The BSA Guide to Boarding Schools - Spring 2023

Page 1

Guide bsa The

HEATHFIELD PREPARATORY SCHOOL AND Scholarships & Bursaries available Flexi & Weekly Boarding available Rishworth is a vibrant independent, co-educational, boarding and day school set in 140 acres of stunning rural countryside. With its own Preparatory School, Heathfield, it offers a continuous education for children from age 3 to 18. As well as specified Open Day events, we are welcoming families to visit us for pre-booked personal tours conducted at your convenience. To find out more or to book an appointment, please call 01422 822 217 or email WHAT WILL YOU DISCOVER? Rishworth, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom HX6 4QA. E: Visit us at or call 01422 822 217 OPEN DAY EVENTS: View our virtual tour Saturday 11 March (Rishworth Open Morning) Saturday 22 April (Heathfield Open Morning) Please register via the website.


choose work with all the other constraints on your family life, as this will affect the dynamics and happiness of your household.

Becoming a parent means you are faced with a bewildering number of choices. Choosing the right school for your child is one of the most important decisions of all since a child’s education has a major influence on their current and future wellbeing and their life journey. Thank you for taking the time to read this Guide.

The Guide contains a wealth of information that will enable you to narrow your search for a boarding school and help you find the right match for your child. I hope you are already aware of the benefits of a boarding education – this Guide will help you find out more about the opportunities offered by different boarding contexts.

At the Boarding Schools’ Association (BSA) we know that choosing a school can be as mystifying as it is exciting. There are so many good boarding schools offering an excellent education. You can choose from rural, town, city, boys, girls, mixed, junior, senior, all-through, sixth-form, all-around, specialist, flexi, weekly, full boarding, state or independent. Or you may want a combination of different schools at different ages. The choice is as broad and flexible as the boarding sector itself – rightly so as every child and every family have different needs.

As well as matching a school to your child’s needs, it is important to consider whether logistically you can make the school you

All boarding schools are united in a deep, shared belief in the value that a high quality modern boarding education can offer families. Boarding schools offer a unique richness of community. They are open, tolerant and vibrant places where education happens 24 hours a day and is deeply embedded. Learning is a way of life not limited to the classroom. A boarding education is predicated on relationships and the values that underpin them – respect, tolerance, inclusion, humility and kindness. Boarding schools are the ultimate learning environment – children see their teachers and other staff in multiple roles and environments and more quickly recognise the humanity in networks and organisations.

One of the unique benefits of a boarding education is that it enables pupils to develop many life skills through community living – getting along with people different from themselves, being at ease with others, taking up opportunities, dealing with setbacks, problem-solving and communicating effectively. Boarding schools welcome parents to be a part of their boarding community. Home–school communication is highly effective and there are many ways to be involved, from attending events to taking up roles on committees.

Boarding schools also take time to communicate with and support parents at each stage. In fact, parents often report that the quality of their relationship with their children develops through the boarding experience. If families must move with work or are posted overseas, boarding schools provide an anchor in a child’s life, they become home.

The BSA represents more than 640 boarding schools in the UK and internationally.

It provides a wide range of services including professional development, government relations, communications, safeguarding, health education and immigration advice for schools, media, publications, conferences and events.

We hope you find the Guide helpful in choosing the best boarding school for your child.

Gavin Horgan became Headmaster of Millfield in 2018. He was Headmaster of Worksop College in Nottinghamshire from 2012, where he delivered academic turnaround including a substantial building programme and whole school restructure. Before Worksop College, Gavin’s career included working in schools in Sri Lanka and Argentina, before returning to the UK as Deputy Head of The Glasgow Academy. Gavin also has extensive experience of the state sector at schools in Hampshire and Lambeth.

Contents Foreword 01 Gavin Horgan, BSA Chair 2023 and Headmaster, Millfield School News 06 Choosing and assessing schools What about boarding schools? 12 Barnaby Lenon, Headmaster, Harrow School, 1999–2011 and Chairman, Independent Schools Council (ISC) What makes a good boarding school? 16 Barney Durrant, Head, St Lawrence College Boarding school inspections 20 Dale Wilkins, Senior Director of Boarding Schools’ Association (BSA) The importance of good governance 22 Graham Able, Group Deputy Chairman, Alpha Plus School visits: questions and answers 24 Adrian Underwood, Education Consultant Faith in our schools 28 Graham Able, Group Deputy Chairman, Alpha Plus Schools founded by the Military Schools with a military history 30 State boarding schools The benefits of state boarding 32 Will Chuter, Head, Cranbrook School Choosing state boarding 36 Jonathan Taylor, Chief Executive Officer, Sapientia Education Trust (SET) State boarding schools 39 The benefits of sixth-form boarding 40 Emma Fielding, Principal, Richard Huish College Life at a state boarding school 42 Dr Chris Pyle, Head, Lancaster Royal Grammar School Boarding at an independent school Schools together in partnership 44 Julie Robinson, Chief Executive, Independent Schools Council (ISC) Supporting character development in a 46 boarding school Paul Sanderson, Headmaster, Bloxham School Building resilience in boarding schools 48 Thomas Garnier, Headmaster, Pangbourne College Boarding schools and philanthropy: 50 engendering an ethos of kindness and compassion Matthew Godfrey, Senior Deputy Head, Downe House School Looking after children and young people’s 54 mental health after COVID-19 David Walker, Deputy Head (Pastoral and Wellbeing), Wellington College The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award 59 – making a difference to young people’s lives Ruth Marvel, CEO, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Learning modern foreign languages 62 at a boarding school Rachel Rees, Deputy Head Pastoral, Monmouth School for Girls Twenty-first century learning – embracing 66 technology to drive a culture of learning Louise Orton, Senior Deputy Head (Academic), Sherborne Girls The importance of creativity 68 Victoria Rose, Director of Art, Dauntsey’s Teaching empathy 70 Damian Todres, Director of Drama and Head of the Creative Arts Faculty, Wells Cathedral School Recognising the physical and mental 72 value of sport Rob Kift, Director of Sport, Hurst College The importance of pastoral care 74 Andrew Russell, Headmaster, St David’s College How boarding schools support military families 76 Anne Megdiche, Director of Admissions, Sherborne School Boarding in the North of England 78 Jeremy Walker, Head Master, St Peter’s School, York Boarding in Ireland 80 Brian Moore, Head of School and Senior School Principal, Rathdown School Sixth-form boarding 82 Andrew Reeve, Deputy Head, Gordon’s School Boarding at sixth-form colleges 86 Dr Julian Davies, Principal, Abbey College, Cambridge BSA Certified Agent and Guardian schemes 88 Caroline Nixon, International and Membership Director, Boarding Schools’ Association (BSA) and Director, British Association of Independent Schools with International Students BSA certified guardians 89 BSA certified agents 89
Photo with kind permission of Hazlegrove School
Preparatory schools The advantages of starting boarding in a 90 prep school Christopher King, Chief Executive, Independent Association of Prep Schools (IAPS) The popularity of prep school boarding 92 Dr Trevor Richards, Head, All Hallows Preparatory School The benefits of prep school boarding 94 Robert Lankester, Headmaster, Maidwell Hall Music – an important part of the 96 boarding experience Gareth Jones, Headmaster, Bilton Grange Outdoor learning – ‘rewilding’ pupils 98 Will Frost, Head of Geography and Outdoor Learning, Salisbury Cathedral School Using robotics, 3D printing and computing in 100 a prep school Olly Langton, Headmaster, Belhaven Hill School How boarding schools support children’s 102 mental and emotional development Fred de Falbe, Headmaster, Beeston Hall Responsibility versus maturity – when to 104 introduce more freedom to prep school boarders Paddy Moss, Headmaster, Dean Close Preparatory School Preparing pupils for the transition to 106 senior schools Simone Mitchell, Deputy Head, Director of Teaching and Learning, Swanbourne House School Senior schools What does a bespoke education actually mean? 108 Jo Cameron, Principal, Queenswood School Girls and STEAM subjects 110 Olivera Raraty, Headmistress, Malvern St James Girls’ School Boarding as preparation for twenty-first 114 century life Lisa Kerr, Principal, Gordonstoun What do we mean by a boarder’s progress and 116 how do schools measure it? Chris Hillman, Deputy Head Academic, Godolphin School Celebrating difference in a boarding 118 environment David Mulae, Assistant Head, Pastoral and Simon Bird, Deputy Head, Cranleigh School The individual nurturing and development 120 of boarding pupils Helen Harrison, Head, Fettes College Special educational needs and disabilities Educational provision for pupils with special 124 educational needs and disabilities David Smellie, Partner, Farrer & Co Special educational needs provision in 126 boarding schools Sally Moore, Head of Learning Support, Fulneck School What is CReSTeD and how does it help 128 boarding families? Brendan Wignall, Headmaster, Ellesmere College and Chair, CReSTeD Provision in the independent sector for pupils 130 with special educational needs and disabilities Curriculum choices GCSEs and IGCSEs in a changed 131 curricular landscape Charlie Hammel, Deputy Head Academic, St Swithun’s School, Winchester Sixth form – future ready, set, go! 132 Rhiannon Wilkinson, Head, Ashville College Sixth-form programmes – the choice 134 Appendix School fee planning 135 Andrew Ashton, Bursar, Radley College Useful contacts 137 BSA member schools 138 THE BSA GUIDE TO BOARDING SCHOOLS • SPRING 2023 / 03

Dear parent,

Welcome to this Guide to boarding schools. We hope it helps you navigate through the sometimes uncertain terrain of choosing a school. And if you are uncertain about your choices, if you consider your journey as a dark and tricky path, then boarding is perhaps that well-lit, welcoming guest house you suddenly encounter as you come round the bend on your path. Lovely staff, good food, a warm bed – and some pretty good education thrown in too!

On a recent school visit, I met a charming young boarder in first year sixth form. He explained that although he had not always been a boarder at his school, he had been a pupil since the age of three! To have already clocked up 14 years at the same school by age 17 (82 per cent of his whole life) might be unusual, but it also reinforces two positive aspects of boarding education – continuity and stability.

I had experienced five different schools by the time I arrived at my sixth as a boarder, aged 13. Everyone knows how turbulent, confusing and hard the teenage years can be, so to settle down for five years at my final school was a rare moment of stability. And to spend all that time as a boarder, clear and settled in my termtime routines and structures, surrounded by 50-plus likeminded souls, only served to reinforce that stability and continuity.

In this Guide you will read about pretty much every type of boarding school there is on offer. Large, small, rural, city, specialist, all-round, single-sex, co-ed, senior, junior, state and independent. Such a range of choices may seem a little overwhelming, and you will need to be organised and clear-headed as you approach the selection and application process.

Whatever school you choose (and make that a joint decision with your child, not for them), you can take comfort in the fact that the boarding experience will be grounding, developmental, supportive and positive –in fact, a beacon of calm in an otherwise turbulent sea.

It’s many decades since the external world has seemed so uncertain. Conflict, inflation, energy crises and industrial action are all competing for attention in a way not seen since the 1970s. As nations across the world grapple with the short-term pressures of prices, government spending and supporting a rising bill to keep its citizens healthy, leaders are also navigating the longer-term challenges of societal change and climate change.

Against such a shifting domestic and world backdrop, it’s never been more important as a parent to work with your child to find the right school for them. There has perhaps also never been a better time to look at boarding school as a well-proven way to support your child, and, in some small way, protect them from the buffeting winds outside.

Best wishes,

The BSA Guide to Boarding Schools is a trade mark owned by BSA Group.

Published by: BSA Group

Bluett House Unit 11–12 Manor Farm


Basingstoke RG25 2JB

+44 (0)207 798 1580

Chief Executive:

Robin Fletcher


Sheila White

Head of Commercial:

Neil Rust

The information and views in this Guide were correct to the best of the Editor’s and Publisher’s belief at the time of going to press and no responsibility can be accepted for out-of-date information, errors or omissions. While every effort has been made, it may not always have been possible to trace all copyright holders. If any omissions are brought to our attention, we will be happy to include appropriate acknowledgements in the next edition of the Guide. The BSA Guide to Boarding Schools is published twice a year by BSA Group, a company registered in England and Wales. Registered number: 4676107. All rights reserved. No part of this Guide may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form without written permission from the Publisher.

Front cover photo with kind permission of Canford School

THE BSA GUIDE TO BOARDING SCHOOLS • SPRING 2023 / 05 What the Good Schools Guide Says The Headmaster’s Welcome An HMC boarding and day school educating 370 boys and girls aged 13 to 18. To arrange a visit to the School and have a tour with the Headmaster, or to arrange a video call, please contact the Registrar, Gilly Bunday /KingsBruton @KingsBruton @KingsBruton /KingsBruton1519 This is King's Bruton Homeport Winter 2022.indd 1 16/11/2022 10:50:24



Sherborne Prep recently welcomed Leonardo Helicopters to campus for a Junior Maths Day organised by Head of Maths, Martin Stepney. Year 3, 4 and 5 pupils were split into their four houses, and rotated around four different activities, all based on the theme of shape and measure: staircase investigations, tessellations, constructing 3D shapes and helicopter blade design.

The pupils had the opportunity to work in teams of three to design three helicopter blades using paper and a combination of weighted materials including paper clips, blu tack and sellotape. They were encouraged to be creative with their designs, which were then judged by staff from Leonardo’s at the end of their sessions.

The sessions encouraged the children to develop their teamwork skills, creativity and thinking skills, particularly in their lesson with Leonardo’s, as they soon discovered that a few of the intricate blade designs wouldn’t fly for long periods, when compared to simpler, symmetrical designs.

Martin Stepney, Head of Maths said: “The success of our themed Maths day was reflected in every child. Pupils from Years 3 to 5 were excited, engaged and entranced by the variety of activities that took place. The realisation on their faces when they discovered they were learning mathematical concepts from food, helicopters and games of Tetris told me everything! They loved it! Special thanks go to the members of staff for organising their activities as well as Leonardo Helicopter manufacturers for their fantastic propeller designs and flying activity.”

Overall, this was an excellent day for our pupils and we hope to work with Leonardo Helicopters again soon.


Eleven-year-old Izzy Williams took on the adults at this year’s Horse of the Year Show in Birmingham and incredibly came within one mark of the winner in the Working Hunter Pony competition.

The budding equestrian, who started riding when she was two, attends St Swithun’s School in Winchester. She and her Mountain Moorland pony Hugo qualified for the competition last August and she has spent weeks preparing for the ride of her young life.

Headmistress at St Swithun’s, Ms Jane Gandee, said that pupils and staff at the school were proud of Izzy’s achievement. “Izzy has been a pupil at St Swithun’s since reception. After joining the senior school last month Izzy is already showing that serious hobbies, working hard and having fun are not mutually exclusive. We look forward to seeing Izzy’s riding career progress.”

The new sports hub at Gordon’s School, serving both students of the school and the local community, was officially opened in January 2023 by His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex, who also met students and staff on site and unveiled a plaque to mark the occasion. Completed in 2020, the sports hub incorporates a sports hall, an all-weather pitch, changing rooms and a café, and complements the already extensive sporting facilities at this co-educational state boarding school in West End, Surrey.

The Earl was received by Gordon Foundation Vice President and His Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey, Michael More-Molyneaux, who presented Gordon’s student Leonor Nunes, a Lord-Lieutenant’s Cadet, Headmaster Andrew Moss and Director of Sport Jamie Harrison. During his visit, the Earl met students who were using the equipment in the newly built fitness suite, indoor rowing centre and sports hall, as well as those playing rugby and football on the sports pitches.

Rowers are currently preparing for the National Indoor Rowing Championships and the Earl heard that as well as training in the mornings from 6.15am, they are also back in the ergo centre in the evenings after school. Three times Olympics cox Alan Inns, who coaches the students, said afterwards: “His Royal Highness certainly knows about boats and the positions in them”. In addition to chatting to players and teaching staff, His Royal Highness enjoyed the opportunity to take on some of the students in a game of table tennis!

The Earl of Wessex, who last visited the school in October 2014 for the unveiling of the restored statue of General Gordon on a camel, also spent time with the school’s student wellbeing prefects and mental health first aiders and learned about how pastoral staff care for boarding students, particularly those whose families are in the Armed Forces. Gordon’s School is a non-selective state day and boarding school. It was voted Boarding School of the Year in the TES Schools Awards 2022 and judged outstanding by Ofsted in the last

four inspections. The school has 946 students and almost 300 are boarders. Half of those boarding are from military families. The Earl heard how houseparents Sam and Daisy Cooper help the 11 year olds from these families as they start their boarding journey, and about the school’s package of support for their mental wellbeing.

Sport is a vital part of the school’s commitment to supporting students’ mental wellbeing as well as their physical and emotional development. Every student has the opportunity to take part in some form of sport or activity daily, with a choice of over 50. Thanks to the new sports hall, further sports have been added to the list such as badminton, futsal, table tennis and indoor cricket and Year 7 boarders enthusiastically demonstrated one of their favourite weekend activities, dodgeball.

In 2020 Gordon’s formed a partnership with Harlequins, providing a DiSE (Diploma in Sporting Excellence) programme for talented 16 to 18 year olds wishing to pursue a career in professional rugby while receiving an excellent education. During the visit, His Royal Highness met students on the Harlequins Partnership Programme getting ready for their 7s tour to Portugal and hoping to emulate the two who left Gordon’s last Summer with contracts for the Harlequins Senior Academy and more recently selections to play for their country.

The school also partners Aldershot Town FC, whose players train on the 3G pitch and use the sports hub four or five times a week through the season. The Earl met some of the Vanarama National League’s U21s players and the club’s Chairman Shahid Azeem, a Trustee of the Gordon Foundation, Vice President of the Community Foundation of Surrey and former High Sheriff of Surrey. Participation in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme is strongly encouraged at Gordon’s as a means of building skills in students such as teamwork, survival and leadership. This year over 100 Year 9 students have started their journey towards their Bronze Awards. The Earl of Wessex spent time talking to some of the Year 10 students taking their Silver Awards about their early morning training sessions and the command and leadership tasks they were demonstrating.



A large number of musicians will be representing Wells Cathedral School in national-level ensembles and choirs this year, both in the UK and beyond.

Five pupils from Wells have obtained places in the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain (NYO), the country’s flagship orchestra for amazingly talented young musicians. Among the five Wells pupils, particular congratulations must go to Defne A, who has been appointed Principal Harp, and will be a member of the orchestra for a second year. Defne’s “golden shoes” are famous within the school, and audiences across the country will enjoy both hearing and seeing her!

Across the channel, violinist Hannah K has been given a place as the youngest member of the National Youth Orchestra of the Netherlands. Last year she played in front of the Dutch Royal Family in the Amare, the new concert hall in the Hague.

Closer to home, no fewer than seven pupils have been offered places in the National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain (NCO), while a further four younger pupils from the Prep School have all been invited to join “NCO Projects”, a fabulous initiative that provides an excellent training ground for the older age banded orchestras.

Wells singers are also finding their voice in some of the UK’s top choirs. Three pupils have been invited to join the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, while two of our sixth formers have been offered places in the prestigious Rodolfus Choir, which helps talented singers aged 16 to 23 bridge the gap between school and university.

Director of Music, Alex Laing said: “We are so proud of all our musicians here at Wells. It is lovely to know that the School is helping to produce young musicians recognised as amongst the finest in the land”.


At Wycliffe, specialist Overseas University Co-ordinator Ms Miller has been very busy supporting US university applicants with SAT, PSAT and ACT preparation courses, exam writing and advising families on US sports governing bodies processes. As one of a few US exam host centres in the UK, Wycliffe is in a strong position to help its scholars pursue their US university dreams.

Rachel originally had a place at Yale but decided to take a gap year to pursue a six-month art internship at Christie’s. Her experience at Christie’s enthused her love of art history. She reapplied through our US university programme and is due to start at Harvard as an Art History scholar.

Yasmin joined Wycliffe with the ambition to go to the US to row. Working with her rowing coaches, she focused her attention on the rankings list. At Henley, Ms Miller introduced her and her family to US coaches and supported them throughout the two-year application process. Yasmin has recently signed her National Letter of Intent with The University of Texas at Austin and is looking forward to becoming a Texas Longhorn.

It is not just rowers and art historians heading over the pond. Ksenia recently joined her old Wycliffian squash teammates Harry and Jack at St Lawrence University, New York. With ex-Wycliffian squash coach David Morrish recently accepting the Head Squash Coach position at the University, we are sure they will be familiar with the rigorous training schedule he will offer.


More than 200 pupils took to the stage for Dauntsey’s annual Lower School Dance Show. It was an entertaining and uplifting evening as pupils performed a total of 17 dances, based around the theme of ‘Legends’. The performances showcased a number of different dance genres including classical, street dance and contemporary, and pupils performed with confidence, energy and enthusiasm, showcasing all they have learnt since the start of the school year.

The show was opened by the Lower School Dance Company who performed an upbeat and impressive dance to ‘Another one bites the dust’. There was then a playful tribute to the Royal Family and Queen Elizabeth II then the Boys Dance Club took the audience back to the 80s with a slickly choreographed performance to ‘Beat It’ and the Third Form Dance Company impressed with a superb display of talent and passion.

Antony Edwards, Head of Dance at Dauntsey’s, said: “The annual Dance Show requires all of our First Form and Second Form to perform – many of the pupils in the First Form may not have had any previous dance experience, so to see them up on the stage, performing in front of a large audience is incredible. All of the pupils fully embraced this opportunity, getting involved in the choreography and really thinking about how we could bring the theme of legends to life. It was a fantastic show and I am so proud of them all.”

A parent who attended the show said: “Since September I have watched my son develop confidence and a love and appreciation of dance and it was incredible to see that all come together on stage. The excitement and energy from all of the pupils was just brilliant –what a lot of talent in one room!”

At Dauntsey’s, pupils can take Dance as a GCSE and A-level option, with street, jazz, contemporary and ballet all being popular studies.

Mr Olly Langton, Headmaster at Belhaven Hill School, is keen to ensure environmental issues are part of the curriculum. That’s why the East Lothian school has planted a native woodland, become a plastics-free school and updated its sustainability policy.

Belhaven was nominated a runner-up for an Eco Warrior Award in the Tatler Schools Awards 2023 for prep schools that have gone green and champion environmentally-friendly initiatives. Part of Belhaven’s sustainability policy has been to plant a woodland with native saplings. “The native saplings were locally sourced from Cheviot Trees, and consist of a mixture of beech, oak, silver birch, crab apple and aspen,” says Mr Langton. “The design of the plantation sees the trees curve towards a focal point, lined along a winding path between two gates built into a deer-fenced rectangle. In the south-east corner, a mound of earth will provide a look-out point and guard a camping area for the children. The site has one of the best views in East Lothian over the Bass Rock and Tantallon Castle. The land itself, the crucial first ingredient, has been generously donated to the school by the McNicol family at Castleton Farm, North Berwick.”

“Every child in the school was given his or her own sapling and instructions on how to plant it. Passing the spade down the line after use, the children dug a hole, inserted the sapling and replaced the soil around the tree before protecting it with a tree-guard attached to a wooden stake. These stakes were then named (some very extravagantly!) as everyone took ownership of their part in a collaborative project.” The new native woodland is part of the Queen’s Green Canopy and creates an area for observation and education which will grow over the decades. “Partnerships with local schools and wildlife organisations to allow for combined use of this area will enhance Belhaven pupils’ education as well as adding to the thriving community spirit,” concludes Mr Langton. “As part of our stated aim and our cherished status as a Green Flag and eco-friendly school, this project has enormous potential and is something of which everyone involved should feel extremely proud.”


Three schools, one town


Sherborne is a town unlike any other. Located in beautiful rural surroundings, with easy transport links to London and regional hubs, it hosts three leading independent schools.

Sherborne Prep offers education for boys and girls from age three to 13, providing the perfect foundation for a life of learning, growth and wellbeing.

Sherborne Girls is a full-boarding school, providing an all-round education which is second to none and a vibrant co-curriculum in a purposeful and outward-looking community.

Sherborne School is a full-boarding school for boys, offering a first-class education with outstanding co-curricular opportunities.

Now, these three schools work more closely than ever. Sherborne School and Sherborne Prep merged in 2021, ensuring they make the best use of shared resources to enhance the educational experience for all pupils.

They work in close partnership with Sherborne Girls to ensure that every pupil across the three schools has access to the best teaching, modern and well-equipped facilities, and the most stimulating experiences.

Thanks to this close partnership, Sherborne provides a unique offer: a high-quality education for boys and girls from pre-prep all the way to school-leaving age, in a town that is vibrant yet safe, accessible yet located in glorious scenery.

It is a place where young people grow together, as well as benefiting from the advantages of single-sex education at senior school. A place where their social skills develop by the day, where they are challenged, inspired and encouraged to thrive.

Sherborne is a place of shared becoming, where pupils of all ages form dispositions, enthusiasms and skills that stay with them forever.


Sherbor ne Prep Acreman Street Sherborne Dorset DT9 3NY

admissions@sherborneprep org 01935 810911

Sherbor ne Girls Bradford Road

Sherborne Dorset DT9 3QN

admissions@sherborne com 01935 818224

Sherbor ne School Abbey Road

Sherborne Dorset DT9 3LF

admissions@sherborne org 01935 810403

its hear
S H E R B O R N E A town with learning at
www.sherbor SPRING 2023 / 11

Boarding schools continue to be popular in the twenty-first century, offering exceptional education and extracurricular activities with round-the-clock pastoral care.

The 2022 ISC Census shows that 69,937 pupils were registered to board at any point during the 2021–22 academic year. Overall, 441 schools, representing 32 per cent of all ISC schools, have some boarding pupils.

Parents are able to choose between different types of boarding to suit their child. Although full boarding remains most popular overall, the pattern appears to be changing with weekly and flexi boarding becoming more popular. In 2016, 15.7 per cent of boarders were weekly or flexi boarders. In 2022, the figure was 22.8 per cent. Many working parents value the flexibility of these boarding options.

There are variations between different age groups. For the sector as a whole, 12 per cent of pupils at ISC schools board. At sixth

Headmaster, Harrow School, 1999–2011 and Chairman, Independent Schools Council (ISC)

form this proportion more than doubles to three in ten of all pupils. For junior pupils this proportion is significantly lower, with only 2 per cent of pupils boarding.

International pupils bring a global perspective to our schools and enrich the community. The 2022 ISC Census shows there are 25,079 non-British pupils at ISC schools whose parents live overseas. Pupils from Hong Kong comprise the largest group in this category, with 5,845 pupils.

The parents of these pupils choose British schools because they are keen for their children to master the English language, they understand the significance of extra-curricular activities as part of a wide education, and they know attending a British school may be the best way to gain admission to a British university.

Some boarding and day schools have set up franchise schools abroad. While I was headmaster at Harrow, we built schools in Thailand, Beijing and Hong Kong. These

schools pay a fee to the British school which helps to keep down the fees paid by parents and can be used to fund transformational bursaries at the school. In return, the British school provides advice and monitors the franchise school in a way which guarantees standards.

In 2021, average fee increases were 1.7 per cent. A total of 179,768 pupils now receive help with their fees, representing 35 per cent of all pupils. The value of this help totals over £1.1 billion, an increase of 4.3 per cent on the previous year.


What about boarding schools??

This reflects the long-term aim of our schools to increase bursary provision and widen access. Over the last 15 years, there has been a consistent trend of schools providing increasing amounts of fee assistance to pupils.

More than 40,000 pupils receive meanstested bursaries, valued at £480 million in 2021. The average bursary is worth £10,840 per pupil per year.

‘Photo with kind permission of Gordon’s School

Renowned for our warm and welcoming boarding community, Kingswood offers an exceptional education of depth and breadth.

Choosing from a wide range of enrichment opportunities, our students achieve outstanding results, with over 90% receiving offers to their first choice university. Visit us to find out more.

? An Independent Co-educational Boarding & Day School for pupils aged 9 months - 18 years A co-educational independent school for nine months – 18 years in Bath
SPRING 2023 / 13
To arrange a visit: 01749 834441
Wellsisavibrantcitysurrounded bystunningcountryside “Excellent all-round education set in fabulous groundswithinthebeautifulcityofWells.” - Current parent Nursery - Pre-Prep - Prep - Senior - Sixth Form
The Best of Both Worlds


Boarding schools have many advantages:

• They are able to offer a wide range of extra-curricular activities to a high proportion of pupils because more time is spent by pupils on the school grounds. They also tend to attract staff who want to be involved in sport, music or drama at a high level.

• Boarding schools take pupils from all over the country and all over the world. This is a valuable educational experience in itself: the opportunity to know people from many walks of life and from many different cultures.

• And of course, boarders do not have to travel to school, something which can be challenging in some parts of the country.


The boarding environment is positive and fun, but remember:

• Boarding houses can be noisy places full of other children.

• Being away from home will be a new experience for children and their parents.

• Boarding requires substantial investment. However, overall more than a third of ISC school pupils receive help with their fees.

Choosing to board is a personal decision for parents to make with their child – and with support and advice from their chosen school. Every school is different and details of individual schools can be found on their websites, or through the Independent Schools Council (ISC) website.


The ISC is a membership organisation that brings together seven education associations and works on behalf of more than 1,390 independent fee-charging schools in the United Kingdom, which educate more than 500,000 children every year. The ISC has three main functions, covering policy and public affairs, media and communications, and research and data. The aim of the ISC is to be a service organisation, promoting and protecting the independent education sector.

Importantly for our members, the ISC provides a central base in London where all types of independent schools (prep schools, mixed and single-sex, academically selective and non-selective, day and boarding) can come together to discuss issues of common interest. Parents can find information about all ISC schools at

Barnaby Lenon won the Cambridge University Prize for Education, taught at Eton for 12 years, was Deputy Head of Highgate School, Headmaster of Trinity School Croydon and Head of Harrow (12 years). For eight years he was the founding chair of the London Academy of Excellence, a state free school in East London. He has been a governor of 22 schools and is a trustee of the 12 independent and state schools in the King Edward’s Birmingham Foundation. For six years he was on the board of Ofqual.

He is Professor of Education at the University of Buckingham, Chairman of the Independent Schools Council (ISC) and a trustee of the charity Yellow Submarine. He has published two books, Much Promise: successful schools in England and Other People’s Children: what happens to the academically least successful 50%? He is one of the most widely quoted educationalists in the media. In 2019, he was awarded a CBE for services to education.

THE BSA GUIDE TO BOARDING SCHOOLS • SPRING 2023 / CHOOSING AND ASSESSING SCHOOLS / 15 A co-educational day and state boarding school for students aged 11-18. Set in the idyllic Cotswolds, Burford School offers an afforable option for parents seeking a boarding school with high standards of education, without compromise on enrichment and care. 01993 823283 Book your place online now | or email GET BADM INTO N OUR COMMUNITY Holistic education for girls aged 3-18 in the leafy suburb of Bristol. Whole School Open Day: Monday 1 May 2023 Or book a private tour at your convenience. FeaturedonCBBC’s ‘OurBoarding School’


boarding school?

What makes a good boarding school? Visiting a school certainly gives you a sense of the atmosphere, grounds and local area and you should try to visit if possible. I always think choosing a school is like buying a new house – you may not immediately know you want it but you usually know if you don’t want it within the first few minutes of walking in!

On a visit to a prospective school, look at the way pupils treat each other and the staff – and by this, I mean all staff whether they are the Head or Head Groundsperson. Look at how the staff treat the pupils and the relationships pupils have with each other. Are the classrooms vibrant, energetic and pupil-focused? Are the pupils clearly enjoying stimulating and active lessons? Are the boarding houses warm, friendly and welcoming? Is there an obvious pride in the appearance of the school and the way in which the grounds and buildings are looked after and presented? These are some of the questions I ask myself when walking around a school and they give a good insight into the school’s values and ethos.

In any good school, pupils should be able to achieve their academic potential, and it should be a given that

the value-added scores for all boarding pupils are significantly higher than the national average. The smaller class sizes, individualised approach and careful monitoring by tutors and housemasters and housemistresses in the evenings ensure pupils are supported and well taught. However, a good boarding school will do much more than this. It will inspire pupils’ love of learning, develop their creativity of thought and give them opportunities to develop independence in their education and more generally in their lives. Good boarding schools see the academic side of the school as not just a discrete stage in an education on the way to university, but as part of the educational journey that continues for the rest of a pupil’s life. A boarding education gives pupils the skills and attributes they need to thrive at university and in the twenty-first century world.

SPRING 2023 / 17


A key outcome of a good education is the development of lifelong learners. This means developing a mindset that we can always do better and creating a desire to improve our skills, attributes and approach to solving problems and overcoming obstacles. Genuinely producing lifelong learners is not simply about cramming for exams and teaching to the test. It is about inspiring pupils, enthusing them to work independently and empowering them to question, be self-critical and stand up for what they believe in.

