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  • British boarding schools’ question time | Dickinson School Consulting
  • British boarding schools’ question time | Dickinson School Consulting
  • British boarding schools’ question time | Dickinson School Consulting

British boarding schools’ question time

The first of a series of blogs in which we feature schools’ responses to a topical question we pose, for this one we asked, “What makes British boarding schools so attractive to overseas pupils post-pandemic?

Our first respondent is Simon Lockyer, Headmaster of the Royal Hospital School near Ipswich in the South East of England, who writes:

“British boarding schools such as the Royal Hospital School have become more attractive than ever post-pandemic. Word has spread about how boarding schools in England coped so admirably with the various pandemic restrictions, seamlessly continuing their broad and stimulating education either at school, with adjustments in place, or online. The benefits of being located in a stunning rural location also gave parents confidence that their children were learning and being cared for in a safe and protected environment. Indeed, many children had a more enjoyable time being at school in a ‘bubble’ with their friends, than being stuck in a bedroom at home, unable to communicate in person with their teachers and peers.

“It is the need for, and benefits of, socialisation, with time spent amongst their peers, that has been one of the biggest learnings from the pandemic. Social development, alongside the value in establishing independence and enjoying different experiences, has led to increased interest from families who see the significant benefits of their children having the opportunity to live and learn with other pupils from around the world. And what a better way than in the fabulous fresh air of the Suffolk coastline, where pupils can take advantage of the huge number of curricular and co-curricular options available to them.”

Next, we have the view from Sedbergh School in the North of England, kindly provided by Director of Marketing & International Relations, David Milner:

“At Sedbergh School we are seeing an increase in enquiries from overseas markets post-pandemic, not only in boarding school but also for our International Summer School, as travelling returns to normal with very few restrictions.

“During covid, many children missed out on the British boarding experience and UK boarding schools remain so attractive to overseas pupils due to the holistic education they offer. A wide range of extra-curricular opportunities and outstanding pastoral systems make them the perfect environment to be fully immersed in the British culture, further develop their English, discover hidden talents, make friends from around the world and, most importantly, experience subjects and activities which they may not have done before back home. We have seen an increase in families looking for schools away from the distraction of city life, and more and more are looking for schools with a higher percentage of British ‘FULL’ boarders. Overseas pupils missed out on trialling a boarding school environment through summer programmes, and now we are experiencing many families registering their children to attend a variety of different courses including multi activities, leadership, football, IELTS and outdoor adventure.”

Wrapping up this feature, we have Tony Jackson, the Headmaster of Barnard Castle School, which is also in the North of England, providing his take on the question:

“Imagine being a young person now, having had two or more years of your childhood locked down, staring at screens. What better way of attempting to put that right than by not just releasing them, but sending them on an adventure of a lifetime?

“A British boarding education is so much more than academic provision, although the small class sizes and attention on individualised care ensure that this element is of a high quality. Rather, it is what occurs beyond the classroom that makes the experience so incredible, especially for young people from overseas.

“The warmth of a boarding house, where lifelong friends are made almost instantly, supported by caring house staff; facilities on tap to play music, sport, perform on stage; quirky yet invaluable activities, from CCF to Duke of Edinburgh Schemes, to a real focus on service and helping others. In each moment of every day, British boarding schools develop character in their students, teaching life skills that will make the difference when they enter the adult world in the not-too-distant future. The whole experience also highlights the importance of values and behaviours that ensure these are the people others want to work with and work for. We prepare children not for a life of tests, but for the test of life.

“There is no better grounding for a young person who needs to prepare for a fast-evolving and uncertain future than in a British boarding school like ours, which then remains a lifelong support and network for the students fortunate enough to attend them.”

If your child missed out during the pandemic, and needs to build confidence and/or rediscover their love of learning, the help of an educational consultancy in England could be crucial to ensure you secure the right setting. Please contact us to start the search.