How important is the location of a boarding school? 5 things to consider…
- Relative cost. Boarding schools in the South of England, around 1 to 1.5 hours from London, tend to be the priciest, as easy access to the Capital means they are often popular with British families whose children board during the week and return for the weekend, even if only for a Saturday evening every other week or so. Boarding schools in the Southwest, in regions such as Cornwall or Somerset, in Wales, and in the North of England and Scotland are often more reasonably priced, as they are rather more remote and not quite so accessible – supply and demand! Linked to this, boarding schools within a certain radius of London can also be more academically selective – again, supply and demand!
- The “emptying-out” factor. Linked to the above, another thing to consider is that proximity to London can mean that some English boarding schools “empty out” at the weekend, leaving international boarders feeling a little lonely and isolated. Schools in more rural locations, for example in the North of England, the Midlands, in the far Southwest of England or Welsh boarding schools can sometimes have a higher number of full-boarders (i.e. boarders who stay in all week from Monday to Sunday), rather than weekly or flexi-boarders, so the weekends feel more lively and action-packed. That said, most of our partner schools close to London have excellent extra-curricular programmes, to ensure their boarders feel at home and engaged during the weekends as well, even if some of their British cohort do return home to see mum and dad for a night or two.
- Proximity to airports. As boarding school consultants with many, many years of experience, we have had the request for proximity to an airport countless times. Whilst it can indeed be practical for the chosen boarding school to be located near to an airport, the reality is that, unless the school has enforced exeat weekends once or twice a term, the children only need to travel from/to the airport at the beginning and end of term, and at the beginning and end of each half-term holiday (assuming they are not going to stay with their guardian for the holidays). The vast majority of the British boarding schools we work with offer very good and reliable transfer services for their boarders in any case, meaning that it generally isn’t an issue.
- Proximity to the chosen guardian. All British boarding schools are now bound to insist on overseas boarders having a reliable guardian based nearby in case of an emergency, the pandemic having highlighted the importance of this. Many of our families choose to focus on a particular area if they have family or friends living there, as they can provide a reliable support network for the child whilst they are in the UK. A guardian must be resident here in Britain, not too far from the boarding school in question, and must be over the age of 25 years. There are multiple excellent and fully accredited (by AEGIS) guardianship companies with a network of trusted host families around the UK who can help with guardianship, if a family does not have any relatives or friends here in Britain. We can gladly provide further information on such companies.
- Individual interests. Location can play a role in shortlisting suitable boarding schools, as some interests and hobbies are best supported by boarding schools in a particular area of the UK. Take golf, for example; it is still true that boarding schools with the best golf offering are based in Scotland – the birthplace of the sport! Loretto School, Merchiston Castle School and St Leonards School in the famous St Andrew’s all have their own Golf Academies, as well as access to some of the best golf courses in the world. Water sports such as sailing and windsurfing are other good examples. Boarding schools near the coast in the Southwest and South of England, and those in other parts of the UK close to lakes or reservoirs tend to have the best water sports offering. Ryde School on the Isle of Wight has fantastic sailing, as does Windermere School on the shores of Lake Windermere in the Lake District in the North of England. Meanwhile, Kingsley School in Devon and Truro School in Cornwall, both in the Southwest of England, are good picks for surfing.
Wherever you’d like your child to go to school, let us guide you to the right fit for them. Please contact us.