What Factors Should International Families Take Into Consideration When Choosing A British Boarding School For Their Child?
When selecting a boarding school, it is important to be certain that you have made the correct choice, to suit the strengths and interests of your child, so that he or she will be both successful and happy. Be they a talented mathematician, linguist, violinist, chess player, dancer or need extra support with their English, there will be a number of schools that are best placed in terms of facilities and expertise, to develop the talents of your child. What is right for one child may be a nightmare for another.Every child is different and although league tables, and discussions with colleagues and friends can be a useful tool to get you started, it is far more important to choose the school which can bring out the best in your child.
Every boarding school prides itself on the ability to nurture each individual child to enable them to accomplish the highest academic achievement, but boarding schools are about so much more than just academic study. They are about developing knowledgeable, independent, confident youngsters who leave the school with the important skills to succeed in their chosen further education option or career. Sports, music, drama, art, design and technology, debating, Duke of Edinburgh, Young Enterprise, Community Service are just a few of the many extra-curricular options. The added value education of a boarding school is a very important factor that should always be considered, in conjunction with published academic results.
Boarding schools vary greatly in terms of size such as schools with 1500 pupils to those with only a few hundred. Some are in the middle of a town or city and some in rural locations. Some schools have fabulous facilities such as theatres, sports halls and boarding houses with en-suite bathrooms and some offer a much smaller, more family-like atmosphere. Some are single sex, some co-educational. Not all children are suited to every environment so it is important to be aware of the differences and to take full advantage of this diverse range of choice.
It is very important to ask the schools you are considering about their overall percentage of overseas pupils. Whilst a cultural mix of pupils in a school is important in terms of promoting global awareness and understanding, you are choosing to educate your child in England, so should not expect to find an overbearing number of pupils that are any one nationality. This extends into asking about how many boarders the school has in total and how many of these are at school during the weekends. If your child is to gain an understanding of other cultures and develop their knowledge and understanding of English, it is very important for them to socialise with children which could be located all over the world. With too many children of their own nationality, it is too tempting to mix with them alone.
The academic curriculum will be very similar at one school to the next, but different schools have strengths in different areas. It is important that you try to match these up with the strengths and interests of your child. If your child is talented at art for example, try to select as school that has strength in this area in terms of teaching staff and facilities. Additionally it is worth considering what your preference might be in terms of sixth form studies. Some schools offer Advanced levels alone, some only the International Baccalaureate and some offer both.
If your child is moving to a school in the UK but are currently at a school overseas, it is important to ask what support he or she will be given to improve their understanding of English. Most boarding schools offer one-to-one or group tuition in English for their pupils that have come overseas and this is a vital extra support structure to ensure that they are successful in their academic study.
Particularly for younger children, a weekend activity programme is very important. Academic achievement is of course of paramount importance but it is vital that you encourage your child to become fully involved in the extra-curricular life of the school, as this is where true friendships and understanding are developed.