Another essential element of a good boarding school is the excellent pastoral care provided by the ‘school family’. As well as being in smaller class sizes, boarders receive pastoral support from housemasters and housemistresses, tutors, the school chaplain, counsellors and the medical team, all working together to ensure that every individual pupil is known, appreciated, supported and developed.

Children must be given opportunities to stretch themselves, be independent and fail – the last being a really important element of education. In a good boarding school, pupils can do this in a safe and nurturing environment that can provide a high level

of support when needed. Learning how to accept defeat – and also learning how to win magnanimously – is taught through co-curricular programmes. Team sports develop camaraderie, leadership, teamwork and communication but a good boarding school also has a broad programme of activities in the evenings and weekends, catering for all pupils. This gives pupils opportunities to thrive in all areas, not just on the sports field. Expressing yourself creatively is an important part of any holistic education and so opportunities for art, music and drama are in abundance. Not all pupils want a starring or lead role, so you may also look for opportunities offered in, for example, scriptwriting, filmmaking and sound and lighting.

A good boarding school ensures pupils feel valued and an integral part of their school community, with an understanding of their role in the local and global community and a wide perspective on their individual responsibility to society. This comes partly from the charity and service opportunities in the school, but also from living in a diverse pupil population. Living in a boarding house encourages tolerance and an appreciation of difference. It allows pupils to develop their emotional intelligence and to recognise when others need support or are struggling – the bonds of friendship developed during boarding can last a lifetime. Soft

are developed both explicitly and implicitly and these give boarding pupils a real advantage in the future – in their personal and public lives.

skills Barney Durrant became Head of St Lawrence College in 2020, arriving from the new Harrow Hong Kong school, where he established the pastoral structures and systems as Principal Deputy Head. Before that he was a Housemaster and Head of Geography at Stowe School. Both he and his wife started boarding at the age of seven – as his parents worked in Development and his wife’s father was in the Gurkhas. Having both travelled a lot when younger, they appreciated, and fully understand, the importance of stability throughout their educational careers and Barney aims to provide that at St Lawrence College (where all three of his children attend).
your remarkable Discover future New Sixth Form Opening 2024 Girls ❘ Boys ❘ Sixth Flexi Boarding from Year 7 • Weekly and Full Boarding from Year 9 30 mins from London Euston 40 mins from London Heathrow SPRING 2023 / 19

Boarding school inspections

All boarding schools in the UK, state or independent, undergo some form of inspection of their boarding facilities, prioritising outcomes for children and young people and focusing on other key areas such as premises, facilities, policies and procedures.


From September 2023 all boarding schools in membership of one of the five independent school associations (GSA, HMC, IAPS, ISA, Society of Heads) will be inspected every three years by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) under a new framework called Framework 23, to be published in Spring 2023.

Boarding inspection is carried out by a specialist team of boarding inspectors from the ISI. Inspection of boarding takes place alongside the inspection of education provision. The new framework is to be published on the ISI website, along with all current and future school inspection reports for each provider. ISI categorises provision as either excellent, good, sound or unsatisfactory.

State boarding providers and all independent providers who are not members of one of the associations listed above have their boarding inspected by Ofsted, using Ofsted’s Social Care Common Inspection Framework (SCCIF). Boarding is inspected by a team of specialist social care inspectors. The boarding inspection may be standalone or it may be aligned with the inspection of education provision by the relevant Ofsted team. Provision is judged to be outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate. A small number of independent boarding schools are classified as special schools and these have an annual social care inspection. Ofsted reports are publicly available


although most schools have separate reports for their boarding and education provision and these can sometimes be difficult to navigate.

Common to both inspectorates are the National Minimum Standards for Boarding Schools, which are published by Department for Education (DfE) and were last updated in 2022. Part A of the new 2022 standards focuses on governance, leadership and management, with the aim that ‘the leadership, management and governance of the school enables a culture to thrive which is child-centred, safeguards children’s wellbeing and is ambitious for the progress of every child. Monitoring and accountability is strong and adds value’. Further sections of the standards highlight boarding provision; health and wellbeing; safeguarding; health and safety; boarders rights, advocacy and complaints; promoting positive behaviour and relationships; activities and free time; staff recruitment and checks on other adults; and lodgings and host families. The other key document is Keeping Children Safe in Education, which is also published by DfE. This is updated every September and applies to all schools.

If a school is found to be non-compliant, DfE may direct the inspectorates to conduct additional or progress monitoring inspections. The school may also be required to produce an action plan showing how the shortfalls identified will be rectified.


In Scotland, Education Scotland inspects all education provision. The Care Inspectorate inspects boarding, using both the Health and Social Care Standards and its own quality framework. Schools are assessed against a six-point scale for quality of care and support; quality of environment; quality of staffing; and quality of management and leadership. Schools are also required to follow other guidance, such as the National Guidance on Child Protection


Independent and state schools in Wales have their education provision inspected by Estyn, the education and training inspectorate. Boarding schools in Wales have additional residential inspections from Care Inspectorate Wales, who use the National Minimum Standards for Boarding Schools (Wales) as a baseline. At the time of writing, these standards are being reviewed and may change. Reports comment on wellbeing, care and support, leadership and management and the school environment.

Dale Wilkins Senior Director of Boarding Schools’ Association (BSA)


There are very few boarding schools in Northern Ireland, and these receive visits from the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA). RQIA evaluates the degree to which care at the school is safe, effective, compassionate and well led.


The Isle of Man also has a separate set of boarding standards.


BSA has its own set of voluntary accreditation standards for boarding schools outside the UK to use.


In terms of supporting schools, BSA liaises closely with the relevant government department and with the inspectorates. BSA Group also provides targeted training and bespoke consultancy across the whole range of quality and compliance issues which boarding schools face. This includes an extensive range of webinars, day seminars and conferences, both face-to face and virtual, with the majority now online. We have extended our reach to over 1500 settings in 39 countries. At the programme’s core is the ground-breaking series of certificate and diploma courses, which have been at the heart of best practice in the sector for 25 years, and central to the Group’s mission to support excellence in boarding, safeguarding, inclusion and health education.

Dale Wilkins became a boarding tutor at Norwich School in 1987, shortly after taking up a post there as a language teacher. From 1990 to 1992, he and his wife ran a junior girls’ boarding house at Tettenhall College, before moving to Old Swinford Hospital, a state boarding school where Dale was Housemaster of both senior and junior boys’ houses, Director of Boarding, Deputy Head and Designated Safeguarding Lead. From 1998 he was also involved with BSA as a course tutor and in 2002 he was among the first group of boarding inspectors trained to inspect against the then new NMS. Since 2017 he has worked full-time for BSA, originally as Head of Safeguarding and Standards and now, as Senior Director. Dale lives in Stourbridge in the West Midlands, close to his former school. Dale is also a Deputy District Commissioner for the Scout Association, Chair of Youth Services for the Rotary Club of Stourbridge, and Chair of the Friends of Dudley Performing Arts, the music, art and drama service for schools in Dudley Borough. He enjoys travel and is a former sports coach and referee, who still plays cricket occasionally.

Photos with kind permission of St John’s College, Southsea

The importance of good governance

Graham Able Group Deputy Chairman, Alpha Plus

Many parents do not research closely the composition of the governing board when they are considering a school for their child. Yet the role of governors is critical to the success of a school.

In most independent schools, the governing board appoints the Head and will have a major input to the appointment of the Bursar or equivalent. These appointments are key to the school’s performance, both academically and in terms of financial viability. Prospective parents should satisfy themselves that the school is likely to deliver a good education appropriate to their child and remain financially viable. Governors are also responsible for agreeing the school budget, determining the salaries of the Head and Bursar and setting fees; this latter function is of definite interest to most parents! In a boarding context, it is particularly important to note governors are also ultimately responsible for safeguarding and health and safety.

The nature of governance has changed considerably over the last 30 years. The role of governors was once just to appoint the Head and give general support. They are now better described as a board of specialist non-executive directors helping to run a mid-sized company with the Head as chief executive and the Bursar or Business Manager as finance director.


Governors need to act as ‘critical friends’ to their ‘chief executive’ and to do so effectively they need to be well-informed and with sufficient experience and knowledge between them to ask the right questions and interrogate the responses thoroughly. To monitor the progress of the school, governors need to take time to observe lessons and activities and to attend school functions outside their termly board and committee meetings. They should be visible but careful not to cross the line between non-executive and executive functions. The number of governors’ committees will vary from school to school. Finance, property/ development and academic committees

are common to most schools – they allow governors with particular expertise to look and advise in more detail in specialist areas. If the governing body is functioning well, the work of these committees will make full board meetings more focused and effective.

The range of expertise needed on a governing body will vary a little according to the type and age-range of school, but all schools will need governors with specialist knowledge of finance and business, law, property, marketing and education. It is also important for some governors to be in touch with the local community. Whereas it is relevant for prep and senior schools to have someone with school headship experience on the board, a senior school will additionally benefit from a governor with university connections. In many boarding schools, one governor will have a special responsibility for liaison with the boarding houses, and it is helpful if this person has some relevant experience of boarding education.


Opinions vary about parents as governors. I have always favoured having a current parent on the board, but one elected by the board for his or her expertise rather than a ‘representative’ parent governor elected by the PTA. The latter approach looks very democratic but tends to produce governors with a specific agenda – and possibly without any of the desired specialist skills – and this may not be in the best interests of the school as a whole.

It is important governing boards do not become self-perpetuating oligarchies. There should be clear criteria for the appointment of a new governor and a desired skill set agreed before the board seeks suitable candidates. The alumni and parent (past and present) body will provide a rich source of appropriate

talent but there should also be some ‘outside’ influence on the board to ensure it does not become too inward-looking.

The best boards will have defined terms which governors may serve and will take care in succession planning. Most boards are probably too large and, like turkeys at Christmas, are disinclined to vote for their own culling. No school needs more than 12 governors and 14 is certainly too many. The largest boards often contain governors nominated by groups associated with the school. These nominees may not cover the range of desired skills so the board has expanded in order to address this. Governors must keep up to date with all regulatory changes and ensure safeguarding and health and safety matters are regularly addressed. So it is important for governing bodies to ensure they receive sufficient training where appropriate.

Governance is judged as part of the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) or Ofsted inspection process. Governing boards which cannot demonstrate a good knowledge of their schools and a proper contribution to strategic decisions are likely to be downgraded and criticised in the inspection report. Most schools now list their governors with details of their specialisms on the school website, so, when considering a school, it is certainly worth taking the time to check their credentials and assess their suitability to govern.

Graham Able has spent 40 years in independent schools, the last 22 as Headmaster of Hampton School and then Master of Dulwich College. After retiring from Dulwich he was appointed Chief Executive of the Alpha Plus Group, stepping down from this role in 2014 since when he has been Group Deputy Chairman. Having previously served on the governing bodies of Roedean and Imperial College, he was a governor of Gresham’s School from 2013 to 2020 and is a governor of Beeston Hall, where he was once a pupil and is now Vice-Chairman. A former chairman of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC), he has advised governing boards on their structure and effectiveness.

Enjoy our 360 virtual tour at

To fi nd out more about boarding places for pupils aged 13-18, email

In the 2022 The Sunday Times Parent Power league table, Freemen’s ranks 14 th in the UK amongst co-educational independent schools for results at GCSE. Known for academic excellence, Freemen’s is a day and boarding school for boys and girls aged 7-18. Set in 57 acres of beautiful Surrey countryside, we are just 30 minutes from London and only 40 minutes from both Gatwick and Heathrow airports.

WWW.FREEMENS.ORG ADMISSIONS@FREEMENS.ORG CALL US ON + 44 (0)1372 822423 Don’t just imagine a future at
experience it.
SPRING 2023 / 23

School visits: questions and answers

Choosing the right school for your son or daughter is one of the most difficult decisions a parent must make. The school’s website and prospectus will give you a flavour of the school and its defining characteristics. But a visit to the school is vital. This is where you and your child can assess whether they will fit the environment (and more importantly, whether it will fit them). It is important not to become too fixed on a particular school and forget to consider your individual child’s needs. And if you have more than one child, the school you choose will not necessarily suit all of your children.

Visits to a school should be in three parts: an initial visit, an open day visit and a pupil taster day/overnight stay. Boarding schools enjoy having prospective pupils to visit and current pupils are usually pleased to give you their genuine view of the school.

Here are some questions you might want to ask about a school before and during a visit.


Q: What are the school’s entry requirements? Is our child likely to obtain a place, and when?

A: Most places will be available at the ages of 7, 8 and 11 for a prep school and 11, 13 and 16 for a senior school. You need to know whether to have alternative schools lined up, and at what age the school recommends entry and has places available.

Q: How does the school organise its 14 to 19 curriculum?

A: Larger schools may offer a range of options such as A levels, the International Baccalaureate and BTECs. Most schools will be attempting to broaden their sixth-form curriculum, introducing more skills-based courses and, in an A-level school, the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ).

Examination results are usually made available on the website. League tables should be treated with caution, as they do not give a rounded picture of the school’s real success or failure in enabling pupils to reach their full potential. The list of university entrants will give you an indication of pupils’ attainment and progress in the school. During the COVID-19 pandemic, schools marked the public examinations and these results were moderated by the examination boards. This means there is no national data for public examinations in 2020 and 2021.


Q: What are the key rules for boarders in the houses? Can we see a copy of the student and boarding handbooks?

A: A question for the boarding staff, as this is aimed at finding out as much as possible about the regime of the boarding house.

Q: What is the weekend programme for boarders and what activities are on offer? How many full boarders are there in school?

A: A question for the boarding staff, as this is aimed at finding out as much as possible about what boarders can do at weekends and the school’s ability to offer wider cultural and social opportunities for its boarders. If the school does not have lessons on Saturday mornings and does not have a co-curricular programme on a Saturday, it is important to find out what the boarding programme is from Friday after school until Sunday evening. Also, ask about numbers staying in the house over a typical weekend. It is particularly important to know how many other pupils are present at the weekend if your son or daughter is a full boarder.


I discovered my creative side

at The Leys




Achieve the exceptional at Cambridge’s leading co-educational boarding and day school for ages 11-18





SPRING 2023 / 25

Q: What is the school’s policy on use of the internet and mobile phones?

A: Does the school have realistic and sensible policies in place to monitor internet usage? Mobile phones can be useful, not least as a means of keeping in touch with parents, as long as rules on their use and security are in place and put into practice. Must boarders hand in their devices when they go to bed to ensure good sleep routines.

Q: What are the school’s policies on alcohol, drugs and smoking? Is the school facing any particular problems in any of these areas at present?

A: Every boarding school will have policies in place to cover these matters. The real question is how these issues are dealt with, and whether the individuals concerned learn from their mistakes. This is an opportunity to consider the school’s personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) programme and its health and safety and disciplinary policies, the medical and counselling services available, what happens if serious offences are committed, on what grounds a pupil may be temporarily or permanently excluded, and when this last happened. You should feel matters would be dealt with consistently, sympathetically but firmly and, above all, fairly.


Q: How can we be confident our child’s interests are protected at all times?

A: Schools are subject to rigorous child welfare legislation, regulation and inspection, which is entirely right and proper. The interests of the child are at the heart of a boarding education. All schools are required to have a safeguarding (child protection) policy and all staff should receive regular training in safeguarding. The school’s latest inspection report should provide further details.

Q: Who is the first staff member we should see if there is a problem?

A: The right member of staff can deal with many problems immediately. Knowing who that is and developing confidence in them is very important. Most boarding schools have very good pastoral care and counselling systems and knowing how these operate is important. This question will also allow you to find out how well the school communicates with parents, and what opportunities there are for visits to the school to meet your child’s housemaster/ housemistress, teachers and other parents.

Q: What are the communal areas in the boarding houses like?

A: This includes bathrooms (your child should have personal privacy) and common rooms. Does the house offer a variety of activities and options for pupils besides watching a screen?

Q: What leadership opportunities are available in house and in school?

A: It is really important that as many pupils as possible have the opportunity to represent their peers and the student voice. Most schools have a prefect/pupil leadership opportunity and there are also school councils, sports leaders and boarding representative bodies.

Q: How good is the catering? Do the boarders have an input into the choice of menu offered?

A: These are really questions for the boarder showing you around. The general standard of school catering is remarkably high and schools are very conscious of the need to maintain healthy diets. On an overnight taster stay, your child will be able to assess the quality of the food. If there is a food committee, you can ask how often it meets and to see some of its minutes/action points.

Q: What medical arrangements are in place?

A: What happens in the case of either illness or an emergency or accident? Schools should inform you about the medical staff and the facilities. It is also wise to check on insurance arrangements, particularly for sporting fixtures, expeditions and trips, both at home and abroad.

Q: How important is the role of chapel in school life?

A: The chapel may be central to boarding school life. While not every pupil may be expected to participate fully, a great deal can be achieved through chapel, most notably its important role in SMSC (spiritual, moral, social and cultural) education and particularly in helping to develop pupils’ life skills and a sense of care, concern and respect for others in the whole community.


Q: What extras can we expect to pay?

A: Extras vary according to your child’s co-curricular involvement. It should be made clear by the school at the outset what additional expenses you will be expected to pay. Study leave will not have a reduction in fees but there is no compulsion for a boarder to spend study leave at home.


After your visit, try to discuss with your child your thoughts about the people you met, what you were told and what you saw. Then ask yourself a number of follow-up questions:

• What views did you form of the Head? Why?

• How did the aims and objectives of the boarding school appear in practice?

• Was there a good rapport between pupils and staff, and boarders and the boarding house staff? How was the eye-to-eye contact?

• Were the boarders well-mannered and enthusiastic about their house/school?

• Did the school have policies, procedures and rules to make it a civilised and caring community?

• Were the staff communicative and did they enjoy their teaching? Did they have control of their classes? What contribution did they make to the life of the school outside the classroom?

• Were the buildings and the grounds well maintained?

• Was there a generally positive atmosphere about the community?

• Finally, and crucially, will the school meet your child’s needs and will your child be happy there?


Over the years I have advised many friends and acquaintances on choosing a boarding school. The key message is to listen to your child’s views. Despite what the media still write, very few children are ‘sent to boarding school’. It is a child’s choice to be a boarder and they should have a big input into the choice of school. By all means ensure that the chosen school could support your child in developing their particular skills. Just because your great friends have agreed on a boarding school for their child, that does not mean it is necessarily right for your child. The greatest mistake I have seen in terms of the choice of boarding school is when a parent is fixated on a particular school and does not consider their child’s needs.

Adrian Underwood’s career has been in boarding education for over 50 years since 1971 when he was appointed a housemaster and head of department. From 1975 to 1997 he was headmaster of a boarding and day school. In 1998 Adrian became National Director of the Boarding Schools’ Association (BSA). He watched over the Association’s development into the world’s foremost boarding association, pioneering a professional development programme for boarding staff. He was appointed OBE in 2007 for services to education. For 15 years he was a lead inspector for national and international inspections of schools. He now lives on the North Norfolk coast and is boarding adviser to Wymondham College and a trustee of the

& A
Sapientia Education Trust.

Aim high, stay grounded

Independent co-educational day and boarding school in Bristol for 0-18.

Clifton College continues to lead the way as one of the best public schools in the country providing exceptional pastoral care, inspirational teaching, first-class inclusive sports, diverse and targeted co-curricular activities and excellent facilities.

Discover life at Clifton College, visit SPRING 2023 / 27

Faith in our schools

Faith schools have often been – and continue to be – controversial. People opposing faith schools express concerns about the possible indoctrination of developing minds whereas supporters point to the strong moral compass they provide in a world which provides so many temptations and distractions for young people.

It is important to distinguish between majority faith schools where the curricular offering is very much mainstream and the very small minority of establishments where the curriculum is substantially reduced or distorted for doctrinal reasons. Our focus in this Guide is very much on the former and these include many well-regarded and wellestablished schools.

There is a wide range of schools with affiliations to faiths. Some of our oldest established boarding schools were originally founded as Christian institutions but not all have retained such a strong religious tradition. Dulwich College is a good example – it remains a Christian foundation with an Anglican Chaplain and an honorary Catholic Chaplain but with no chapel on its campus since it moved location in 1874 and no requirement on any of its pupils to attend any overtly religious gathering. It caters for the needs of a multi-faith student body with visiting Imams and Rabbis and provides for meetings of Hindus and Sikhs. Other schools such as Christ’s Hospital (Anglican) and Prior Park (Catholic) maintain strong allegiance to their founding traditions, although they are very much open to those of other – or no – faiths.

Graham Able Group Deputy Chairman, Alpha Plus

Many faith schools are very popular with parents from other persuasions. The strong moral principles on which most faith schools are based inculcate the good behavioural outcomes and disciplined approach to learning which coincide with the expectations of most parents. Those maintained primary schools with Catholic or Anglican Church governance are the most popular among parents of different faiths –sometimes to the extent of real or apparent sudden parental conversions in order to improve the child’s chances of a place! The balance between strong principles and indoctrination is important, however, and is an area where most good faith schools show respect for and tolerance of the views of families from a variety of faith backgrounds.

The range of faith schools in the boarding sector is extensive and reflects the role of various faiths in the founding of schools across many years. Within the Christian faith, there are Catholic schools such as Prior Park and Stoneyhurst, Anglican schools of varying churchmanship such as the Woodard group (high church Victorian foundations including Lancing and Worksop) and those of a more Protestant tradition such as Rugby. There is a strong Methodist group (including Kent College and Ashville College) and several well-established Quaker foundations such as Leighton Park. Caterham School was originally established to educate the sons of Congregationalist ministers although it is now a mainstream co-educational boarding school.

Clifton College, a Christian foundation, had a Jewish boarding house for many years and has a strong tradition for attracting Jewish students. Many pupils transferred to Clifton when Carmel College, a Jewish foundation, closed in 1997 following the demise of the Government Assisted Places scheme on which it was heavily reliant. Several boarding faith schools based on the Islamic tradition have been developed over the last 20 years and this provision is likely to expand.

The independent sector is very much about parental choice. Faith schools widen that choice and can cater for parents who want their children’s education to reflect their own faiths as well as parents who feel that a faith school will help to provide a stronger moral compass. The variety of faiths represented and the differential contributions which faith makes in the modern lives of each school allows most parents to find a school wellsuited to their child and the family as a whole.

Graham Able has spent 40 years in independent schools, the last 22 as Headmaster of Hampton School and then Master of Dulwich College. After retiring from Dulwich he was appointed Chief Executive of the Alpha Plus Group, stepping down from this role in 2014 since when he has been Group Deputy Chairman. Having previously served on the governing bodies of Roedean and Imperial College, he was a governor of Gresham’s School from 2013 to 2020 and is a governor of Beeston Hall, where he was once a pupil and is now Vice-Chairman. A former chairman of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC), he has advised governing boards on their structure and effectiveness.


Schools with a military history

Several schools in the UK have a military history, for example, Queen Victoria School (QVS), The Duke of York’s Royal Military School (DOYRMS), The Royal Hospital School (RHS), Pangbourne College and Gordon’s School. All these schools maintain their military connections and are proud of their military background. Apart from Queen Victoria School, they welcome applications from boarders without a military connection, although many boarders come from Service families.

These schools have a strong Combined Cadet Force (CCF). Each school will have different entry points for the CCF and different lengths of time a boarder is a member of the CCF. You can clarify this on your visit to the school. Because the military has such strong music traditions, these schools are also strong in music and not just in their military bands.

As with choosing any school, boarders and their families should ensure they have all the information they need about the school. Initial research can be undertaken

on the school’s website and you will want to visit the school. Before the visit, you should draw up a list of questions specific to the school.

Schools with a military history have strong reputations, but you need to ensure the school is right for your child’s skills and interests.

Being a boarder at the Duke of York’s Royal Military School

Being a boarder at The Duke of York’s Royal Military School (DOYRMS) since September 2020 has been a new experience for me. The school has quickly become my home away from home where I have made new friends. The pastoral staff – my houseparents, matrons and tutors – helped me to settle in very quickly. Like all my friends, I was nervous about starting a new school (especially a boarding school when I would be away from my parents) but from the first day here I felt secure, cared for and inspired.

I have enjoyed all the lessons with science becoming my favourite subject because of the experiments we get to enjoy in the laboratories. There are many clubs and activities to take part in and we even have our own athletics track, indoor heated pool, fitness suite and two climbing walls! When new students arrive at the school they are issued with their own laptops which has been really useful in the classroom, prep and free time. We get to take these home with us during school holidays too. There is wi-fi throughout the school and we are allowed our phones during free time so keeping in touch with our parents is easy.

In my boarding house, I share my dorm with other girls and we have made very close bonds – I know we will be friends for life. There is lots of space in our boarding house including day rooms and quiet rooms and we have access to games consoles, Sky TV and lots of DVDs.

The school’s dining hall reminds me of Hogwarts from Harry Potter and it serves very tasty meals. We go to breakfast, lunch and dinner as a boarding house, but the whole school eats together which makes us feel like a large Dukie family. As everyone is a boarder at the school, sixthformers are on hand to help us and there are always staff around if we need them.

Since starting at DOYRMS, I have learnt so much in my lessons but also useful life skills such as making my bed. My parents are really proud to hear from the school staff about my hard work and determination, and my teachers believe I am working above my predicted grades. Overall, I have loved being a boarder at DOYRMS because of the friends I have made and the new experiences on offer.

“The school has quickly become my home away from home.”

Life as a boarder at Gordon’s

I’ve been a boarder at Gordon’s since Year 9. My parents live in Dubai. It was my first time boarding but I got used to it in two weeks! I would recommend boarding to anyone. There are always distractions, extra activities and a structure that makes you do work on time. I love living with the other girls. There is always someone there. They’re your mates, like family and some nights it’s like having a big sleepover! There are really enjoyable things you can do, like going down to the sports hall and playing volleyball, the sixth-form quiz – that was great fun.

When I first arrived, I was in a dormitory with other girls but now I’m in sixth form and there are 20 of us sharing a boarding house. While the boarding house staff nearby are always on hand and keep an eye on us, we have our own kitchen and living room, and we are responsible for our laundry and keeping the house tidy. It’s really given us more freedom and more responsibility – and it sets you up very well for university.

After 7.30pm when we’ve had prep and supper, everyone mingles with the different boarding houses. Sometimes we play volleyball or dodgeball. Some people like to use the fitness suite then. There is always something to do or somewhere to go. You make lifelong friends when you board and I love that I am doing something all the time.

“You make lifelong friends when you board.”

The benefits of state boarding

If you are looking for affordable boarding and a cracking all-round education for your children, you need look no further than this small group of effective and indeed, cost-effective schools.

Put simply, parents of children at state boarding schools pay only for the boarding fee –broadly £12,000 to £18,000 per year – receiving in return a topflight education and boarding experience that matches what the independent boarding sector has to offer.

Boarding in state schools is treasured as a distinct and special part of what we offer. The quality of accommodation in Cranbrook’s six boarding houses matches what I have experienced in some of the nation’s very best independent boarding schools. Equally, the pastoral care from resident and visiting staff is excellent – the team is as dedicated and skilled as any I have worked with. This is all underpinned by a strong House identity –at Cranbrook, a pupil’s own House is the best in school, and for me this has always been the litmus test for a successful boarding culture.


Happy boarders are usually busy boarders, and state boarding schools tend to offer a far wider array of

co-curricular activities than their day counterparts. Cranbrook has a thriving CCF and a popular Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) Award scheme, both providing outstanding opportunities for personal and leadership development. These are combined with rich musical, theatrical and sporting programmes that give the whole school a constant buzz. Consequently, facilities have to be excellent. At Cranbrook, we have a performing arts centre, sports hall, astroturf, theatre, swimming pool, 70 acres of sports pitches, and much more.

State boarding schools cater for the needs and interests of every child. Weekends are full and there are many opportunities for trips, socialising and fun. Lifelong memories and friendships

Will Chuter Head, Cranbrook School

are made. The boarding community in a state boarding school is diverse, with British boarders making friends for life with overseas boarders, as well as with the local day pupil population. This, combined with relative freedom from their parents for days or weeks at a time, allows pupils to build the resilience and independence they need to become healthy and happy young adults. Character education has always been at the heart of state boarding.


Boarding also develops pupils who are fulfilled and successful in their work, and it has been shown to add value to academic progress. This is because we have more time with our boarders and can work longer with them to develop effective study

habits and use of prep time. Outstanding tutoring in the House itself by members of staff who know and understand their charges well enables this. For higher education, selective state boarding schools will regularly field large numbers of serious contenders each year for Oxbridge and medical, veterinary and dentistry schools and other leading universities in the Sutton Trust 13 or Russell Group.

One of the best ways to find out more about state boarding is to go to the BSA State Boarding Forum’s website at www. types-of-boarding-school/ Or why not come and find out for yourselves! We are extremely proud of our pupils and what we have to offer and would love to meet you.

Will Chuter went to Cranbrook School before reading Ancient History at Durham University and training as a Classics teacher at King’s College London. He caught the boarding bug as Head of Classics and Housemaster at Uppingham School, then went on to lead boarding as Deputy Head (Pastoral) at Gresham’s School. He has been Head of Cranbrook School since 2021.



Built over a century ago at the express wish of Queen Victoria, as the national monument to General Gordon, Gordon’s is TES Boarding School of the Year and is listed as one of Britain’s outstanding schools by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector.

A non-selective, co-educational day and boarding school, set in some 50 acres of Surrey parkland close to London, the School is in the top 1% of all schools in England and Wales for progress at A Level.

However, the School’s ethos is that high performance without good character is not true success. So it’s not just the classrooms where students excel. Successes are also achieved in drama; the arts; debating; public speaking; dance and sport and in the enviable record of Duke of Edinburgh Awards.

There are three main admission points – at 11 and 13 years old and for Sixth Form. Students are attracted to the Sixth Form by the range of academic options and co-curricular activities and opportunities for personal development as well as extensive next steps advice, help with revision and applying to universities. Scholarships are offered to those demonstrating excellence and potential in sports or the Arts.

The school has partnerships with Harlequins, superleague netball team Surrey Storm and Vanarama League Football Club Aldershot Town FC.

A comprehensive careers programme includes industry speakers; meetings with a dedicated careers advisor; apprenticeship speakers and gap year companies. In addition there is specialist medic and Oxbridge support.Gordon’s provides the opportunity for all to be the best they can be through academic enrichment programmes and extended projects; opportunities to give back and the chance to experience the thrill of outdoor pursuits as part of the Combined Cadet Force and Duke of Edinburgh Award schemes.

The real judgement of Gordon’s is the students. Visitors are struck by the friendliness, discipline and vibrancy throughout the school and by the family atmosphere, exemplified by the special rapport between staff and students.

High Performance Learning: success attainable by all students

St Swithun’s has an internationally recognised reputation for academic success: we promote academic rigour with a broad, challenging and contemporary curriculum. Our High Performance Learning philosophy holds that high achievement is an attainable target for everyone. Intelligence is not fixed; we can all become cleverer. High performers are made, not born. We encourage our students to recognise that high achievement is grown over time with excellent teaching and when feedback is applied through purposeful practice.

Central to High Performance Learning is the systematic and explicit development of the key learning skills and behaviours that equip students for success both in school and beyond. Learning skills include finding connections, strategy planning, problem-solving, and thinking flexibly. Learning behaviours such as taking risks, persevering and being open-minded and collaborative are encouraged. Such learning skills and behaviours are not subject-specific: they translate between areas, academic and otherwise.




Students who attend the boarding school provision exceed their predicted outcomes and consistently reach, and further, their potential

‘’I love the close friendships you make and how your best friend can be literally down the hall.”

Kindness, community and a sense of belonging…

These are at the heart of our boarding life. With individual rooms for girls from the age of 12 and over 140 co-curricular activities there’s both privacy and plenty to do on our 45-acre site just outside the cathedral city of Winchester. We are a leading day, weekly and full boarding school for girls aged 11-18.

Please contact us to arrange a visit: | 01962 835700

It’s who we are.
A boarder from Hillcroft

gChoosing state boarding

State boarding schools are often described as ‘education’s bestkept secret’. Certainly I meet many prospective parents who have found the sector almost by chance and who once introduced are impressed by the range of facilities, types of school and examination results across our schools. State boarding is only available to UK passport holders, those with the right of abode in the UK and those with ‘settled’ or ‘pre-settled’ status (but that only applies to existing pupils, not new ones). Education is provided free of charge, so parents only pay for boarding.

State boarding schools vary considerably by size and location but they all share a strong commitment to the value of boarding and provide excellent facilities and systems of care. In total around 5,000 pupils enjoy boarding in a diverse, varied and hugely successful range of schools. The sector consists of large mixed non-selective schools, free schools, grammar schools and schools that offer mixed or single-sex education.

