Firstly, why consider boarding schools at all. Here we give an overview of the key reasons why for some families it becomes a compelling decision.
Curriculum and character
While there are numerous benefits to a boarding school education, one of the most significant remains their complete educational freedom.
Independent boarding schools allow parents and their children to choose the curricula which best suits their needs. Many boarding schools actually combine curricula allowing students the best of all worlds; this is usually the option to gain both an internationally recognised qualification and ‘national’ one.
Independent schools in most countries are exempt from regional and country regulations for education provision. This means they have freedom to modify their curricula, select teachers on the criteria they value and apply unique teaching methodology best suited to their school culture and students’ needs.
This freedom of choice allows the majority of boarding schools to achieve far better results than most public schools which remain bound by national policy and regulations.
Exemption from legislation, means independent boarding schools are free to choose and encourage their own ‘direction’ and ‘character,’ allowing them to create a ‘brand’ and become synonymous with a uniqueness of their own. No school epitomises this more than Gordonstun in Scotland, where much of the curriculum revolves around character-building outdoor sports and activities.
Parents and students looking for a boarding school with the ‘right fit’ can choose an institution which best suits their character. Whether they require a focus on: academics, sports, drama or music, there is a boarding school which specialises in these areas.
Yet more schools choose to focus on specific student issues. America for example, has residential schools specially designed for students with special education needs and others for military training. There are even schools designed to help children through disciplinary issues and troubled childhoods.
Boarding schools have well-staffed and equipped language learning facilities. For students whose first language is not English, this translates into comprehensive and inclusive language training that they could not hope to receive in other forms of education.
For children who come from a troubled home or who are indeed troubled themselves, boarding schools, far from isolating the child further, can actually offer a supportive life-line. Offering counselling, mentoring, and support, boarding schools create a safe refuge from the troubles which plague so many children.
Most ‘day’ schools can only dream of the facilities that boarding schools have at their disposal. Boat-houses, skiing lodges, equestrian centres and golf courses for the expensive names: climbing, fitness centres and every conceivable sport are offered at even the most mundane, all staffed by teachers who are both experienced and passionate. At boarding school, children are encouraged to discover what they enjoy, take risks, learn to work as a team and remain fit and healthy.
Boarding schools tend to breed great sports people. Take a look at the national teams of Britain or South Africa for example, and you'll find they are dominated by private school pupils.
Boarding schools each have their own unique reputation and alumni body. Whether they’re a feeder school for an Ivy League university or just a well-respected name, nothing helps a child throughout their life like the connections made in boarding school.
Academic success, university entrance
The top boarding schools around the world will often be known for academic excellence, and as a pathway to their country's best universities. Some 40% of Eton students get into Oxford or Cambridge. These are two of the most, if not the most, competitive universities in the world to get into. This statistic alone is enough to drive many ambitious parents into applying for a place for their offspring...
Independence, confidence of students
Many parents speak of the greater independence and self-confidence that private schooling brings to their child. This is not a surprise. Students are encouraged to develop and become confident in their own skin, are encouraged in debate, taught their opinion matters, and get to fully explore their own unique strengths.
List the schools of the last 100 years of UK prime ministers, and try to spot one without a private school education... They are few and far between.