Given the world of choices, picking the right boarding school can be a complex and certainly a costly process. So what is the best advice when it comes to making such a difficult decision?
For most of us, sending our kids to a boarding school is not an option. We simply love them too much to handle not seeing them every day. And even if we toughen up, the cost alone can be a deterrent.
But for some parents, the decision to send their children to a boarding school is a necessity, either because of a demanding job that requires them to travel frequently, or for the lack of adequate schooling in the cities or areas where they live.
For them, the real challenge is not making the decision to send your kids to a boarding school, but rather the complex process of identifying the right school!
ShufiLondon.com talked to Susan Hamlyn, Director of The Good Schools Guide Advice Service (gsgexpertschoolsconsultants.co.uk), a consultancy that advises and supports families from around the world in making similar education related decisions. And unlike many agencies, GSGAS does not receive any commissions from the schools, so their advice to parents is based entirely on their requirements.
According to Hamlyn, there are three questions that parents should address carefully when making the decision of which boarding school to pick for their children:
– Is the child’s English, and not only the conversational one, good enough to cope with an English curriculum?
– Are the parents handling the applications extra carefully to avoid them being rejected?
– Are the parents being realistic in identifying the strengths and skills of their child? Can the child survive the long distance or a highly competitive school?
The top advice Hamlyn gives to parents is the need to educate themselves first about the various offerings of boarding schools and the academic and financial requirements involved.
But what about the fees related to such an academic indulgence? These vary as well, but be prepared for no less than £30,000 per year, which according to The Economist marks a 20% increase over the past five years.
Naturally very few boarding schools are actually in London, since space and greenery have always been characteristics of such establishments. But a lot of the best boarding schools are scattered around the UK capital, in what for many parents is an easy commute.
According to The Good Schools Guide Advice Service, international families seem keen on the following boarding schools in the UK, according to preference of sending them to single sex or mixed schools:
Founded by King Henry VI in 1440 in Windsor, Eton College is one of the most celebrated schools in the world. The boys-only school welcomes students from the age of 13, and has been the school of choice for many members of the English elite, including 19 prime ministers. The school charges around £34,000 per annum. Click here to read more.
Founded in 1572 under a Royal Charter granted by Queen Elizabeth I, the school situated in Harrow in North West London has some top names among its alumni, including World War II leader Winston Churchill. The school’s fees for the 2014/2015 academic year stood at £36,000. Click here to read more.
William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester and Chancellor of England founded this school in 1382. William Waynflete (pictured) was said to have been one of the earliest headmasters of Winchester College, from 1429 until 1441. Winchester College prides itself in having the longest unbroken history of all schools in the UK. School fees for 2015 are £35,600 per annum. Click here to read more.
Cheltenham Ladies’ College
Cheltenham Ladies College opened its doors in 1854, with just 82 girls in attendance. Situated in Gloucestershire, the school now has about 850 pupils from across the world, and has been attended by some well-known celebrities, including the actress Tallulah Riley. Fees for 2015/2016 are £33,000 per annum. Click here to read more.
Miss Olive Willis founded this school in 1907 in Kent, hoping to find an environment that cherishes and values individuals. With the subsequent increase in student numbers, the school moved to Berkshire in 1921. HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine Middleton, attended the school for a term before being moved to Marlborough College. Fees for 2015 are around £33,000. Click here to read more.
Founded in 1896 by Miss Frances Dove, Wycombe Abbey is considered the top girls boarding school in the UK in terms of academic results. The school spans over 650,000 square meters in High Wycombe, including woods and a lake! Fees for the current school year are £35,700. Click here to read more.
This school, founded in 1865 in Worcestershire, takes pride in its alumni, which include two Nobel laureates, commonwealth prime ministers, and the C.S. Lewis, author of the Chronicles of Narnia. Outside the UK, the school has two campuses in China, and a new campus will be opened soon in Cairo. Fees for the current school year are £35,700. Click here to read more.
Established in 1843 as a school for the sons of the Church of England clergy, this school in Marlborough has been transformed into one of the world’s most recognised educational institutions. Dubbed by some as a “famous” and “designer label” school, Marlborough’s youngest alumni include Catherine Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge. Fees for the current school year are £33,930. Click here to read more.
With over 600 years of history and students from 40 countries, Sevenoaks School has a lot to boast about. The school, which is situated in Kent, was the highest performing co-educational independent school at GCSE level in 2014. Fees for the current school year are £33,156. Click here to read more.
Founded in 1859 in Berkshire, just outside London, the school counts a number of prominent celebrities among its alumni including actor Christopher Lee, author George Orwell and UK ‘Pop Idol’ star Will Young. Fees for the current school year are £35,775. Click here to read more.