Boarding schools: different options

Are you considering sending your child to a boarding school? Nowadays, several boarding options are available for you and your family to choose from: from full boarding to flexi boarding, with weekly boarding in the middle of the spectrum. There are also three types of boarding schools: girls, boys and co-educational boarding schools.

Single-sex full boarding schools

Schools that offer full boarding are usually exclusively full boarding, but some may take on a few local day pupils depending on the year group. Full boarding schools’ numbers are declining, but there are still excellent ones – such as Eton CollegeWinchester CollegeRadley College and Harrow School for boys between 13 and 18 years old. Roedean School, Cheltenham Ladies’ CollegeHeathfield SchoolSherborne Girls, St Mary’s Calne, Downe House Schooland Wycombe Abbey School are excellent choices for girls between 11 and 18 years old. Usually, the children are allowed two exeats per term during which they can go home (during the weekend). They can video call, email and if phones are allowed, text or call whenever they wish to. Moreover, parents living close to the school can attend matches, concerts and plays the children take part in.

Co-ed full boarding options

You may have both a son and a daughter, or simply want your child to attend a co-educational school. Some of the best co-ed full boarding schools include Milton Abbey SchoolUppingham School and Marlborough College for pupils between 13 and 18 years old. Girls and boys board in different accommodation and clear rules are in place regarding visiting the opposite sex. Some boarding schools will have co-ed sixth form boarding houses, but also have clear boundaries. This way, children can enjoy more time with all their friends but still have to respect the limits of boarding school. Just like the single-sex full boarding schools, co-ed boarding schools may take on some local day pupils depending on the group age.

Weekly boarding schools

More and more popular nowadays, weekly boarding can offer the best of both worlds: working in a school setting during the week and being at home during the weekends. Pupils usually go home on Friday evenings or Saturday afternoons and come back to the boarding school on Sunday evening or Monday morning. Many parents enjoy this arrangement as it allows for more family time during the weekend, without nagging about homework or stressing about being late to school. For busy parents, running businesses or working late, this avoids the hassle of running the kids to after-school rugby, cello or dance lessons when all extra-curricular activities are well-catered for in-house at school.

Wellington College is a popular weekly boarding school due to its proximity to London – but boarders must spend at least two Saturday nights in their dorm, per term. The pupils are between 13 and 18 years old. Another boarding school that offers weekly boarding is Sexey’s School, a state boarding school in Somerset accepting children from 11 to 18 years old. Weekly boarding schools are more likely than full boarding schools to take on day pupils.

Flexi boarding options

Flexi boarding is a great option if you’re not too sure about going all the way for weekly or full boarding – it’s a good way to check to see if it might suit your family. It’s also a great option if your child needs to stay later for extra-curricular activities, as they won’t be too tired from the travel time. However, flexi boarding depends on each individual boarding school: they each have their different definitions and different rules of how it works. Most of the time, you will need to book the nights you wish your child to sleep at the dorm at the start of every term. For flexi boarding, Thursdays and Fridays are the most popular days to stay at school.  Schools always have spare beds, so even if you haven’t booked a space at the start of the term, there might be a possibility that the school will try to accommodate your needs, even at short notice. Day pupils enjoy taking advantages of the flexi boarding option. Woldingham and Frensham Heights schools in Surrey both offer flexi boarding.  

Please contact us for expert schools’ advice and support with applications to single-sex boarding schools, co-ed boarding schools and international schools, both in London and throughout the UK.