Although most state boarding schools offer secondary places, primary boarding is available too. Wymondham College

Prep School is located on the same site as Wymondham College, enabling the children of the Prep School to access teaching expertise from both the Prep School and the College. The Prep School will also draw on the expertise of the Sapientia Education Trust (SET), which was founded by Wymondham College and incorporates 16 schools in Norfolk and Suffolk. For more information, go to

Wymondham College has around 650 boarders and offers a strong academic curriculum combined with excellent pastoral care. Typically it runs more than 65 weekly extra-curricular activities, a wide range of international trips and visits and has a strong commitment to sport, music, drama, CCF and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. It offers 27 different A-level courses but other state boarding schools provide different pathways, for example the IB is available in some schools and others offer an excellent range of vocational courses.


I firmly believe boarding adds significant value to young people, developing their independence, resilience and self-esteem. In 2016 three state boarding schools were in the top 20 non-selective state schools at GCSE and state boarding schools topped the league tables in three regions of the country. University entrance rates are very high, with Russell Group and Oxbridge entry well above national averages. And it’s not just academic success – several England rugby players attended state boarding schools.

State boarding schools may offer single-sex boarding or mixed boarding. Some have boarding houses covering the entire school age while others divide into key stages or run a separate sixth-form boarding house. They all offer strong systems of pastoral support and care, ensuring pupils are well known by staff and their individual needs are catered for. Pupil-voice activities are strongly promoted and pupils are given opportunities to lead and contribute to their schools.

Jonathan Taylor Chief Executive Officer, Sapientia Education Trust (SET)

May field







Open Mornings T H UR S DAY 27 TH APRIL 2 02 3

R I DAY 16 TH JUNE 2023



SPRING 2023 / 37

Boarding houses are homely with soft furnishings often the norm and I have yet to have a poor meal in ten years of working in the sector!

Day-to-day life follows a typical boarding school pattern. At Wymondham College breakfast starts from 7.15am, lessons from 8.30am, the school day ends at 3.45pm and our extra-curricular programme starts at 4pm. Prep is completed in the evenings (with boarding staff, more often than not teachers, on hand to support) and we offer Saturday morning school, with a full range of sporting fixtures on Saturday afternoons.

Parents and students choose state boarding for many reasons and our communities are grounded and diverse. Some prefer the state boarding offer, others are attracted by high standards and value for money, others are attracted to the distinctiveness of individual schools. Across the sector there are very high satisfaction rates from parents and pupils.

State boarding schools are subject to regular Ofsted inspections, including an Ofsted boarding inspection every three years. Reports are available online but we recommend a personal visit because it can be difficult to convey the ethos of a school

through an inspection report. I always encourage parents to visit several schools before choosing, ensuring the best match for their child. State boarding schools are proud of what we deliver. As one journalist commented on a visit to the College, ‘this feels like any leading independent school’. Like colleagues in the independent sector, we are simply committed to high-quality boarding.

Jonathan Taylor is Chief Executive Officer of the Sapientia Education Trust (SET) which was founded by Wymondham College and incorporates 16 schools in Norfolk and Suffolk. He boarded as a child, studied as an undergraduate at Brasenose College, Oxford and has worked for more than 15 years in the state boarding sector. He is a committee member of the BSA State Boarding Forum, has sat on the Norfolk Safeguarding Board and is a trustee of several other schools.



boarding schools

If you are considering boarding, a state boarding school may be an option. As always, it is important to do your research and above all, see the school in action before you make any choice. State boarding schools provide free education but charge fees for boarding. Some state boarding schools are run by local councils and others are run as

academies or free schools. These schools give priority to children who have a particular need to board and will assess children’s suitability for boarding. At state boarding schools and academies, including sixth-form colleges, parents pay between £10,000 and £17,000 per year for their children to board, with an average of £12,000 per year.

State boarding schools School County

Beechen Cliff School

Brymore Academy

Burford School

Colchester Royal Grammar School

Cranbrook School

Dallam School

Exeter College

Gordon’s School

Haberdashers’ Adams

Hockerill Anglo-European College

Holyport College

Keswick School

Lancaster Royal Grammar School

Liverpool College

Old Swinford Hospital

Peter Symonds College

Reading School

Richard Huish College

Ripon Grammar School

Royal Alexandra & Albert School

Sexey’s School

Shaftesbury School

St George’s School, Harpenden Academy Trust

Steyning Grammar School

The Duke of York’s Royal Military School

The Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe

The Royal School, Wolverhampton

The Thomas Adams School Shropshire

The Wellington Academy

Wymondham College

Wymondham College Prep School














City of Liverpool Borough

Metropolitan Borough of Dudley




North Yorkshire








Metropolitan Borough of Wolverhampton





In England there are 34 mainstream members of the BSA State Boarding Forum (SBF) and 31 are listed here, including academies and free schools. For more information on state boarding schools go to


South West

South West

South Central

East England

South East

North West

South West

South East

West Midlands

East England

South East

North West

North West

North West

West Midlands

South Central

South Central

South West

North East Yorkshire and Humber

South East

South West

South West

East England

South East

South East

South Central

West Midlands

West Midlands

South West

East England

East England


The benefits of sixth-form boarding

Sixth-form colleges provide high quality academic education for 16- to 18-year-old pupils enabling them to progress to university, the workplace or higher-level vocational education. There are 277 colleges in the UK and 62 are designated as sixth-form colleges, offering an extensive range of academic, technical and professional courses as well as apprenticeships. Sixth-form colleges have a reputation for academic excellence, many of them being rated Outstanding by Ofsted. However, they do not have a history of offering boarding accommodation –something we have changed at Richard Huish College in Taunton.

While state boarding schools are well established, boarding at a sixth-form college is a relatively rare concept. Each year, state boarding schools regularly outperform other state schools with a good number topping academic league tables around the country. The combination of the excellent statefunded education and a boarding community enables pupils to make the most of their talents and abilities. However, these schools offer Level 2 (GCSE) and Level 3 (A level) qualifications and are for pupils aged 11 to 18, while a sixth-form college only has pupils who are between 16 and 19 years.

Admission to a state boarding school is for pupils who hold a full UK passport or who can meet the eligibility funding criteria from the Educational and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), e.g. British Nationals Overseas, Dependents. Sixth-form colleges and FE colleges can apply for a Sponsor Licence to attract international pupils to study their Level 3 (usually A level) qualifications. Many of these sixth-form colleges offer homestay accommodation to their pupils but a few offer full boarding facilities, operated by the college, including Richard Huish College. Several FE colleges offer boarding, but they are still in the minority.


At Richard Huish College, based in Taunton, the boarding house opened its doors to pupils from around the world, including the UK, in 2017. The house has 53 study bedrooms, all with ensuite bathrooms. The College has been welcoming pupils from around the world for many years but knew that while homestay parents do an amazing job of nurturing pupils new to the UK, there were also some pupils who would prefer the boarding house experience. The boarding house means the College can offer choice and flexibility to pupils and their parents – essentially offering an independent school sixth-form experience at a fraction of the cost.

Sixth-form boarding at a state college is also an option for UK pupils who travel long distances daily. Flexi-boarding or weekly boarding is a great option when a late sports fixture or exam preparation needs to take priority. Many of our pupils live rurally – parents see the advantages of flexi-boarding while pupils are excited by the opportunity of becoming more independent.

Boarding at a sixth-form college, FE college or state boarding school, your son or daughter can expect plenty of home comforts and a warm welcome from the houseparents. Their confidence and independence will be nurtured and the experience will give them essential

Emma Fielding Principal, Richard Huish College

preparation for university life. Boarding students make a great circle of friends in the boarding house, often friends they will have for life. A rigorous set of Ofsted boarding standards is adhered to, ensuring the pastoral welfare and academic development of all pupils.

Boarding at sixth form can be affordable if you expand your search criteria to include the state sector. Many state boarding schools have specific areas of expertise you may wish to access, such as links with Huish Tigers Basketball Club, Bristol Bears Rugby and Somerset Country Cricket Club at Richard Huish College. Your child will have the best of both worlds – the benefits of a

dynamic college environment bringing together large numbers of talented and aspirational young people who can explore their independence, while still providing a controlled and safe college environment.

Admission to Richard Huish College is for pupils who hold a full UK passport, pupils from UK military families based in the UK or abroad or pupils who can meet the eligibility funding criteria of the ESFA, e.g. British National Overseas, Dependents. For further information, go to

Emma Fielding became Principal at Richard Huish College in 2020, taking over from John Abbott who moved to become Chief Executive Officer of the Richard Huish Trust. Emma began her career in education as an Educational Researcher at the University of Cambridge before going on to train as a History and Sociology teacher. She has since worked in the post-16 educational sector for more than 18 years.


Life at a state boarding school

England’s state boarding schools have a very special place in our education system. They often have an ‘independent’ ethos and education is free. Boarding fees are typically around a third of the cost of independent boarding schools.

State boarding schools come in all shapes and sizes, from non-selective schools in rural settings to grammar schools in towns and small cities. A few are single-sex while others are co-educational. Several are very ancient – Lancaster Royal Grammar School (LRGS) traces its roots back to the thirteenth century – while others have been established recently to meet demand in this vibrant sector.

All state boarding schools are united by a shared belief in the opportunities of boarding. There is a consistent concern for the wellbeing and personal development of the young people in our schools. Wraparound pastoral care creates a very special environment where friendships and shared activities become for many the defining privilege of their teenage years.

Co-curricular opportunities are a particular strength. After-school activities flourish in a residential community with no commuting required. Many pupils play competitive sport against independent schools, some schools offer outstanding debating and music while others, including LRGS, place a high value on thriving CCF Army, Naval and RAF sections as a mainstay of their outdoor and leadership programmes.

Academic results are a major factor for most parents in choosing a state boarding school, and here too the sector punches above its weight. ‘Value-added’ analysis shows that our boarders tend to do even better than day pupils at GCSE, as a result of the support and encouragement they receive from boarding staff who engage with boarders’ academic challenges during and outside prep times.

At LRGS, around half of our 170 boarders live within an hour of the school, but growing numbers are from London and elsewhere in the UK. We have about 50 overseas students, who must have UK passports or right of UK residence. Bilingual

or expat families from Europe and the Middle East and boarders from Hong Kong and West Africa are all well represented.


Most of our families are ‘first generation’ boarders. They may not initially have considered boarding or even been aware that exceptional state schools offer this opportunity. Boarding fits modern life for many families living with the realities of commuting, travel commitments, divided families or older siblings away at university. A mother bringing up her son on her own told me how boarding allows her to manage her growing business, while her son benefits from positive role models and support. ‘We have the best weekends ever!’ said the mother of another weekly boarder.

The boarding experience changes with age. Our younger boarders are in light and airy shared dorms of four to six. The emphasis is on establishing excellent habits both in boarding and in the classroom. Pastoral care is led by the housemaster and the matrons – whose days include reuniting pupils with lost property and supplying

Dr Chris Pyle Head, Lancaster Royal Grammar School

toast! Evening tutors supervise prep, with young sports grads and sixth-form mentors often on hand. Plenty of summer evenings are spent chasing either a ball or each other round the fields. Junior boarding has the excitement of a secret society: boarders and day pupils are indistinguishable in school, but boarders have the key to an extra world – while many day pupils head for a long journey home.

In the GCSE years, boarders normally share a dorm with one other pupil, and in the sixth form all boarders are in single rooms. Revision season sees pupils working together – but with occasional encouragement to head out for an impromptu barbecue or game of dodgeball to relieve the pressure.


Parents increasingly see sixth-form boarding as an excellent stepping stone to university. We encourage all our senior boarders to take on leadership positions and to engage with the local community – from planting trees to hosting our local residents’ Christmas party.

State boarding is very much a shared enterprise between parents and school, and open communication with parents

is the aspect that has changed most in recent years. ‘I Facetime my dad twice a day,’ one overseas boarder told me recently – although most teenagers struggle to communicate quite so frequently!

You can tell a certain amount from a school’s website and reputation, but it is important to visit and meet staff and students if you can – at open days, for a tour on a normal school day, and perhaps

for an evening taster session. Come and see what makes us special.

Dr Chris Pyle has been Head of Lancaster Royal Grammar School since 2012. He was state-educated in Oxfordshire and went on to complete a degree and PhD in Geography at Cambridge University. He was previously Deputy Head at the Perse School, Cambridge.

Contact: 01249 857200 A Leading Independent Boarding & Day School For Girls Aged 11-18 S T M ARY’S C ALNE ‘Pupils at the school are well-rounded, articulate and confident young people.’ ISI Report For Open Days & further information, contact: THE BSA GUIDE TO BOARDING SCHOOLS • SPRING 2023 / STATE BOARDING SCHOOLS / 43

Schools together in partnership

Independent schools have been connecting with their local communities and collaborating with state schools for many years, but it is only in recent years that we have begun to collect data which clearly demonstrates this. Thousands of mutually beneficial partnerships now exist between independent and state schools, unlocking new educational experiences for all involved. This work was reinforced in a ‘Joint Understanding’ with the Department for Education (DfE) announced by the Secretary of State in 2018. The document outlines the commitment of independent schools to voluntarily develop mutually supportive collaborations with maintained schools.


A certain amount of political interest has been generated in connection with charitable status debates over the years and the media often berates fee-charging schools for the ‘tax breaks’ that come with charitable status. In fact, the allocation of bursary awards far exceeds business rates relief granted to those schools which are charities. Even schools that are not charities have taken steps to improve accessibility for families who might not otherwise be able to afford independent school fees, by providing increasing amounts of bursary assistance in recent years. In the academic year 2021–22, £480 million was provided in meanstested fee assistance for pupils at ISC schools.

A judicial review in 2011 ruled that education is of itself a charitable activity. The trustees of schools that are charities have a duty to report to the Charity Commission their school’s work for the public benefit. This work can take the form of awarding bursaries on a means-tested basis for disadvantaged children, children on the edge of care and looked-after children, support for academies and collaborative work that provides a variety of learning and development opportunities to children who would otherwise miss out.

Julie Robinson Executive, Independent Schools Council (ISC) Photo with kind permission of Sherborne School Photo with kind permission of Wells Cathedral School

It is important that trustees retain flexibility to fulfil any school’s public benefit activity according to local needs and in ways that are appropriate for the school according to its individual capacity. Many schools do not have extensive facilities that can be shared with state schools and there are geographic and other barriers to be considered.


The Schools Together website, which details many excellent partnership projects between independent and state schools, was built with the express purpose of encouraging, showcasing and inspiring partnership working.

The website was launched in 2016 and although involvement is voluntary, more than 6,000 projects have been featured, showing a wide range of partnership activities.

The projects are allocated categories such as academic, drama, governance, music, sponsorship, sport and design technology.

It is clear from the website that many different types of collaborations are underway involving large and smaller schools.

From full academy sponsorship, such as Harris Westminster and the London Academy of Excellence, through to arts projects with local primary and special schools; from careers guidance and university preparation, to inclusion in dramatic productions and sports tournaments – this website draws together a range of impressive and exciting educational opportunities for all pupils and staff involved. It showcases excellent examples of what is already in place, providing insight into the value of collaboration.


There are economies of scale and various mutual benefits when schools join together to procure services – including the sharing of specialist teachers – and training. A visiting author or speaker can be made available to a range of pupils beyond the host school. Schools can share specific expertise and develop policies.

Vulnerable subjects, such as modern foreign languages, Latin, music and physics are supported by partnership work. Pupils meeting each other can develop a new way of seeing the world. Inter-school visits can allow new subject areas, sports, musical instruments and experiences to be shared, broadening the horizons of all taking part.

Successful partnerships help to bring communities together in deeper understanding and thereby support social cohesion. The pooling of resources enhances the overall educational offer for all schools involved and by sharing experiences, teachers can benefit from effective professional development. Some schools are working in pairs or small clusters and others are working in large collaborative groups across an area such as in York or Birmingham. These groupings develop projects over time and forge strong links across the communities involved. The projects grow according to schools’ needs and strengths, building mutually supportive communities.


September 2022 marked the launch of the School Partnerships Alliance (SPA), an organisation that will focus on promoting best partnership practice across state and independent schools. The SPA will bring together schools and other stakeholders to

create a national network, drawing on key examples of sustainable and meaningful partnership work.

While partnership activity between independent and state schools was inevitably affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, schools have now resumed their joint working. Activities include reading with younger pupils, preparing A-level pupils for higher education, sharing facilities and seconding teaching staff.

The 2022 ISC Census shows that in 2021 there were 6,963 partnerships at 936 schools. We expect to see more partnership opportunities blossoming between the sectors as school life continues to return to normal.

Julie Robinson is Chief Executive of the Independent Schools Council (ISC) – the collective voice of the independent education sector. In her role, Julie serves the interests of the ISC’s constituent associations and 1,390-plus member schools through conversations with the Government and in the media. The ISC brings together five associations representing headteachers, one governors’ association and one bursars’ association, along with four affiliate associations that represent boarding, Scottish, Welsh and international independent schools. Before becoming ISC Chief Executive, Julie was a teacher, housemistress and Head of Ardingly College Junior School and then Vinehall Prep School in Sussex. After these headships, she was Education and Training Director for the Independent Association of Preparatory Schools (IAPS). She is governor of a state school and an independent school.

Photo with kind permission of Wells Cathedral School
“Vulnerable subjects, such as modern foreign languages, Latin, music and physics are supported by partnership work.”

Supporting character development in a boarding school

Young people today need first-class tuition and the finest academic qualifications to succeed, but they also need strength of character and skills such as communication, teamwork and resilience, to build happy, fulfilling and worthwhile lives. A boarding education can provide the building blocks for character and success.

As the school curriculum narrows, the boarding school’s emphasis on educating the whole child provides plenty of opportunities to develop a wider set of skills and qualities. At Bloxham, our activities programme offers pupils 100 options, ranging from mainstream sports to minor ones, and from music, drama and art, to astronomy and Young Enterprise. Balancing breadth with specialism, our tutors work with pupils to help them select options which will both stimulate and challenge. They encourage pupils to give everything a go – in our view, it’s good to try new things, to persevere at acquiring new skills and to learn to laugh when you fail.

Where talent and interests emerge, a boarding school can allow pupils time and resource for passions and expertise to flourish. With a flexible boarding model, it is possible to take an open approach to pursuits which naturally develop outside of school.


In common with many boarding schools, outdoor education runs through the lifeblood of Bloxham School. First introduced in our Lower School, outdoor education increases in challenge as pupils move through their years with us. Our Year 7 and 8 pupils enjoy annual camps and the not-to-be-missed Alps trip, when they get to test their nerve white-water rafting and canyoning, building life-lasting memories on the way down.

Paul Sanderson Headmaster, Bloxham School

Over many years, boarding schools have learnt that trying new activities in a fun environment can generate excitement for learning outdoors. This in turn lays the foundations of communication, teamwork and resilience upon which young people will rely so often in the future.

These skills can be further developed in more demanding environments, for example, through the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) and the CCF. Schemes like these help pupils broaden their horizons, develop their leadership skills, learn to work with others, and prove to themselves they can succeed at a serious challenge.


Bloxham is a Christian foundation school. As such we value kindness and compassion, and we teach pupils the value of contributing to their community. Through our wellsupported service programme pupils volunteer at food banks, care homes and local primary schools each week, giving them a lasting experience of making a difference. One such relationship led to a beautiful collaboration, which saw a design technology

A-level pupil dedicate his examined project to a local hospice. Working to the hospice director’s brief, the pupil designed and made symbols, features and artefacts to enable the hospice chapel to become a multi-faith place for worship and reflection. Now installed, they are having a moving effect on the hospice’s community. They have also shown our pupil, and indeed the whole school community, the impact they can have when they give something back.

Each year we fundraise for a variety of charities – from local causes such as Katharine House Hospice, to charities close to the heart of our community. Fundraising challenges have included sporting feats such as triathlons and marathon distances, leg waxing, car washing, cake baking and clothing sales. Experiences like these show children the importance of teamwork and determination and teach them to look beyond themselves, appreciate their good fortune and help those with less.

Perhaps most importantly, boarding environments teach pupils the importance of tolerance and respect, how to work together to achieve their goals and how to live harmoniously with others. Boarders learn

to invest in their community, realise their actions have consequences and learn to take responsibility. This blend of education helps them grow into happy, well-adjusted young people, with the values and strength of character to do something good with their lives.

Paul Sanderson has been Headmaster at Bloxham School since 2013. Before this he was Deputy Head at Gordonstoun, where he also spent three years as a Housemaster. He was an Assistant Housemaster at both Oundle and Lancaster Royal Grammar. Educated at Banbridge Academy, he studied Evolutionary Biology and Genetics at the University of St Andrews and he has a Masters in Educational Research from Cambridge University. At Bloxham, he continues to teach biology and enjoys joining outdoor excursions including climbing.


Building resilience in boarding


In a report by Public Health England, Building children and young people’s resilience in schools (2014), resilience is described as ‘the capacity to “bounce back” from adverse experiences, and succeed despite adversity.’

The COVID-19 pandemic has most certainly been an adverse experience for children and young people. Elements which promote resilience, such as regular routines and sleep, physical exercise, access to entertainment, positive family relationships and social support were all affected for a long period of time, so we now have a lot of work to do to build resilience up again.


The report states: ‘While the role of teachers and other school staff is rarely, if ever, as central to resilience-building as that of parents and family, it is still an important element.’

In a boarding school environment, teachers and other staff are permanently acting in loco parentis, so their role in building resilience in boarders under their care is even more significant.

Arguably, pupils who board have to immediately call on their reserves of resilience; they are away from their parents and close family, as well as the comforts and familiarity of home, and that’s not easy, especially when you are a young child.

This is where experienced, empathetic and resourceful boarding staff are of the utmost importance. Their role is to ensure that boarders are comfortable physically, but also mentally, with the ability to voice their feelings and concerns and know they will be listened to. It takes a team of people to provide this foundation for resilience, which includes houseparents, assistant houseparents, matrons, visiting tutors, plus a range of other staff such as teachers and healthcare professionals.


I believe that schools which are successful in fostering resilience in their pupils will have a strong ethos with values at their centre. At Pangbourne College, we have ‘Flag Values’ which include ‘Resilience’ alongside Kindness, Selflessness, Moral Courage, Integrity, Initiative, Industry and Respect.

For us, the Flag Values underpin everything we do, from class rewards to staff recruitment. They are absolutely fundamental to our community as a boarding school and help to create a secure and respectful environment in which all pupils can thrive.

Resilience is one of those Flag Values because it is a strength which will support pupils throughout school and beyond. Any pupil or staff member who displays particularly strong resilience is recognised and, on occasion, rewarded. In our experience, the Flag Values permeate through the day-to-day experience of school and become instilled in pupils over time.


In addition to strong values, schools should provide opportunities within the curriculum for pupils to experience adversity in a safe environment, so that they can practise ‘bouncing back’ and their resilience can be developed. Naturally, our PSHCE curriculum includes a scheme of work on resilience, which we run in the first term of Year 7, and the rest of the programme has resilience embedded throughout. Alongside this, we encourage pupils to undertake all sorts of activities which foster a strong sense of resilience. These include The Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) Award and the Combined Cadet Force (CCF) programme.

We are licensed to provide the three levels of DofE Award: Bronze (which all pupils do in Year 9), Silver and Gold. Around a third of sixth formers do the Gold Award. The combination of volunteering, physical activities, skills-based exercises and challenging expeditions gives an all-round experience which is fun, rewarding and recognises a young person’s journey of selfdiscovery and development. In particular, the expeditions really teach pupils how to dig deep and keep going, despite the sometimes inhospitable environment!

The CCF is based on a foundation of strong shared values, disciplined behaviour and selflessness towards others. Cadets develop effective communication skills and the ability to think clearly in complex situations, solve problems and exercise good judgement and initiative. The programme has a unique appeal because it gives pupils the opportunity to do something completely different.


I believe that trusting young adults to take responsibility for others and to serve others, also helps to build resilience. At Pangbourne, there are many opportunities for older pupils to take up important roles, such as cadet captain (prefect), peer mentor or captain of sports. All these roles involve leading and supporting younger pupils and help pupils grow in confidence, self-esteem and, of course, resilience.

Almost all our senior pupils volunteer to be trained as peer mentors and exercise responsibility for younger pupils, who may feel more comfortable talking things through with a peer, rather than a member of staff. Our sixth formers tell me they really

enjoy this aspect of being a student at Pangbourne College and experience a real sense of joy in serving others.

So back to my original question, what is resilience? Nelson Mandela said: ‘Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.’ Getting back up, or ‘bouncing back’ – for our pupils this is one of the most important lessons we can teach them.

Thomas Garnier has been Headmaster at Pangbourne College for over 17 years, having previously been Head of Boarding at Abingdon School and an Officer in the Royal Navy.

Boarding schools and philanthropy: engendering an ethos of kindness and compassion

One of the joys of boarding is being a part of an eclectic school community, offering pupils, families and staff the opportunity to come together to create a ‘local community’ that unites and stretches across the globe.

With both pupils and staff living on site, boarding offers the extra time together to share and highlight issues that are important locally and globally, but also personally. Through their house teams, pupils are supported to collaborate, be creative and bring others with them as they share and rally behind causes that are close to their hearts.

A culture of helping others is part of the very fabric in boarding schools and everyone is encouraged to get involved. In a boarding environment, it is inherent for pupils to be compassionate and creative, to work collaboratively and, importantly, to be outward-looking. At Downe House this is all part of the DNA that evolved from the ethos of kindness established by the school’s founder, Olive Willis.

2022 marked the centenary of Downe House on its campus in Cold Ash, where the school stood throughout World War

Two, and where it welcomed refugees from other countries with open arms. Here is the testimony of Rosemarie C (Downe House Alumnae, 1943): ‘I arrived in December 1938 at the age of 14, a refugee from Austria, with hardly a word of English, to be greeted by Miss Willis in evening dress, surrounded by her Samoyed dogs. Thanks to her hospitality and caring concern I was able to continue my education, and in three years I gained admittance to the University of Reading, and subsequently to the London School of Economics. The friendships, the learning and the concern for others, were among the invaluable riches I enjoyed at Downe House and they have been an inspiration to me throughout my life. Besides myself, there were three or four other refugee children during the war years, who were also given the opportunity of a new life.’

In recent years, a large proportion of charitable activities have been led by pupils with the result that a broad range of activities and causes have been supported, reflecting the many cultures and beliefs represented in a diverse boarding school community. Pupils are taught to understand that ‘education has the power to change lives’ and as such activities always

include an element of education for the wider school community. This could be through assemblies, displays and talks by pupils, themed evening and weekend events, or visits by representatives from organisations. Nominations come from the heart and often reflect very personal causes, as well as important issues across the world and topics that affect young people today, wherever they are.

Different parts of the school are involved in longer-term support too. Upper School boarding houses each have an international link charity supported by fundraising events but also by visits from pupils volunteering their time. Charities include HOPE Asia, Open Arms Malawi, Sparkes Homes Sri Lanka, Reality Gives India and Tiger Kloof Combined School, South Africa. Lower School boarding houses collectively support the OSCAR Foundation. The common theme with these longer-term associations is the empowerment of children and young people. Generations of boarders have spent their time together productively to play their part in forging and maintaining these strong associations.

House School


Supporting charities local to boarding schools enables pupils to donate the gift of time, and to reach out and give something back to the community where they spend a large part of their young lives. For example, every year at Downe House pupils collectively volunteer more than 1,000 hours supporting local organisations. Schemes such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) actively encourage charitable engagements. For Downe House pupils these have ranged from helping to manage local woodlands, to busking for the charity Swings & Smiles, to supporting the Cottismore Gardens ‘Growing2gether’ project, which promotes interest and awareness in local food and building a garden facility to enable people with learning difficulties to access horticultural therapy.


In 2022, the swell of support for people affected by the crisis in Ukraine has been felt across the globe. In support of Ukraine, a school concert in March 2022 raised over £2,000 for the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) fund via Christian Aid. The school’s choir, Prima Voce, performed A Prayer for Ukraine, learnt over two nights in its original Ukrainian language, and later released on social media to support further donations to the DEC fund (https:// Coordinated by pupils and boarding house staff, the whole school community also supported a local charity, Racing to Help Ukraine, by collecting emergency aid supplies which the charity drove to Ukrainian refugees at the Ukrainian/Polish border with a convoy of horseboxes.

The Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC) has also reported examples of support from its member schools, many of which are boarding schools, for those who have been directly impacted by the invasion of Ukraine. Examples have included raising funds to support the DEC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal and providing clothing, food and shelter to Ukrainian refugees. For more information, go to

Matthew Godfrey is a graduate of Durham University and also holds a Master’s in Education. He started his career with the global consultancy firm Accenture but switched to teaching after seven years in business. He has taught English at secondary schools – both maintained and independent – ever since. He is Senior Deputy Head at Downe House and before this he held posts at Brighton College and Caterham School.


— The Good Schools Guide

DLD College London is a distinctive and forward thinking day and boarding school, creating unique learning opportunities for students.

We combine the traditional with the unconventional and offer a pioneering Year 9 syllabus, GCSEs, BTECs and A Levels, embedding skills for a lifelong love of learning.

Located on the South Bank, London is our classroom. Visit our Open Evening to find out more.

13+ and 16+


11th MAY 2023, 5pm–7pm

Register online source=BSA-mag-full-pg-ad&utm_medium=magazine-ad-print&utm_ campaign=spring-2023-open-evenings DLD College London 199 Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7FX @DLDCollege @DLDCollegeLondon SPRING 2023 / 53

Looking after children and young people’s mental health after COVID-19

I had a heart-breaking meeting with a parent of a child yesterday. She told me a story that was five years in the making and involved almost every type of intervention you would have heard of: doctors, psychiatrists, therapists, social care, you name it, they had either spoken to them or tried it. When I had a chance to reflect on it, my rather simplistic thought was: ‘How did it come to this?’.

When I was young in the 1990s, the umbrella term ‘mental health’ was simply not on our radars; now it seems to be around every corner we turn. The same thought may ring true for others in the generation that is now either parenting or educating today’s children and young people. This can leave us feeling helpless and, at worst, unable to give effective help to those who are struggling.

There has been a well-documented ‘crisis’1 in the mental health of teenagers (and adults) in recent years, particularly because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This article aims to give some practical suggestions to parents of boarding school pupils about mental health issues.


Issues such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, self-harm and suicidal ideation have steadily increased and, although the Government has increased funding, the support available through NHS channels has not kept pace with demand. The Government paper Promoting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing: a whole school or college approach2 cites research that in 2020 1 in 6 children aged 5 to 16 had a probable mental health disorder – up from 1 in 9 in 2017. The number of referrals to children and young people’s mental health services between April and June 2021 increased by 134% since the same period in 2020, from just over 80,000 to 190,000, and up almost 100% from the same three-month period in

2019 (approximately 90,000). Public Health England have concluded that COVID-19 has had a negative impact on young people’s mental health, particularly in females and those with pre-existing mental health concerns. Additionally, there continues to be a significant problem surrounding the stigma attached to mental illness which means that people are less willing to seek help and support, often exacerbating the problem.


Schools are certainly responding to this, and parents may well be noticing an uptick of recent initiatives from school settings. Investment from the leadership of schools is certainly welcome, and it is likely that increasing capacity and attention will help

improve matters. For example, at Wellington we have created a new role called ‘Head of Student Emotional Health and Wellbeing’ and we have appointed a clinical psychologist to the position. She helps me as Deputy Pastoral to ensure that all students in need have an appropriate support plan in place.

How about parents? What should they do to best support children and young people? To finish, here are my top five tips for helping children and young people who are struggling to maintain good mental health.

• Communicate throughout: Although stigma is reducing, it is still a powerful force preventing people talking about mental health. Please don’t think you will be the first parents to go to the school to tell them about an issue – you may be surprised how much experience they have. Talk to the school and share your concerns. Seek advice and guidance. Not only will you get the benefit of their expertise and help, but it will support you by feeling that you are part of a team. Once you come out the other side, tell the school what worked and what helped –they are still learning and will appreciate your feedback.

1’Extent of mental health crisis in England at terrifying’ level’, 9 April 2021, The Guardian 2Promoting children and young people s mental health and wellbeing: a whole school or college approach September 2021, Public Health England 3Stigma and discrimination, last updated 4 October 2021, Mental Health Foundation THE BSA GUIDE TO BOARDING SCHOOLS • SPRING 2023 / BOARDING AT AN INDEPENDENT SCHOOL / 55

• Don’t over-react: If your child comes to you to say things are not right (or if your child’s school has told you about it) then they need to know that you will be able to cope with this and help them get through it. If you react with shock, anger or disbelief, the message they will hear is that you are out of your depth. In those first hours and days you are not expected to have all the answers but remember the power that language has to communicate that you remain the person in their life who loves them unreservedly.

