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Why boarding school is a choice

Often the term “sending your child to boarding school” comes up during the process of applying and preparing your child for school. However, that is a very common misconception… you are in fact CHOOSING to send your child to boarding school, choosing a fantastic education opportunity, choosing a way to build their independence, and our company founder, Catherine Stoker has written a passionate blog about why this is…

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It’s my fervent belief we send letters, emails, and parcels, not children. As a parent, deciding on a boarding school education for your child is a choice you make – you are not sending your child anywhere.

Our children are one of the most precious gifts in our lives. Parents pay careful attention to their child’s interests, passions and needs when choosing and making the best decisions for their future school and education, presenting them with diverse experiences and opportunities which prepare them for later life. Taking great care to select a school where their child will be happy and fulfill their true potential is the key driver for most parents when it comes to future school decision time. This, to me, represents a process of choosing, and not one of sending, your child to the right boarding school for them.

These are words I often use when in conversation with client families, guiding them towards their choice of future school for their child, usually when boarding school is something they’re considering. The language and vocabulary parents use when talking to their child about the process they are following in researching, visiting, and choosing a boarding school is particularly important. These words set the tone for how your child will approach their new school and when the time comes, how they settle in.

Likewise, keeping language and conversation positive is a crucial part of your future boarding school choice. Talking about some of your boarding schools as back-ups in case your child doesn’t get an offer from your favourite school choice, as well as negative conversations about boarding schools within your child’s earshot – these can cause issues when offers and final decision are made, with your child feeling inadequate or a failure if they don’t meet what they feel are your parental goals for a place at a top boarding school. My advice is to talk positively about all the schools you are considering, giving your child the confidence that you will be delighted and know they will thrive, whichever school you eventually choose as right for them.

Bearing all this in mind, I was both saddened and I suppose a little annoyed to hear from one of my colleagues of a recent tweet by a well-known public figure, highlighting the anniversary of his being ‘sent’ to boarding school and the trauma he still feels as a result. Its such a shame his personal experience was such a sad one. I wonder if he were to attend a 21st Century boarding and all the fantastic opportunities boarding schools offer children in 2022, while reassuringly maintaining a child’s contact with home – would he have the same point of view?

My days at boarding school were happy ones playing sport, swimming in the river, laughing with friends from all over the world. I can’t say I had the most challenging experience academically. However, the life and people skills I learned have certainly given me the independence, resilience, empathy, and work ethic that I’ve needed in striving towards a successful work and home life since leaving school. To take personal responsibility, to work hard, to pick myself up and continue on occasions in life when things have not gone to plan, as well as most crucially to listen, as well as to speak. Indeed, I enjoyed boarding so much, I spent all 13 years of my teaching career in boarding schools, half of those as a housemistress. It used to make me laugh when I caught girls in my care who were up to mischief. They used to say, how did you know? My reply, well I used to do the same thing when I was at school! Contributing to the education of children in a boarding school environment is truly one of the most rewarding times of my career to date.

I suppose boarding schools will always be a controversial choice with emotional opinions on both sides. It’s an area of education where personal experience of parents tend to have the greatest influence on the school choices they make for their own children. A boarding school Head once told me he feels parents who choose boarding love their children the most. They make a selfless sacrifice in choosing for their child to live away from home. A difficult decision which they make in the belief it will offer their child the best possible education, maximizing their opportunities and skills for a successful adult life. I tend to agree.

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