Sedbergh School's Design and Technology Department
Ten Things that make English Boarding School Special
English boarding schools – amazing diversity that caters to the individual needs, aptitudes and passions of every child.
Von Bülow Education is headquartered close to some of the finest schools in the UK. We use any excuse to visit these schools as often as we can. Something that never fails to amaze us is just how different from each other these schools are: from the medieval dining halls of a King’s School Canterbury to the brand new, state-of-the art science block of an Uppingham School; from the glorious music you hear in the corridors of a Wells Cathedral School, to the slick football you see on the playing fields of a Charterhouse School; from the studious no-nonsense atmosphere of a Sevenoaks School to the warm, welcoming embrace of a Clayesmore School, British boarding schools offer something to everyone.
We at von Bülow see it as our most important goal to find that perfect match between what your child needs to thrive, and what a school can offer your child. Finding that one school that can do this is what we are good at.
Royal Hospital School's canteen
So, what makes British boarding schools special?
At von Bülow we have identified ten things that we think make English boarding schools schools as amazing as they are:
1. They educate the whole person.
To be clear - above all else, British boarding schools prioritize the academic education of its pupils. And yet, the schools place an enormous emphasis on an holistic education that includes the physical, creative and social development of pupils. Everyone participates in team sports and is encouraged to take up drama or a musical instrument; pupils are actively encouraged to take up positions of responsibility, whether it is volunteering in an old people’s home or as a school prefect; lastly the close-knit boarding community teaches universal values such as mutual respect, empathy and camaraderie.
2. They are strong at identifying and nurturing individual potential.
Whether it is in the classroom, the sports-field, the arts department or on the stage, pupils are given ample opportunity to challenge and learn about themselves. The teachers are versed in spotting talent early and do what they can to carefully nurture this talent.
3. They provide an inspiring and effective learning environment.
It starts with the average class sizes. With often no more than eight people to a class, pupils get much more individual attention from teachers. The small classes also encourage a much more interactive and lively learning environment. The teachers themselves are dedicated, passionate and supportive. Believe it or not: school really can be fun after all!
4. They provide structure and discipline.
Boarding schools provide around-the-clock structure and discipline, especially to pupils that need it to be successful. The school days are carefully structured with dedicated, often supervised study periods to ensure children get on with their independent learning. This is especially beneficial for the crucial last two years in the run-up to the A-Levels or IB exams.
5. They offer a huge range of activities to get involved in.
British boarding schools are world famous for the phenomenal range of extracurricular activities they offer. Sports activities are top of the list. With state-of-the-art facilities and full-time sports experts, pupils can play mainstream sports like tennis, football, and hockey to a very advanced level. More exotic sports such as fencing, martial arts, even clay pigeon shooting are on offer, too.
That isn't it, however: from book clubs to bee-keeping; from coding to chess; from farming to feng shue to farming, the schools offer an amazing array of activities for pupils to get involved in. No one will ever get bored here!
A great benefit of boarding school life is that pupils manage to fit more activities into one day. After all, distances are short. The football pitch is only a quick stroll from the music practice rooms on the other side of campus. So, no more time wasting with sitting in cars getting chauffeured around.
6. They are open, tolerant, inclusive, and international.
British boarding schools at their very core are open and tolerant places. This is reflected in their international student body: most schools have between 15% and 20% international students. Pupils we helped place at British boarding schools cite the opportunity to interact with children from many different cultures, ethnic and social backgrounds is a uniquely eye-opening experience.
7. They cater to individual aptitudes and interests.
All good British boarding schools provide a foundation of excellent academic teaching, great pastoral care and a broad range of extracurricular activities. Beyond this foundation, many schools do at least one thing particularly well. This could, for example be an excellent all-round sports programme or a state-of-the art music education programme. Ultimately this allows pupils with special interests to delve deeper into their passion, while still getting an excellent all-round academic education.
8. They provide a segue-way into the world’s best universities.
All British boarding schools have so-called higher education departments with full-time staff dedicated to helping pupils apply for universities. Whether it is organizing regular university visitation trips, special Oxford/Cambridge application prep sessions or SAT preparation courses for US universities, these departments provide phenomenal support to pupils about to take the next step in their educational career.
9. They provide supportive, caring and safe environments.
British boarding schools are safe havens. Pupils are protected from many of the temptations and the negative influences so prevalent in modern-day teenage life. School and boarding staff go out of their way to make pupils feel safe and at home. They provide encouragement and a shoulder to cry on. Dedicated tutors help students improve their academic performance and guide them through important decisions whilst at school.
10. They help children develop into self-confident, young adults.
British boarding schools provide pupils with an environment and opportunities to explore who they are and what they are good at. They experience daily moments of success, both in- and outside of the classroom. At the same time they learn to deal and move on from failure. It is amazing what this does to young adults. In no time they turn into self-confident, self-aware young adults, something they will benefit from for the rest of their lives.