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The Appeal of Boarding  Schools 

By Fiona  Mckenzie

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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 enjoyinga‘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.  Itopens up opportunities for children to be educated in a stable environment within a system of24-hourwraparound pastoral care. British and Swiss boarding schools are renowned across the globenot onlyfor thehigh qualityeducation they offerbut forthe ethos and values that they instil in their pupils; the blend of tradition and innovationas well asthe 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 andthe well-defined progression paths to the next school or to university and, of course, the fees! What really differentiatestheleading 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 tothem so we candraw 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-edenvironment?  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 familiesa convenient location is key.  

Then there is the admissions system to workout, for manyacademically selective schools this process can start as early as Year 5,even thougha childwould not be taking up a place untilYear9. 6thformapplicationstend to close early in the Autumn term in Year 11. Before applying it isimportant to establish if your childhasthe 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 parentalsupervision.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 goodboarding school willenableachildto learnacademicallyand grow in a stimulating, diverse andaction-packedenvironmentwhich will help them become moreself-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.  

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