Choosing a school


by Bex Tear, Chair, Boarding Schools’ Association (BSA)

There are many choices to make as a parent and selecting the right environment for your child to learn is one of the most important of all – a child’s education has a major influence on their current and future wellbeing. Thank you for taking the time to read this Guide. It contains a wealth of information that will enable you to narrow your search for a boarding school and help you find the right match for your child. Hopefully you are already aware of the benefits of a boarding education – this Guide will help you find out more about the opportunities of different boarding contexts. 


Choosing a school can be as bewildering as it is exciting. At the BSA we know that choosing a school can be as bewildering as it is exciting. There are so many good boarding schools offering an excellent education. You can choose from rural, town, city, boys, girls, mixed, junior, senior, all-through, sixth-form, all-around, specialist, flexi, weekly, full boarding, state or independent. Or you may want a combination of different schools at different ages. The choice is as broad and flexible as the boarding sector itself – rightly so as every child and every family have different needs. As well as matching a school to your child’s needs, it is also important to consider whether logistically you can make the school you choose work with all the other constraints on your family life, as this will affect the dynamics and happiness of your household. 

All boarding schools are united in a deep, shared belief in the value that a high-quality modern boarding education can offer families. Boarding schools offer a unique richness of community. They are open, tolerant and vibrant places where education happens 24 hours a day and is deeply embedded. Learning is a way of life not limited to the classroom. 

A boarding education is predicated on relationships and the values that underpin them – respect, tolerance, inclusion, humility and kindness. One of the unique benefits of a boarding education is that it enables pupils to develop many lifeskills through community living – getting along with people different from themselves, being at ease with others, taking up opportunities, dealing with setbacks, problem-solving and communicating effectively. 

Boarding schools welcome parents to be a part of their boarding community. Communication is effective and there are many ways to be involved, from attending events to taking up roles on committees. Boarding schools also take time to communicate with and support parents at each stage. In fact, parents often report that the quality of their relationship with their children grows through the boarding experience.

The Boarding Schools’ Association (BSA) represents more than 600 boarding schools in the UK and overseas. It provides a wide range of services including professional development, government relations, communications, media, publications, conferences and events. This Guide springs from the positive and constructive partnership between the Boarding Schools’ Association and Bulldog Publishing. We hope you find it helpful in choosing the best boarding school for your child.

View a full list of boarding schools here.


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