Hello and Happy Monday from Oxfordshire!
We speak daily to families interested in a boarding school stay in the UK.
Normally, before we even discuss specific schools or the idiosyncrasies of a child, we make sure we understand the five most important elements around a stay.
This is very important. UK boarding schools have very different requirements when considering candidates.
Here we list the most important things we ask families to think about before we suggest schools.
1) When to come to an English boarding school
Most schools will refuse entry into certain academic year groups. This is especially true of the 11th school year (Y11) and the final school year (Y13)
The most important reason for this is because the British education system is structured around key learning stages at the end of which are important public exams. The most important of these are the GCSE exams at the end of the 11th school year (Y11) and the A-Levels or International Baccalaureate (IB) at the end of the 13th school year.
Understandably schools are not keen for pupils to join them in years where existing pupils are focused on exam preparation. They want to avoid disruptions as much as possible.
Our advice is for pupils to join a boarding school in Y9, Y10 or Y12.
2) How long to come for
At von Bülow Education have a lot of requests for shorter boarding school stays. Some as short as for one term only.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with a shorter stay. Children get the opportunity of a first taste of this amazing experience without committing to a long stay. This is crucial, especially if child and parents are still unsure whether an English boarding school is for them.
It is important to know, however, that the fewest English boarding schools will allow for these short stays. The minimum stay-length that most boarding schools expect is one year. Families need to be mindful of the fact that their choice of schools will be more limited, the shorter they plan to stay.
3) What the goal for the stay is
It is only natural to want everything - the best academic education, only English boarders, a top football team, state-of-the-art Design & Technology and of course charming, caring houseparents.
All this is possible. It does, however, require a longer stay commitment.
If you are looking for a shorter stay of one year or less, prepare to have to make compromises somewhere along the way. For this it is especially important to be crystal clear as to what your goals are. What is non-negotiable? What is less important? The clearer you are about this, the more likely you are to find what you need.
4) What your child wants versus what the parents want
In our experience parents and children agree in most cases what they want and expect out of a boarding school stay.
But not always!
Be sure to have a proper, clarifying conversation about what you and your child expect out of this experience. Address the differences and be willing to compromise.
5) What the plan for after the boarding school stay is
Often it's clear from the outset: your child will go for one year; no more, no less. He/she will return to their former school thereafter.
But very often that is not the case. Many parents tell us that if the child loves the school, he/she can stay there to finish school in the UK.
If this option exists, it will affect the choice of schools we recommend quite fundamentally. Especially since pupils have the choice between finishing with A-Levels or the International Baccalaureate (IB). At von Bülow Education we advise most European families to opt for the IB, as it allows pupils to specialise later on.
We hope this helps!
If you have any questions at all or require a bespoke consultation, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us via firstname.lastname@example.org or + 44 (0) 1235 838540.
von Bülow Education