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What’s the relevance of boarding schools in 2024 and why do parents choose a boarding school education?

Over the past 20 years as an education consultant, I’ve advised families from both the UK, and all over the world, taking them step by step on the pathway to choosing the best British boarding school for their child and family. I’m passionate about boarding – I was a boarder myself. However, I’m equally aware that there are those who are as anti-boarding as I am pro it. Shaped by many years of conversations with children and their parents, here’s a few thoughts on why I feel boarding school is as relevant a choice for parents now, as it has ever been.

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Navigating your child's educational journey

A boarding school choice is about your child, not you.

Understandably, parents have a concern that choosing a boarding school education means they will lose touch with their child and hence the ability to support, manage and monitor their progress day to day. It’s exceptionally difficult to choose to give your child the independence that boarding school life brings. It’s a decision most parents make solely because they believe it’s the best school option to deliver the right opportunities for their child. It’s a selfless choice, made for your child, not for you, the parents.

My advice is to look at this another way – by choosing a boarding school you are enabling your child to learn key life skills, as well as to begin to take responsibility for themselves and their own achievements, aspirations and goals.

I’d advise you to set aside personal experiences, or opinions of friends and family. Consider boarding schools with an open mind, as you’ll find them in 2024. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you find.

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A family decision
Greater choice comes with choosing boarding.

Since there are excellent boarding schools located all over the UK, choosing boarding opens doors to a much wider range of school choices than sticking to day school options close to home. Many UK-based parents in 2024 prefer to choose boarding schools within an hour of home, so attending school events in the week to offer support and to keep in touch on birthdays is feasible. Families who live overseas must bear in mind the location of airports. However, choosing boarding undoubtedly broadens the range of school options a parent can consider and hence allows for more consideration to be made as to what the right school for your child looks like – where will they have the best opportunities to thrive in academics, as well as be inspired to find and nurture new talents and interests.

Boarding school ethos is an education for life.

It’s surprising, even amusing, how many parents I’ve spoken to in recent years who love the ‘feel’ of a boarding school when they visit. However, when it comes to choosing a school, they want that same feel, but they are against the idea of boarding. They say, I’d like that school, but I want to flexi-board or secure a day place, because I want my child to be with me at home each evening. Leaving school for home each evening leads to missing out on many of the things that make the boarding school ‘feel’ the way it does when you visit.

The boarding school ‘feel’ comes from an ethos instilled in the pupils to embrace every opportunity to work hard, to try new things, to make friends, learning to tolerate and support others, as part of a community. That ethos comes from living and working together as a boarding school community. Hence, if you like the ‘feel’ of a boarding school, then choose boarding for your child. Don’t choose the school, and then try to change its boarding ethos.

"boarding school is as relevant a choice for parents now, as it has ever been."

Boarding schools provide a home away from home where friendships for life are nurtured. Sadly, not all parent relationships succeed and many children in 2024 find themselves splitting their time between several homes, commuting to and fro, making socialising with friends, homework and participating in sports, music or other opportunities outside the classroom more of a challenge. I gather many separated parents now co-parent by leaving the children living in the family home, with parents moving in and out, so each can spend time with the children. Aimed at offering a more stable environment for children to live, I can see a great deal of sense in this.

Boarding school offers similar stability during term-time, living in a boarding house, making friends for life, while parents come and go to school to support sports matches, concerts etc. No school runs or juggling diaries about who is living where and when – just one location where both parents can remain fully involved in their children’s education.

With no commute, there’s more time for education and other opportunities outside the classroom. There’s no need to worry about private dance or tennis lessons, club rugby on a Saturday or help with homework from a private tutor. Everything is incorporated into the boarding school week. Parents and children alike can work hard and with focus in the week. Then, the leave-out weekends and the school holidays become fun time, spending quality time together as a family. What’s not to like about that?

Dispelling the myth that you will lose touch with your child.

The pastoral care structure and communications systems in boarding schools allows for frequent calls between child and home, ensures there are several key staff contacts with whom parents can raise queries at any time, as well as numerous opportunities throughout the term for parents to attend in-school events where they can touch base with teachers to check and discuss progress, as well as iron out any worries.

Boarding schools are communities where the staff team get to know your child exceptionally well. Access to technology makes keeping in touch easy. Frequent leave out weekends and longer school holidays allow plenty of quality time together as a family.

Catherine Stoke Education Consultant
Catherine Stoke Education Consultant
How can we help you to choose the best boarding school?

If you’d like to talk to one of our friendly, expert education consultants about how they will help you to choose the best boarding school for your child, please get in touch.

We offer a complimentary call to each family who has an interest in boarding school. This is so we can get to know you and your family, before talking to you about how we can help. Boarding school is a large investment to make and there are many schools to choose from. It’s important to get the choice right for your child.

Please get in touch and we look forward to talking to you soon.

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