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21 questions to kickstart your boarding school research – curriculum & family

Welcome back to our final part of our blog series outlining: 21 questions to kickstart your boarding school choice.

Use these questions as a step-by-step guide to drive discussion at home before you start your boarding school research. In this blog we will discuss the importance on curriculum and family decision making when completing your boarding school research.

If you missed the first and second blogs in the series, or would like a reminder, you’ll find questions 1-7 via this link and questions 8-14 via this link.

Education philosophy (Continued)

15. What evidence is there of inspiring teaching? We all recall our most inspiring teachers, as well as perhaps the ones at the other end of the scale. Your child needs to be inspired within a school environment where they feel happy. The approach to teaching might be very formal, or less structured. What is right for your child. Teaching may be very teacher led and directed, or there can be more individual research and independent learning. What suits your child and your thoughts on learning?

16. Are you looking for co-education, single sex, or a mix of the two at different ages in the Diamond model? What type of school would best suit your child, enabling them to thrive?

17. Are you looking for a school to feed into a particular future school at 13+ or 16+? Strong school to school links is a bonus to support your future applications. Make use of these where you can. For example, a prep school that is a strong feeder to a particular top senior school at age 13 might give your child more focused preparation for the entry assessment process later.


18. Do you have preference for traditional British curriculum such as GCSE and A Level or are you more a fan of the IB programme perhaps? Do you have thoughts on subjects that your child is keen to study such as psychology, mandarin or food technology? Might BTEC qualifications in sixth form be more appropriate for your child. Make sure you research the curriculum offered by each school you are reviewing to ensure it offers the right subjects and curriculum to meet your plan for now and the future.

19. Assessment, monitoring, and parent feedback are crucial to ensure your child succeeds at school. If you live overseas or a long way from the school, reviewing how you will receive feedback or how a school will raise concerns with you is important.

20. Is the curriculum traditionally taught or is there flexibility to tailor it for each individual child? How are sets or streams for academic subjects decided and can a talented child in Maths, who struggles with English, still be stretched in the areas where they excel? Doe the school use any educational philosophy in their learning delivery which you feel is right for you. For example, some schools approach learning with a growth Mindset. What type of learning environment will your child succeed in?

The final word – family

21. Sibling schools, parent and grandparent alumni schools, school suggestions and thoughts of friends and peers are all important to bear in mind. However, don’t let any of these override the hard work you have done via all the questions above which are all focused on your child as an individual, as well as your thoughts as parents, who know your child better than anyone. Try to keep the focus on your child at the centre of every decision you make.

Ok, so I know there’s a lot here to take in. To help you further, you’ll find a summary CHECKLIST below.


  1. Academic level

  2. Current interests/talents

  3. New opportunities

  4. Learning needs

  5. Career aspirations

  6. Competitive vs. nurture

  7. Starting age, year, and date

  8. Current school thoughts

  9. Type of boarding

  10. Saturday school or other weekly commitments

  11. Location criteria

  12. Transport access points

  13. Fees budget per year

  14. Scholarship application

  15. Bursary needed

  16. Single sex or co-educational

  17. Head’s philosophy

  18. Traditional or less formal.

  19. Feeds into which future schools?

  20. Subjects or exams offered

  21. Family and friends’ thoughts

If you’d like a recap, you can read all three blogs in the series, here are the links to blog 1 and blog 2.

Use the 21 questions to bring together your thoughts. The answers should create a Mind Map of what the perfect school for your child and family looks like.

Don’t forget, we are here to help. Get in touch and arrange a no obligation call with one of our boarding school experts, to find out how we will assist you in taking the pain and confusion out of this huge decision.

We look forward to talking to you very soon.

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