Full boarding means that the child is at the school for 7 days per week.
Full boarding can now cost anywhere from £24,000 to £44,000 per year, with most schools in the £30,000 to £40,000 range. The quality of boarding facilities varies greatly from school to school. In some the accommodation might include single bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms whereas other schools might have dormitories for 8 or more pupils. The quality of the accommodation is usually, but not always, reflected in the fees.
Comparative costs can be severely distorted when a boarding school differentially prices between British and international boarders so parents should look carefully at published fees. The difference between UK and international rates can vary between £3,000 and £9,000. Some schools justify this on the basis that they provide English Language lessons without extra charge, but most pupils do not need extra English at age 16+ - so it’s really a surcharge on foreign nationals.
Weekly boarding is a popular option for parents based in the UK who wish their children to come home at the weekend. However, it is not as simple as it sounds. If it is a very active school with Saturday lessons and compulsory sports, the boarder will struggle to get more than 24 hours freedom which includes the travel time to get to and from home.
Many schools do not really encourage weekly boarding and the price rarely gives a discount of more than 10% on full time boarding.
International parents should ask a potential school about the numbers of weekly boarders as in some schools, especially those near London, a significant number of pupils leave the premises at the weekend. If your child is a full boarder this can mean that weekend life can be quite lonely.
Flexi and Ad hoc Boarding
Some boarding schools with spare beds will allow flexi or ad hoc boarding which typically allows a child to board up to 3 nights per week. This is often a reaction to difficulties in recruiting, when schools start acting like an hotel and taking bookings by the day at a daily rate. The cost might be from £45 to £65 per night. However, this is quite a popular arrangement for younger children in prep schools to get them accustomed to boarding.
A lot of the bigger public schools will not allow flexi boarding.
Some schools have accommodation blocks off site either in university student type buildings or just large houses, which is usually cheaper. One needs to ask about pastoral care and live in supervisors, to ensure they are employed and controlled by the school / college. Other sixth form colleges arrange host family accommodation with local families. There are strict rules for the vetting of families offering accommodation to children and home stay can be a cost effective option.
It has become traditional for boarding schools to have "exeats" where the school closes for 1 or 2 weekends per term and all pupils leave the premises. Some schools encourage the practice of international boarders going home with British boarders, but generally boarders stay with their UK guardians. However a number of enlightened boarding schools have now stopped having exeats, realising the inconvenience and expense this can cause for boarders whose parents live on the other side of the world. Other schools will allow international boarders to stay in school during exeats if they wish.
Questions on boarding
Many international parents are very concerned about sending their child away to board at a school in a strange country. We encourage you to phone us with any questions or concerns you may have - +44 1622 813870 .
9th January 2019
8th January 2019
7th January 2019