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The UK is renowned for its large number of excellent boarding schools, the majority of which also cater for day pupils. There are about 700 private schools offering boarding, of which most concentrate on the senior age range from 11 or 13 through to 18. There are a more modest number of prep boarding schools, mostly offering accommodation from age 8. A very small number of preps offer boarding to age 7 or less.

Co-educational schools form the largest number of boarding schools but there are more than 50 girls only boarders and around 20 boys only. Some girls only schools have a co-ed sixth form to get the girls prepared for university life where everything is co-educational.

There are many different ways of defining a boarding school. Plainly the word boarding means that it provides accommodation for pupils, but that can mean different things. Some boarding schools and many sixth form colleges use separate university student blocks which can be some distance from the school. This can mean that supervision and pastoral care are quite lightweight. This may be suitable for older male students but is not usually acceptable to parents of girls. Another form of boarding is to accommodate students with host families, often called “home stay” . This can work out cheaper than boarding on campus, but again is often unacceptable for parents of girls.

We use our own classification of boarding to mean the school must have at least 20% of all pupils in boarding or a minimum of 50 full time boarders whichever is the less. This means we list about 400 out of the 700 claiming to offer boarding. A true boarding school needs a reasonable number of boarders present through the weekend to maintain activities. The bigger boarding schools mostly operate a six day week with lessons on Saturday mornings and activities or sport on Saturday afternoons. Some boarders will arrange action packed Sundays with trips or theatre or fun things like paintballing. Others decide that students should be able to “chill out” on Sundays and do nothing if that is what they prefer. Boarding schools which have the majority of pupils on a day basis will probably not have Saturday lessons and it is doubly important to examine how they keep boarders occupied and interested at weekends.

Boarders who stay all the time are known as Full Time Boarders or FTBs. Some schools allow weekly boarding (Mon to Fri) or flexi or ad hoc boarding. The later is called “hotel boarding” by some schools when parents simply book a room on any night of the week.

Most boarding schools are giving students single rooms by the time they reach age 17 in their final year. They might be in doubles from 14 to 17. Younger boarders are typically in large rooms called dorms (dormitories) which might accommodate up to say 6 beds. The younger the pupil, the more important it is to have similar aged company so that they do not get homesick.

A good boarding school will be very skilled with “pastoral care” – looking after the emotional, mental and health issues as well as academic things. They will nearly all allow your child to spend one or two days “trialling” school (called taster boarding) to make sure the child fits in seamlessly.

We list ALL UK private boarding schools on our website, unlike most other educational agents, who only use a panel of schools paying them the most money. We spend a lot of time visiting boarding schools so that we can find the best match with each parents requirements on a totally impartial basis.

Feel free to ask us any questions you want on +44 (0) 1622 813870 or fill in our enquiry form.

You may order our eGuide on Choosing the RIGHT Boarding School for your child for a nominal price, but note this is supplied without charge to clients.