• And don’t under-react: The temptation is to explain it away – ‘it’s just a phase’, ‘it’s not that bad’, ‘they are just jumping on a bandwagon’. Listen, take what they say at face value and seek professional support to make a judgement as to the severity of the situation.

• Show empathy: It may be very difficult to understand why your beautiful child has decided to self-harm. Your first thought may be one of utter disbelief and amazement – why would anyone do such a thing? But have you ever used unhealthy coping strategies? Have you ever had a hard day and then pushed yourself super-hard in the gym or had a third glass of wine in the evening? Try to understand that whatever the symptoms you are seeing, the causes will be found in the most fundamental aspects of human nature that we all experience.

• ‘Friends as balloons’: It may not be your child who is struggling but they may tell you they are worried about a friend. They want to support and listen to their friend, but it is clearly getting them down or making them anxious. How can you best advise them? We need to state two things clearly here – they are not mental health professionals and, secondly, if things are that bad, they should be helping their friend get the appropriate help. Their role is to do all they can to bring light and joy into the friendship. Use the analogy of a balloon: if you keep just blowing air into a balloon without ever playing with it, it will burst. Tie it off and use the balloon to have fun. As the old saying goes: ‘You can’t pour from an empty cup’.

David Walker is Deputy Head (Pastoral and Wellbeing) at Wellington College in Berkshire. He has worked in both boarding and day schools and gained experience as a Head of Department and a Housemaster before moving into senior leadership eight years ago. Before his current role at Wellington, David was Head of Senior School at the Stephen Perse Foundation in Cambridge. David keeps himself happy and well with a weekly game of football, time spent on a mountain bike, enjoying walks with his family and dog, and the occasional glass of wine.

L ancaster Royal G rammar School

State Day and Boarding School for Boys Aged 11 to 18

Coeducational Sixth Form

Founded in 1472 we are one of the UK’s top grammar schools for boys with a coeducational Sixth Form.

Exceptional value for money with free tuition. Fees for boarding are only one third of the fees of independent schools. Our commitment to achieving excellence at an educational and extracurricular level makes LRGS an exceptional place to learn and grow as an individual.

Rated ‘Outstanding for Boarding’ by Ofsted.

Boarding for boys aged 11-18, girls and boys for Sixth Form.

2022 results: Over 77% of all A-level results were graded A*, A or B. 63% of all pupils gained at least seven GCSE grades at 7, 8 & 9. 13 Oxbridge offers in 2022. Please visit our website to find out more.

“Pupils enjoy a first-class range of enrichment activities”. Ofsted

“The school has at its heart the aim to help children to excel.” Ofsted

Sixth Form provision is outstanding” Ofsted

Open Day 17 June 2023

Sixth Form Open Evening October 2023

@LRGSL ancaster L ancaster royalgrammarschool L ancaster royal grammar school
All that they can be. EST.1593 Open Doors 4th & 11th March 29th April Co-ed 3-18 Boarding & Day Jesuit, Catholic School

Since The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) was founded in 1956, it has helped generations of

More than six decades later, our mission remains the same: to offer young people the opportunity to follow their passions, discover new talents and gain skills to help them for years to come, and to make a positive difference to their community. In 2021–22, 321,622 young people started their DofE – the highest in our history. Nearly a third of 14 year olds in the UK started a Bronze DofE (30.5 per cent). To date, more than 7 million young people in the UK have completed their DofE, and we’re confident our impact will continue to grow.

a ‘do-it-yourself growing up kit’.

Throughout the decades, the DofE has evolved and expanded to reflect young people’s changing lives. In 1958, two years after our creation, the Award – originally only open to young men – was extended to girls. In 1988, The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award was established to

bring the DofE to more young people globally. The International Award is now offered in 130 countries. The list of activities young people can do has grown. For example, we have added esports as an option and the number of girls taking up skateboarding for their DofE has increased by 800 per cent.

When I became CEO, I was excited to join a charity that makes such a huge difference to young people’s lives. What I didn’t expect was to find myself steering us through an unprecedented pandemic followed by a major cost of living crisis.

COVID-19 has hit young people hard. We know it has affected their mental health, education and job opportunities. Now they find themselves navigating soaring living costs and a likely recession.

young people develop the skills, resilience and self-belief they need to overcome whatever life throws at them – Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh himself described it as
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award
– making a difference to young people’s lives

But time and again through the DofE’s history, young people have shown that, when we give them the right tools, there are no limits to what they can overcome and achieve. It is times like these when the unique benefits of non-formal educational opportunities like the DofE come to the fore.

The DofE gives young people skills and experiences they can’t get in a classroom – an opportunity to excel and achieve regardless of their interests, background or abilities. They can choose their own challenges, follow their passions and discover new skills. It provides a chance to escape, have fun and make friends for life –all while working towards a highly respected award.

There is clear evidence that cocurricular learning boosts academic achievement, improves wellbeing and contributes to young people succeeding in employment. We know from asking our participants that the DofE gives them transferable skills like teamwork, communication and time management and develops their confidence and resilience. This makes a DofE Award a highly respected and widely recognised mark of achievement that can help a young person stand out to employers. We know employers see so-called ‘soft skills’ as equal to academic achievements. In the UK, more than 100 top employers, including British Gas, Google, ITV and Burberry, endorsed the skills and attributes young people develop from their DofE.

Even more importantly, activities like the DofE broaden young people’s horizons and help them grow in resilience and self-belief in a way that academic study can’t always do. Young people step out of their comfort

zone, learn through practical experience, give their time to causes they care about, and meet people they might never have met otherwise. They prove to themselves they’re capable of achieving things they never thought possible – and discover that their potential is limitless.

Sixty-seven years after our foundation, the DofE is run all over the UK, in schools, youth clubs. prisons, hospitals, sports clubs and fostering agencies. Our vision is a UK where every young person has a fair chance to succeed and feels ready to tackle the challenges life throws at them. That’s why we’re aiming to reach one million young people in the UK – a fitting legacy for our patron, the Duke of Edinburgh, whose vision helped change millions of lives.

Those first Award holders in 1956 could not have dreamt of doing esports for their DofE – or updating their progress on the go with the DofE app, as today’s participants do. But they would still recognise the heart of the DofE – a ‘do-it-yourself growing-up kit’ that can help young people get the most out of their lives, whoever they are and whatever they choose to do.

For more information about The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award go to, email or call 01752 727400

Since joining The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in 2019, Ruth Marvel has developed a strategy which aims to reach out to more young people and ensured they have had the support of the DofE during lockdown. The launch of DofE With a Difference has meant hundreds of thousands of young people could continue their DofE in the face of a pandemic. The introduction of the Resilience Fund also supported thousands of young people to start their DofE despite economic hardship. Before becoming the CEO at the DofE, Ruth was Acting CEO at Girlguiding and before that she was Director of Strategy and Innovation at the disability charity Scope. Ruth spent most of her early career in advocacy, research and public policy roles and she has successfully campaigned for comprehensive disability and human rights and greater investment in social care for disabled people. She has developed one of the sector’s first theories of change, set up an innovation unit, and helped design new ways to measure the social impact of charities. Ruth is passionate about social justice and she has a particular interest in advancing opportunities for young people, social innovation and the power of design thinking to solve social problems. Ruth is a Trustee of GoodGym, and a Fellow of the Clore Social Leadership Programme. She lives in London with her partner Mary and their three children.


Learning modern foreign languages at a boarding school

Since its removal from the core GCSE curriculum in 2004, the number of pupils in the UK taking GCSE languages has been in decline. According to a recent survey published by the European Commission, just 38 per cent of people in the UK can speak one foreign language, well below the European Union average of 56 per cent. With A-level courses in some schools becoming unsustainable and university language courses closing, it could be said that the future of modern foreign languages in schools looks bleak. However, the benefits of learning a foreign language are plentiful. As well as the economic benefits of learning languages in terms of improved trading between countries worldwide, languages help us to meet new people, learn new skills and expand career opportunities and they make foreign travel easier. Schools therefore have a responsibility to ensure pupils understand the advantages of studying a foreign language.

In a boarding community where diversity is valued and different cultural backgrounds are celebrated, the study of modern foreign languages is more important than ever. It is important to ensure that pupils receive a broad linguist diet by choosing a linguistic focus and rationale upon which to base the curriculum. In UK schools, this focus is very often on Europe, with French, German and Spanish on the curriculum (although many independent schools also offer Russian, Mandarin, Arabic or Japanese). The aim is to equip pupils with a basic understanding and knowledge of the two main language systems of Europe – the Romance languages of the south and the Germanic languages of the north. It is hoped that having such a rationale will enable pupils to have a positive, enjoyable and informative experience of modern language teaching and encourage an awareness of the communities at large, around the world, which share the target languages and cultures. French is still the most commonly taught language in English secondary schools, although over the last 20 years, there has been a decline in numbers taking French and German with a significant rise in Spanish.


Language learning celebrates the cultural traditions and history of the target language while learning about the lifestyle and issues associated with young people today. In modern foreign language departments throughout the UK, the emphasis should be on learning that extends beyond the classroom to allow full engagement and ultimately a love of the language, the country, its people and its culture. This can be achieved in a number of ways.

Visits or exchange programmes provide students with the opportunity to immerse themselves in the language and culture of a country. Sadly, annual trips to France,

Deputy Head Pastoral, Monmouth School for Girls

Germany and Spain were missing from the co-curricular programme with the uncertainty of foreign travel and the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but schools still took part in online programmes and activities.

At Monmouth School for Girls, Year 9 pupils took part in an online exchange programme with a German school where they shared video podcasts to talk about cultural differences involving the Christmas period.

It is important to enthuse and inspire pupils by offering a stimulating learning environment within the classroom. Competitions are also a great way to get pupils involved with language. From poetry recitations and Christmas card designing to songs and inter-schools debating competitions, there are no limits to what schools can offer pupils in language activities outside the classroom. The Dresden Scholarship programme is an excellent initiative, where selected Year 13 students are sent to the University of Dresden to follow an academic programme, while living and immersing themselves in student life in the city. The

Oxford German Olympiad is another popular competition that gives students the opportunity to extend their subject knowledge and compete against other likeminded linguists at a national level. These opportunities enrich students and build confidence, giving them the chance to use their language in creative and imaginative ways.

Work experience abroad is also a fantastic addition to any CV and a great way to build confidence, learn new skills and improve communicating in the target language. It is something that certainly benefited me as a sixth-form student and cemented my desire to follow a career in modern languages. Taking part in such initiatives also develops vocabulary and a firm grasp of grammar, enabling pupils to achieve their potential in external examinations.

I am always amazed by the creativity of pupils when coming up with ideas to promote languages. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing pupils getting enthused and excited by something for which you share a mutual love.

Rachel Rees

Here at Monmouth School for Girls, with the Year 9 German Christmas Market trips cancelled, pupils recreated the markets in our own school corridors and ran the stalls themselves, with proceeds going to charity. For European Day of Languages pupils and staff who were fluent in a second language offered a ‘blind date’ of taster lessons to promote their own language. To the delight of all those who participated, pupils interested in learning a new language were randomly allocated lessons in Turkish, Afrikaans, Arabic, Japanese and Hindu, to name but a few of the options on offer.

Pupils should be taught the benefit of language learning from an early age. They need to know that all languages are valuable. The acquisition of any language can expand linguistic capability, enhance employability, enrich cultural understanding and provide a valuable resource which helps to overcome communication barriers.

Rachel Rees is Deputy Head Pastoral at Monmouth School for Girls having previously held the post of Director of Sixth Form. Before this, she taught at Langley Park School for Boys in Beckenham and The Ravensbourne School in Bromley. She has 21 years’ experience teaching modern foreign languages throughout the key stages in both state and independent schools. She is completing a MEd in Educational Leadership and Management at Buckingham University.

GSA Day & Boarding School since 1885 | 4 - 18 years

We are welcoming more and more girls in Year 7 at the start of their journey and spaces in our new and award winning Sixth Form boarding house, ‘The 6,’ are in demand.

We firmly believe in the benefits of boarding, amongst them:

• increased independence and resourcefulness

• the ability to organise academic, social and extra-curricular time

• learning to develop positive emotions and relationships

• the care and support of a global community

• access to the School’s facilities before and after the School day

• open-mindedness, empathy and understanding that comes from living with others

• reduced self-consciousness and acceptance of difference


Call or email for our free guides:

00 44 (0) 1483 899609


HARPENDEN A non-denominational Christian day and boarding school 11-18 coeducational boarding at one of the UK's top performing non-selective schools for less than £5000 per term En suite study bedrooms for every sixth form boarder | Total flexibility over full or weekly boarding Herts AL5 4TD | | 01582 765477

Twenty-first century learning

– embracing technology to drive a culture of learning

Sherborne Girls sets out to nurture and inspire a vibrant community of fulfilled, inquisitive and confident young women who are thoroughly prepared to enter higher education and embark on their future lives, with a desire to make a difference. A fundamental part of our vision and aim to develop the future generation of twenty-first century women is ensuring every pupil is comfortable and confident with digital technology, appreciating its importance and the opportunities it brings. The development of the use of technology is fully aligned with our five core values of curiosity, courage, compassion, adaptability and spirituality.

Having committed fully in 2019 to developing our digital strategy, all our teachers were provided with a Microsoft pen-enabled device, and a training company spent a week at the school helping every teacher enhance their teaching through the use of Microsoft OneNote and Teams and pen-enabled technology. We appointed two digital leaders, supported by eight digital champions, to drive the digital strategy forward, and we implemented regular staff training sessions and one-to-one workshops with IT professionals.

The move to pen-enabled devices and collaborative software changed the impact of the education offered and at the same time made it more adaptable

to individual needs and allowed teachers and pupils to interact with each other more effectively. It facilitated improved teacher feedback, quality use of prep time, individual organisation, efficient use of class time, and immediate access to resources to add interest and experiences to classroom teaching.

When we went into the first lockdown in March 2020, the school was, therefore, well placed and prepared for the transition from traditional to remote learning. Teachers and pupils felt comfortable and confident with the shift and we were pleased with the positive feedback we received from parents, pupils and staff.


With pupils back at school, we continued to embrace technology to drive and develop teaching and learning. A learning technologist was appointed to help us develop and refine our digital offering further, inspire staff in the use of technology and investigate new ways in which technology can be used to improve and transform learning.

We set out to shift the conversation from the digital champions to heads of department who best understand the individual strengths and needs of their team. A whole-staff survey provided further clarity on individual use of technology, comfort level and skill gaps, which in turn helped identify and prioritise appropriate

support. Training sessions have become departmental priorities delivered at a team or individual level.

Numerous areas of common ground were agreed across departments. For example, on a practical level, the use of OneNote and Teams has been optimised for assignmentsetting and feedback flow. We also addressed the challenges of collecting and storing pupil-made videos, an issue which had been flagged by teachers in several practical subject areas.

From a pedagogical perspective, there was interest in low- or no-prep formative assessment tools for engaging pupils during live, blended or remote teaching. Pupils are encouraged to be more active participants in the feedback process, responding to personalised comments, which the teacher annotates while recording spoken explanations. We are also exploring bespoke projects such as mixed reality in biology, collaborative creative writing in English and using the model of a head to create binaural soundscapes in drama.

New ways of living and working have made it even more important for staff and pupils to develop their skills of communication, collaboration and teamwork. We have discovered new ways to connect, share ideas and show support, our horizons have been broadened and we have engaged with wider and more geographically dispersed audiences. As such, our community has developed a deeper understanding and political, social and environmental empathy. Our digital strategy has underpinned all these developments and continues to be a priority as we embrace technology to drive a culture of learning.

Louise Orton is Senior Deputy Head (Academic) at Sherborne Girls, responsible for the school’s academic life and provision. She started her teaching career as a mathematics teacher at Queen Anne’s Caversham, where she became Head of Fourth Forms. She spent a short time at Wycombe High, Wycombe Abbey and the British School of Brussels before joining Sherborne Girls. Louise is driven by the challenge of creating an innovative curriculum promoting exploration and investigation in teaching and learning and seeking opportunities to equip pupils for life in the twenty-first century.


The importance of creativity

The arts are often considered the poor relation to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects, which are seen as vital skills in a modern economy. Indeed, some people regard the arts as a soft option. However, there is now a growing recognition of a critical need for creative thinking and visual skills within the STEM mix, and a new acronym STEAM (Science, Technology Engineering, Arts and Maths) is now preferred by educationalists.

This development is exciting and has great potential to attract a whole new cohort of pupils who might otherwise disengage from STEM subjects. Once art and design technology is blended in with the traditional STEM subjects, a more imaginative and innovative picture emerges. STEAM has already gathered significant momentum in the US, spearheaded by academics and students at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), who developed a curriculum which brought together the five STEAM subjects. Their goal was to educate the world of academia about the importance of incorporating creative thinking and visual learning in the classroom.

This is not a new concept – think of the Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci, who was a master not only of art but also scientific invention. Or more recently, the Industrial Revolution in Great Britain when art, science and engineering were close and successful companions.

The Design Council argues that good design capability can boost the UK’s competitiveness

and certainly the UK has a world-class reputation for art and design, going back centuries. But how many people have heard of British designer Sir Jonathan Ive? He was Chief Design Officer of Apple and he designed the iPhone, iPad and MacBook. Without his design genius, Apple would essentially be an engineering company. Creativity is the magic ingredient that turned Apple into the multi-billion dollar business that it is today. Giants like Tesler, Apple and Google frequently recruit individuals who have a creative rather than technical background. They are hired for their design talent, innovation and problem-solving skills.


Creativity and imagination can set you apart in a world where technology and artificial intelligence (AI) are taking over many roles. Indeed, few jobs in the creative industries are at risk of automation. The iterative process involved in studying creative subjects leads pupils to constantly question their work and want to improve or add and try new approaches; a valuable skill in the workplace – and in life.

A report published in 2019 by the Durham Commission on Creativity and Education agreed that creativity is the driver of

economic growth and innovation, stating that our national economy has been boosted by the success of the creative industries in the past ten years. Such success will only increase, the report continues, as long as we can ensure that young people are given the opportunity to experience and develop skills in art, drama, music, design, craft and digital awareness – the foundation of the creative industries. The report concludes that creativity is now one of the most sought after clusters of skills for all employers.

Encouraging young people from as early an age as possible to engage in art and design and value these subjects as much as maths and other subjects, is a critical first step in establishing a STEAM culture in the UK. In doing so we will develop in pupils the skills of problem-solving, independent thinking, planning, development, organisation, communication and presentation.

Many schools understand the opportunity offered by these subjects but there needs to be a greater investment in creativity in all schools, in all parts of the country. In one of

Victoria Rose held a range of roles in the creative industry and education before she became Director of Art at Dauntsey’s. She began her career as an art director in an advertising agency, where she gained awards for advertising effectiveness and creativity. She then began her own business as a freelance artist, illustrator and designer. She has exhibited at numerous venues and as a member of the Association of Illustrators she was also selected for the Best of British Illustration awards three years in a row. Victoria has also lectured on an Art and Design Foundation course. She uses this experience at Dauntsey’s to help pupils discover their artistic talents and understand how these talents are relevant to careers in the creative industry.

the most watched TED talks of all time the late educationalist Sir Ken Robinson argued that creativity is as important as literacy and should be given equal status. He defined creativity as ‘the process of having original ideas that have value’.

No longer should Art A level be seen as an easy option. Creative subjects encourage

students to take thoughtful risks, engage in experiential learning, persist in problemsolving, embrace collaboration and work through the creative process in order to produce innovative results. These are skills for the world of work beyond the classroom and further education. These are skills for life.


Teaching empathy

Consider the experience of being a boarder in the twenty-first century – tentatively exploring ‘who I am’ through the glaring lens of relentless social media feeds, with the emotional burdens of ‘always on’ connectivity, commentary and unprecedented self-comparison to peers. Add to this the worries of climate change, political upheaval and the arrival of a game-changing global pandemic. Such psychological pressures are compounded by the rapid pace of technological change, where more than half of children entering primary school today will end up working in completely new jobs that don’t yet exist. How can our children and young people be better prepared to cope in such a world?

Drama may hold the key. An indication of this direction of travel can be seen in a recent World Economic Forum report The Future of Jobs 2020 (https://www. The report notes that employers are prioritising creativity and emotional intelligence. These more ‘human’ skills are seen to balance the trend towards artificial intelligence and machine learning.

As a result of the cultural and employment challenges facing our young learners today we may need to re-evaluate the kinds of knowledge and

capacities that will empower them to thrive in an unknowable future. And here we come to an old idea. Aristotle’s concept of phronesis or ‘practical wisdom’ is an intelligence gathered from practical action and creativity that ultimately informs a person how to ‘be’ in the world. Concerned with not only the ‘head’ (what to know) but crucially also with the ‘hand’ (how to act) as well as the ‘heart’ (how to feel), Aristotle emphasised the significance of not only ‘what to know’ but also ‘how to know’.


So how do we provide opportunities to facilitate practical wisdom and emotional intelligence in our schools? I believe that teaching and learning drama is a compelling answer. By embodying characters from other times and places, drama uses the universality of human experience to uncover shared emotional and personal connections. Drama can develop perspectives between ‘self’ and ‘other’ through its inherently social and collaborative methods of working, encouraging empathic thinking and behaviour. During the iterative process of creating a piece of drama, creativity and imagination help to provide a transformative space of possibility that supports the development of practical wisdom, kindness, healing and understanding – qualities that transfer readily to the wider life of the pupil.

With its consideration of multiple perspectives, drama explicitly teaches what many consider to be one of the most urgent capacities in education: empathy. The word ‘empathy’ originates from the German philosophical term Einfühlung (‘feeling into’) and the Greek root pathos, which translates as ‘emotion, suffering and pity’. It is now understood to mean the ability to move beyond ourselves in order to understand the feelings and experiences of others.

A facility to empathise enables the skills of collaboration, complex problemsolving and cognitive flexibility needed to negotiate life in a busy boarding school, as well as developing other critical emotional intelligences necessary for adulthood in the twenty-first century.

Arts Faculty, Wells Cathedral School

The late educationalist Ken Robinson made an urgent call for empathy as the next educational disruptor – he believed that many of the problems children face are rooted in failures of empathy. The ability to ‘feel into’ can facilitate the development of a child or young person experiencing challenges into an agile, resourceful and resilient adult.

As a drama teacher, this concern with practical wisdom and empathy has led me to pursue my own research focusing on dramaturgical strategies that enable pupils to develop and deepen their foundational human capacity to imagine the world of another; a competency that may help them to adapt and thrive together in the modern world of an unknowable future. Children and young people face an unprecedented scale of challenge and by refining our approach to not only ‘what’ kind of knowledge is useful but more importantly, ‘how’ to know it, I believe we are giving them every chance to succeed in whatever landscape they find themselves in after their time with us. They deserve nothing less.

Damian Todres is Director of Drama and Head of the Creative Arts Faculty at Wells Cathedral School, winner of Independent School of the Year 2020 in the Performing Arts category. This article is drawn from his final University of Oxford MSc dissertation entitled ‘Imagining the Other’, which investigated how educators can facilitate and explicitly teach empathy.


Recognising the physical and mental value of sport

The physical and mental wellbeing of pupils is central to a boarding school’s sports offering. Sport is a crucial part of boarding school life. It provides a healthy and active lifestyle, promotes good physical and mental wellbeing, teaches teamwork and leadership skills, and develops resilience, determination and many other important life skills.

All independent schools aim to create an activity diet that engages all pupils in an enjoyable, challenging and meaningful way, through traditional team sports, individual sports and outdoor pursuits – encouraging them to adopt a healthy and active lifestyle. Through these activities pupils learn important life skills and often choose at least one sport they wish to

continue to develop when they leave school. Hurst also offers a unique player welfare programme, with qualified physiotherapists who triage and monitor injuries and support rehabilitation, as well as providing pitch-side cover on match days. Pupils also benefit from clinic time and rehabilitation during the week. This forms part of the college’s wellbeing programme which includes strength and conditioning, sports analysis and individual mentoring.


Another key element for a boarding school is the importance of sport for all. All pupils should be given equal opportunities to be involved in sport –pupils who simply want to participate just as much as pupils who are or aim

to become élite performers. And sport for all not only includes a school’s own pupils but also other schools and organisations in the local community. With excellent facilities and a sustained programme of development, many boarding schools have the capacity to host major sporting events. For example, Hurst created the Sussex Independent School Diamond League Athletics Programme, one of many community initiatives which have proved popular. The college has also forged strong links with maintained schools by hosting development days, as well as being a hub for Surrey Storm Netball South and Sussex County Cricket academies, a feeder for the Harlequins Rugby Development Programme and the base for Sussex Hockey. As with many boarding

schools, Hurst also organises and plays host to regional and national competitions and events in a variety of sports.

The driving force behind a high-quality school sports programme is successful collaboration with pupils and parents as well as a constant desire to improve. Schools not only strive to establish a reputation for the quality, breadth and inclusivity of their sporting provision, but also for the passion and commitment of their staff who aim to ensure that each pupil develops a lifelong love of sport and physical activity. Hurst’s excellent staff coaching team is supported by professional coaches, who are all experts in their fields.

With the unprecedented circumstances surrounding COVID-19 lockdown, many school sports departments responded to the unique challenge of remote learning by implementing alternative ways of engagement to deliver a comprehensive programme, including onsite options for children of key workers. This creative and dynamic approach continued when pupils returned in September 2020 for the new academic year. For obvious reasons schools made it a priority for pupils to be outside in the fresh air as much as possible and this challenged sports departments to be inventive with the options they offered, using facilities to their best advantage.

Our autumn term began with athletics, cross-country events and cricket – which took place throughout the winter months. We met the requirement for pupils to be in year group bubbles by introducing some temporary facilities, such as a golf driving range and a marquee to house aerobics and spin classes. Although matches against other schools were suspended, more house competitions and intramural fixtures were introduced as an alternative and most of these took place during the Saturday programme of sport, when external fixtures are normally played.

Hurst won the Sporting Achievement award in the Independent Schools of the Year 2020 Awards for our focus on recognising the physical and mental value of sport and sharing the benefits with the wider community, including the children of key workers during lockdown.

Rob Kift has been Director of Sport at Hurst College since 1995 and is also President of the Common Room. Rob joined the college in 1990 as Assistant Director of Sport. He was the first Head of Academic PE and a Housemaster for five years.

The importance of pastoral care

Since it was established in 1965, St David’s College has always placed enormous value in focusing on the individual and supporting each pupil to realise the potential of their own gifts –giving them the freedom to flourish.

When parents are looking for the right boarding school for their family, three of the most important questions they usually have are: Where will my child sleep? What will they eat? Who will support them? In the past, support may have been academically focused but now more than ever there is a need for pastoral support.

Pastoral care is a school commitment to the wellbeing of every pupil and is always at its best when the pupils are at the centre of everything the school does. Pastoral care programmes consider many different elements of a pupil’s life in the school. Physical activity, social inclusion, emotional support and intellectual development are all key to the happiness of any child in an independent school. Happy, content children with a positive attitude are more likely to approach their studies with focus and a willingness to learn.

Modern families want their children to be educated in a nurturing environment where they can learn in a family atmosphere. Matrons traditionally had an important part to play in the pastoral structure of boarding schools and although the role – and often the title – has changed in many schools, there remains a need for someone outside the academic staff to provide this pastoral role. How this is achieved varies from school to school.


Two-way communication between pastoral staff/houseparents and pupils is key. Pupils must feel comfortable enough to go to staff with any worries or concerns. Staff strive to get to know their pupils as well as possible and make themselves available to them – in the case of houseparents, this can be 24/7.

Feedback from pupils about their thoughts on pastoral care provision is critical. They are the ones who are experiencing the care and their feelings will be important in making sure the support provides exactly what they need. This is why an open dialogue between pupils and staff is so important.

Genuinely exceptional pastoral care is constant and permeates throughout a pupil’s educational experience. Pastoral care can be in the classroom, part of co-curricular activities, on outdoor education expeditions or during preparations for a school production or concert. Continued support and guidance prepares pupils for the world after they leave school. Providing opportunities to grow, work as a team, develop resilience and leadership skills, and most importantly the will to never give up, will help to carry each pupil throughout their life.

When every child feels safe in the knowledge that they are a valued member of the community, their true potential can be discovered, nurtured and given the freedom to flourish.

Andrew Russell became Headmaster of St David’s College in 2017. After studying accounting and economics at the University of Southampton, Andrew was an accountant before becoming a teacher. He joined St David’s 29 years ago and during that time he has been Head of Maths, Head of Careers, Tryfan Housemaster, Assistant Head and Deputy Head. He was drawn to St David’s because it combines his passions – teaching and being in the outdoors.

Outstanding facilities, an all-round education and endless opportunities await you at The Duke of York s Royal Military School. Our a ordable full boarding school, open to 11–18-year-olds, significantly out performed GCSE national attainment (2022). Students benefit from excellent teaching, a comprehensive curriculum and breadth of activities beyond the classroom; developing strong character and diverse life skills. Begin your journey as a Dukie today.

A co-educational boarding school for students aged 11-18 LOOKING FORWARD WITH CONFIDENCE AND LOOKING BACK WITH PRIDE An outstanding independent boarding education for girls aged 11 to 18 years Open days and individual tours available | 01635 204701 “We found friends for life.” Dhyaana and Georgia Discover Downe House BSA DH advert 185x125.indd 1 27/01/2023 15:46:55 THE BSA GUIDE TO BOARDING SCHOOLS • SPRING 2023 / BOARDING AT AN INDEPENDENT SCHOOL / 75

How boarding schools support military families

Deciding on the right school for any family can be daunting. But for Service families, the decision can be even more difficult. As well as looking for the same strong academic and co-curricular opportunities as other parents, they also want to be completely reassured that the school understands the additional concerns and demands that serving military families may have.

So it is not surprising that when I ask serving military parents with school-aged children what is most important to them when choosing a school, every one of them mentions pastoral support as their number one priority, closely followed by a solid, full boarding community.

Children of military families have experiences unlike those of most other families. They move home frequently and as a result they experience disruption to their schooling, friendships and social networks. A serving parent may be absent for extended periods of time – aside from the emotional absence, this can mean the serving parent misses key school events

and activities, and this issue may apply to both parents if the family home is not near the school.

Full boarding is usually high on the agenda for Service families and a full programme of weekend activities for pupils is essential. However, schools must also appreciate that a parent who has been on tour might not be able to choose when they return from deployment or when their R&R time falls. Offering weekend flexibility for them to spend time together helps the family readjust and strengthens school/parent/ child relationships.


Although regiments offer families support, a comforting presence at school is essential for pupils. Postings for serving military personnel and their families can be anywhere in the world, sometimes at relatively short notice, and this can be unsettling for children and their parents. Some deployments may be to hostile environments, the dangers of which are regularly highlighted in the media, and so children have the additional worry about their parent’s safety. This can sometimes cause their emotions to overflow at unusual times, e.g. in class when discussing a particular topic. Parents need reassurance that during these times staff will be sensitive to and aware of the individual needs of their child and always on hand to provide support.

Schools can support Service families in many other ways. For example, they may contact the parent left at home, not only to give an update on their child’s wellbeing but also to find out how they themselves are doing, and checking that their partner is in contact and safe. Parents, particularly those with children of prep school age, will need assurance that in loco parentis actually means that. Are the usual teeth cleaning and hair brushing checks happening? Is there someone who notices if a child is looking particularly tired and who will suggest an early night?

Not all schools allow unlimited access to mobile phones, and indeed younger children might not have them at all. Enabling parents to remain involved and engaged in their child’s education is key. Examples include virtual bedtime reading, enabling online access to parent/teacher meetings, ensuring phone calls across the world are possible to suit both time zones, livestream/recording concerts and plays so that they are accessible for all, and short, regular emails to parents with a photo of their child engaged in activity. These all help to facilitate strong parent/school relationships.

Some families choose schools with high numbers of military children but, more and more, parents I speak to are not looking for their children to be at a school which

is simply an extension of ‘the patch’. They want to break away from the military world and have their children join a school where they are part of a strong boarding community with pupils from a wide variety of geographical locations, both within the UK and beyond, and where they can make stable friendships for life.

As an ex-servicewoman myself, supporting military families is something I am passionate about. Sherborne matches that passion. Some of our housemasters have experienced military life themselves, either as former serving personnel or as children. As a result, they appreciate the additional complexities of these pupils’ lives. They understand that the boys in their charge newed to know they are there to support and reassure them when they feel anxious, without being singled out as the ‘military kids’. Honest and open communication, combined with an acknowledgment of the additional concerns of Service children, are key to building trust and positive

relationships, with the boys and with their parents.

