How to choose a UK boarding school

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How to choose a UK boarding school

Choosing the best education for your child is one of your most important decisions as a parent.

We've put together a few things to consider along the way.

UK school educational environment

Which environment would best suit your child? With over 400 boarding schools across the UK, you can find almost anything! There are schools that:

  • provide a co-educational environment or are only for girls or only for boys.
  • specialise in niche subjects or provide a more general "all-rounder" education.
  • offer a traditional or more modern or liberal arts feel.

Where would your child be happiest and thrive? It's a tough decision, but we're here to help you in any way we can.

Pastoral care

Check how the school scores on pastoral care. You want your child to be happy and feel free to turn to staff for help on all matters personal and academic.

As a parent, you should feel free to call the school staff should you have any concerns. Pastoral care does not only mean the school matron but a whole array of staff overseen by the head or deputy head.

How many "Full Boarders" are there?

Many boarding schools have "day pupils" in addition to their boarders but it is worth checking how many of the boarders are full boarders opposed to weekly boarding because if there are not many then your child could find themselves with limited company at the weekend and few organised activities to enjoy.

Also, ask what are the arrangements for full boarders to go out at the weekend and how many of them do.

Accommodation at UK boarding schools

If you able to visit a boarding school in the UK, then you will be taken around all their outstanding facilities and beautiful grounds. Make sure to ask to see the actual boarding houses, as this is where your child will spend a lot of their time.

Finding the right school location in the UK

If your child has a long flight to reach home, make sure to choose a school which is within reasonable driving distance to the airport. We recommend to try to find a school which is no more than 1.5 hours away.

Also, it is worth thinking about whether a city or more rural location would best suit your child.

Proportion of international pupils in UK schools

If one of your main reasons for sending your child to a UK boarding school is to learn English, make sure there is a good mix of nationalities at the school. This will help to ensure English is spoken by all the children in and out of the classroom.

If English is not your child’s first language, and they could benefit from some extra tuition, check that the school offers English language lessons, or contact us to discuss how we can help arrange for language classes before a school term or during breaks.

Extra-Curricular activities and sports at UK boarding schools

Most UK boarding schools offer a huge array of extra-curricular activities and sports so your child should never have an excuse for being bored!

However, some schools tend to specialise in different sports and activities. If your child is very talented at a particular activity, try to choose a school that offers the best facilities to nurture this talent and ask if the school offers any relevant scholarships.

Children with special needs

If your child needs additional support in the classroom, be sure you share this with the admissions team so they can confirm the school’s ability to best support your child.

There will be a school that can support your child whatever their needs or academic ability, so you need to choose wisely to ensure their happiness and success.

Choosing the best fit for your child

The best guide for choosing a school is your "gut feeling". Try to visit the school with your child if you can, ask for referrals and seek the advice of experts.

If you do visit a school in the UK, it is best to visit during term-time when the school is operating normally. Listen and talk to the adults but watch the faces of the children. Ask to get an existing pupil to show you around and ask them lots of questions, as they normally give you an honest answer.

Talk to your child and if in doubt, support their decision – it’s their happiness that matters most after all!

This article appears in the following categories  Boarding School Life, Education Systems, School Placement

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