The world of boarding has changed significantly over the past 40 years and most boarding schools will boast of their excellent academic standards, facilities and pastoral care.
Large, cold and sterile dormitories have been replaced by comfortable, modern living spaces, access to impressive facilities for sports, music and drama and staff who genuinely want the pupils in their charge to excel.
Pupils who emerge from boarding schools are invariably very well equipped to manage the transition from school to university. Boarding pupils also tend to make ‘friends for life’ at school; the bonds created in boarding are strong and tend to last throughout adult life.
The cost of sending a child to a traditional boarding school can be expensive, but the general view is that you are paying for a higher quality of teaching which pushes the child to reach their potential, both academically and physically. A boarding school also allows a child to be immersed in a learning environment twenty four hours a day, both academically and socially, which increases the likelihood of boarding pupils reaching and exceeding their potential.
With ever increasing school fees and high competition for places, some parents in the UAE choose to send their children to a boarding school overseas to continue their education. Historically, parents (expat and nationals) in the UAE may have sent their children to one of the many boarding schools in the UK, USA, Canada or mainland Europe. However, some are now choosing to keep their children closer to home.
One option that parents should perhaps consider is weekly boarding. Weekly boarders are able to enjoy the benefits of being a boarder from Sunday to Thursday, and then also enjoy a weekend at home. Weekly boarding is particularly useful for parents in the UAE who work long hours or travel extensively as part of their jobs.
The other benefits of weekly boarding include; no long commutes in the morning and after school, support from tutors with homework, access to the on-campus facilities, nutritionally balanced meals and additional support during critical times of the academic year (e.g. exam periods). There is also a general perception that children who board are more likely to assimilate well to university life, having acquired the skills to live independently and with others.
The weekly boarding option is ideal for parents in the UAE who are considering boarding, but don’t necessarily want to send to send their child thousands of miles away, only to see them during the holidays. Keeping in touch with your child who has joined a boarding school is now easier than ever with pupils encouraged to use Skype, text messaging and emails to contact their parents.
Boarding is still a relatively new concept here in the UAE, but more parents are starting to consider it which is borne out by the number of parent-focused boarding schools fairs that have been held in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in recent years.
Nav Rai, is the Business Development Manager at Repton School in the UAE.