And what about the military children themselves? Quite simply, they enhance our school. Their personal experiences mean that they tend to be seasoned boarders, take a move to senior school in their stride and support other pupils who have never experienced being away from home before. They generally have a strong sense of purpose and loyalty and demonstrate great resilience. We feel very privileged to have military children and their families at Sherborne and look forward to continuing to welcome them to our community in the years ahead.

Anne joined Sherborne School in June 2022 and is responsible for the development and delivery of the pupil admissions strategy. Having worked in the independent education sector for many years, both at prep and senior schools, Anne has extensive experience in supporting prospective pupils and parents during the admissions journey.

Boarding in the North of England

The North of England is understandably a popular choice for boarders and their families. With vibrant cities, stunning coastlines and spectacular landscapes, the North attracts boarders from across the UK and beyond. This area of the UK is renowned for its friendly communities, and a warm welcome awaits boarders who choose to call the North of England their home.

There is a range of boarding options available to suit the needs of each individual child. Whether you are looking for city-centre vibrancy or rural tranquillity, you will find the perfect setting for your child in the North of England. Its cities offer an ideal blend

of history and culture along with modern dynamism. York is a popular and dynamic hub with a sense of history around every corner, and with large cosmopolitan cities nearby such as Leeds and Newcastle and the beauty of Durham, there is something here for everyone.


At St Peter’s School, pupils are fortunate to have the historic city of York on their doorstep. York is frequently voted as one of the best places to live in the UK and it has a rich history with the city as we now know it dating back to the Roman period. It is the perfect place for boarders to explore on weekends, from the magnificent York

Minster to museums, ancient city walls, art galleries and an exciting range of festivals and events throughout the year.

St Peter’s combines city living with outdoor space for children to grow and thrive. Despite being just five minutes’ walk away from the centre of York, boarders can also enjoy the freedom offered by the school’s 50-acre campus on the banks of the River Ouse.

Beyond the cities, the North of England also offers many opportunities for adventure and exploration. From Northumberland to East Yorkshire, the stunning coastline is popular with schools as a destination for educational

visits. Whitby is especially popular and pupils can regularly be found combing the coast at Flamborough Head on geography field trips.

Northern England is also home to several Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and three National Parks: the Yorkshire Dales, the North York Moors and the Lake District National Park, which has recently been added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Whether boarders are studying in cities or in the countryside, these stunning landscapes are easily accessible on weekends.

Our northern schools have some of the most successful school sports teams in the country, and offer music, art and drama to the highest standard plus CCF, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and a wide range of activities and clubs. Combined with exemplary pastoral care, this means pupils can experience absolutely everything on offer at school and still have time to relax and make lifelong friendships in their boarding houses.


The North of England enjoys access to several international airports including Manchester, Leeds, Doncaster and Newcastle, and many schools are also well connected to London by train. York is under 2 hours by train from London while Newcastle is 3½ hours by train from London, making these cities easily accessible for UK and international boarders.

With so much to offer, it is hardly surprising that places at boarding schools in the North of England have become increasingly attractive in recent years and with a large military presence it is a popular area for Service families.

Founded in 627 AD, St Peter’s School is the third oldest school in the country. It was named The Sunday Times North Independent School of the Year in 2019 and Tes Independent School of the Year 2021.

Jeremy Walker has been Head Master at St Peter’s since 2019. He spent his school days as a full boarder and was educated at Sherborne School and Oxford University. Previous roles have included Principal of King’s School Rochester, Headmaster of Berkhamsted Sixth and Housemaster and Head of RS and Theory of Knowledge at Ardingly College.

Our northern schools have some of the most successful school sports teams in the country.

Boarding in Ireland

Ireland performs consistently highly in the global educational rankings and offers a wide and diverse range of activities, history and culture. Rathdown School is a boarding school in Glenageary, Co Dublin, set on a hill overlooking the sea at Dún Laoghaire, with inland views of the Wicklow Mountains. It is within easy reach of Dublin city, the surrounding counties and Dublin airport. Boarders come from a wide range of backgrounds and nationalities with pupils travelling from around Ireland and from abroad. This variety of nationalities promotes an awareness of cultural diversity, fostering mutual understanding and respect for the individuality of others. At Rathdown, significant emphasis is placed on pastoral care and student wellbeing, as we know happy and contended students engage and perform better. We offer a friendly and caring home-from-home environment at the heart of the Rathdown community.

Brian Moore Head of School and Senior School Principal, Rathdown School


There is a fantastic range of activities and trips on offer across Ireland, including seaside and hill walks, the beautiful Irish beaches and mountains, bike riding in Phoenix Park and a boat trip in Dublin Bay. Various traditional festivities are celebrated in Ireland including St Patrick’s Day, Christmas and Halloween. Boarders also have an opportunity to discover Irish culture and history on day trips to places such as Trinity College, Dublin, Titanic Belfast or longer tours of Ireland’s most scenic regions like Achill Island and Connemara. There are many sports choices in Ireland including hockey, tennis, football, gaelic football, basketball, sailing and cricket, all of which are played by our boarding and day pupils both in the week and at weekends.


In Ireland, children need to have reached 12 years of age by the May of the year of entry into the first year. Second-level education consists of a three-year junior cycle followed by a three-year senior cycle including a transition year. The junior cycle culminates in state examinations similar to GCSEs at the end of the third year. Transition year takes place in the fourth year. It allows pupils to study their core subjects as well as a experiencing a wide range of educational activities with a focus on group project work, volunteering, cultural trips, projects, life skills and work experience. Pupils are also given a taster of the complete range of subjects on offer to them for senior cycle. Fourth- and sixth-year pupils take subjects at Higher or Ordinary level. This is a two-year syllabus, culminating in the leaving certificate, similar to A levels. The six best grades are counted as points for entry into Irish universities or converted for UCAS or other international university entrance requirements.

Brian Moore has been Head of School and Senior School Principal at Rathdown School since 2016. He is a graduate of University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin, where he was awarded an MSc in Educational Leadership and Management. An avid sportsman, Brian represented Leinster and Ireland at schoolboy level in cricket and has enjoyed a lifetime of playing and coaching rugby. Informed by his involvement in sport, Brian understands the importance of sport, music and the arts and involvement in co-curricular activities for teenagers.


Sixth-form boarding

Many young people have to decide whether to continue at their school into sixth form, start sixth-form boarding if they have been day pupils, or attend a new sixth-form college. At first glance, all these options offer the same but look further and there are significant advantages and opportunities provided by sixth forms in boarding schools.

Boarding sixth forms provide leadership opportunities, a rigorous timetable and a chance to continue with team sports. As well as academic co-curricular options available to all sixth-form students, sixthformers in boarding schools can seamlessly continue with their co-curricular activities such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) or the Combined Cadet Force (CCF), while still benefiting from a more controlled and disciplined environment.


Choosing to board in sixth form further enhances the boarding experience by introducing independent living in a supportive environment – a pre-university taster. At Gordon’s, sixth-form pupils are expected to dress as if for the workplace

and to arrive punctually in the mornings and for their lessons and commitments. An extended school day is available for all pupils and allows them to study until 9pm if they wish. Each sixth-former is assigned a House – either a boarding House or day House. These are actual houses – somewhere to congregate at break times, relax, play table tennis – a place where individuals become family and the relationships formed last for life.

But it’s not all focused on academia in a sixth-form boarding setting. There are opportunities to continue team sports (and learn new ones), take up leadership roles, perform in drama, music and other events, achieve a Gold Duke of Edinburgh's Award or even study for an ILM (Institute of

Leadership and Management) qualification.

At Gordon’s, sixth-formers who want a senior prefect role have to complete an application form, ask their Head of House for a reference and undergo an interview process – a good introduction to the world of work.


Boarding sixth forms also offer extensive help and support as pupils start to prepare for life after school. At Gordon’s, sixthformers start to build their CVs as well as embarking on their EPQ (Extended Project Qualification). There is a weekly liberal arts programme, increasing their knowledge of international affairs and developing them as global citizens. Independent study is encouraged and enabled with private study rooms, although extra support and help is always on hand with clinics in academic subjects and tutor meetings. By the end of Year 12, the tutor meetings become more UCAS-focused and students are taken off timetable to concentrate on their university applications. For pupils wishing to apply to Oxford or Cambridge there are dedicated Oxbridge clinics. Would-be medical students have a dedicated tutor and the chance to explore medicine through schemes like Meducators.


For pupils planning a gap year, a discounted TEFL course (teaching english as a foreign language) course is on offer. There are also safer driving courses, drugs and gambling awareness courses and careers insight talks. In their last year at Gordon’s, sixth-formers take part in an open study programme giving them a chance to reflect on themselves, organise their time and assess and improve themselves.

Shantilly Robertson, a sixth-form boarder at Gordon’s says: ‘I would recommend sixthform boarding to anyone. There are always extra activities and a structure that makes you do your work on time! I love living with the other girls in our house. There is always someone there. They’re like family and some nights it’s like having a big sleepover! There are really enjoyable things you can do, like going to the sports hall and playing volleyball or the sixth-form quiz. Although the boarding house staff nearby are always on hand and keep an eye on us, we have our own kitchen and living room and we are responsible for our own laundry and keeping the house tidy. It’s given us more freedom and more responsibility – and it definitely sets you up for university.’

Andrew Reeve is Deputy Head (Curriculum) at Gordon’s School. His teaching and leadership experience, both pastoral and academic, is in both the independent and state sectors. With an MA in educational leadership from Exeter University, he is working towards his MSc in researching teaching and learning and latest pedagogy through the University of Oxford.

“ “
I would recommend sixth-form boarding to anyone. There are always extra activities and a structure that makes you do your work on time!
Tel: 01902 341230 The Royal School Wolverhampton Excellent GCSE & A Level results Outstanding pastoral care Affordable state boarding for 11-18 year olds THE BSA GUIDE TO BOARDING SCHOOLS • SPRING 2023 / BOARDING AT AN INDEPENDENT SCHOOL / 85

Boarding sixth-formatcolleges

Independent boarding schools have a long history of creating well-rounded pupils with excellent results. Most pupils beginning an A-level course or an International Foundation Programme are striving to gain the best possible grades and complete a challenging programme of academic study, and also yearning to exercise their independence. In many cases these two can act in competition with one another, with young people rushing to celebrate their freedom without the life skills and experience they need to manage this.

At an independent sixth-form college the journey to independence is supported and skills are introduced and practised in a safe environment, while academic progression is monitored and the whole pupil nurtured and developed. The outcome is a resilient and independent learner prepared to take the next step in life on to university or a chosen career path.

Considering the most obvious key requirement for academic progression, the attainment of outstanding academic results, boarding provides an excellent ‘outof-hours’ support system for learning. Once in the sixth form most pupils are trusted to manage their workload accordingly, but having subject specialists on hand to help

or advise pupils with their assignments or respond to academic needs, ensures that class time can be more productive. Pupils can be taught study skills and then the process can be actively monitored and developed so that the end result is a pupil who can work efficiently and with confidence. Instilling a strong work ethic in all pupils is important, but teaching them to overcome setbacks and to persevere is also paramount to their future success.


The very nature of boarding allows for many more opportunities for co-curricular activities. Introducing pupils to a variety of activities ensures they are inspired and open to new experiences and skills. Trying

new things helps to develop a pupil’s resilience and confidence and also allows for the introduction and progression of skills. As young adults, pupils are also encouraged to help organise, promote and manage activities, giving them a real sense of ownership and an opportunity to engage in the passions they have outside the classroom. Time spent in these co-curricular activities is time well spent – it ensures pupils enjoy their time in the sixth form, and helps to develop their ability to manage their work and life balance so the ‘whole child’ can flourish. At Abbey College Cambridge we have more than 50 clubs and an extensive programme of trips and activities: pupils can complete first-aid training, visit places of interest across the

country, learn an instrument, join the drama group, learn circus skills or origami – there is something for everyone.

Boarding at a sixth-form college gives pupils the opportunity and challenge they need to develop a broader spectrum of life skills. Washing their clothes, making good dietary choices, looking after their health (physical and mental), managing their workload and living in a communal setting are just a few examples of the skills that prepare them for adulthood and independent living.


Boarding at an independent sixth-form college means living with a host of other pupils from around the world. This in itself is an important experience and ensures pupils become comfortable with cultures, languages and religions that are different from their own. At Abbey College Cambridge we have pupils from 48 nationalities. Each nationality is recognised and celebrated while the whole community is brought together through the shared love of learning and the involvement in co-curricular interests.

Living in a community requires many skills and abilities such as being able

to compromise and empathise. It also requires responsibility and commitment, and teaches young people how to establish equality while recognising differences and celebrating them. Pupils can learn to communicate at the highest level, making lifelong friendships and establishing international contacts for the future.

The time pupils spend at an independent sixth-form college is very special. It bridges the gap between school and university, childhood and adulthood. Pupils enjoy the experience while receiving the best possible training in how to navigate life independently. They gain the inner

confidence to deal with new situations and can adapt to life at university successfully because strong foundations have been put in place.

Dr Julian Davies was awarded a PhD for his thesis on the biological response to climate change in Antarctica and a holds a BSc in Applied Biology. He began his career as an industrial scientist before joining the teaching profession. On joining Abbey College, Julian introduced boarding as an option for pupils and led the relocation of the college to a purpose-built boarding campus in Cambridge. The college now has more than 400 international boarding pupils living and studying in the campus.


BSA Certified Agent and Guardian schemes

Caroline Nixon, International and Membership Director, Boarding Schools’ Association (BSA) and Director, British Association of Independent Schools with International Students

The BSA Certified Agent and Guardian schemes were launched just over a year ago. So far 54 agents and 44 guardians have signed up to the schemes, with more joining all the time. The training and certification programmes for the schemes provide reassurance to families. Parents can be assured they are dealing with educational agents and guardians with the highest standards in terms of safeguarding, safer recruitment and training of staff and host families, knowledge of the UK education system and careful liaison with schools. The schemes also provide a clear demonstration to BSA boarding schools of the quality and intention of the educational agents and guardians who reach certified status.

Finding a suitable educational agent can be a time-consuming process for parents, but it is an absolutely vital one. Even when parents have a good knowledge of the UK education system, this may not be up to date and it is almost impossible for parents to have an informed overview of all the different schools available when trying to choose the one most suitable for their individual child. The BSA’s recent survey of Chinese parents showed that agents have a major influence when it comes to choosing a boarding school, with 74 per cent relying on an agent’s recommendation. So it is important to be sure an agent has integrity and knowledge of the school and family and this is what the scheme aims to do.

The BSA Certified Agent scheme is essentially doing parents’ due diligence, ensuring agents in the scheme demonstrate a clear and current understanding of the UK education system and the different types of schools, getting to know the child’s and the family’s needs, recommending schools that are right for individual children, and maintaining the highest standards of integrity in placing and supporting each child.

In terms of guardians, the survey of Chinese parents showed that 82 per cent highlighted the importance of having assurance around a guardian’s certification – and this is what the BSA Certified Guardian scheme provides. Similar to the criteria agents are required to meet, guardians must demonstrate the highest standards in terms of their interaction with schools, parents and pupils, showing they meet strict assurance requirements for all aspects of safeguarding.

For international pupils, an educational guardian who can provide high quality support and guidance is invaluable. Pupils are much more likely to reach their full potential if they feel

emotionally and physically safe and there is good communication and relationships between them and the adults looking after them. This is a vital aspect of a successful school experience.

Parents can choose a BSA Certified Guardian with confidence, secure in the knowledge that the guardian has met the high standards required through a rigorous inspection process. Knowing the guardian is committed to providing a high-quality service can really make a difference to their child’s school journey.

For more information about the BSA Certified Agent scheme and a full list of Certified Agents, go to: https://www. There is also a list of Certified Agents in this Guide.

For more information about the BSA Certified Guardian scheme and a full list of Certified Guardians, go to: https:// bsa-certified-guardian-scheme/ There is also a list of Certified Guardians in this Guide.

BSA certified guardians

Abby Plumb Education Guardian Service

Academic Families

Access UK Education

Alderwood International (provisional)

Alpha Guardians

Amber Education

Belgravia Guardians

Berkeley Guardians

Boarding Schools Ireland (provisional)

Cambridge Guardian Angels

Carfax Guardians

Clarendon International Education

College Guardians


Cotswold Guardians

Edinburgh Guardian Angels

Education and Exchange in Europe (provisional)

Elite Anglo-Chinese Services

English Country Guardians


Genesis Education Planning

Great British Guardians

Guardians International Support

High Schools International


Hyde Global Education

BSA certified agents

International Student Guardianship Ireland (ISGI)

IQ Consultancy (provisional)

JD Consultancy

Overseas Personal Development Services

Oxbridge Guardians

Prestige Guardians (provisional)

Redoor Education (provisional)

Regent Guardians

Robin Education

Scottish Overseas Guardianship Association (SOGA) (provisional)

See World

St George’s Guardians

Study Links

The Guardian Family Network

Trusted Guardianship

UK Guardians


UK Tuition

UM Education

Ying Lang Guardian, Glamour Edu Ltd


Abby Plumb Education Guardian Service

Academic Asia China Ltd

Academic Families


Anglo International Student Centre


Aston Education

Baltic Council for International Education

Barbara Glasmacher Internationale Schulberatung

BeGo Education

Better School! Internatsberatung

Beyond Education

Blue Dot Education


Britannia StudyLink

British United Education Services

Carfax Consultants

Chamberlain Educational Services html

Cherry Education Consultancy


Convoy Education

Crest Education

Dickinson School Consulting

EduExcellence Consulting Services


Genesis Education Planning

Global Education Tumulka (GET)

Golden Apple Tree

HKIES Overseas Education Centre

i-Learner, Nebula Group Ltd

Intake Education

Intergreat Education Group


IQ Consultancy

J3 Group Ltd

JD Consultancy

Kulturwerke Deutschland Sprachreisen

Mark Brooks Education

Meridian Group

Overseas Personal Development Services Panoba Ltd

Petra Heinemann Internationale Schulberatung Prime UK Education

QED Education Group Rise Smart Overseas Education Centre

Sarah Jochums Internatsberatung

School Britannia

Sino-UK Arts & Cultural Bridge

The Independent Education Consultants

UK Academics & Guardianship (UKAG)

UK Education Guide Ltd

UK Tuition and Services

Watanabe Office


The advantages of starting boarding in a prep school

Boarding is very much alive and kicking in IAPS member schools. Of the quarter of a million pupils who are educated in the 607 UK member schools, about 8 per cent are classified as boarders. However, 40 per cent of IAPS members offer some form of boarding. More than half of those who board are described as ‘flexible’ boarders and about 10 per cent are weekly boarders. The number of prep school boarders has largely returned to pre-pandemic numbers although as a result of the pandemic there has been a decline in schools that have traditionally recruited full-time boarders in significant numbers from mainland China.

What conclusion can we draw from all this? A very significant number of IAPS schools find their parents and prospective parents value the opportunity to take up the flexibility our schools have built into their offer. The lazy characterisation is that signing their child up for a few days of boarding every week releases parents to pursue social activities of their own choosing. There may be some occasions

when this is true but the week by week, term by term drivers of this approach are rooted in something more solid.

IAPS schools are characterised, of course, by their holistic educational offer – a full-on, extended day stocked up with co-curricular activities. In order to access such activities it can make very good sense to stay on at school rather than have to travel home late in the day, fall into bed, only to get up again the next morning. When the daylight hours stretch out and sporting events run into the evening the ability to board allows pupils to fully engage with such events. Rehearsals, concerts, inter-school debates and House events can be scheduled for the evenings.

A night or two boarding can make accessing these things so much easier for the pupil and take the pressure off the family. The importance of taking pressure off the family is not to be underestimated. For all the talk about family-friendly policies, very often the hours parents are required to work are anything but friendly.


Boarding in IAPS schools is a caring and fun experience. No doubt regulatory changes have played their part in driving the improvements in boarding provision with regards to the physical environment. All our schools are very sensitive to the need for robust safeguarding procedures so each

child is cared for in a safe and nurturing environment. However, as good as the pastoral care undoubtedly is in an IAPS school that offers boarding, it is probably the fact that it is seen as great fun by the children which is why they want to board. Indeed ‘fun’ is probably the most often cited reason for children to board in IAPS schools’ websites.

Boarding gives children the chance to fully immerse themselves in the life of the school, doing everything from night hikes to netball, cricket to campfires and all in the company of their friends. Joint experiences in the real, not the virtual, world, where they can share experiences which can be relived throughout their lives. What’s not to enjoy?

Christopher King is Chief Executive of IAPS.

Before that he was Headmaster and Chief Executive of Leicester Grammar School Trust. He was Chairman of the Headmaster’s and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC) in 2015–16 and, unusually, again in 2017–18. Christopher is a Director of the Independent Schools Council (ISC) board and a member of Leicester University Council.

With kind permission of Sherborne Preparatory
With kind permission of Godstowe Preparatory School

BOARDING The popularity of prep school

Head, All Hallows Preparatory School

In today’s rapidly changing and demanding world, where our view of life is distorted by social media and expectations of our young people are high, our prep boarding schools offer children an oasis into which they can escape.

With the jam-packed extra-curricular programmes that are part and parcel of any school offering boarding at this younger age, children can be children and throw their energy into activities, hobbies and interests in the company of their friends, perhaps discovering new passions along the way. At times, our boarding schools may be likened to holiday camps but, with a routine structure in place to complete any prep or homework, and without the need to travel to and from school on a daily basis, there is still plenty of time left for relaxation.

A generation or two ago, it was unusual for both parents to work, whereas today the opposite is true. Parents often have long days and overnight stays away from home. It is no wonder therefore that the popularity of flexi or weekly boarding is on the rise. For ‘full’ boarders, having their various day friends boarding regularly on a ‘flexi’ basis creates a busy and vibrant boarding house, making it an exciting, dynamic and energetic place to be.

The key role of a preparatory school lies in the name – to prepare. For pupils planning on boarding for the next stage of their education, prep schools can give them a priceless opportunity to board in a familiar environment, surrounded by their friends.

A child who started flexi-boarding in Year 5 and increased this to weekly or full boarding by the end of Year 8 is likely to settle far more quickly into a new school, taking full advantage of all that is on offer, than a child who has had little or no experience of boarding.

For new boarders, taster days and letters from future classmates help to make them feel welcomed. Keeping in touch with their families is so easy with modern technology and regular video calls allow parents to feel at ease about their children, helping to replicate those end-of-day chats in the car or around the kitchen table, even though they may be miles away.

Although mobile phones and tablets help with communication, extended use of these can be isolating and so access should be limited to ensure children are interacting with each other. Set times for calling home can establish expectations from both sides but flexibility over this is key and at All Hallows, if a pupil needs to phone home, we do all we can to facilitate this. The transition

to boarding can be hard for parents too and an insight into day-to-day life, via an active blog or social media, reassures them their children are engaging with others and immersing themselves in all that is on offer.

All prep boarding schools want their pupils to be in a triangle of care (child–parent–boarding staff) and this means fostering a close relationship between families and school. Acting in loco parentis at All Hallows means our staff value regular communications and meetings with parents. These allow us to deal with any questions or concerns before they become an issue and to ensure our parents have total confidence in the school.

Lifelong friendships are made through the shared experiences and challenges that come from living in a community. At All Hallows, pupils grow and develop emotionally, learning social skills and supporting each other along the way. These skills will stand them in excellent stead as they move on to face new challenges at their senior schools and beyond as happy, welladjusted individuals.

Dr Trevor Richards has been Head of All Hallows Preparatory School in Somerset since 2017, having been associated with the school for over 20 years. Married to Jeanna, Trevor is an educationalist and a child psychologist. He attended the University of Liverpool before gaining QTS from the University of Bath. He later took his Doctorate of Educational Psychology at the University of Bristol.

Dr Trevor Richards
THE BSA GUIDE TO BOARDING SCHOOLS • SPRING 2023 / PREPARATORY SCHOOLS / 93 Start your journey now at: or contact: | 01743 280 552 Visit Shrewsbury School Boarding and Day School for Girls and Boys aged 13-18 SHORTLISTED Boarding School of the Year WINNER Independent School of the Year 2020 WINNER Community Outreach Award 2020 Shrewsbury School - BSA Guide 2023 125mm high x 185mm wide.indd 1 25/01/2023 20:20
Boarders will be thrilled – the brand-new, larch-clad boarding
is the smartest
seen, with modern, private en-suite rooms for
Sherfield School 3 months to 18 years Hook, Hampshire www. sherfieldschool. 01256 884 800 admissions@ Full Weekly Flexi-Boarding 45 minute train from London Boarding from 9 years Coeducational
Maya Boyd, School Reviewer

The benefits of prep school boarding

Say goodbye to school runs, endless testing and tutoring, mobile phones (at least in some prep schools) and chauffeuring increasingly frustrated children to endless after-school clubs. Instead, say hello to climbing trees, muddy knees and a carefree childhood.

Have you thought about prep school boarding?

There is no doubt that a country education can bring greater freedom, space and time. We used to live in an age where children could play in the streets and explore with their friends, having a level of independence that has been shown to build resilience, individuality

and good mental health. However, these days many social factors have created a world that prohibits children from enjoying the benefits of this kind of freedom, with the result that parents feel they have to ‘helicopter’ them. A prep boarding education gives children the independence to play with their friends and a freedom that helps them to develop and enjoy their childhood, with all the positive mental and physical health attributes this brings.

Learning some of the harder lessons in life in your childhood is natural and gives you an emotional resilience that is beneficial later in life. For example, decision-making – it’s very easy for parents to make all the decisions for their children, trying desperately to make life easier. Except that it doesn’t – parents simply become exhausted and the children can become ‘flaky’ and

disinclined to commit to anything. At a boarding school, children can have much greater independence and a sense of their own responsibilities. If this can develop in a homely and comforting atmosphere then the result should be children learning life-enhancing skills such as making their own decisions without even realising they are doing so.


So it’s clear there are many benefits to boarding, but when is the ideal time to start and which type of boarding should you choose?

Over the past 20 years there has been a steady trend towards children boarding at a slightly older age. Children who wish to board at their senior schools routinely join boarding prep schools for one year only or even a term or two. But however excellent the pastoral care

at senior schools, you cannot replicate the small, cosy, nurturing feel of a small prep school, which can be a softer way to settle into boarding life.

Many prep schools now offer flexiboarding or a transitional arrangement, allowing pupils to make a gradual change to full boarding. This can make it easier for children to be part of the decisionmaking. However, do be aware that parttime boarding does not always offer all the benefits mentioned.

So when is the right time to start boarding? The answer as always is when it suits your family’s circumstances and when your child is ready (and preferably clamouring to start!) – and in my opinion, the sooner the better.


Another big question for many families is whether homesickness is an issue for children who board. There are plenty of eight-year-old full boarders and it is remarkable how quickly they adjust. It is certainly not my experience that younger children are more homesick than older children. In fact, we see very little

homesickness and it’s an emotion

that can be felt at any age – many young adults experience overwhelming homesickness when they leave home to go to university. Learning how to handle emotions like these is a lifeskill that is best developed in childhood and in a kind and nurturing environment such as a prep boarding school.

Robert Lankester has worked in boarding schools for 30 years. Previously Housemaster and Senior Housemaster at Uppingham, he has been Headmaster at Maidwell Hall since 2001. Educated at Charterhouse and Selwyn College, Cambridge, he spent seven years in the City before making the change to teaching, which he describes as the best decision he ever made. Robert believes strongly in the benefits that boarding brings, having seen how it encourages children to be independent, live with their peers harmoniously and grow in confidence.

“Many prep schools now offer flexi-boarding or a transitional arrangement, allowing pupils to make a gradual change to full boarding.”


Nearly 20 years ago, I found myself standing on a large concourse at the foot of an enormous favela in Rio de Janeiro. Around me were concrete walls patterned with bullet holes and poorly built slums rising up the hill. As if I wasn’t already humbled by the poverty-stricken nature of the location itself, it was the fact that in front of where I stood were dozens of children from the favela playing makeshift drums made out of bottles and cans and teaching the mostly British children I was with how to do the same. They shared their rhythm and love of music, they taught us the dancing martial art of Capoeira, and their sheer enthusiasm and musicality broke down barriers that might otherwise have existed between children from different nations. Right there I saw that music is a universal language.

UK boarding schools offer a safe and well-equipped home that is far removed from that favela but there is a connection in the way that children from different backgrounds come together in schools and a realisation that music is so important for

instilling a multi-cultural awareness in our increasingly globalised society. Boarding schools arguably do this better than most.

From the earliest age, we are comforted by music. As we progress through early developmental milestones, music is often used to integrate learning skills with a fun, enjoyable experience. Learning a musical instrument and singing in a choir should be part of every child’s education. It gives children a window into a creative world that is part of what makes us human. Creativity brings a sense of freedom. Rules are often obsolete when we are being creative and we have permission to take risks and try new things. When we take the time and energy to develop new ideas, we learn to understand, trust and respect ourselves which, in turn, leads to better expression and articulation of our thoughts. And as a result we often become more confident, less stressed and more adaptable when problems come along that require a solution.


Boarding schools understand all this and place great importance on music, offering instrumental and singing lessons, ensembles, orchestras, bands and many different performance opportunities. Sometimes there is so much on offer that a boarding pupil can struggle to choose. But a key benefit of boarding school life is the time it provides for many activities including, of course, music.

Learning a musical instrument takes dedication and regular practice. For day pupils this will often be done at home squeezed in between homework, food, travel and other co-curricular activities. Children who board gain an advantage here. They don’t need to build in time for commuting or preparing meals. Their routine can be planned to allow time for practice and this will often be aided by dedicated support from the music department, enabling progress to be maintained and monitored.

But boarding offers much more than this. Ensembles and choirs can be timetabled to rehearse during boarding

Gareth Jones Headmaster, Bilton Grange

time and there will also be time for pupils to be creative, form their own ensembles, compose their own music and prepare performances together. All this enriches the house spirit and because everyone is doing it together, music is valued by everyone and becomes part of daily life rather than perhaps a solitary activity at home House concerts, entertainments and performances are eagerly anticipated and enjoyed by all.


Here at Bilton Grange, music is for everyone, not confined to the music school. Everyone sings with enthusiasm in school assemblies and there are ensembles, bands, an orchestra and musical dramatic performances. In 2022 we are also launching a new chorister programme which will see two new choirs – one for boys and another for girls. These auditioned choirs will rehearse and sing on four days a week but will have no commitments at the weekends. They will sing Evensong and the Eucharist in both Bilton Grange and Rugby School chapels alongside professional adult singers. This programme is supported by scholarships and means-tested bursaries up to

100 per cent of the fees. Pupils do not have to board to be part of this programme but those who do will find the chorister programme will dovetail with the full range of activities that all our pupils enjoy.

Pupils who board and embrace the musical opportunities on offer in their schools will be enriched by greater confidence, independence and a creative spirit which can last a lifetime. So, as they say at the carnival in Rio, ‘abrace a musica’ (embrace the music).

As an English and History graduate, Gareth Jones began his teaching career at The Dragon where senior roles included Director of Sport, Director of the Extended Curriculum and Housemaster. He was Head of St Andrew’s Prep, Eastbourne for six years. Music and the performing arts flourished during his tenure there. Since September 2021, he has been Head of Bilton Grange Prep which is now part of the Rugby Schools Group.


Outdoor learning – ‘rewilding’ pupils

Outdoor learning enriches learning experiences and gives children and young people the opportunity to connect with nature. The potential of outdoor learning to improve academic outcomes has been long recognised by the government. In 2006 it signed a manifesto from the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) stating: ‘We strongly support the educational case for learning outside the classroom. If all young people were given these opportunities, we believe it would make a significant contribution to raising achievement.’1

Two years later, Ofsted, the schools’ inspection service, commissioned a report called Learning Outside the Classroom, how far should you go? The report found that ‘learning outside the classroom contributed significantly to raising standards and improving pupils’ personal, social and emotional development.’ It also stated that outdoor learning is most successful when it is an ‘integral element of long-term curriculum planning’.2



Head of Geography and Outdoor Learning, Salisbury Cathedral School

The psychological benefits of spending time in nature are numerous. Observing plants, trees, water and creatures is naturally mindful and calming.3 In this environment children are more able to access their subconscious knowledge and understanding as well as their conscious minds. It’s not surprising that often children and young people who have been deemed to be having difficulties with their learning positively shine in a different, outdoor environment.4


One of the many benefits of boarding at a prep school is the wealth of experiences on offer both inside and outside the classroom and often the additional benefit of beautiful outdoor space to explore. At Salisbury Cathedral School (SCS) I have been campaigning for more lessons to be

conducted outside in ‘nature’s classroom’. Even though ‘outdoor learning’ has its own sessions on the timetable, the end goal is a cultural shift that sees all our staff thinking, ‘I wonder if I could take this lesson outside?’.

