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Kickstart your boarding school research

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. This blog is designed to help you kickstart your boarding school research with the questions listed below 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.

We can support you to find the right boarding school, find out how by clicking the button below:

So, let’s start with addressing the child centered questions in this blog:

1. 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. What new experiences and other opportunities excites your child and can the potential new school offer them? 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 whereas 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.

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 whereas many don’t. Always call schools to ask about entry for your chosen year as soon as possible. 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?

If you found this helpful, then you’ll probably find our next blog helpful “Extending your boarding school research”. Click the button below to read it:

There is a lot here to take in from this blog. Here’s a checklist (This checklist covers parts that are in other Boarding School Research Blogs)

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.

  • Academic level

  • Current interests/talents

  • New opportunities

  • Learning needs

  • Career sspirations

  • 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

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.

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