UK boarding schools are world-class educational institutions renowned for their academic excellence. Many of their students go on to attend top universities. In addition to academic success, varied extracurricular activities allow students to pursue their personal interests, often leading to artistic, musical, and sporting triumph. Furthermore, many schools have their own particular traditions. These help to shape the students’ characters and provide them with skills not only for the classroom, but also for their future professional careers and personal lives.
Types of school
Prep schools are typically for students aged 8 to 13, and aim to prepare them for entry into secondary independent schools where pupils generally take GCSEs at age 16 and A-Levels at age 18. As an alternative to these examinations, an increasing number of schools are now offering the International Baccalaureate qualification more similar to university-type study. Although most British boarding schools are co-ed, with separate boarding houses, for boys and girls, there are also an important number of single-sex schools. Schools may be single-faith, multi-faith or secular, and there are schools which specialise in one or more fields such as art, drama, music, dance, and sports.
Many boarding schools employ teachers specialising in EFL in order to give extra language support to the foreign students, allowing them to gradually participate more fully in the general pace of the classes. The students can also choose from a wide range of other extra-curricular activities. In addition to sports and outdoor pursuits, such as climbing and canoeing, students may also join societies and clubs, orchestras, bands and choirs.
Most boarding schools have extensive grounds, others are to be found in the most privileged of surroundings within the English countryside, and some are housed in historic buildings of great beauty.
Boarding schools’ facilities are complete and classrooms are equipped with the latest in IT. There exist different types of workshops including design technology, food technology, ceramics and photography; ample halls for assemblies and concerts, individual rehearsal rooms for music practice, recording studios and theatres. The sporting facilities often include football, rugby and hockey pitches, tennis courts, athletics tracks, gymnasiums, swimming pools and even golf courses and stables.
The ideal age for entering a boarding school is from 8 to 16 years old. In the traditional British system the last four years are usually spent preparing for state exams; first GCSEs, then A-levels.
Boarding school fees include teaching, accommodation and food. School fees do vary from school to school, though the average cost of a boarding school place is approximately £30,000 per year. Some schools will accept a student for the duration of a single term, usually the summer one.
In England and Wales, the academic year is made up of 195 days divided into three terms of approximately thirteen weeks each. In the middle of each term there is a one-week break called half term.
|Autumn||September to December||End of October|
|Spring||January to April||Mid-February|
|Summer||April to July||End of May / Beginning of June|
(In Northern Ireland the academic year runs from September to June and in Scotland, from mid-August to June)
*Some boarding schools close for certain weekends (known as exeats). During these weekends the student must either travel home or stay with their appointed legal guardians.