State Boarding Schools in the UK

If you feel a boarding school is the right choice for your family but you are put off by the high cost of boarding, then state boarding schools might be the right choice for you. Parents who work long hours may opt for a boarding school, as it gives them the opportunity to spend more time focused on family once together. After a long working day, running your child to cello, fencing and rugby practice can be exhausting. Weekly to termly boarding can be a great option for families to enjoy quality time together during holidays and at weekends, as a boarding school will take care of academic, extra-curricular and social activities.  

State boarding school fees

Compared to independent boarding schools, state boarding schools are relatively cheap as the government foots part of the bill. The fees are between £10,000 and £16,000 per year for both tuition and boarding. Most pupils attending state boarding schools are actually local day pupils, but some of them stay for breakfast, activities, supper and homework like boarding pupils. They get the boarding school experience, whilst sleeping at their own homes. Families of these pupils pay a “day boarding” fee, depending on the school. As with state schools, tuition for day pupils is completely free.   

Applying to state boarding schools

British and UK citizens, as well as EU passport holders and anyone with a right of residence in the UK can apply to state boarding schools. You can apply to any same sex and co-educational boarding school. Some are academically selective and may organise interviews in order to see if your child is the best fit for the school. There are approximately 50 state boarding schools in the United Kingdom with over 5,000 places available for children, whether it be full or weekly boarding. However, not many offer boarding for sixth formers, and only one state boarding school is actually a specialist sixth form college. 

The kind of activities your child can take part in

After school, or during the weekend, your child will be able to take part in different activities depending on their interests and abilities. This can be sports, art, music or drama, or even clubs such as debating, the school magazine, physics, gardening… There will be a wide range of activities to choose from. You may be able to attend sporting events, competitions, concerts and any other event organised by the school for the children’s activities.

Best state boarding schools

The advice given by parents with children in boarding schools is to pick a school that is no further than an hour and a half, maximum 2 hours away from your house. You might want to attend concerts or matches throughout the year, parents’ evenings, or just be within a reasonable drive away so you can collect your child on the weekends. 

There are lots of outstanding state boarding schools. Some of the best include the co-ed Sexey’s School located in the beautiful Somerset country town of Bruton, a welcoming and inclusive school that has the advantage of sixth form boarding. Sexey’s does extremely well academically by its pupils, with 100% of pupils last year achieving their first choice of university place. Closer to London, co-ed St George’s School Harpenden has both lower school and sixth form boarding, an outstanding OFSTED rating and boarding fees of just over £13,000 per year. The Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe, boys only, is also academically outstanding with a small, nurturing boarding provision for boys from year 7 to Sixth Form. There are two sixth form scholarships, one academic, one sports, that run for the child’s entire sixth form education. For more information on fee reductions at independent schools, read our blog on bursaries and scholarships.

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