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Boarding Schools in the UK: What’s the reality?

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For some parents, boarding schools in the UK are the only option – but are you really sending your child off to a Victorian hell hole with ritualised initiation ceremonies, cold showers and endless boiled cabbage – or are most of our preconceived notions about boarding schools rooted in the 1950s? Yes, it seems they are, so it’s about time we dispelled a few myths and discovered what incredible places these esteemed educational establishments have now become.

Currently in the United Kingdom there are around 73,000 children boarding at either state or private schools. And yes, some of these children have rich parents, but plenty of them have won scholarships, or are there thanks to generous bursaries.

Is a boarding school the right choice?boarding schools in the uk

It can be a tough decision to send a child to boarding school, so first and foremost, we must consider the needs of the child:

Boarding schools encourage positive personal development, with around 70% of former pupils saying the experience helped them develop maturity, self-discipline and independence. Almost 80% of students said their school provided excellent opportunities for leadership, compared to 52% of state school pupils. Furthermore, boarding schools can provide an incredibly fun and supportive atmosphere – after all, what child wouldn’t want to be surrounded by their mates around the clock?

Boarding school better prepares children for college and life beyond, with 87% of graduates saying they were well-prepared for university, as opposed to 71% of private day students, and 39% of state school students.

A head start

Sending your child to boarding school is a surefire way to give them a head start in their career as well, with pupils statistically going further. Indeed, by the middle of their career, 44% of former pupils achieve top management positions, compared to 27% of private day pupils, and 33% of state school kids.

All walks of life

Boarding schools are socially beneficial as well: Your child could be mingling with students from a huge variety of backgrounds, along with children from all over the world. Remember, UK boarding schools are populated with the offspring of Russian oligarchs, Indian business magnates and Chinese political party members.  They’ll be stirred into a tasty multicultural hotpot sooner than you can say ‘Hold the Gruel.’ Indeed, more than one quarter of boarding school students are international students, or non-white.

Regular contactboarding schools in the uk

Furthermore, out of sight does not mean out of mind once you pack your children off to board. Yes, it’s true that in the past, boarders may have struggled to stay in touch regularly with their family, but the Internet and smartphones are redefining communication boundaries. Most boarding schools have Wi-Fi in the classrooms and dorms, although this can be regulated to certain times, and certain sites.


Boarding schools offer excellent facilities for children – as one columnist put it, ‘think four star hotel meets Centre Parcs.’ And having visited several schools, trying to find the best one for my child, I can totally agree. Excellent accommodation, healthy and nutritious catering and world-class classroom facilities were the things that really stood out to me during my campus tours. What’s more, my daughter was skipping with excitement at the thought of cutting free from her parents, and spending the rest of her school days at such an establishment. I only hope she appreciates the incredible opportunity at her feet…








About Liz Morrell

About Liz Morrell

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