An Insider's View
I don't believe that you can judge a school purely on a report that it receives from outside inspectors... How can they possibly know what goes on behind closed doors and some of the injustices that we face every single day?
Millfield does indeed push you into a straight-jacket. I would know since I have attended it for the last two years and the prep school 3 years before that.
It may offer a wide range of subjects and it may accept dyslexics and it may be one of the most sportingly strong schools in the country but it still tries to mould its pupils to be a certain way. Like Pency Prep it has a boasting outward appearance but really it is "fur coat and no knickers". Yes, we have an olympic sized swimming pool and an athletics track to die for but some of the classrooms are miniscule and the dining hall doesn't even cater for vegans.
There is a type of person that they want you to be and there is a certain way that they want you to act. They want you to be a subservient person and act in a subservient way.
They want you to be an unargumentative person and never, ever to stick up for yourself.
In fact, they would rather see that the whole school looks identical in their uniform than allow people to remove their jackets in assemblies or whilst walking around the campus - even in the summmer!
Boys are not allowed to practise the art of dance except ballroom dancing before the two balls put on for the upper sixth form each year. Even if a boy was a ballet superstar or a latin ace they would not be able to further their studies purely because the 50/60-something senior master claims "it is not a manly activity nor one that we would like to promote here" as he said when I quizzed him about this most odds of rules in a geography lesson.
People in the 5th year and below are not even allowed out on exeat from certain train stations. Castle Cary is deemed unsafe because it is unmanned, so instead of taking a direct route from Somerset to where my mum or dad lives I instead have to travel from Bristol or Bath and make two changes, which is of course perfectly safe for "young children" to do. This rule does not apply to the sixth form because apparently during one summer holiday between 5th and lower 6th, one matures a huge amount and is able to transport oneself in an immensley better way.Ridiculous.
Oh yes, and just one more thing before I go, Millfield fees are over £21,000 per year for boarders, £11,000 per year for day pupils and the largest scholarship they offer (usually only one or two at the very most is 50%). So actually, they do want a specific person at their school - one with rich/stupid/naive parents.