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The United Kingdom has long been a country noted for the academic excellence of its boarding schools and their famously quirky traditions, but with around 500 boarding schools in the UK, how do you go about choosing which one is best for your child? The following information should help you to choose the right school from the many excellent – and very different – independent schools in the UK.
Some boarding schools cater for boys only and some for girls only, while others are coeducational (or mixed sex). The environments offered by single-sex versus co-educational schools are very different, so you’ll need to think carefully about which you feel would be better suited to your child. There are arguments on both sides; some feel that single-sex schools minimize distraction, while others believe that co-educational schools provide better preparation for life at university and beyond.
Most international pupils are full boarders, which means that they stay at school most weekends and enjoy a weekend programme of study, outings and activities and entertainment. Obviously, this is especially suitable for children of overseas families. It is important to check with the school how many of their pupils are full boarders and how many are weekly boarders (who stay at the school during the week and go home at weekends). A school with a full boarding house at weekends may mean a wider activities programme than a school with few weekend pupils.
Ensure that there is a good mix of nationalities at the school so that English will be the language of choice outside the classroom as well as in it. Most boarding schools should be able to offer additional English tuition for overseas pupils who would benefit from it, so this is something to ask about if you feel your child’s English could be improved.
There is a boarding school in the UK to suit every child, so choose carefully to ensure that your child enters one that best suits their academic abilities, talents, support needs, personality, hopes and dreams. The best school for a child is not necessarily the most academic. Children learn best in an environment where they are happy and can grow in confidence, and schools with demanding academic programmes will not be suitable for all.
Some boarding schools are located out in the countryside; others in the middle of cities. Location is vital and particularly so for overseas parents as proximity to an airport will be a factor in your requirements. At the very least, good public transport links to the airport are important. If you have family and trustworthy friends in a certain area, you may prefer to select a school near them to provide holiday and occasional weekend care. Don’t underestimate this requirement. Kids do need a break from boarding school from time to time.
All boarding schools offer a wide variety of extracurricular activities and sport to keep boarders busy and happy. But just as traditions and ethos vary from school to school, some schools also have particular strengths. Some will specialise in a particular area, such as sport, music or performing arts. If your child has a special interest or talent, you may like to choose a school that has the best facilities and experience to nurture this talent.
A UK boarding school provides an opportunity for each child to develop their full potential and is an excellent solution to ensure educational stability. Allow your child to experience the sheer joy that comes from the belief that they can succeed, in an environment that offers independence, success, individuality, team work, self-sufficiency, lifetime friendships and confidence and achievement in a wide range of activities.