in part from their overseas students) and have a member of staff dealing exclusively with these applications, which would tend to eat into their Oxbridge percentage. Not a feature at Kings, I believe.

On the IB, I wholly agree it is not for everyone, and A-levels will suit better for a DC who already knows he/she wants to be an engineer or doctor. However it is easier for a good student to stand out. Also IMO the inevitable trend seems to point to the Universities setting their own exams a la Imperial and Cambridge (certain subjects) whilst the A-level follows the trend of the Zimbabwean Dollar :roll:

I am not convinced however about the dual teaching of IB and A-levels. They are quite different in approach, and most schools adopting the IB (eg Wellington, NLC) have concluded that the school has to be re-engineered if the IB is adopted, and it is not feasible to offer both.

Have to say that this leaves me none the wiser as to the original question which concerns the atmosphere, pastoral care and discipline at Sevenoaks.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 1:22 pm 
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There's an intersting document here on the process involved in calculating UCAS points for IB:

http://www.ucas.com/students/ucas_tariff/tarifftables/

(Scroll down to the link "View Expert Group Report for the International Baccalaureate"). They only sampled three subjects - geography, maths and chemistry - from which they concluded that overall, IB Highers cover about the same breadth and depth as A-levels although individual subjects may vary a little (chemistry came out about the same, IB maths was more challenging, IB geography less challenging). I would suggest the main concern with IB should be whether you will be able to elect the right mix of subjects (e.g. two languages, or two sciences plus maths), athough another consideration is that by the time our children reach that stage A-levels might be somewhat devalued.

Can't speak for Sevenoaks in any objective way, but I know one recent ex- and one current day boy and I hope my children turn out half as well.

Mike


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