There are several boarding schools in the UK offering residential summer programmes for students aged eight to 18. Lasting anything from two to six weeks, they offer varying degrees of education, physical activity, cultural trips and fun. A summer school can offer the opportunity to learn English, explore Britain, meet new friends, and learn new skills at some of the best boarding school campuses up and down the country.
Keen to attract international students, these boarding schools will arrange transfers from UK airports, may offer EAL support, and provide a full boarding experience that includes meals and laundry.
Gordonstoun, for example, runs one of Britain’s oldest and best known summer programmes where students from more than 30 countries spend over three weeks learning English, playing sport and enjoying activities – including a week of on the west coast of Scotland on the school’s yachts. Elsewhere, there’s a five-week Introduction to British Boarding at Badminton School, and Rochester College offers an English & Art course that combines intensive language tuition with workshops in film-making and graphic design.
Read on to learn more about some of the best summer schools in the UK for international students in 2023.
Designed for international students, d’Overbroeck’s Oxford runs a careers-focused Young Professionals summer programme to help 13-18 year olds prepare for university life and beyond. Students choose one of five subject areas in which to specialise – Business & Finance, Medicine, Computer Science, Media & Communications, and Engineering – and take part in a variety of theoretical classes, practical sessions, and group projects. There’s also a ‘Study-in-Action’ excursion, to a destination related to their chosen career.
Located in pretty Dorset, Sherborne International School's UK summer school is one for international students aged eight to 17 years old who want to improve their English and perhaps prepare for boarding life at Sherborne or another UK school. It’s intensive and academic summer school is a great stepping-stone to a British education, and Sherborne has 30 years’ experience of delivering a programme that balances hard work with some good fun as well.
Students are taught in small class sizes of just five or six, and can choose to study pre-I/GCSE, A Level and IB courses, as well as GCSE booster courses and an intensive course for improving written and spoken English language skills. As one of only a small number of UK independent schools with a dedicated international campus, Sherborne International is well equipped to offer students a higher level of support to develop their English than you’ll find at most UK summer camps.
DLD College in London partners with Academic Summer, which runs intensive courses that prepare international students for GCSEs, A Levels and the IB or equivalent programme – all while improving their English skills. There are also specialist courses on Medicine, Computer Science and taking the IELTS.
The courses for students aged 11-18 also include weekend excursions to popular tourist and cultural sites in the UK. DLD has over 200 boarding rooms directly above the college, which is incredibly convenient, especially for London. In fact, it is the only school in London which offers this.
Academic Summer also runs similar courses at Sidcote School near Bristol.
Sedbergh School offers a variety of courses focused on the great outdoors. There’s a new bushcraft and survival skills course, a pony camp, stage schools, and several sporting academies in rugby, netball, hockey and cricket. For a relatively small school, its sporting prowess is truly remarkable – it’s not only the strongest rugby school in England but also one of the top for hockey – so it’s well equipped to host some great summer sports courses.
The campus is outstanding – and if there was a league for schools with the best view, Sedbergh may just win. Its rural, idyllic location, between the Lake District National Park and the Yorkshire Dales lends itself to outdoor pursuits, and the school’s ‘have a go’ ethos feeds into this popular programme of summer activities. It’ll cost you around £500 for a weekly residential here, and admission is open to 8-15 year-olds.
This Surrey-based school offers a wide variety of day and residential summer camps, including learning languages, building robots (STEAM), sports and performing arts classes. Students design their own camp by choosing one morning and one afternoon activity, and class sizes are small with around 10 children in each. There are plenty of outdoor adventure sessions here, which take full advantage of the school’s wonderful 145-care campus.
The cost is around £2,800 for a two-week residential course, which are offered to both Junior (8-12 years) and Senior (13-17 years) students.
Taunton International School, a dedicated school for overseas students, offers the best of both worlds – a standalone campus with boarding facilities where teachers focus on the specific needs of students with English as a second language, and all the benefits of using the facilities of Taunton School.
There are junior courses for 8-12 year-olds that offer intensive academic English classes alongside either an academic programme of subjects including mathematics, science, history, geography and ICT or a multi-sports programme focused on football, tennis, basketball, athletics, badminton, rugby, cricket and netball. Alternatively, students can study STEM or cookery. A two week residential programme costs £2,750.
Bede’s in East Sussex offers a choice of academic and ‘holiday’ camps at four different boarding school locations in the South East for children aged six to 18 years – one location is Bede’s very charming prep school by the sea. Each course focuses on improving English skills and introducing students to the British way of life. A Young Explorers course of six to 11 year-olds includes lessons, sports, activities, social events and excursions; there’s an outdoor adventure and learning programme for eight to 13-year-olds; an intensive English skills course for 12-17 year-olds; and a Pathways To Higher Education for 15-20 year-olds.
Students are encouraged to attend for two-week minimum, and fees start from £1,250 per week.
Located in the Midlands, this day and boarding school for high academic achievers has a large community of international students – and Bromsgrove School works hard to attract even more with a summer programme of learning and exploration.
Most popular is the Summer Vacation Programme for children aged 8 to 11 and 12 to 15, which focuses on improving their English language skills in the morning and having fun in the afternoon. An Academic Preparation Programme for students aged 13 to 15 focuses on intensive English study as well as problem solving, giving presentations and interview skills. And there’s also a new one-week specialist basketball academy for 13-15 year-olds, another sign of this school’s growing investment in sport.