Over many years as an education consultant, I’ve met countless confused parents. Hours of internet research, school gate and dinner party banter, engaging school marketing brochures and websites can lead to a school search losing priority and focus over time. Creating a muddle, rather than a planned way forward is often the outcome.

If this is you, don’t panic. The questions below are designed to help you to plan for your school search in a clear and logical way.

Use them as a step-by-step guide to drive discussion at home before you start your research. If you’ve already started your research, use them to check you have the right schools on your radar. Answering these key questions will enable you to come up with the right road map of what you are looking for in a boarding school. Starting with the needs of your child at the centre and adding all the other factors – the outcome will be a clearer strategic pathway for your boarding school research, once you know exactly what you are looking for in a school.

There’s a Checklist at the end of this blog (and the next 2 as this series continues) so you can gather your thoughts for future reference and keep your boarding school research focused on the right factors for your child and family.

readingSo let’s start with addressing the Child Centered Questions in this blog:

1.Let’s start with the obvious, what academic level is right for your child?

You want them to feel challenged, but not uncomfortably so. Your current school will give you an exceptionally good indicator of the right level to aim for. Some schools are highly competitive for entry with many applications per place. However, if your child will find this entry process an incredibly significant challenge, ask yourself whether it’s worth the anxiety this process might cause both your child and you. Always have a back-up by applying to a range of schools.

2.What passions, interests or talents does your child already need to be developed by their new school?

What coaching/teaching expertise is needed to do this? How does the school nurture this area and monitor progress? What facilities are needed to develop this talent? For example, if they have a passion for swimming, it’s no good choosing a UK boarding school without an indoor pool.

3.Boarding school is all about being inspired to try new things and explore a broad range of opportunities.

Does your child have anything particular in mind? Whether it be astronomy, chess, karate, or sailing, have a think about this now, so you can ensure the schools you research offer this opportunity.

4. Does your child have any specific learning needs that will need additional support?

Whether they are gifted in Math’s or need help for dyslexia, choosing the right boarding school to offer support for these needs is crucial.

5. Are there particular career aspirations to bear in mind.

For example if your child is an aspiring doctor or astronaut, exploring the careers support programme at each school, asking how many alumni have successfully gone on to university in this area will reassure you the right expert guidance will be in place.

6. What type of school best suits your child’s personality, self-esteem, and confidence?

Competitive environments are right to challenge and inspire some children. Some achieve more within a nurturing approach. Evaluating your child’s personality and what type of boarding school will offer them the right environment in which to thrive is often over-looked as part of the school research process. Give this some careful thought and discussion. A happy child will thrive. An out-going competitive child needs challenge. A child who is shy or lacks confidence might need a more gentle, nurturing approach.

7. At what age do you want your child to start boarding?

Making sure the boarding schools you are researching take registrations for entry at your proposed entry year is key.

8. How much time do you have before your proposed start date?

This is crucially important for some schools? Some require registration many years ahead of time. Many don’t. Always call schools to ask about entry for your chosen year as soon as possible, asking when the registration deadlines are. Seeking the help of an education consultant definitely helps when your application timescales are shorter than ideal. Maybe your expat contract has come to an abrupt end or family circumstances have un-expectedly changed? Get in touch with us to talk through your situation. We are expert in supporting the application process at all times of the year.

9. What does your child’s current school think is the right type of school for your child?

They might even be able to help with some boarding schools to review. They know your child well and can give an invaluable insight into some of the above questions, helping you along the right path. Listen to what they have to say!

Ok, so I know there is a a lot here to take in. Here’s a CHECKLIST (Remember the checklist covers elements which will be in the 2 blogs that will come out Wed 19th Jan and Wed 16th Jan! Keep your eyes peeled for them)
Use it to summarise your decisions from the questions above. It 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 team of expert boarding school consultants to find out how we can assist you in taking the pain and confusion out of this huge decision.

Follow our social media accounts for regular updates and to be the first to see when the next blog is published!

We look forward to talking to you very soon.

All best wishes

Catherine Marx (Founder)

  • Academic Level

  • Current Interests/Talents

  • New Opportunities

  • Learning Needs

  • Career Aspirations

  • Competitive vs. Nurture

  • Starting Age, Year and Date

  • Current School Thoughts

  • Type of Boarding

  • Saturday School or Other Weekly Commitments

  • Location Criteria

  • Transport Access Points

  • Fees Budget per Year

  • Scholarship Application

  • Bursary Needed

  • Single-sex or Co-educated

  • Head’s Philosophy

  • Traditional or Less Formal

  • Feeds into which Future Schools?

  • Subjects or Exams Offered

  • Family and Friends thoughts