What you need to know when searching for a boarding school in the UK

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What you need to know when searching for a boarding school in the UK

Starting the search for a UK Boarding School is an exciting time for you and your child. Years of experience mean that we can help your child find a school perfectly suited to them. There are however, some things that you should know when beginning your search. Our guide to the top things you should know when looking for a boarding school in the UK will help you narrow down your search.

Boarding school exam structures and curriculum

Surely all Boarding School pupils sit the same exams, right? Actually, wrong. The type of exams your child sits will depend on the school they go to, and where in the country it is located. For example, at most UK Boarding Schools in the UK, pupils will sit GCSEs and then  A Levels. Some schools may also offer BTEC or IB (International Baccalaureate) qualifications, and a few schools in Scotland study for Highers. Having so many study options is one of the main advantages of coming to Boarding School in the UK.  Read our UK exams blog post for more detailed information on the different qualifications available to international students.

A Level, IB or Scottish Highers all lead to UK and global university applications. A Levels will usually involve studying 3 or 4 subjects. IB includes 3 Higher and 3 Lower subjects, and Highers include 4 or 5 subjects. Although different exam systems can be confusing, having options is beneficial, as it allows you to decide which type of qualifications will be best for your child.

Boarding styles

Boarding Schools are structured differently – some offer a horizontal boarding style, whilst others are structured based on vertical boarding. Horizontal boarding is where all students in a boarding house are in the same year group. Vertical boarding mixes up the age groups by having students from different year groups in the same house. There are pros and cons of vertical and horizontal boarding styles, so it’s worth thinking about which style would best suit your child.

Co-ed vs single sex schools

Many schools in the UK are co-ed which means they cater to both girls and boys. Other schools are single gendered. You may not have a preference, but knowing which schools are single sex and which are co-ed is important if you do have a preference.

Boarding School cost

Not all Boarding Schools in the UK cost the same amount, and it’s worth taking this into consideration when beginning your search for a school. Some schools may have more funding to offer scholarships or bursaries too. It’s worth checking the school website for their financial information, but you can also contact Academic Families for guidance.

Student mix at boarding school

When searching for a Boarding School, it’s important to know that not all schools are the same size or have the same number of pupils. You should consider your child’s needs and preferences to help you narrow down your search.  Smaller schools can offer a closer knit community feel, but some students enjoy the busyness of a larger school. It’s also worth considering the number of full boarders, weekly boarders and day pupils as well as the number of international and UK students. You want your child to have a selection of friends in class and in the boarding house who don’t all go home at the end of the day or week.

Subjects and extracurricular activities

Whilst all schools will offer a set of standard subjects including things like English, Maths, History and Sciences, there may be a more specific subject that your child is keen to study. For example, a more niche subject like Design and Technology or Media Studies may not be offered everywhere, so it’s important to find out what subjects are available at each school. Similarly, Boarding Schools have a wide range of extracurricular activities, so if your child has an  interest in a particular sport or musical instrument for example, find out what the school offers. Some schools specialise in certain areas and will therefore be better suited than others.

Hopefully that our guide to the things you need to know when searching for a boarding school will help you understand the variety of options available. To find the perfect school for your child our experts can help with your Boarding School search.

This article appears in the following categories  FAQs & Resources, School Admissions

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