Boarding Schools: Demystifying Some Myths
Published online March 2015
William Rees, former head of admissions at Eton College, and now an education consultant at My Tutor Club, assesses the value of boarding schoolsMany families, particularly those who are London-based are, are increasingly interested in boarding outside the city, partly for its intrinsic merits and partly because of the pressure for places at top day schools.
The earlier the thinking and planning starts, the better, as an increasing number of leading 13+ schools require early registration and a pre-assessment two or even three years before entry, although many schools also have a substantial planned intake at 16+.
Modern boarding is a dynamic and communicative partnership with parents, which UK independent schools have brought close to perfection. It is worlds away from the negative and Dickensian stereotypes projected historically in the media, and the bad experiences endured by some in the past, when the culture was profoundly different. It is now a kind, supportive, stimulating and creative environment, staffed by professionals whose shared purpose is to bring the best out of all the students in their care within a harmonious community.
Boarding is also the best possible preparation for university life, inculcating a healthy degree of individual independence and appropriate competitiveness within a strong sense of community and teamwork, encouraging self-confidence without arrogance, building communication and listening skills, and providing high quality guidance on the university application process itself. We know that parents can be concerned about the abrupt change at 18 from day school life to residential life at university, and the transition is much smoother from a boarding school.
Most schools are now successfully co-educational, but the single-sex option is still available for those who judge it right for their children (perhaps because girls commit themselves more fully to maths and science when boys aren’t there, perhaps because boys are more emotionally open and honest in arts subjects when girls are not there, perhaps because some children flourish educationally in the absence of distractions and relationship complications which can still be experienced in the holidays!).
For many teenagers boarding offers the best of both worlds, giving them a chance to develop educationally, expand their sporting and cultural talents and work through their adolescence in a structured and supportive environment. Many parents say that they experience the best relationship with their children during holidays and weekends, in-between boarding.
My Tutor Club is a leading private tuition company based in London that provides private tutoring for all levels (both in-person and online) as well as 13+/GCSE/A-Level revision booster courses, schools advisory consultancy and 11+/13+ school interview practice to students in the UK and abroad.