Before becoming a teacher, I worked for the National Trust for ten years. An early experience opened my eyes to the power of nature to bring out the best in people. Each week I collected a group of young jobseekers who had to participate in volunteering to remain eligible for benefits. Many of the young people involved had known drug and alcohol problems and I was unsure about how much they would benefit from the planned outdoor rehabilitation programme.

I’ve never been so happy to be so completely wrong. After a tiring day cutting back invasive 2 3 Peadar Maxwell, child psychologist, quoted from 4

rhododendrons, my young team came to life with an amazing sense of purpose. The time outside in nature, camaraderie and all the fresh air and exercise were the most tremendous tonic for all and by the end of the day no one wanted to stop!

As I progressed in my career at the National Trust, I found my job slowly changed from being outside with others and became more office-based and target-driven. It was the memory of how those young jobseekers blossomed in the fresh air that led me to teaching, with a strong focus on taking children out into nature.

I joined SCS in 2020 with the aim of leaving the place (SCS) better than I found it and working to ensure all pupils have the opportunity to learn, have memorable experiences and make meaningful friendships outdoors. Working together with the rest of the school staff, I hope to rewild both the pupils and their school environment.

Rewilding is an increasingly mainstream environmental movement committed to reversing the destruction of the natural world by doing (almost) nothing. It is the reverse of conventional conservation policy. There is no box-ticking, no target-driven initiatives. Instead, land is given back to nature. Rivers are re-wiggled, scrub areas are left to grow, verges are planted with native wildflowers and herbivores have been reintroduced to create dynamic habitats through natural seed dispersal.


The beauty of rewilding is that it’s open to everyone. You can rewild anything from a window box to the whole world. At SCS, we are starting small by keeping everything we cut. It is a bit of a culture shock as the reality of rewilding can be quite messy with all the bugs that thrive – garden waste can stimulate a biodiversity of insects very quickly. Tree trimmings make pretend swords and are great for den-building. These toys from nature bring simple joy to our pupils. There is much enthusiasm throughout the school community for rewilding. In 2020 our Year 8s created videos to inspire everyone to rewild their gardens as one of many challenges for SCS’s first Green Week.

The concept of rewilding has been expanded to also reflect the importance of reconnecting children with nature. To connect with nature, children need to be outdoors in natural environments as much as possible. They need to play outside in woodlands, roll down hills and climb trees. They need to get wet and muddy and feel the wind, rain and sun

on their skin. The more they do this, the stronger, more confident, healthy and happy they will become. At SCS we are lucky to have 27 acres of green space, including a lake, trees, lawns and pitches in the heart of the city, and the beautiful campus is ideal for connecting pupils with nature every day.

Rewilding our children is not all play though. Whether it’s creating history timelines on the school driveway or demonstrating population pyramids by the cricket pitch, our pupils thrive when they are learning in new and different environments. SCS is also committed to ensuring future field trips provide opportunity for pupils to get involved, for example by keeping data on wildlife, litterpicking or planting trees or hedges. If they revisit the same destination in the future, they will have a sense of pride knowing they have contributed.

Will Frost joined Salisbury Cathedral School (SCS) in 2020 from Windlesham House School. As Head of Geography and Outdoor Learning, Will introduced the first ever SCS Green Week in 2020 and is continually increasing the amount of outdoor learning for every pupil. Before teaching, Will worked for the National Trust and was a contributor to the ‘50 Things to Do Before You’re 11’ scheme, designed to encourage children out into nature. He has also volunteered as a guide at the Knepp Estate, known for its very successful rewilding project, the ‘Great Landscape Experiment’.


Using robotics, 3D printing and computing in a prep school

The perception that this challenge involves the adoption of a completely new set of skills needs to change. In fact, much of what we can learn from computational thinking has been championed by prep schools for generations: resilience, perseverance, dedication, focus, and accuracy.

The challenge with computing education is that we do not know what the technology will be when our pupils leave formal education in a decade’s time. What we do know is that almost all roles will use technology, so knowing how technology works will be an essential prerequisite for a successful career. Key to our pupils’ success will be an understanding of computational thinking and developing a lifelong interest in computing.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation explains that ‘computational thinking is solving a problem by breaking it down into its individual parts and building an algorithm to solve the problem’. This area of computer science encourages children to be creative. Prep schools provide the ideal environment in which to develop creativity. With their

excellent pastoral care and nurturing communities, small class sizes and dedicated staff, they can provide the perfect opportunity to experiment and ‘fail safely’.

To develop computational thinking, children need regular access to physical computing so that they can see the results in tangible

rather than abstract form. To achieve this, here at Belhaven Hill, we have invested in Spheros, Micro:bits and Raspberry Pis.

The younger pupils use the Sphero robots, spherical robots which can be programmed on iPads using a block-based programming language. Creating routes for the Sphero

The ability to understand twenty-first century technology is the first step to being able to control the creative power of computers. There is no doubt that prep schools must meet this challenge head on if we are to fulfill a leading role as educators of the next generation.

to navigate provides the opportunity for problem-solving and gives children a feeling of mastery through ‘live’ experience. The pupils can also make the Sphero robots communicate with each other, allowing the development of simple communication protocols, as well as responding to events such as crashing into a wall! This ability to break a task down into its composite parts lies at the heart of computational thinking.

Older pupils at Belhaven Hill use their iPads to program Micro:bits. These are microcontroller boards specifically designed to teach children physical computing. Pupils use a similar block-based language to the Sphero to program the Micro:bits’ onboard components (such as buttons, compasses and LED screens) and can also add components such as a Servo.

Physical computing offers children the opportunity to be creative with their solutions to problems. Alongside programming, children can be introduced to other skills such as soldering, computeraided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM).

We have recently invested in a 3D printer which has created real excitement among the pupils. They have used it to produce chess set pieces, a new trophy for the school’s stop-motion animation competition, and to make other familiar items. This has already created a legacy in which the children see themselves as engineers.


Our goal is to create a cohort of ‘digital makers’ who can design bespoke parts for a project, connect them to a programmable device and use them to solve a problem. Pupils might construct a chariot to connect to a Sphero so that a favourite teddy can be transported around a dorm; or they might programme a Micro:bit to create a selfopening bin for a visually impaired relative at home.

Prep schools can be the perfect environment for the trial and error approach to working with computers. Our children need these digital skills to achieve a greater level of proficiency in all aspects of their education.

Prep schools need to encourage failure to a greater degree than has previously been allowed. The ‘fear of failure’ inculcated in part by the exam culture of modern schooling, must be addressed as a first step in removing the shackles from our pupils’ progress. An immersive approach to the adoption of technology for staff and pupils, forced upon us by successive lockdowns, has produced a significant increase in the pace of progress.

Now is the time to forge ahead and prepare our children for the challenges they will confront at the next stage of their education and in the wider world beyond. Robotics, 3D printing and computing definitely need to be part of a modern prep school’s curriculum.

Olly Langton joined Belhaven Hill School as Headmaster in 2020 having taught at Ludgrove (2005–7) and Radley (2007–20). He is married to Rosie and together they ran a boarding house at Radley for seven years before moving to Belhaven. They are joined by their three children, Alexander (now at Belhaven), Cleo and Lettie, and their Labrador, Nelson.

How boarding schools support children’s mental and emotional development

and play with academic progress. There is no wasted travel time, no environmental footprint, but a rhythm to the children’s lives and friendships. There is the hierarchy and discipline of systems (but none of the oppression of ancient stereotypes) within which children can begin making their own, unilateral but supported choices –something, as we adults know, is often a challenge.

In an assembled group at school, it is an obvious and easy question to ask – what do we value most highly in life? For some the first answer may be God, but more commonly – certainly among prep school-age children – it is ‘family’ or ‘love’. (Occasionally ‘time’ is offered up too, but more usually by old stagers in Year 8 who have been in on this discussion before.) The point is that these three abstract nouns are the keys to our capacity to form and maintain relationships in life which, in turn, leads to that Holy Grail – happiness. This is not to say life, particularly the life of a child, should be unalloyed happiness, but it is a notion that merits unpicking within the discussion about boarding school.

Happiness? Rather than heading down this ‘rabbit hole’ of philosophical discussion, we should consider the end game: what are parents and pupils aiming for when they choose UK independent education – known and admired around the world as a gold standard? We want our charges to become well educated, but what does that mean? Besides the fulfilling of academic potential, we aspire for the children we look after to become open-minded, energetic and flexible young people, willing and able to work in groups and to think creatively and independently so they have the confidence to take initiative and contribute in purposeful and constructive ways. This process starts in the home with parental instincts driving the development of our children but before too

long – and quite correctly as children begin socialisation and stimulation – we seek help elsewhere.

So begins school and the wider development of our children and the challenges of parenting. One irony of our privileged, post-industrial, twenty-first century lives is the lack of time juxtaposed with the sheer quantity of information, both fanned by the distractions and diversions that can enfold our relentless schedules. Titles such as The Collapse of Parenting and Raising Boys offer analysis and advice but do not stop the guilt, interspersed though it is with natty new methods of ‘having everything’. On top of this comes the consequent inability to construct communities of a sufficiently small and digestible scale to allow children to develop the social and emotional intelligences so necessary to fulfil the aims outlined above.

So we come to boarding school. A small boarding community does not replace family. But it does begin to reflect the ‘village’ or ‘tribe’ model outlined by so many social psychologists, something which has served humanity well for millennia and has all but disappeared in today’s developed world. Prefaced by the adage ‘not for everyone’, we begin the observation that children, in many cases at Beeston Hall, often choose this for themselves. They see the structures and efficiencies – never mind fun – of such an arrangement, where their time is more purposefully spent, mixing up activities

While the care of each child is paramount and pastoral systems unimpeachable, our boarding schools are organised to serve a community, not the individual needs of each child. This has a powerful effect on each child’s capacity to operate in a group and share, developing the resilience to stand up for themselves, contribute and be noticed. There is the freedom to make decisions and to learn the consequences of this – whether it is falling off a swing or resolutely practising the French horn – and this means the 13 year old departing for senior school has developed some awareness of their own thought processes and the impact they can have.

In my view, the effect of this contained, curated life of a small prep school helps achieve a remarkable combination of humility and self-confidence, where children can gently but firmly make their ways in the world. This is why they are greeted with open arms by senior schools and also, of course, by parents who, rather than serving them as taxi driver, coach and tutor (chief nag very often too), delight in seeing their children flourishing into young adults who have learnt the benefit of good relationships, of making an effort, and of contributing to the world around them.

Fred de Falbe has been Headmaster of Beeston Hall, a boarding and day prep school in Norfolk, since 2016. Before that he was a Prep Head in Herefordshire, after six years at Knightsbridge School, latterly as Deputy Head. His first spell of teaching was after Eton, as an 18 year old in Honduras, which led to a career in film after a Theology degree at Manchester. Having completed eight years in the maintained sector, which he combined with smallholding in Devon, he ran a property business before returning to teaching. He is married to Juliet, who plays a key pastoral role in the school, and they have three children.

Fred de Falbe Headmaster, Beeston Hall
THE BSA GUIDE TO BOARDING SCHOOLS • SPRING 2023 / PREPARATORY SCHOOLS / 103 RICHARD HUISH COLLEGE 10442 Boarding School Association Advert 185w x 125h v 1.indd 1 12/01/2023 10:05 am

Responsibility versus maturity

Every parent hopes their child will grow up to be a success – a happy and fulfilled adult who makes considered choices and who appreciates the value of being of service to others. Many schools promise to provide the opportunities to achieve this, particularly through boarding provision. Boarding is no longer popular simply as a necessity for travelling or busy parents – it is a lifestyle choice for parents who recognise and value the benefits of it.

There are many values to be gained and lessons learnt from being educated away from home – teamwork through living with others, taking care of one’s own physical and emotional needs with support from staff, taking responsibility for self-organisation both of academic and co-curricular activities. These are all qualities a child can develop at a nurturing boarding school.

Offering an age-appropriate level of independence is of great value. So how do schools manage to give enough freedom for those who are mature enough, while holding on a little more tightly to those who

Paddy Moss

Dean Close Preparatory School

are not quite ready to take their next steps?

The key is for houseparents and house tutors to really know each individual pupil very well and to work with parents through understanding their different parenting styles.

Equally important is monitoring the choices each child makes as they navigate their school journey, being there to celebrate their successes and offering compassion and guidance when they make mistakes.


A clear set of ‘house rules’ acts as an invaluable safety net. These can give more freedom for older boarders, that younger boarders can aspire to, and a clear understanding that these levels of freedom are earned, based on the houseparents’ judgement. Again, knowing the individual

child is important in order to offer the appropriate concessions. Giving responsibility to a young person can have immense benefits for all involved and can offer opportunities to learn and develop new skills.

The first question to consider when giving responsibility is: ‘Are they ready?’ Professionals who work in boarding schools are very experienced in knowing when to allow their charges to draw close and when to loosen up.

While supervision levels are never relaxed, as a boarder gains greater maturity, so expectations of appropriate behaviour and responsibility increase. Examples of increased freedoms in a school such as Dean Close can be found in downtime and during more routine school time. For

when to introduce more freedom to prep school boarders

example, in the run-up to examinations, dedicated staff sit with younger boarders guiding them through their revision homework, while older prep school pupils are expected to have created their own revision timetable and to prepare independently for the challenges of the exam hall.


During the lovely long summer evenings, older pupils at Dean Close enjoy playing traditional wide games in the woodland area where they can run off their pent-up energy, but they are fully aware of the consequences if they stray too far from their team or return to the boarding house past curfew. These opportunities to be close to ‘home’ but at the same time out of sight, provide invaluable lessons – creating their own fun, being aware of the time and looking out for others.

Boarding schools fortunate to be located in, or in close walking distance of, a town can also allow their pupils some supervised freedom off site. While it might be suitable to allow older prep school pupils to do their Christmas shopping in town in small groups, an annual treat they all look forward to,

younger pupils can also visit their favourite haunts but remain under the watchful gaze of a gap-year student. Just as parents expect more involvement of children in helping with the household chores, so boarders benefit from taking responsibility for organising their boarding house. Rotas for keeping the games room tidy or helping matron with the nightly toasted sandwiches are opportunities for children to serve and they gain great satisfaction from this.

While away from home, children have to make choices and decisions uncoached by parents, the consequences of which should always be seen as a learning experience. Whether it is a good choice that leads to a positive result or a less considered one which should never be repeated, a child learns through this process. They understand they have the ability and freedom to take responsibility and build up resilience if a situation does not go their way, taking their first steps to becoming wellrounded and happy individuals. The road can be more rocky for some than others, but a good school will always recognise the value of the journey.

Paddy Moss is Headmaster of Dean Close Preparatory School. Paddy joined Dean Close in 2015 from Kenya, having spent nine years as Headmaster of a premier British-curriculum preparatory boarding school. A Canadian by birth but brought up in the west of England, Paddy studied Geography and Economics (SOAS, London University) before embarking on a career as a teacher in several boarding and day prep schools, in the UK and abroad, where he was also a member of many of the senior management teams. He is a highly experienced sports coach with a passion for outdoor activities and scouting. He and his wife, a maths and PE teacher, have three daughters at Dean Close.

“Giving responsibility to a young person can have immense benefits for all involved and can offer opportunities to learn and develop new skills.”

Preparing pupils for the transition to senior schools

The crucial process of transitioning from prep school to senior school has seen significant changes over recent years, with a more bespoke, nurturing and tailored approach sought by families.

At Swanbourne House, we know it’s an evolving and creative process, with no ‘catch-all’ approach. A personal approach is rightly expected by families, and creating a robust, specific path for the child to their chosen senior school can be a challenging process, but one that reaps significant rewards.

If I could point to one significant change in the transition process over recent years, it’s seeing the whole process

start earlier. It used to start about 18 months before a pupil left us, now the preparation starts four years before they will set foot in a senior school. This is a very positive development for families and schools. Indeed, when I’m asked what can be the biggest pitfall in the process, I often say timing.

All senior schools publish details of their registration process on their website well in advance – my advice to families would always be to check the dates and don’t assume all schools will have the same timings and process. In years gone by, there

was a tense wait for Common Entrance results taken in June for September entry, with the anxiety of waiting for a place to be confirmed. Now, it is very rare for a senior school not to give an unconditional offer. This development benefits pupils, allowing prep schools time to create a tailored approach to their learning, preparing pupils so they can thrive in their senior school. Starting the process early gives schools and parents an opportunity to plan accordingly for the child.


Having the academic and pastoral contact of a personal tutor, who can work with the child on a daily basis and across a number of years, will help them shape their progress and get them ready for their next step. This close relationship is vital to making sure we know what we need to do for each child to ensure they are ready for the next part of their school journey. An important part of this is preparing them for the tests and assessments they will take for their senior school entry. In Year 6 pupils start taking senior school tests, so through the whole of Year 5 we offer them assistance in verbal and nonverbal reasoning testing, and prepare them for maths and English assessments. This preparation also includes practice interviews with members of the Senior Leadership Team.

At Swanbourne we have also created a programme of enriching co-curricular activities to help develop confidence, foster self-management skills and build resilience. From an early age, pupils are taken on fun and challenging outdoor trips that help them develop that important ‘can-do’ attitude while also learning to work as an individual, thrive as part of a team, reflect on their successes and failures and nurture self-belief. A varied Saturday Enrichment Programme brings out new skills and abilities through engaging and challenging activities such as performance car design, fashion and merchandising, clay pigeon shooting, bushcraft and language learning. These experiences encourage a desire to take on new challenges, helping children to develop the self-belief and the character

traits and skills they need to thrive in their senior school.


Most pupils board at their senior school, so giving exposure to boarding at their prep school is important. At Swanbourne, we encourage families to take advantage of our flexi-boarding option if the pupil isn’t already boarding. Flexi-boarding gives pupils the opportunity to stay a few nights a week at our boarding house, building up their experience, learning the routines and nuances of boarding, and helping them to have a smoother transition into senior school.

One of the most important pieces of advice I’d give to parents is to start communicating with your prep school

early and keep the conversation going. This is vital in choosing the right senior school for each child and ensuring a smooth and successful transition. You may want a day or a boarding place, co-ed or single-sex, or a school in a particular part of the country or that’s important to your family. Your prep school will know your child well and be able to offer tailored advice, with a knowledge of the character of the different senior schools. They will also know children similar to your son or daughter and at which schools they have thrived.

Finally, visit the senior schools you have in mind to soak up the ambience and atmosphere (perhaps without your child on the first visit). I liken choosing a school to buying a house. Different houses may have the right facilities, be in the right place and have all you need on paper, however until you see it you can’t get a sense of all those things you can’t put into words, the feeling it gives you that this is the right place. Good luck!

Simone qualified as an English teacher in 1996 from Exeter University and has worked in the independent school sector since 2001. Following three years’ teaching in Japan, she has worked for three senior schools in the UK in a variety of roles including English teacher and Head of English. Simone sits as part of the Senior Leadership Team at Swanbourne House School as Deputy Head, Director of Teaching and Learning, and she oversees the transition of pupils to senior school. Simone undertook a Masters Degree in Education at the University of Buckingham in Educational Leadership. She is an External Tutor for the University of Buckingham and lectures on PGCE courses.


What does a bespoke education actually mean?

Almost all independent schools proudly assert that they offer a ‘bespoke education’. As the Principal of a girls’ boarding and day school, I am often asked what this means in practice.

Small class sizes are of course a crucial factor. Many parents are justifiably alarmed by the ever-increasing class sizes in state schools. An article in the June 2019 edition of Schools Week revealed that the number of classes of over 30 (some as high as 35) has almost doubled in five years. So it’s no wonder that the considerably smaller class sizes in independent schools are a real attraction. Consider just how far-reaching those benefits are. In an average class of around 15, a child will receive twice as much individual attention from the teacher, who will soon develop an understanding of how he or she learns best.

There will be greater support for children with special educational needs, and further opportunities to stretch the gifted and talented.


Freedom from the constraints of the National Curriculum in the independent sector means that at Key Stage 3, the range of subjects on offer – and the schemes of work and syllabuses delivered within those subjects – can be tailored to the genuine interests and passions of the pupils themselves. The range of modern foreign and classical languages taught in independent schools is a case in point –while language learning is in decline in the state sector, Japanese, Arabic, Latin and Ancient Greek are all thriving in private schools.


Independent schools generally place considerably greater emphasis on the creative arts. At a time when curriculum time for subjects such as music, drama and dance is being squeezed nationally, and no provision for the arts is made in the Department for Education’s EBacc (the set of eight recommended GCSE subjects), pupils at independent schools are very fortunate to enjoy the advantages of an education that values creativity, originality and resourcefulness. Boarding pupils are especially able to enjoy all the activities and opportunities on offer during the school day and in the evenings and weekends.


Beyond the sheer satisfaction of selfexpression, a creative education offers many benefits to pupils. Research has shown that regular and sustained participation in musical activities stimulates the brain to

form new neural networks, and leads to better working memory (vital for mental arithmetic and reading comprehension), improved linguistic ability, and improvements in attention span, emotional resilience, empathy and self-confidence.

Likewise, studying drama and dance helps young people to improvise, think laterally, and become adaptable problem-solvers. Drama students grow into confident and articulate public speakers and working collaboratively on performance projects encourages engagement with others’ viewpoints, and helps to develop qualities such as compassion and tolerance. These skills and qualities are highly prized by employers.

As pupils progress, the degree of personalisation increases still further. They are able to take advantage of the extensive resources available – including, crucially, the wide-ranging expertise of the teaching staff – to conduct their own research projects or take up elective courses. For example, in the sixth form at Queenswood, girls are able to augment their A-level studies with seminars on topics such as personal finance, forensic psychology, philosophy and politics, and to attend lectures from prominent authors, politicians, entrepreneurs and

philanthropists. They might even put themselves forward for the prestigious annual Global Young Leaders Conference in the USA.


At the heart of a bespoke education is a recognition that each pupil develops at their own pace, and in their own learning style. For example, while kinaesthetic learners favour practical and hands-on experience, auditory-musical learners benefit from mnemonics, rhythms and background sounds. Increasingly, independent schools are working to differentiate their teaching methods to suit individual learners.

At Queenswood, we have recently established a Personalised Learning Centre – a central hub where all learners can congregate. Senior academic scholars meet here for one-to-one and group sessions, to explore options for stretch and challenge and to discuss current affairs. Some pupils use it as a drop-in centre to seek advice on planning study and revision schedules, play flashcard games to boost working memory, discuss recommendations for non-fiction reading with staff and peers, or for structured tutorials to address specific learning issues.

Ultimately, every pupil deserves to be recognised as an individual. A bespoke education responds and reacts to the needs of each child, nurturing their unique potential, fostering independence, and allowing them to discover their own strengths and passions in a safe and supportive environment.

Jo Cameron has been Principal of Queenswood, a boarding and day school for girls, since 2016. A graduate of the University of Surrey (St Mary’s College) with an honours degree in Environmental Science, for the past 20 years Jo has worked almost exclusively in girls’ schools. Beyond the classroom and in her spare time, Jo is a keen sportswoman, with a passion for hockey, running and equestrianism. She is married with two sons.


Girls and STEAM subjects

The UK CEO of Siemens, Carl Ennis, told delegates at the Girls’ Schools Association (GSA) annual conference in 2021 that fighting climate change ‘will need the broadest, brightest and boldest minds and will be a struggle without a fully cross-sectional and gender-equal cohort of scientists, engineers and technologists. Inevitably, scientists and engineers will be at the heart of dealing with the challenge. And diverse teams are more likely to reach scientific breakthrough.’

Each year the UK needs 203,000 people with Level 3+ engineering skills to meet demand. This generation of teenagers is perhaps the most committed to protecting the planet. The interest in COP26 – and the attendant activism – was evidence of that. If contributing to the planet’s survival

encourages more girls to consider a branch of engineering as a career that will be a positive aspect of the global crisis we all face.

Women account for just 24 per cent of the UK’s workforce in engineering, science and technology (while 51 per cent of the working-age population are female) with only 12 per cent of them in engineering (Women into Science and Engineering (WISE)).

I believe one of the reasons for these sorry statistics is a lack of female role models. Another is a widespread lack of information,

even a false perception, about the nature of the jobs available in those sectors and the opportunities they offer for a range of highly successful and adventurous careers. Many girls do not have a chance to see what these careers look like or to hear the list of exciting, unexpected answers to the question ‘What do engineers actually do?’.

Girls in girls’ schools are more likely to study STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects at A level. In fact, they are nearly three times more likely to take maths and physics. But, more widely, when it comes to choosing university courses, many girls are rejecting science options.

Olivera Raraty Headmistress, Malvern St James Girls’ School

Boarding at Dulwich College

Dulwich College is one of the UK’s leading independent schools with an international reputation for academic excellence, a boarding community of over 20 nationalities and only 12 minutes from central London. Find out more at

Outstanding facilities for science, art, music, drama and sport






Historic and award-winning buildings in a 70-acre campus
46% A*/A at A
53% 9-7
Farm, pool, gym,
To find out more please call our registrar on 01608 731884 or email THE BSA GUIDE TO BOARDING SCHOOLS • SPRING 2023 / SENIOR SCHOOLS / 111
independent, co-educational day and boarding school for pupils aged 11-18 set in 100 acres of the Oxfordshire Cotswolds
transport links
sports hall and climbing wall School buses and direct trains from London, Oxford and Evesham

This may be because of the binary nature of the decision-making aged 15 concerning A-level subject choice. This is an unrealistic approach to learning – the truly inquisitive and bright child will have a wide range of interests and will have understood how subject boundaries blur. An all-round education does not encourage pupils to ‘drop’ subjects.


More than ever, the world needs creative and critical thinkers who can demonstrate technical and mathematical skills, digital literacy and scientific knowledge. But an engineer who has studied product design or art will be bringing to their technical and scientific work not only an aesthetic appreciation but also a creative approach grounded in experimental thinking and design or concept development from start to finish. The combination of STEM and Arts subjects (STEAM) is often where innovation is forged.

Employers have made it clear that, whatever the sector, they are placing greater emphasis on emotional intelligence in their recruitment: young people who are both self-aware and socially aware, and who can work collaboratively. Potential leaders no longer have to demonstrate their mastery of command and control; rather they need to show how best they can engage with their colleagues. In my view, study and appreciation of the arts help to develop creative, analytical and critical thinking but also deepen our understanding of human emotions and situations.

Here at Malvern St James, we have more girls than at any time studying STEM subjects at A level, and more girls going on to read STEM subjects at university. But they are doing so with a background and continuing interest and involvement in arts. For example, they are combining physics and maths with art or design technology, or biology and chemistry with psychology and music.

I am wholeheartedly committed to this approach. This is why we have recently appointed a Head of STEAM, a new post which encourages a multidisciplinary approach to teaching and learning and which resembles real life much more than the strict division of subjects in the traditional curriculum.

It could be argued that in a girls’ school, it is easier to encourage pupils to take an interest in STEM subjects because there is no gender stereotyping. Younger girls see the older ones as STEM subject mentors and they see the usefulness, as well as the fun, of participating in national STEM challenges and Olympiads and in the excitement of research. The Malvern Festival of Innovation, which takes place virtually on our school’s doorstep, is a treasure trove of opportunities – our Years 7 and 8 won competitions for their design and building of cars in both the Bloodhound and Mazak challenges.

We have added entrepreneurship to our Year 10 programme and have also increased our links not only with universities but with business and industry so that the girls have as many opportunities as possible to see and hear about the world of work for which they are preparing. We organise off-curriculum, out-of-school activities such as local work experience sessions and job placements for girls in Year 11 and above, visits to careers fairs, tours of local factories and a trip to RAF Cosford for our Year 9 pupils. And at the other end of the school, we have a team of six sixth-form pupils participating in a CREST research project where they are carrying out a series of novel chemical reactions in school to synthesise intermediates for potential use in the pharmaceutical industry.

We are also lucky to have successful alumnae who are happy to come back to their old school to talk about their own careers. This offers the chance for the pupils to hear and ask questions about a wide range of experiences. It is impossible for teachers to provide these first-hand insights.

As we watch the march of artificial intelligence (AI) across every aspect of our lives, the excitement offered by school computing departments and the interest in coding continue to grow. Computing is a subject that defies subject definition and is an excellent example of creative and critical thinking without boundaries. The National Cyber Security Agency is doing excellent work in encouraging girls into the cyber sector with their Cyberfirst and Cyber Discovery programmes.


Children are naturally mini-engineers. Just watch them building and tinkering and notice how creative they are about solving problems. Formal education doesn’t allow them the scope to make the most of these natural attributes so it is important for schools to try to find creative ways for young children’s inborn curiosity to be nurtured and have practical outlets. Our own prep girls, aged 4 to 11, have undertaken a Mini Young Enterprise Challenge as well as a STEAM club where they have programmed robots and created circuits to light up a dolls’ house. They also take part in National Science and Engineering Week where the whole school goes off curriculum to enjoy workshops and all kinds of scientific challenges. These all provide excellent platforms for building self-confidence. It’s crucial to keep those hands-on experiences through senior school so that children’s natural enthusiasm for finding out how things work is not switched off.

Education needs to be increasingly outward-looking, taking place beyond the classroom to make the necessary connection with real life and to understand the application, not just the theory, of ‘subjects’. The application of science in all its wonders needs to be embedded in the curriculum. The the thrill of problem-solving – with those exciting eureka moments –needs to happen across the whole of the school experience, whatever subject you are learning.

Schools need to be more adventurous about demonstrating to pupils, all pupils, just how many careers STEM offers in terms of intellectual excitement, personal fulfilment, and social and environmental benefit.

If we can do that, with conviction and ambition, I am confident we will witness a growth in the number of women opting for a career in STEM, especially if that choice has been supported by the fundamentals of a STEAM education. The arts have a place in a civilised life, in a career that makes a difference. They are not an extra.

Olivera Raraty became Headmistress of Malvern St James Girls’ School in September 2016. Previously she was Deputy Head (Academic) at Notting Hill and Ealing High School in London and enjoyed a long career at Wycombe Abbey School as Head of History and Politics and Assistant Director of Studies.


Transformation through education

Christ’s Hospital: The leading independent boarding school for fee assisted places

T: 01403 246 555

E: Christ’s Hospital, Horsham, West Sussex RH13 0LJ

Registered Charity No. 1120090

Boarding as preparation for twenty-first century life

2020 really pushed us to our limits, and perhaps even beyond. When you were desperately trying to keep your business afloat or tearing your hair out at ever-changing social and travel restrictions, I wonder, what skills did you call upon? I suspect your strength of character and resilience were just as important as your intellectual knowledge. We all had to dig deep.

UK boarding schools are renowned for the standard of education they provide, but the events of 2020 demonstrated the importance of the broad range of skills we teach. The word ‘character education’ has become over-used but Gordonstoun

was a true pioneer in this regard. The Gordonstoun motto, ‘Plus est en vous’ or ’There is more in you’, is as relevant today as it was when the visionary educationalist, Dr Kurt Hahn, founded the school in 1934.

Hahn’s vision was that young people needed to be challenged in order to develop the skills they would need for life, such as resilience, responsibility and

compassion. Over the years this has been inaccurately depicted as a tough regime of cross-country running and cold showers. But the reality is that pupils learn teamwork on our ocean-going sail training vessel, develop resilience on expeditions into the Highlands and grow a strong sense of service to the community by volunteering to be lifeguards or members of the Coastguard.

UK boarding schools offer opportunities that many children can only dream of. And they develop skills which they can draw upon as they face life’s ups and downs.

Young people need to understand that life is not plain sailing. How many of us faltered in our response when faced with the enormous challenges of the coronavirus pandemic? But failing at one aspect of life does not make you a failure. Presenting young people with challenges helps them learn that moments of weakness are normal and that they need to support each other to reach the best outcome. Several members of staff who are in our volunteer Fire Service work alongside pupils responding to emergency calls. They will tell you how, on several occasions, pupils keep them going through a long night pumping flood water out of homes or fighting hill fires. Staff have the benefit of experience but pupils have youthful energy, and their joint skills make a winning combination.

The lessons learned during these experiences outside the classroom are invaluable. Boarding schools are expert in raising children and they understand that a good all-round education pays dividends for the rest of someone’s life.


HRH The Duke of Edinburgh recognised the importance of challenge. After his time at Gordonstoun, he first considered the idea of a national programme to support young people’s development in 1954 at the request of Kurt Hahn. The Gordonstoun School award was eventually developed into the Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) Award and it now gives hundreds of thousands of children around the world an opportunity to take on life-changing challenges.

The pandemic has shown us that we can take nothing for granted – that everything we rely upon can be turned upside down in a heartbeat. Our young people are also facing an online world where they need to navigate the positives and pitfalls of social media. Boarding schools are receiving increasing numbers of inquiries from parents who want their children to escape from the pressures of the ‘always on’ culture and have a ‘real childhood’. As well as providing real rather than virtual experiences, boarding schools show young people how to control their digital lives rather than letting their digital lives control them.

