Should you send your child to a British boarding school? If so, which one? I’m an American parent who admittedly has always found the boarding school thing a bit mystifying, feeling it’d be incredibly hard to send my kids to live far away from me at an early age. But because my children go to a British school here, I now know more and more people who choose to send their teens off to boarding school in the UK. And now I get it: they simply want what’s works best for their child.
Some are concerned about the all-important GCSE’s and don’t want their children to move during the prep years for these all-important tests if they have to move homes for employment reasons. With job stability low, some just don’t want the children to be affected by any transfers back home. Brits who move around the world a lot with their jobs choose to send their kids to the UK, concerned about uprooting their children too often.
Others choose the British boarding school system because the schools are, quite simply, very good schools. Universities and colleges the globe over take a close look at applications from British boarding school kids. Of the nearly 70,000 kids who board in the UK, more than 40 percent of them are from overseas families. Of course, deciphering which school is right for your child can be a bit confusing which is why checking out the upcoming British Boarding Schools Show is a great idea.
Boarding school through the eyes of one family
“A level of continuity with subjects and friendships is really important,” says Sinead Cassidy, an Irish expat who has two children at boarding school in the UK and one at an international school in Singapore. “So many of their friends kept moving away and it was hard watching them having to make new friends over and over. Their friendships – and their studies – will be more stable now.”
Two years ago, Sinead’s oldest daughter Freya made the choice herself to go to Cheltenham Ladies College, originally because she was concerned about her GCSE exams. She didn’t want to move midway through preparations, worried the same subjects wouldn’t be offered when her family moved to a new expat posting.
She’s happy with her choice and finds that the friendships she’s made at her British boarding school have made the decision all the better. “You’re with your friends every single second of every single day, and when you’re not with them, you really miss them.” I ask her if she misses her family and she just laughs. I guess that’s my answer!
Her brother, Patrick, is in his first year at Millfield Somerset. “It’s very different than what you’re used to. You have to be a lot more independent, which I like, but it takes some adjustment. I do miss my family, but you make friends and get through it all together.”
Technology also helps bridge the distance for families. Options such as email, FaceTime, WhatsApp and more keep the time apart from feeling too great.
“It was hard walking out the door leaving them behind in their room,” says Sinead, “but it’s great for them, in the end. They’ve made good friends and their studies have continuity. I know it’s the right decision for their future, which makes the distance okay for me.”
The perfect way to find out more
Want to learn more about whether or not British boarding school is right for your own children? Then you should check out the British Boarding Schools Show on 25 November. Just pre-register online and then pop by the Island Shangri-La Hotel between 12pm and 6pm. (It’s free!) You’ll get a chance to meet the Heads and Admissions Directors of Britain’s most prestigious boarding schools. Top UK schools as well as education, property and relocation experts will all be exhibiting, which means you can really plan every aspect of your child’s entry into the world’s most prestigious English-language schools. This is your chance to get first-hand advice on entry requirements, academic scholarships and bursaries, plus create those all-important initial ties with the relevant people ahead of your child’s application.
So, why not check it out and see if a British boarding school is right for your family?
Bede’s Preparatory School
Cobham Hall School
Framlingham College Gresham’s
Hazlegrove Prep School
Lockers Park School
Millfield Prep School
New Hall School
Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate
Royal Alexandra and Albert School
Royal Hospital School