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The Appeal of Boarding Schools
By Fiona Mckenzie
The appeal of a boarding education continues to hold a special allure for both parents and pupils alike.
For parents, there is the thought of their child safely protected in a beautiful location, whilst learning from the brightest of minds, in buildings that have educated generations of alumni. For pupils, there is the magical appeal of independence, seizing opportunities to try new subjects and activities and enjoying a ‘Harry Potter’ experience.
Boarding has always offered parents a chance to give their children a top level of education, even if it is not accessible nearby. It opens up opportunities for children to be educated in a stable environment within a system of 24-hour wraparound pastoral care. British and Swiss boarding schools are renowned across the globe not only for the high quality education they offer but for the ethos and values that they instil in their pupils; the blend of tradition and innovation as well as the wide range of opportunities beyond the academic curriculum that are available to all of their pupils.
Finding the right school for your child is a formidable task. Schools share some characteristics in common: the quality of the teaching, the range of subjects and the well-defined progression paths to the next school or to university and, of course, the fees! What really differentiates the leading boarding schools is the ‘hidden curriculum’ which is embedded in the boarding environment; team working, taking responsibility, communicating with a broad social range, learning about resilience. Skills that will prepare children for life way beyond their school days.
So how do you go about finding the right school for your child? As Education Consultants we always invite families to consider which aspects of the school are most important to them so we can draw up a list of “non negotiables”. This may be academic standards, a particularly extra-curricular activity or the pastoral support. Will your child flourish best in a single sex or co-ed environment? Will they thrive in the cut and thrust of a large academically selective school or a smaller school with a cosy family environment? Will a town or country location suit them best? And for many families a convenient location is key.
Then there is the admissions system to work out, for many academically selective schools this process can start as early as Year 5, even though a child would not be taking up a place until Year 9. 6th form applications tend to close early in the Autumn term in Year 11. Before applying it is important to establish if your child has the right academic profile for these schools so you can ensure a smooth transition and set your child up for success.
There are always anxieties about how your child will cope academically without day to day parental supervision. Will they fit in at the new school and develop lasting friendships? These and many other questions are bound to spring to mind. But a good boarding school will enable a child to learn academically and grow in a stimulating, diverse and action-packed environment which will help them become more self-confident, independent and resilient young people.
Author: Fiona Mckenzie MA Head of Education, Carfax Consultants . Fiona has worked with hundreds of families guiding them to make the best educational choices for their children whether at school or university level. Carfax Education offer bespoke solutions for each family’s education needs with school’s guidance, private tutoring, residential placements, homeschooling, university preparation and careers mentoring.