I can tell you from personal experience that, when you are the crew of a sailing boat in the middle of a gale on the West Coast of Scotland, there is no time to update your profile and little point in worrying about your appearance! The deep and meaningful friendships made during these experiences last a lifetime, not just for the duration of a few ‘likes’.

There will always be tests of character, whether personal or professional. The pandemic has shown us that society needs leaders who are not only confident but also resilient and compassionate. If a disproportionate number of tomorrow’s influential individuals come from a boarding school background, it will be because we know how to bring out the best in each and every child, equipping them with the skills to navigate an uncertain world.

With a degree in music, a 20-year career in media and business and ten years on the Gordonstoun Board of Governors, Lisa became the school’s first female Principal in 2017. She has three children, all at the school, represents the county of Moray at events as one of its Deputy Lord Lieutenants, conducts a local choir and occasionally joins the school orchestra when they are short of a cellist.


What do we mean by a boarder’s progress and how do schools measure it?

Progress is one of those words we see a lot in education – you’ll read it in your son or daughter’s reports, on school websites and in inspection reports, and there are even league tables for some schools based on average academic progress in selected GCSEs. But is this the only type of progress, and is it reasonable to attempt to measure this concept?

At Godolphin, through our ‘Policy for Progress’ we consider progress in a number of broad areas. Academic is of course included but we also focus on personal and pastoral progress, co-curricular progress and staff development (by setting a culture of everyone progressing and learning, we find this rubs off on the pupils too).

In its most basic sense, progress is the difference between a boarder’s starting point and where their journey leads at the end. In an academic sense, this is often the difference between, for example, the GCSE grades that their baseline tests, or raw ability, might suggest they are heading towards and those they actually achieve on results day. Such progress is relatively easy to measure and report on – it is often quoted as fractions of a whole GCSE grade compared to where the boarder would be expected to be. Schools often term this sort of progress ‘value added’, a rather impersonal phrase which hides the stories behind each and every grade obtained in public examinations.

A study of the GCSE results at Godolphin showed that our boarders made more academic progress compared to day pupils. The opportunities available to boarders to

progress in the wider sense are likely to have contributed to this effect. Outside the rather narrow definition of progress in academic terms, it is more challenging to measure progress in such a quantitative way.

Most boarding schools consider the pastoral progress and the personal and spiritual development of pupils to be as much a priority as their academic development. Development of so-called ‘soft skills’ is valued highly by employers and it is crucial to any successful education to nurture these skills just as much as academic skills.

We have a mental health plan to ensure that each girl is receiving the education she needs to be able to progress positively. A key tenet of this plan is that we have very small tutor groups of around 10 pupils. The tutors who look after these relatively small groups of pupils are the focus of the provision of

pastoral care. Tutors meet their tutees daily and also meet frequently with each other and with boarding staff and other senior staff. Their work is coordinated by Heads of Year and the Head of Sixth Form. Academic and pastoral staff meet regularly to discuss pupils who need support and to put in place any support needed.

Pastoral progress is difficult to quantify but it can be broadly measured by a combination of professional judgement and pupil selfreflection. Our PSHCEE programme and Elizabeth Godolphin Award Programme in the prep and sixth form are the cornerstones of our provision to encourage personal development. This includes inviting outside specialist speakers who give talks or workshops to the girls, staff and parents as well as sessions run by staff. All pupils attend these sessions but boarders find them especially valuable as they result in the sort of developmental and relationship progress that comes from building resilience, learning to lead, and developing tolerance and mutual respect.

The Godolphin Learning Programme is an additional provision offering a diversity and breadth in co-curricular activities that include cultural appreciation, mindfulness, critical thinking, digital literacy, Bright Futures, library skills and a range of other topics that extend and progress pupils beyond the curriculum.


For a boarder to be mentally healthy and for them to continue to progress as a person they need to participate in a range of co-curricular activities, from peer mentoring, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE), CCF to cookery, Model United Nations and kickboxing. Boarders find these sessions very accessible as they live onsite and so can replace travel time with these activities without impinging on time needed to complete their academic work and enjoy the boarding family environment.

At Godolphin, tutors monitor the involvement and success of pupils and this information is shared with parents. Commendations and Head’s

commendations are awarded for particularly outstanding progress in any field.

Spiritual progress is important for boarding pupils and is, by its nature, impossible to quantify. We consider it in terms of how the girls have grown in their understanding of how to cope when life throws things at them, and the extent to which they have developed a sense of mutual respect, wonder and appreciation of the world around them. As a school we have strong links to the diocese of Salisbury and the provision of spiritual learning is monitored by the school chaplain, tutors and teachers of relevant subjects.

Progress in these broader areas is nonlinear – there are the inevitable kinks and twists encountered along the way. How we teach pupils to respond to those unexpected challenges sets the tone for mapping their progress. A newly arrived boarder setting out on their journey may feel a little homesick and need some help to settle into school life. Outstanding pastoral care, knowing the boarders and a good dollop of humour and patience makes the difference here. A boarder may find some subjects easier than others, and this balance may change, or they may need encouragement to participate in extra-

curricular clubs to progress in a certain area. Through shared experiences with fellow boarders, they gradually become more independent and able to look after themselves and to work and live with others. Although our digital strategy undoubtedly impacts academic progress, it also provides the medium through which pupils learn digital life skills of efficient, effective and organised working, another benefit of considering progress in the round.

Successful boarding schools play a vital role in shaping a pupil’s progress towards adulthood. The relationships developed with other boarders throughout their time at school make their progress all the more palpable as they leave sixth form to navigate their own way in the world.

After reading Physics at university and gaining a PhD in 2002, Chris began working in the state sector at Queen Elizabeth’s School in Dorset, initially as a Physics teacher, and later as Head of Physics, and subsequently as Second in Science. Chris moved to work in the science department at Godolphin School in 2012, and began the role of Deputy Head Academic in 2019.


Celebrating diffe

in a boarding environment

Adolescence is a tricky time for any individual. Teenagers today face a barrage of pressure and expectations from various sources including social media. To be ready to face the world after education, children and young people need to be supported so that they can celebrate what makes them unique and different, especially at a time when they might feel most pressure from the outside to try to ‘fit in’.

Cranleigh celebrates difference by first seeing and recognising that each individual is unique, has worth and should feel valued. We spend considerable time and expertise on the formal structures that underpin this, such as our PSHE programme, with pupil-led groups championing tolerance and empathy. A boarding environment allows pupils the time they need to take part in these groups and conversations and gives them freedom to explore and talk through topics that are important to them.

The Cranleigh Diversity Alliance is a pupil-led group that acts as an umbrella structure for our protected characteristic support groups. The Alliance banner emphasises the importance for all pupils of being an ally –this is central to one of the school’s primary values, Cranleigh Being, which asks pupils and staff to recognise who we are and how we are In this spirit of allyship, our whole community celebrates difference, supporting each other and providing a range of role models.


There is a Swahili proverb ‘Asiyefunzwa na mamae hufunzwa na ulimwengu’, which roughly translates to the common adage ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. It is really important for teenagers to know they have a range of different people to turn to in the school community, with its diversity of thought and lived experience. At Cranleigh, we aim to increase the diversity of our staff body in order so that we can provide a range of people for teenagers to approach as well as a range of inputs in school decisions and policies. Evidence shows that diversity in a team encourages the entire team to think in a more diverse way. Having diverse role models in leadership positions is very important for teenagers, and especially those from minoritised backgrounds, as they see people in positions of authority who they can emulate and also turn to if they need to.

David Mulae Assistant Head Pastoral Cranleigh School Simon Bird Deputy Head


Community thrives when individuals feel free to be themselves, when they can find solidarity among their peers and when support is part of the fabric of the institution. Communal living – central to the Cranleigh ethos for both boarders and day pupils – helps foster patience, understanding and a feeling of inclusion and shared experience. Conversations

that might be awkward, clunky or divisive in the hurried minutes between lessons can become genuinely insightful in the safety of a boarding environment. Sharing a dorm with a pupil from a different faith, ethnicity, nationality or sexuality can be helpful and even revelatory. We often find that our young people are leading the way in this area

– they are better versed in the language required, less afraid of making mistakes, and more likely to embrace difference than older generations. This is work that is far from finished, and it is arguable that it can never be finished, but the signs of progress are uplifting.

David Mulae is Assistant Head Pastoral and a Biology teacher. After university he taught at Christ’s Hospital School in Horsham before joining Cranleigh. David has responsibility as a Deputy Safeguarding Lead for supporting the Pupil Leadership groups including Cranleigh Being and the Cranleigh Diversity Alliance. He is the school’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) lead, supports the housemasters and housemistresses and also supports pupil and staff wellbeing.

Simon Bird is Deputy Head. He read Modern Languages at the University of Birmingham and has a Masters in Educational Leadership. Simon was Housemaster of East House at Cranleigh for six years before being appointed to the role of Assistant Deputy Head and subsequently Deputy Head.


The individual nurturing and development of boarding pupils

Boarding schools provide pupils with the opportunity to develop important life skills in a supportive and nurturing environment, enabling them to leave school knowing themselves, looking out for others, and able to think critically and aim high. Of course, a boarding education also needs to give pupils the confidence to perform at their best academically.

As the Head of Fettes College, I see every day the benefits a boarding education can bring. For me, the key is that each pupil is truly known and therefore we can adapt and adjust our education and care to support each individual.


A boarding house is like a family – a closeknit group of staff and pupils looking after each other, helping, encouraging and simply being there when needed. All teaching staff at Fettes do a duty night in a boarding house. This means everyone is involved in the boarding experience and strong relationships are built up. The resident house staff forge strong bonds with the pupils and get to know your child as well as you do. By choosing boarding,

you are adding to your family, with key individuals helping to guide and nurture your child alongside your own parenting. It is very much a team.

A full-boarding ethos nurtures and develops each pupil so they leave school with confidence, prepared for all the world has to offer and ready to make a positive mark. Full boarding offers pupils a chance to embrace new opportunities, making the most of their individual talents while surrounded by their friends. This is achieved in a supportive environment where pupils learn to be responsible for their own belongings and routines, build independence, develop self-reliance and learn from their mistakes. Boarding houses are at the heart of school life and

this is where pupils can make lifelong friendships and develop trust and loyalty. A full-boarding ethos ensures weekends are vibrant and fun. For example, activities over one weekend at Fettes included a wide variety of sporting fixtures on the Saturday afternoon, followed by a wholeschool ceilidh (everyone at Fettes learns to Scottish country dance!) in the evening, a late Sunday morning brunch and then a walk up to Murrayfield to watch the Scotland v All Blacks rugby international. Some pupils went on that day’s outdoor pursuits event in the hills, some trained for the Fettes Scottish Islands Peaks Race team while others accessed the beautiful city of Edinburgh in a safe and controlled way.

When considering boarding I would always ask a school these questions:

• What type of boarding is on offer? Flexi? Weekly? Full?

• What happens at weekends? This is clearly especially important if you are looking for the full-boarding experience.

• How is boarding staffed? Is there a separate team or is everyone involved?

A secondary education should be exciting and full of opportunity. Boarding pupils are encouraged to stretch and challenge themselves. They learn not be afraid of failure, of trying new things or of forming their own opinions through informed choices. Pupils are encouraged to make the most of their talents and also to discover talents they did not know they had.

At Fettes a full sporting, music, drama, activity, and outdoor education programme means that opportunities abound. Co-curricular activities available include a climbing wall, a 25m swimming pool, fives courts, an Olympic standard water-based hockey astro pitch, mountain-biking tracks, a robotics club, a ceramics club and Fettes Radio. Our new low ropes course provides a unique challenge in developing leadership skills, trust and the importance of working together as a team.




Boarding in the heart of London

16+ ENTRY 2024

Online registration opens in June 2023.

13+ ENTRY Registration now open for 2026.

To request a prospectus or find out about Open Days, please call 020 7963 1003 or email

For information about entry to Westminster Under School at 7+, 8+ or 11+ please call 020 7821 5788.

Outstanding education with World Class facilities

Great value boarding from £13,000 per year

For more information or to apply to join us please email

For more information or to apply to join us please email

Westminster School is a charity (No. 312728)
to provide education. TAP5230_BSA_Ad_125mmH_x_85mmW_V1.indd 1 23/01/2023 17:00
Secondary School of the Year

Wellbeing is at the forefront of everything we do – only happy and well-supported children truly flourish. We are proud of our proactive and forward-thinking PSE (Personal, Social and Emotional) programme. The core components of the programme are healthy relationships, pressures of the modern world, resourcefulness, decision-making and emotional resilience. The programme is developed in consultation with pupils. By making the most of external contacts (e.g. guest speakers, charities and alumni) and harnessing the enthusiasm of pupils themselves through our peer-to-peer mentoring programmes, we endeavour to provide pupils with the knowledge and support they need to flourish.

Helen grew up in Edinburgh where she was educated at St George’s School for Girls. From 1996 Helen was a Geography teacher and Deputy Head at Fettes College in Edinburgh, before becoming the first female Head in 2019. Helen gained her Geography degree from Jesus College, Cambridge, where she rowed for the university and her college. After her degree she taught English as a Foreign Language (EFL) in Portugal and then took up her first teaching post at Clifton College, Bristol. Helen has a variety of interests outside school including a number of external appointments such as Chair of the BSA/SCIS Boarding Forum, member of HMC and HMC Scottish division and member of the Board of FetLor. She is never happier than when spending time in her cottage in the Moffat Hills with her family and two dogs.


Educational provision for pupils with

special educational needs and disabilities

The Equality Act 2010 has made significant changes to the law on discrimination as it affects pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), and in particular the extension of duties on schools to include the provision of auxiliary aids and services, which came into place on 1 September 2012. Further guidance can be found in the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) Technical Guidance on ‘Reasonable Adjustments for Disabled Pupils – Guidance for Schools in England’ at www. (As of 3 November 2022, this guidance is noted as under review.)

Although securing support for pupils with SEND via an EHC (Education, Health and Care) Plan (formerly a Statement) remains an enormous challenge for many families, the intention of legislation over recent years has been to make schools much more welcoming and accessible to children with SEND. As a matter of public policy this is clearly a good thing and as a matter of practice there is no doubt schools have made huge progress – which is not to say they could not do even more in future. Parents should always seek to work with (not against) schools in addressing their child’s needs. In my experience, there is little a school finds more unhelpful than parents not being transparent about this. In the end, everyone is united in seeking to ensure children’s needs are met and their best interests are promoted.

This article sets out a summary of the law relating to educational provision for pupils with SEND. For more information, including the SEND Code of Practice and SEND: guide for parent and carers, go to

For more information about the government’s proposed changes to SEND provisions, see its SEND Review: https://assets.publishing. system/uploads/attachment_data/ file/1063620/SEND_review_right_support_ right_place_right_time_accessible.pdf


The definition of disability for pupils is the same as for disability discrimination in employment. In brief, a pupil with SEND has a disability if they

Boarding School

have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial, long-term and adverse effect on an individual's ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. (In employment this definition has been the subject of voluminous litigation.)

The definition of disability covers a broad spectrum of impairments. Disabilities may include physical conditions that affect the body, such as epilepsy or hearing impairments, learning and behavioural difficulties, such as dyslexia and autism, and mental health conditions, like depression.

In general, there are specific exclusions for substance dependency, seasonal allergies, and tendencies to steal, start fires or physically/ sexually abuse. However, in 2018, the Upper Tribunal in C&C v The Governing Body of a School confirmed that the specific exclusion for those with a tendency to physical abuse towards others will not apply to children in education who have a recognised condition that is more likely to result in such a tendency.

The subsequent case of Ashdown House School v JKL reiterated that schools ought to ensure that pupils with SEND who display violence related to their SEND are treated no less favourably than their non-disabled peers.


As for employees, schools have an obligation to make reasonable adjustments for disabled pupils.

• Where something a school does places a pupil with SEND at a substantial disadvantage compared to other pupils, the school must take reasonable steps to try and avoid that disadvantage.

• Schools are under a duty to provide ‘auxiliary aids and services’ as part of the duty to make reasonable adjustments and as such are prohibited from charging fees for auxiliary aids and services which constitute reasonable adjustments. Failure to make reasonable adjustments free of charge amounts to disability discrimination and cannot be justified.

Schools are not required to remove or alter physical features (such as historic buildings) in order to comply. Instead, schools have a duty to plan better access for pupils with disabilities generally, including in relation to the physical environment of the school.


The Equality Act requires schools to make reasonable adjustments in connection with:

• admissions

• the provision of education

• access to benefits, services and facilities

• exclusions, and/or

• subjecting the pupil to any other detriment.


The duty to make reasonable adjustments is only triggered when a pupil suffers a ‘substantial disadvantage’. This is defined as anything more than minor or trivial, and would include for example, having to put in extra time/effort to do something, inconvenience, indignity, discomfort, loss of opportunity and/or diminished progress.


The EHRC guidance states that an auxiliary aid is ‘anything that provides additional support or assistance to a disabled pupil’ and gives the following examples:

• a piece of equipment

• a sign language interpreter, lip-speaker or deafblind communicator

• extra staff assistance

• electronic or manual note-taking

• induction loop or infra-red broadcast system

• videophones

• audio-visual fire alarms

• readers

• assistance with guiding

• an adapted keyboard

• specialised computer software.


The inclusion of ‘auxiliary aids and services’ within the duty to make reasonable adjustments for pupils with SEND has clear consequences for independent schools. One obvious area is the provision of learning support for pupils with special educational needs, which is sometimes subject to an additional fee, in much the same way as music lessons. Essentially, if a pupil with SEND is ‘disabled’ for the purposes of the Act and the support provided for their SEND is an ‘auxiliary aid or service’, the school is not permitted to charge for the learning support if it is a reasonable adjustment.


There are no hard and fast rules about what constitutes a reasonable adjustment, since it will vary in any given situation, and the decision ultimately rests with the First Tier Tribunal


(Special Educational Needs and Disability) (formerly the Special Educational Needs and Disability in Schools Tribunal or ‘SENDIST’). Sometimes adjustments will be suggested by external advisors such as the child’s doctor or an educational psychologist. In other cases, parents may request a change on behalf of their child. Schools should also themselves consider whether there is an adjustment that might overcome a substantial disadvantage suffered by a pupil.

Once the potential adjustment has been identified, the school has to decide whether or not it is reasonable taking into account the following factors set out in the EHRC guidelines:

• whether it would overcome the substantial disadvantage

• practicability of the adjustment

• the effect of the disability on the pupil

• financial and other costs of making the adjustment

• whether it will be provided under an EHC (Education, Health and Care) Plan from the local authority

• the school’s resources and the availability of financial or other assistance

• health and safety requirements

• the need to maintain academic, musical, sporting and other standards

• the interests of other pupils (and prospective pupils).

Failure to make a reasonable adjustment cannot be justified, whereas under the old law it could be. The only question therefore is whether the adjustment is reasonable. Schools are not expected to make adjustments that are not reasonable.

As well as considering reasonable adjustments for particular individual pupils with SEND, schools also have an anticipatory duty to consider potential adjustments which may be needed for pupils with SEND generally as it is likely any school will have a pupil with SEND at some point. However, schools are not obliged to anticipate and make adjustments for every imaginable disability and need only consider general reasonable adjustments, such as being prepared to introduce large-font exam papers for pupils with a visual impairment even though there are no such pupils currently admitted to the school. Such a strategic and wider view of the school’s approach to planning for pupils with SEND links closely with its planning duties.


There are some exceptions. Schools are:

• not required to remove or alter physical features to comply with the reasonable adjustments duty (although their duties in connection with Accessibility Plans remain

unchanged and are contained in Schedule 10 of the Act)

• still allowed to apply a ‘permitted form of selection’ (i.e. an entry test) although they will need to make reasonable adjustments to such tests, for example, by allowing them to be completed on a computer rather than by hand in particular cases.


Parents of a child (note not the child themselves) can bring a claim of disability discrimination against a school. There is a time limit of six months from the date when the parents think the discrimination occurred. Such claims are heard by the First Tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability).

If the Tribunal upholds a claim of unlawful discrimination it will not be able to award financial compensation. It could order any other remedy, such as:

• admitting a disabled pupil who had previously been refused (this is certainly the case in state schools, and case law indicates that the Tribunal also has the power to order restatement to a private school in certain circumstances)

• making reasonable adjustments such as training for staff, extra tuition, review or alteration of policies or relocation of facilities.

• in Ashdown House School v JKL, the Upper Tribunal confirmed that tribunals have the power to order the school to issue an apology to the parents and/or the child if it would be of some value and appropriate in the circumstances.


Schedule 10 of the Equality Act 2010 sets out the accessibility arrangements schools must implement for pupils with SEND. These are also known as schools’ ‘planning duties’. An independent school is obliged to draw up accessibility plans to improve access to education over time. Such plans should concentrate on three specific areas:

• increasing the extent to which disabled pupils can participate in the curriculum

• physical improvements to improve access to education and associated services

• availability of accessible information for disabled pupils.

Independent schools are required to prepare these plans in writing, and implement them as necessary. Accessibility plans are subject to review as part of an Ofsted inspection. The Department for Education’s ‘Guidance on Statutory policies for schools and academy trusts’ states these should be reviewed every three years.

Go to: publications/statutory-policies-for-schoolsand-academy-trusts/statutory-policiesfor-schools-and-academy-trusts#pupilwellbeing-and-safeguarding


• A prospective pupil with moderate learning difficulties applies for entry to a school but fails the entrance examination. Their parents argue for a reduced pass mark. However, the school is not satisfied the pupil has sufficient literacy skills to benefit from the education on offer. In these circumstances it may be reasonable for the school not to adjust its entry requirements to accommodate the pupil.

• The parents of a prospective pupil with dyslexia claim they should be allowed extra time and the use of a personal computer during the entry examinations. However, there is no evidence to sustain this claim. It may be reasonable for the school to reject this request. If evidence supported the claim, it is likely it would be reasonable to allow this.

• A sixth-form pupil who has been diagnosed with ADD finds it difficult to concentrate while reading long texts. They would like to take A Level English and ask for the entire reading list in downloadable audio form. The school accepted a similar request from the same pupil for GCSE English, which proved to be ineffective. The reading list is very long and changes every year making the cost high for the school. The school refuses. This is likely to be deemed reasonable provided the school has researched other ways for the pupil to access the reading list.

• A pupil with learning difficulties finds it difficult to follow the more theoretical parts of classroom teaching and their parents ask that teachers go very slowly over the parts they find difficult to make sure they have understood them. However, the slow pace of delivery would prevent the other pupils finishing the syllabus and put their grades at risk. It is likely to be reasonable for the school not to make this adjustment, although other alternatives should be considered, such as extra tuition outside classroom hours, as might be offered to any other struggling pupil.

• A small school has little experience of pupils with SEND and is considering admitting a pupil with a rare syndrome involving moderate learning difficulties, poor muscle tone and speech and language difficulties. The Head consults the child’s parents and a local voluntary organisation and devises a series of short staff training events drawing on available expertise. This is likely to be a reasonable adjustment.

• A secondary school has a special unit for children with special educational needs and disabilities including pupils with a visual impairment. The school is already equipped for providing enlarged text and braille versions of documents. When working in the unit children are always provided with information in a range of formats before the lesson. This is rarely the case when the same children are working in the mainstream classes in the school. Not providing the information in time is likely to be a failure to make reasonable adjustments, leaving pupils with SEND at a disadvantage.

David has an extensive schools practice and is widely acknowledged as one of the leading schools lawyers in the UK. He specialises in child protection, safeguarding, pupil disciplinary matters, SEND and schools-related employment issues for a client base that includes many of the UK’s best-known schools.


Special educational needs provision in boarding schools

When it comes to education, parents want the best for their children but this may be even more important for parents of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). According to The Children and Families Act 2014, Section 20, ‘A child or young person has SEN if he or she has a learning difficulty or disability which calls for SEN provision to be made for him or her’. This includes dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, attention deficit hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and autism. Problems associated with these conditions can lead to issues with schoolwork, personal organisation, relationships with adults, developing and maintaining friendships or sensory and physical needs. Fulneck School is one of the only CReSTeD schools based in the north of England.

The Equality Act 2010 and its definition of disability has given pupils who have significant difficulty in reading and understanding the written word, as well as other impairments, the right to have appropriate arrangements for them to demonstrate their abilities. The SEN Code of Practice 2014 and the introduction of Education and Health Care plans also mean that parents have greater freedom of choice in regard to their child’s education and some authorities fund additional specialist support in an independent school.

The benefits of choosing a boarding school for children with SEND include the dedicated support which is readily available for each pupil, depending on their individual needs. This extends to additional opportunities for more focused one-to-one tuition when required.

In specialist schools tailored curricula are delivered by highly trained teachers

with access to equipment and resources designed specifically for pupils with SEND. In most cases teaching takes place in small classes which allows the maximum amount of time to be allocated to each individual, who in turn is able to learn at his or her own pace.


Advancements in technology have greatly improved the education provision for children with SEND by helping to break down several barriers to learning. Equipment such as voice-activated software, reading pens, text readers and software to assist in the development of reading and mathematical skills are likely to feature strongly in the package of services available to pupils, as is the emphasis on developing typing and touch typing techniques.

Fulneck School is an independent boarding and day school with a dedicated learning support unit (LSU) providing continuity

of teaching and support from Year 2 to Year 13. The school has met the criteria of The Council for the Registration of Schools Teaching Dyslexic Pupils (CReSTeD) continually since 1996 and is approved under Category LSC (Learning Support Centre) as a school offering a learning support unit, with specialist staff and teachers who can accommodate pupils’ needs in the classroom. The aim of the LSU at Fulneck is to identify individual special needs and to provide teaching programmes and strategies to allow every student access to the curriculum at a level commensurate with their intellectual ability. Tuition is in small groups or one-to-one delivered by experienced and specialist teachers using a range of multi-sensory teaching methods and technology.


In boarding schools pupils with SEND can also be continually assessed, monitored and mentored outside the classroom which can lead to improvements in social interaction and confidence. By the very nature of a boarding school environment, teachers and support staff can monitor the behavioural patterns of children at close quarters. This includes how they play, socialise and manage the many challenges of daily life. Boarding schools also offer

pupils a choice of fully inclusive co-curricular clubs and activities which help them develop new interests and boost self-esteem.

An extension to mentoring and continual assessment is the strong pastoral care that will be evident in most boarding schools, in addition to a qualified nurse(s) who can liaise with healthcare professionals regarding the implementation of Education and Health Care Plans and who can support the wide range of pupils’ needs.

Of course choosing the right school is a critical decision with far-reaching consequences and one that requires thorough research. Parents should request detailed information about a schools’ SEND provision and gain a clear understanding of which conditions they specifically cater for and how. Visiting the school and meeting the SEND team is an important part of that process, allowing potential parents and pupils the opportunity to gain a true

appreciation of the environment, teaching methods and whether these will suit them. It is also important to meet the Principal and understand the ethos of the school and its attitudes to SEND.

All schools are different and it is anything but the case that one type fits all. But making the correct choice from the many options available and the whole boarding school experience can be very rewarding for pupils with SEND and can give them a chance to really flourish and exceed their potential.

Sally began her teaching career as a VSO volunteer teaching English in Kiribati. She has taught in many different countries and once spent a summer teaching flying trapeze at an American summer camp. Sally joined Fulneck School as Head of Learning Support in 2019. She loves the family feel of the school and the way the adults know the children so well. In the learning support unit she is able to implement learning in the best way to suit each individual pupil.


What is CReSTeD and how does it help boarding families?

The Council for the Registration of Schools Teaching Dyslexic pupils (CReSTeD) is a charity set up in 1989 with the aim of helping parents and those who advise them to choose schools for children with Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD). It is a valuable resource for parents, educational advisers and schools and acts as a source of information for parents.

The main SpLD is dyslexia but there is a general recognition that dyslexia rarely exists in isolation – the latest research demonstrates a high level of co-occurrence with other difficulties. These include


dyspraxia, dyscalculia, attention deficit disorder (ADD), as well as pragmatic and semantic language difficulties.

The CReSTeD Council includes representatives from a wide area of SpLD provision including Dyslexia Action, the British Dyslexia Association, Helen Arkell Dyslexia Centre, the Dyslexia-SpLD Trust and schools.


CReSTeD publishes annually and maintains a list of schools and centres accredited for their SpLD provision – this is called the Register. The schools and centres listed in the Register provide for pupils with one or

more SpLD and cover all levels of provision and both state and independent provision. The vast majority of schools on the Register are mainstream, offering a wide range of teaching styles, environment and facilities. The Register is free of charge to parents.

SpLD provision is divided into six broad categories. Of these, five are for schools:

• Dyslexia Specialist Provision (DSP) schools established primarily to teach pupils with Dyslexia

• Learning Support Centre (LSC) schools offer a designated unit that provides specialist tuition on a small group or individual basis, according to need

and getting

best start in life possible. Currently stationed in Cyprus, this can bring extra concerns with distance and travel; however the school understands and supports the children even more to ensure they remain active yet in contact with parents. Providing Skype has been a godsend. The friends that they have made already I know will remain for life, and that is also evident

• Maintained Schools (MS) local authority schools able to demonstrate an effective system for identifying pupils with dyslexia

• Specialist Provision (SPS) schools are specifically established to teach pupils with dyslexia and other related specific learning difficulties

• Withdrawal System (WS) schools help dyslexic pupils by withdrawing them from appropriately selected lessons for specialist tuition

and one is for centres:

• Teaching Centre (TC) designated centre providing specialist tuition on a small group or individual basis, according to need.

The categories provide guidance on the type of provision given by a school. One category should not be seen as ‘better’ than another. Children have different requirements and personalities and the categories are a way of helping match each child to the type of provision at the school or centre. A report from an educational psychologist or a specialist teacher who holds an Assessment Practising Certificate should offer parents guidance as to the level of provision their child requires.

For example, a child at the severe end of the dyslexia spectrum may require a Dyslexia Specialist Provision school whereas a child with only some slowness in spelling skills may be suitably provided for in a school from the Withdrawal System category.

The Register includes a checklist to help parents decide whether a school or centre can meet their child’s educational needs in relation to SpLD. It also provides a geographical index of schools.


Every school and centre on the CReSTeD Register has been independently verified for SpLD provision by CReSTeD consultants (not the case in all other lists).

The first stage of registration is for the school to complete the CReSTeD registration form and to provide supporting documentation, such as policies for dyslexia. This form covers staff development, admission policy, organisation of the school week, specific arrangements for SpLD pupils, examination results for the whole school and for SpLD pupils in particular, resources and a list of parents’ names so that the consultant may check parents’ feelings about the school or centre.

The criteria include the provision of relevant and high quality information technology resources, Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ)-approved training qualifications for teachers, awareness of the needs of dyslexic pupils on the part of non-specialist staff, and arrangements to obtain and provide special provision for examinations.

During a visit to a school or centre, the consultant checks whether this information is accurate and ensures the school or centre meets the criteria set by CReSTeD Council for the particular category.

Schools and centres are visited on a three-year cycle, with possible earlier visits if there are substantial changes, which should always be swiftly communicated to CReSTeD. If the Head of a CReSTeD school changes, the school must inform CReSTeD and the new Head must confirm that the school intends to continue

for their future we are immensely proud and grateful for what the school is offering both Jordan and Rhys. We will never stop being

with the SpLD provision in accordance with the criteria set by CReSTeD. This enables CReSTeD to retain the school’s details in the Register without the need for an extra visit.

CReSTeD Council initiates ‘responsive’ visits if it has any cause for concern about a particular school.


The CReSTeD website www. contains all the information in the Register. It is updated as new information is received, or new schools approved, and contains links to the websites of all registered schools and centres as well as to other websites that may be of assistance to parents of children with one or more SpLD.

For further information email

Brendan Wignall has been Headmaster of Ellesmere College since 1996 and is Chair of CReSTeD. After teaching English at Oakham and Christ’s Hospital, he became Head of English and Registrar of Denstone College. His main interests are his family, Ellesmere, Liverpool FC, gardening and culture in the broadest sense (excluding only country music!).

