In 2016 the Boarding Schools’ Association (BSA) ran a marketing campaign to promote boarding to families using the slogan #Iloveboarding. As someone who does not understand hashtags, I cannot explain whether adding one to a phrase makes a difference. What I can say is that the words ‘I love boarding’ struck a chord then, and continue to do so today (Google to find out yourself).
I love boarding, I grew up in the 1970s during an era of memorable straplines designed to promote products in the UK. With Esso it was ‘Put a tiger in your tank’. Then there was ‘Trebor mints are a minty bit stronger’, ‘A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play’ and ‘Have a break, have a Kit Kat’. No doubt many people earning plenty of money pored over these words to try to find the ones that would really become an ear worm for the general public to mentally digest.
In comparison our phrase ‘I love boarding’ was developed quickly and without a huge marketing budget. That’s because I knew the answer to the question ‘Do you like boarding?’. I ask boarders at schools up and down the country and the question always prompts the same response: ‘I love it’.
“The boarding experience can be the opportunity of a lifetime.”
Now I recognise that many young people ‘love’ school (or parts of it!) whether they are boarders or not. I am also aware that some families – parents and children alike – really don’t like the thought of being away from home. But in my experience, the vast majority of those who do choose to board, really do fall in love with it and cherish the experience for the rest of their lives.
Like choosing anything in life however, it pays of course to spend some time thinking about it.
There are more than 500 boarding schools across the UK of all shapes and sizes. Large, small, junior, senior, girls, boys, co-ed, urban, rural, state and independent. And while every school has boarding in common, each one of course is unique, offering their own, individual richness.
That’s why this Guide is as useful as it is vital – because it may help you decide whether boarding feels right for your family, and, if it does, to think about what sort of school (and where) would meet your requirements. Annoyingly there is no universal answer, button to press or switch to flick to make the process of choosing a boarding school a quick and easy one.
What is universal however is the boarding experience, which so often can be the opportunity of a lifetime.
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