I've already posted this in education but thought some more local knowledge might be good.
We currently live abroad and are considering sending our DTs (currently in year seven) to school in England with the hope of moving back in the next five years or so. We want them to start in year nine in 2013 so my first question is whether or not we've left it too late? Would it be better to consider entrance at year ten or are we more likely to get offered places in year nine?
Our main concern is that the DC will be close enough to family so that they can visit anytime for sport, music etc. Realistically that means we're looking as far north as Newcastle and as far south as Doncaster. We also have both DC to take into account. DS is very academic whilst DD struggles more with that and is dyslexic. On the other hand DD really excels at music so a school with good options for that is very important. Neither really take sport very seriously although DS enjoys running and basketball (I understant that isn't a very popular sport back in England?). Good facilities is a must as well as the option to go home regularly. Not overly bothered about a high percent of boarders as long as there are local day pupils who can visit/be visited at weekends and leave is flexible enough to have a social life outside of school.
Where would you suggest and have we missed anything off our list of criteria (DS also says an Xbox in the boarding house is important!)?
Plenty of boarding schools have trouble attracting pupils as many parents do not think boarding benefits the child so I expect you can get them in somewhere. Have a look at rankings.ft.com/secondary-schools/secondary-schools-2011 which lists all schools by A level rankings to see which are for the not so bright and which are. You can search regionally too.