March 2015 Service Parents’ Guide to Boarding Schools 35
doubt it is the best decision we as a family have made and
a close-knit family despite the separation, but we know that Queen Victoria is helping towards their future, and providing the stability and ever-lasting friendship that they have been seeking. ■ Council for the Registration of Schools Teaching Dyslexic pupils Registered charity no. 1052103 Council for the Registration of Schools Teaching Dyslexic Pupils We give you Information & Choice Our advice is independent but well informed All the information you need is right there. School C ng Dysl s Teachi he Ror t Council c pupi exi on of i ratstegi he R c.www g.ores ted uk ll in e t w i ec adviur O on & iatm I gie W rmfoll in ntndepende is C you vegi ub de td www. there .crested.or e informat ounciC atrstegiR het orf fo l erstegiR Teacs chool S ofon i 1052103 no.y chared er Pc D nghiTeac ils puP Choosing a school is one of the biggest decisions you make for your child and it is not easy You need all the help you can get Our Register is available to download from our website: Contact CReSTeD via email: ? THE BSA GUIDE TO BOARDING SCHOOLS • SPRING 2023 / SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS AND DISABILITIES / 129

Provision in the independent sector for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities

Pupils with SEND continue to be very well educated within the independent sector and this is undoubtedly one of the sector’s strengths. Many parents of children with special educational needs and disabilities take them out of the maintained sector because the class sizes are too big and they feel there is not enough individual support. The independent sector offers a range of choice not available within the maintained sector. Specialist Provision Schools (SPS) are approved for specific learning difficulties, with associated language difficulties, such as dyspraxia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Dyslexia Specialist Provision Schools (DSP) are established primarily to teach pupils with dyslexia. There are also mainstream boarding schools with designated units or centres providing specialist tuition on a small group or individual basis. In January 2015, 66,026 pupils (33,311 boarders) were identified as having SEND. The most common SEND is dyslexia (321,169) followed by information processing (9,053), dyspraxia (5,459), gross and fine motor skills (3,720) and Asperger’s syndrome (3,597). The table below lists independent boarding schools on the CReSTeD Register providing support for pupils with SEND.

Independent boarding schools on the CReSTeD Register providing support for pupils with SEND Specialist Provision Schools (SPS) are approved for specific learning difficulties, and associated language difficulties, dyspraxia and ADHD.

Category School Town Website

SPS Appleford School Salisbury

SPS More House School Farnham

Dyslexia Specialist Provision Schools (DSP) are established primarily to teach pupils with dyslexia.

Category School Town Website

DSP Bredon School Tewkesbury

DSP Bruern Abbey School Chesterton, Oxfordshire

DSP Frewen College Rye

DSP St David’s College Llandudno

Some mainstream boarding schools have a designated unit or centre providing specialist tuition. School Town Website

Barnardiston Hall Preparatory School Barnardiston, Suffolk

Bedstone College Bucknell, Shropshire

Bethany School Cranbrook, Kent

Brockhurst & Marlston House Schools Newbury, Berkshire

Clayesmore Preparatory School Blandford Forum, Dorset

Clayesmore School Blandford Forum, Dorset

Cobham Hall School Cobham, Kent

Ellesmere College Ellesmere, Shropshire

Finborough School Stowmarket, Suffolk

Fulneck School Leeds, West Yorkshire

Hazlegrove Preparatory School Yeovil, Somerset

Kingham Hill School Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire

King’s School Bruton, Somerset

Kingsley School Bideford, Devon

Kingswood House School Epsom, Surrey

Lime House School Carlisle, Cumbria

Millfield School Street, Somerset

Millfield Preparatory School Glastonbury, Somerset

Sidcot School Winscombe, North Somerset

Slindon College Arundel, Sussex

Tettenhall College Wolverhampton, West Midlands

Walhampton School Lymington, Hampshire

Wycliffe College Preparatory School Stonehouse, Gloucestershire

Wycliffe College Stonehouse, Gloucestershire

GCSEs and IGCSEs in a changed curricular landscape

Any parent considering a boarding school for their child at 11+ or 13+ entry is certain to discover that changes to the main curriculum options at ages 14–16 (Years 10 and 11) – GCSEs and IGCSEs – will become relevant for their son or daughter in the coming years.

This is an exciting stage of education because it is when most pupils have their first opportunity to begin selecting some subject options and determining their own academic programme. As it also leads to formal qualifications in the shape of (I)GCSEs, an understanding of what schools offer currently and how that is likely to be affected by recent changes to the curricular landscape is useful.


International GCSEs (IGCSEs) are longestablished qualifications, originally developed as equivalent to GCSEs for international schools. Their structure has remained essentially ‘linear’, which means assessment takes place by examination at the end of the two-year course. By contrast, before 2015 GCSEs had evolved differently and become more ‘modular’, with courses subdivided into relatively discrete units. This ‘modularisation’ was matched by more piecemeal assessment, with opportunities to complete coursework (or ‘controlled assessment’) and take some examination papers throughout the course. Recent reforms to GCSEs in England have reversed that trend by introducing new, linear GCSE courses graded on a numerical 9–1 scale, while those in Wales and Northern Ireland retain the A* to G grading system.

Over the past decade independent boarding schools, and independent schools generally, have helped drive a proliferation of IGCSEs within the UK. In 2017 IGCSEs reached a peak at over 48 per cent of examinations taken by Year 11 pupils in independent schools, a percentage that had more than quadrupled since 2010, when IGCSEs made up only 11 per cent of entries.

Over many years independent schools perceived a number of advantages in IGCSEs:

• greater emphasis on breadth and depth of knowledge, in addition to cultivation of skills

• a higher degree of academic rigour

• more insulation from political change

• the opportunity to devote more curricular time to teaching than to formal assessments

• the chance for pupils to mature intellectually with less interruption over a two-year course.

More than 84 per cent of leading independent schools now offer a mixture of GCSEs and IGCSEs. This is the approach we have adopted at St Swithun’s, where each subject department has autonomy to select the course offering the most appropriate blend of academic rigour, accessibility and progression to further study at A level. Some schools prefer either GCSEs or IGCSEs exclusively. Both qualifications are respected, valued and understood by universities and employers.

There are advantages to a mixed economy of GCSEs and IGCSEs. In the examination period, IGCSE papers tend to both begin and end a couple of weeks earlier than GCSEs. So in a demanding time for Year 11 pupils, those studying for a mixture of the two can find that their examinations are spread over a slightly longer time period, which can help in managing final revision and preparation. There are positives for schools as well. The surge in popularity of IGCSEs over the last decade, recent reforms to GCSEs and corresponding revisions to IGCSEs mean that for most subjects schools are increasingly able to choose from several up-to-date linear specifications.


The introduction of linear GCSEs, with the stated aim of making them more rigorous, has sparked renewed interest in the choice between IGCSEs and GCSEs and comparability of the qualifications. The first of these new examinations were taken in summer 2017 in English language, English literature and mathematics, and all subjects were reformed by summer 2019. In practice, the new GCSEs have taken on many characteristic features

of IGCSEs. Assessment is linear, with exams at the end of the two-year course, and other forms of assessment, including controlled assessment, have been removed or significantly reduced. These changes are already being reflected in IGCSEs. They have been adjusted to reflect additional content in the new GCSEs, and most domestic IGCSEs have adopted the new 9–1 grading system. A series of studies published in 2019 showed that the two qualifications are broadly comparable, although individual examination boards continue to refine IGCSE grading on a subject-by-subject basis in order to align the assessment as closely as possible to that of GCSEs, an effort supported by independent schools and their membership associations.


Parents and pupils should feel able to ask informed questions about the (I)GCSE courses offered by a school, and the school should be able to explain how it has responded to curricular changes and the rationale for the combination of courses it offers. More specific questions can be posed, often on a subject level, about how each course helps to meet the needs and interests of pupils at that school.

Just as it is important to be aware of past trends and recent reforms, in making subject choices pupils are always best advised to play to their own strengths and select the subjects they find most interesting and enjoyable. The finer details of structure of any (I)GCSE course should not be a deciding factor because after all the qualification itself only lends a structure, albeit an important one, for pupils’ learning at this level.

Charlie Hammel has been Deputy Head Academic at St Swithun’s School, Winchester, since 2014. He was previously Head of History at King Edward VI High School for Girls, Birmingham. Before that he was Head of Scholars at Warwick School, where he taught History, Politics and Latin. He read History and Medieval Studies at Princeton University and completed a postgraduate Master’s in Mediaeval History at the University of St Andrews before embarking on a teaching career in independent schools.

Charlie Hammel Deputy Head Academic, St Swithun’s School, Winchester

Sixth form – future ready, set, go!

The sixth-form years are great fun but they are also of crucial importance. They are about getting pupils exam ready, university ready, career ready – in short, ‘future ready’ – building strong academic foundations and developing the personal characteristics and social skills for future success and fulfilment, no matter what lies ahead.

We only need to ask ourselves the current big questions to understand why gaining good results is not the only goal of post-16 education. Will we have discovered and implemented ways to stop or even reverse the

effects of climate change? Will the phenomenal pace of technology improve our lives for the better or present new moral and societal challenges? Will we be prepared for future pandemics?

The role of the sixth form should not be to create an ‘exam factory’. It is to provide a happy, purposeful environment in which young people transition from adolescence to adulthood, emerging as confident young people ready to face the world. They can only do this if their sixth form offers enough choice of courses, academic enrichment routes, co-curricular activities, leadership

opportunities and career advice. Sixth form should provide the tools young people need to flourish, no matter where their passions lie.

I have often said high quality English boarding education is the best in the world, and parents are fortunate to have their pick of so many exceptional schools. But choosing one from many, particularly for families who are not in the UK, can be challenging. So what should you look for in a boarding sixth form?


It is important to choose a school with a strong academic culture, focused on driving up standards and results and never standing still. The proportion of pupils gaining admission to Russell Group universities should be high. Look for a good and varied range of courses, particularly A levels, including traditional subjects and your child’s intended degree-specific subjects, and BTECs. Some schools offer a range of complementary qualifications that help to open doors and stand your child out from the crowd. For example, at Ashville we offer the highly flexible Cambridge Technical in Performing Arts. For pupils who wish to study in the US, we are accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges to support pupils in gaining the High School Diploma. We have also added Classical Civilisation, Politics and Film Studies to the range of A-level courses we offer.


Sixth form is a time to aim high. If your child is set on Oxbridge, studying medicine or going to university overseas, the sixth form you are considering should demonstrate it is able to help them on that trajectory – the rest, of course, is up to the individual child and their hard work and commitment. At Ashville we offer a bespoke programme for pupils aspiring to Oxford or Cambridge, and for medicine, veterinary science or dentistry courses. We often involve our alumni and other members of the community in mock interviews.


Increasingly, sixth forms are offering an engaging and meaningful programme of academic enrichment. At Ashville, each lower sixth-form pupil undertakes a 'Future Ready' course designed to support their skills development and prepare them for the next step in their lives. This includes the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) which was created by exam boards in collaboration with leading UK universities. It is an AS-level qualification, with the possibility of achieving an A* grade. Cambridge University says: ‘We welcome the EPQ and would encourage applicants to take one as it will help to develop independent study and research skills valuable for higher education.’

The Archbishop of York Leadership Award is another qualification geared to individuals’ interests, skills and future aspirations. It is also highly regarded by the UK’s leading universities. These pupil-led qualifications can be taken alongside A levels, earn UCAS points and enable pupils to make their voices heard at a young age.


Ambitious pupils are keen to take on extra challenges and broaden their horizons. Good sixth forms offer a wide range of opportunities, from prefect positions and house captains to more informal roles, all of which enable pupils to develop skills such as public speaking and communication. More formal leadership roles, such as the Red Tie Prefects at Ashville, involve a formal application and interview process, emulating a university or apprenticeship.


Good schools recognise the major benefits of co-curricular activities for

health and attainment – pupils learn best when they are happy. The activities sixthformers pursue should also be relevant to their future and to the advancement of technology and how this transforms jobs. At Ashville we are developing the co-curricular experience to reflect the World Economic Forum’s ‘top 10 job skills of tomorrow’ by offering activities such as coding, leadership and enterprise. Having a ‘future ready’ focus will ensure sixth-formers leave with not only the right qualifications but also the in-demand skills they need to thrive in the rapidly evolving global marketplace.

Rhiannon Wilkinson MA (Oxon) MEd is the eleventh and first female Head of Ashville College. Her career includes a Headship at Wycombe Abbey and teaching and senior positions in schools in the UK, Hong Kong and Brunei. Most recently, Rhiannon was the founding Head of Whittle School Shenzhen which opened simultaneously alongside its sister school Whittle School Washington DC. Between 2009 and 2013 she was the Principal of Harrogate Ladies’ College. She studied Modern History at St Hugh’s College, Oxford, before undertaking a Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) at Bath University.


Sixth-form programmes – the choice

Students entering the sixth form have a range of options as shown below. Most schools offer a combination. The Cambridge Pre-U is being withdrawn. The last entry is 2021 with last examinations in 2023 (last resit June 2024). We have therefore removed this qualification from the table.

Who is it for?

What can you study?

16 to 19 year olds

Most students study three or four A levels.

16 to 19 year olds

Six subjects (three at Higher Level and three at Standard Level). All students must study literature, a foreign language, a humanities subject, a natural science and mathematics.

16 to 19 year olds

Level 3 qualifications, Extended Certificate equivalent to 1 A level, Diploma to 2 A levels and Extended Diploma to 3 A levels. Certificate is equivalent to 1 AS level.

How does it work?

The linear A level was introduced with first examination in 2017.

Students can take a freestanding AS level but it no longer forms part of the A level. The A level is assessed after two years of study.

Over two years, in addition to their six subjects, students complete a 4,000-word Extended Essay and a Theory of Knowledge course, and participate in the Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) programme. All exams are taken at the end of the second year of study, there are no modules. Conceived as a holistic integral programme bound by a clear philosophy.

BTECs are offered across 16 sectors and comprise core and optional units. The courses are assessed internally and externally and some modules can be retaken. Assignments can include exams, essays, research and investigative projects, and experiments and fieldwork.

16 to 19 year olds

Three A-level subjects in any academic discipline.

In addition to their three A levels, students complete an Extended Project Qualification that aims to make them responsible for their own learning; achieve breadth through an AS level in Critical Thinking, Citizenship, General Studies, Science in society or World development; and undertake enrichment activities outside the curriculum such as The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

What is it worth?

The table below shows the UCAS tariff points awarded for linear A levels.

The table below shows the UCAS tariff points awarded for the IB Certificate in Higher Level. Certificates in Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge also attract UCAS tariff points when the certificates have been taken individually.

95% of universities accept BTECs, but acceptance may be course-dependent. Grading is from Distinction*, Distinction, Merit, Pass. UCAS points for double grades for Diplomas (and triple grades for Extended Diplomas) are calculated from the points for single grades.

Maximum 216 UCAS tariff points for three A* A levels, grade A* Extended Project (28 points) and a standalone AS level at grade A (20 points).

Where can you study it?

Schools and FE colleges. 115 schools and colleges in the UK offer the IB Diploma.

Comment Still the best-known sixthform qualification in the UK, and taken by the largest number of students as their means of entry into higher education. Some schools offer the Extended Project Qualification in addition to A levels.

Internationally recognised and valued. Heavier class-based workload than A levels and more independent learning. The percentage of candidates achieving the different grades has remained constant over the years.

Schools and colleges – some students study across two institutions or alongside employment or an apprenticeship.

BTECs are highly regarded, offering a well-proven route into employment, training and university. Modular assessment, focus on skills and opportunities for work experience make them an attractive complement to A levels as well as a very useful standalone qualification. They are becoming more popular in schools, usually alongside one or two A levels. Sports Science and Business Studies are popular.

UK schools which believe A levels are not, in themselves, sufficient preparation for university.

AQA Baccalaureate is derived in large part from the spirit of the IB Diploma Programme: depth, some breadth, thinking and research skills, and co-curricular experience.

A level International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma BTEC AQA Baccalaureate
Grade Tariff points H7 56 H6 48 H5 32 H4 24 H3 12 H2 0 H1 0 Extended Tariff Diploma Tariff Extended Tariff Certificate points points Diploma points D* 56 D*D* 112 D*D*D* 168 D 48 D*D 104 D*D*D 160 M 32 DD 96 D*DD 152 P 16 DM 80 DDD 144 MM 64 DDM 128 MP 48 DMM 112 PP 32 MMM 96 MMP 80 MPP 64 PPP 48 Grade Tariff points A* 56 A 48 B 40 C 32 D 24 E 16 To find out more, go to

fee planning

Deciding to invest in education can be the most important decision a parent makes. But operating a school is expensive. Almost two-thirds of the cost is in staff, the most valuable resource a school has. Money is also needed to pay for facilities, utilities, food and teaching resources. There can be a wide range in fees to cover this cost according to age group, the school and what it offers. Extras add to the bill and schools have different approaches to this, so it is worth checking.


Fees for a boarding education from 13 to 18 vary from around £60,000 (in a state boarding school where tuition is paid by the state) to more than £200,000. In 2021–22 the ISC census reported that the

average termly boarding fee was £12,344. So it is important to prepare for paying fees. Financial planning can help reduce the burden, so do take professional advice. Planning should consider the following.


Schemes can help spread fee payments over a longer period to make them more affordable. One way of doing this is against the equity in the family house to spread fees over the term of the mortgage.



Early investment reduces the need to use earnings for fees in later years. This approach can be tailored to individual requirements. Some schools offer schemes for advance fee payment; if you have a lump sum available, this is worth exploring, especially given recent rises in interest rates.

“Deciding to invest in education can be the most important decision a parent makes.”


Regular saving should start as soon as possible. The longer you save, the less the reliance on earnings when fees fall due.


It is important to ensure the payment of fees can continue in the event of a change in circumstances. A lump sum can be provided by life insurance. Income protection plans can provide income in the event of specified illnesses or accidents. Fees refund schemes can provide cover in the event of absence through illness or accident.


Trust planning can be useful to make provisions for school fees and achieve inheritance tax benefits. Financial advice should be sought when establishing trusts.


Many schools offer bursaries to help parents pay fees. These are awarded after a ‘means test’ of family income. Bursaries may be awarded in addition to a scholarship where financial need is demonstrated, and the child would

otherwise be unable to enter the school. Parents will usually be asked to complete an application, providing details of their financial circumstances with supporting evidence.


Charitable trusts can help in cases of need. For example, the Royal National Children's SpringBoard Foundation (RNCSF) supports children in the UK who are from challenging circumstances. The charity helps by providing grants and boarding school places for children who have suffered trauma, tragedy or neglect in their young lives. Details can be found at or through the Directory of Grant Making Trusts at


Many schools offer scholarships to attract talented pupils. A scholarship is awarded for academic promise or based on ability in music, art or another specialism or allround merit. They are usually awarded after a competitive examination and interview and take no account of financial need. Scholarships vary in value – they may

be honorary accolades that come with no fee discount. In general, schools limit the value of scholarships, such that any extra funding being awarded is strictly subject to financial need.

Other educational awards

Many schools offer awards to children of members of the Armed Services, clergy, teachers or other professions. Some support children of former pupils, singleparent families and orphans, or offer concessions for siblings.

There is much to consider and a great deal of financial help available. Read this Guide thoroughly and explore schools’ websites. Above all, do not be afraid to ask schools how they can support your family. It can be a lengthy task, but potentially very worthwhile. Plan early and seek advice.


SFIA School Fees Planning

Tel: 0845 4583690

Andrew Ashton was educated at Newcastle Royal Grammar School and Oxford University. After a career at Barclays and in consulting, Andrew has been Bursar at Radley College since 2008. Andrew has also served as a governor at a number of schools.

Useful contacts


Boarding Schools’ Association (BSA)

BSA State Boarding Forum (SBF) types-of-boarding-school/

Independent Schools Council (ISC)

Department for Education (DfE)

Independent Schools Show


BSA Certified Guardians

BSA Certified Agents

British Council

Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS) Email:

UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA)

UK National Information Centre for international qualifications and skills (UK ENIC)


British Dyslexia Association (BDA)

Council for the Registration of Schools Teaching Dyslexic Pupils (CReSTeD)

Dyslexia Action

Disability Rights UK



Choir Schools’ Association (CSA)

Music and Dance Scheme


Methodist Independent Schools Trust

Catholic Independent Schools’ Conference (CISC)


Welsh Independent Schools Council (WISC)

Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS)

Independent Schools Examinations Board (ISEB)

Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI)

International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO)

Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS)

Educational Trusts’ Forum

Royal National Children’s SpringBoard Foundation (Royal SpringBoard)


Naval Families Federation (NFF)

Army Families Federation (AFF)

RAF Families Federation


Association of Governing Bodies of Independent Schools (AGBIS)

Council of British International Schools (COBIS)

Girls’ Schools Association (GSA)

Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC)

Independent Association of Prep Schools (IAPS)

Independent Schools Association (ISA)

Independent Schools’ Bursars Association (ISBA)

Society of Heads


BSA member schools


Abberley Hall School

Abbey College, Cambridge

Abbey College, Manchester

Abbotsholme School

Abingdon School

Abrar Academy



Adcote School

Al Jamiatul Islamiyyah

Aldenham School

Aldro School

Aldwickbury School

All Hallows School

Alliance Francaise

Ampleforth College

Amesbury School

Appleford School

Ardingly College

Ardvreck School

Ashfold School

Ashford School

Ashville College

Atlantic College

Aysgarth School


Barnard Castle School

Barnardiston Hall Preparatory School

Bath Academy

Battle Abbey School

Beachborough School

Beaudesert Park School

Bedales (incl Prep)

Bede’s Preparatory School

Bede’s Senior School

Bedford School

Bedstone College

Beech Grove School and Academy

Beechen Cliff School

Beechwood Park School

Beechwood Sacred Heart School

Beeston Hall School

Belhaven Hill School

Bellerbys College, London

Belmont School

Benenden School


Bethany School

Bilton Grange School

Bishop’s Stortford College (incl Prep)

Bishopstrow College

Bloxham School

Blundell’s School

Bootham School

Bosworth Independent College

Boundary Oak School

Bournemouth Collegiate School

Box Hill School

Bradfield College

Brambletye School

Bredon School

Brentwood School

Brighton College

Bristol International College

Brockhurst And Marlston House Schools

Brockwood Park School

Bromsgrove School (incl Prep)

Brooke House College

Brookes United Kingdom

Bruern Abbey School

Bruton School for Girls (Incl Prep)

Bryanston School

Brymore Academy

Buckswood School


Burgess Hill Girls

Caldicott Preparatory School

Cambridge Tutors College

Campbell College

Canford School

Cardiff Academy Sixth Form College

Cardiff Sixth Form College

Cargilfield Preparatory School

Casterton Sedbergh Preparatory School

Caterham School

CATS College, Cambridge CATS College, Canterbury

CATS College, London

Chafyn Grove School

Charterhouse School

Chase Grammar School

Cheam School

Cheltenham College (incl Prep)

Cheltenham Ladies’ College

Cherwell College Oxford

Chetham’s School of Music

Chigwell School

Christ Church Cathedral School

Christ College, Brecon



Claremont School

Clayesmore Preparatory School

Clayesmore School



Cobham Hall School

Colchester Royal Grammar School

Concord College

Copthorne Preparatory School

Cothill House School

Cotswold Chine School

Cottesmore School

Cranbrook School


Culford School (Incl Prep)

Cumnor House School

Cundall Manor School

Dallam School

Darul Uloom Dawatul Imaan

Darul Uloom London School


David Game College

Dean Close Preparatory School

Dean Close School

Dean Close St John’s

Denstone College


Dollar Academy

Dorset House School

Dover College



Downside School

Dragon School


Dulwich Preparatory School, Cranbrook

Durham School

Eagle House School


Eastbourne College

Edgeborough School

Ellesmere College

Elmfield Rudolf Steiner School

Elmhurst Ballet School, Birmingham

Elstree School


Epsom College

Eton College

Exeter Cathedral School

Exeter College

Fairview International School

Farleigh School

Farlington School

Farringtons School

Felsted School (incl Prep)

Feltonfleet School

Fettes College (incl Prep)

Five Islands Academy

Foremarke Hall, Repton Preparatory School

Forres Sandle Manor School

Framlingham College

Frensham Heights School (Incl Junior)

Frewen College

Fulneck School

Fyling Hall School Trust LTD

George Watson’s College

Giggleswick School

Glenalmond College

Godolphin School



Gordonstoun (Incl Junior)

Gresham’s School (incl Prep)



Hall Grove School

Handcross Park School

Hanford School

Harrogate Ladies’ College

Harrow School

Hatherop Castle Prep School


Headington School

Heath Mount School

Heathfield School

Hereford Cathedral School

Highfield School

Hockerill Anglo-European College

Holmewood House School

Holmwood House School (incl Prep)

Holyport College

Horris Hill School

Hurstpierpoint College

Hurtwood House School

International School of Creative Arts

Ipswich High School

Ipswich School

Jamea Al Kauthar

Jamia Al - Hudaa

Jersey College for Girls

Junior King’s School, Canterbury

Kensington Park School

Kent College Nursery, Infant and Junior School

Kent College, Canterbury

Kent College, Pembury (Incl Prep)

Keswick School

Kilgraston School

Kimbolton School

King Edward’s School, Witley

King William’s College, Isle of Man


Kings Bournemouth

King’s College School, Cambridge

King’s College, Taunton

King’s Hall School

King’s School , Rochester (Incl Prep)


King’s School, Ely (Incl Junior)

Kingsley School

Kingswood Preparatory School


Kirkham Grammar School

Kitebrook Prep School

Lambrook School


Lancing College

Langley School

Lathallan School

Leighton Park School

Leweston School (Incl Prep)

Lime House School

Lincoln Minster School

Liverpool College

Llandovery College

Lockers Park School

Lomond School

Longridge Towers School

Lord Wandsworth College

Loretto School (Incl Junior)

Loughborough Grammar School

Luckley House School

Lucton School (incl Prep)

Ludgrove School

LVS Ascot

Maidwell Hall School

Malvern College

Malvern St James

Manchester City Football Club

Marlborough College

Marlborough House School

Marymount London


Merchiston Castle School

Mill Hill School Foundation

Millfield Preparatory School

Millfield School

Milton Abbey School

Monkton Combe Preparatory School

Monkton Combe Senior School

Monmouth School for Boys

Monmouth School for Girls

Moor Park School

Moorland School

More House School

Moreton Hall School

Moulsford Preparatory School

Mount Kelly School (Incl Prep)

Mount St Mary’s College

Mowden Hall School

Moyles Court School






Shiplake College


Sibford School

The Oratory School

The Pilgrims’ School

The Prebendal School

The Purcell School for Young Musicians

The Read School

The Royal Ballet School

The Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe

Boarding School Magazine

Sidcot School

Slindon College

St Andrew’s College, Cambridge

St Andrew’s Preparatory School, Eastbourne

St Andrew’s School, Pangbourne

St Bees School


St Christopher School

The Royal Masonic School for Girls

The Royal School, Armagh

The Royal School, Dungannon

The Royal School, Surrey


The Thomas Adams School

The Wellington Academy

Thetford Grammar School

Thornton College


A+ World Academy, Switzerland

Aiglon College, Switzerland

Alexandra College, Ireland

Amadeus International School, Austria

American Collegiate Institute, Turkey

Apex 2100, France

Berlin Brandenburg International School, Germany

Bestepe College, Turkey

Blackrock College, Ireland

Brillantmont International School, Switzerland

Cabella International Sahaja School, Italy

Ciscertian College

Clongowes Wood College, Ireland

College Alpin Beau Soleil, Switzerland

College Champittet, Switzerland

College du Leman International School, Switzerland

Complejo Educativo Mas Camarena, Spain

Ecole Jeannine Manuel, France

Exupery International School, Latvia

Glenstal Abbey School, Ireland

Institut Montana Zugerberg, Switzerland

International School Eerde, Netherlands

International School of Milan

International School San Patricio Toledo

John F Kennedy International School, Switzerland

Kilkenny College, Ireland

King’s College, The British School of Madrid, Spain

The Koc School, Turkey

La Garenne, Switzerland

Laude Lady Elizabeth School, Spain

Leysin American School, Switzerland

Lundsbergs Skola, Sweden

Lyceum Alpinum Zuoz, Switzerland

Midleton College, Ireland

Open Gate Boarding School, Czech Republic

Préfleuri International Alpine School

Rathdown School, Ireland

Rockwell College, Ireland

SEK International School El Castillo

Sigtunaskolan Humanistiska Läroverket, Sweden

Sotogrande International School, Spain

St Columba’s College, Ireland

St George’s International School, Germany

St George’s International School, Switzerland

St Gilgen International School GmbH, Austria

St John’s International School, Belgium

St Louis School Milan

St Peter’s International School, Portugal

Surval Montreux, Switzerland

The International School of Paphos, Cyprus

The Kings Hospital, Ireland

Villiers School, Ireland


Assam Valley School, India

Atlantic Hall School, Nigeria

Avi-Cenna International School, Nigeria

Braeburn Garden Estate School

Brisbane Grammar School, Australia

British International School Lagos

Bromsgrove International School, Thailand

Dalian American International School (Nord Anglia Group), China

Day Waterman College, Nigeria

Dulwich College Suzhou, China

Episcopal High School, USA

Epsom College in Malaysia

Fay School, USA

Fettes Guangzshou

Frensham, Australia

Greensteds International School, Kenya

H Farm International School

Hangzhou Greentown Yuhua School, China

Harrow Innovation Leadership Academy Chongqing

Harrow Innovation Leadership Academy Nanning

Harrow International School Shenzhen Qianhai

Harrow Innovation Leadership Academy Zhuhai

Harrow International School Bangkok, Thailand

Harrow International School Haikou

Harrow International School, Hong Kong

Harrow Appi Japan

Huawei-Tongman Foreign Language School

Idyllwild Arts Academy, USA

ISA Science City International School

Jerudong International School, Brunei

Kincoppal-Rose Bay, Australia

King Henry VIII College, Malaysia

Kolej Tuanku Ja’afar, Malaysia

Lady Eleanor Holles International School Foshan, China

The Lawrence School, Lovedale, India

The Lawrence School, Sanawar, India

Letovo School, Russian Federation

Marlborough College, Malaysia

Merchiston International School, China

Methodist Ladies’ College, Australia

Michaelhouse, South Africa

Miles Bronson Residential School, India

MIT Pune’s Vishwashanti Gurukul, India

New School Georgia

Nord Anglia Chinese International School, Shanghai, China

Nord Anglia School, Beijing, Fangshan

Nord Anglia School, Foshan

Nord Anglia School, Guangzhou, Panyu

Nord Anglia School Jiaxing, China

Nord Anglia School, Nantong

Nord Anglia School, Ningbo, Fenghua

Nord Anglia School, Shenzhen

Nord Anglia School, Suzhou

North London Collegiate School, Jeju, Korea

NUCB International College, Japan

Peponi School, Kenya

Pinegrove School, India

Prem Tinsulanonda International School, Thailand

Pymble Ladies’ College, Australia

Regents International School Pattaya, Thailand

Rong Qiao Sedbergh School

Rugby School Thailand

School of Leadership, Afghanistan (SOLA)

The Scindia School, Gwalior, India

Sela Qui International School, India

Shattuck-St Mary’s School, Malaysia

SEK International School El Castillo

St Andrew’s College, South Africa

St Andrew’s Prep School Turi, Kenya

St Andrew’s Senior School Turi, Kenya

St Christopher Schools, Kenya


St George’s College, Argentina

Swiss International Scientific School Dubai, UAE

The British School of Lome’, Togo

The Doon School, India

The Forman School, USA

The Hill School, USA

The Hun School of Princeton, USA

The International School of Penang (Uplands), Malaysia

The International School, Bangalore, India

The King’s School, Australia

The Mayo College, India

The Regent Secondary School, Nigeria

Toowoomba Anglican School, Australia

United World College South East Asia, Singapore

Wellington College International Tianjin, China

Welham Boys’ School, India

Welham Girls’ School, India

Westlake International School, Malaysia

Windsor High School at Albany, Bahamas

Woodstock School, India

Whanganui Collegiate School, New Zealand

Wycombe Abbey School Changzhou, China

Wycombe Abbey School, Hangzhou, China

Wycombe Abbey School, Hong Kong

Wycombe Abbey School Nanjing, China

Yew Chung International School of Qingdao (YCIS-QD), China

Yew Wah International Education School of Guangzhou (YWIES-GZ), China

Yew Wah International Education School, Zhejiang

Tongxiang Campus (YWIES-TX), China

Yew Wah School of Shanghai Changning (YWIES-GB), China

Yew Wah International Education School of Shanghai Lingang (YWIES-SHLG), China

Ourshowshelpparents navigatetheworld'smost competitiveschoolsystem.


Findtherightschool, prepareyourchildforentry tests,workoutnextsteps… INPARTNERSHIPWITH 11+/13+ANSWERS @THEHURLINGHAMCLUB 23MAY2023
All highlighted schools have advertised in this issue of the Guide. BOARDING & DAY SCHOOL CO-EDUCATIONAL 11-18 OPEN MORNING 13 May 2023 7 October 2023 An adventurous education


A truly international boarding community with premium accommodation located close to Central London. ACS Cobham's world class facilities and wide range of challenging academic programmes help our students to feel secure, supported and inspired – so that they can be outstanding.
International Baccalaureate
Advanced Placement Curriculum