Types of Boarding

There are many types of boarding schools, and we understand it is important to choose the right one. Find more details on the different types of boarding schools to help you understand their focuses below.

State boarding schools

State boarding schools provide free education but charge fees for boarding. Some state boarding schools are run by local councils and others are run as academies or free schools. These schools give priority to children who have a particular need to board and will assess children’s suitability for boarding. At state boarding schools and academies, including sixth-form colleges, parents pay between £10,000 and £17,000 per year for their children to board, with an average of £12,000 per year. In England there are 34 mainstream members of the BSA State Boarding Forum (SBF) and 31 are listed here, including academies and free schools.

International Schools

International boarding schools – a mainstream British education overseas… Many of these schools are in Europe – particularly in Switzerland – and these will perhaps be the ones most likely to interest parents and pupils resident in the UK who want a more international flavour to their educational experience. Even though most British boarding schools have international pupils, these are generally in the minority whereas this is less likely to be the case in overseas schools.

Preparatory schools

Prep schools are for children ages 4 up to 11 or 13 years old. Many prep schools now offer flexi-boarding or a transitional arrangement, allowing pupils to make a gradual change to full boarding. At a boarding school children can have much greater independence and a sense of their own responsibilities. If this can develop in a homely and comforting atmosphere, then the result should be children learning life-enhancing skills such as making their own decisions without even realising they are doing so.

Senior Schools

Senior schools are for children aged 11 or 13 to 16 years old. UK boarding schools offer opportunities that many children can only dream of. And they develop skills which they can draw upon as they face life’s ups and downs. Young people need to understand that life is not plain sailing. How many of us faltered in our response when faced with the enormous challenges of the coronavirus pandemic? But failing at one aspect of life does not make you a failure. Presenting young people with challenges helps them learn that moments of weakness are normal and that they need to support each other to reach the best outcome.

Special education needs and disabilities

In specialist schools tailored curricula are delivered by highly trained teachers with access to equipment and resources designed specifically for SEN pupils and they are able to learn at there own pace. The independent sector offers a range of choice not available within the maintained sector. Specialist Provision Schools (SPS) are approved for specific learning difficulties, with associated language difficulties, such as dyspraxia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Dyslexia Specialist Provision Schools (DSP) are established primarily to teach pupils with dyslexia.

Military Schools

Several schools in the UK have a military history, for example, Queen Victoria School (QVS), The Duke of York’s Royal Military School (DOYRMS), The Royal Hospital School (RHS), Pangbourne College and Gordon’s School. All these schools maintain their military connections and are proud of their military background. Apart from Queen Victoria School, they welcome applications from boarders without a military connection, although many boarders come from Service families. Each school will have different entry points for the CCF and different lengths of time a boarder is a member of the CCF. You can clarify this on your visit to the school.

To view our sister publication Service Parents Guide to Boarding Schools website click here, you can also find the latest issue of our Service Parents Guide here.

independent boarding schools

An independent boarding school is a unique educational institution where students live on campus and study in an environment that combines rigorous academics, extracurricular activities, and a strong sense of community. These schools, privately funded and managed, offer a comprehensive education that goes beyond the classroom, fostering personal growth and character development. With small class sizes, dedicated faculty, and extensive facilities, independent boarding schools provide students with individualised attention, a wide range of opportunities for intellectual and personal exploration, and a supportive community of peers. These schools aim to prepare students for higher education and future success by nurturing critical thinking, independence, leadership skills, and a global perspective.

Co-educational or Single Sex Boarding Schools

A Co-educational boarding school is an educational institution where both male and female students live and study together. These schools provide an inclusive environment that promotes gender equality and encourages collaboration and interaction between students of different genders. Co-educational boarding schools offer a diverse and enriching experience, allowing students to develop social skills, build lasting friendships, and appreciate diverse perspectives. On the other hand, a Single Sex boarding school is an educational institution where students of a specific gender (either all boys or all girls) live and study separately. Single-sex boarding schools provide a focused and tailored educational environment that recognises the unique learning styles and needs of students of that gender. These schools aim to create an atmosphere where students can thrive, allowing for targeted instruction, personalised support, and the development of strong gender-specific leadership and communication skills.

Specialist boarding schools

A specialists boarding school is an educational institution that offers a highly focused and specialised curriculum in a specific field or discipline. These schools cater to students who have a particular passion, talent, or interest in a specific area, such as performing arts, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), sports, or creative arts. Specialists boarding schools provide intensive training, expert instruction, and dedicated resources to help students excel in their chosen field. The curriculum is designed to provide a deep understanding of the subject matter, allowing students to develop advanced skills and knowledge. These schools often have state-of-the-art facilities, specialised equipment, and partnerships with industry professionals, enabling students to gain practical experience and real-world exposure. By immersing students in a specialised environment, specialists boarding schools aim to nurture their talents, foster their passion, and prepare them for further study or careers in their chosen field.