Choosing the best boarding school
It may seem bewildering at first when you start looking for a boarding school for your teenager. You may want to employ a consultant to find the best boarding school but you should do some preparatory work yourself first. There are some basic questions you should ask yourself before deciding on the best boarding school for your child.
Before choosing a boarding school, you should decide on the following and then you can start to narrow down your choices.
- Single sex or co-ed school?
Will your teenager be distracted by the opposite sex or gain from working with them?
- Academic, sporting or performing arts?
Is your teenager less academic but motivated by team sports or music, drama, the arts?
- Single faith, multi faith, no faith?
As a family, do you have a strong faith and is this important to you?
- Pastoral care available
The school acts as a parent to your child, in your absence; the term for this is “in loco parentis” in place of the parent. Do they therefore have the right facilities to act not just as educators but as caring parents? Medical, emotional and social support facilities are important.
- Extra-curricular activities
Does the school provide a range of sporting, social, educational activities outside of the classroom or are they so focused on the academic that your child will not develop as a whole person?
- Tuition and accommodation fees
It is unrealistic not to consider cost, but this should not be the only deciding factor. However, it is important to know what is included and what is extra. You may find you can afford the basic fees but not all the add-ons and your child may be disadvantaged as a result.
While you are sending your teenager away from home, it should not be so far away that you cannot reach them in case of emergency, or simply to visit. Consider the additional travel costs of your teenager coming home for vacations.
- Class sizes
The smaller the class size, the more attention the child receives from the teacher, but generally this will mean that the fees will be higher too.
This can be difficult to find out, but it will help if you can read testimonials from other parents. A good boarding school will allow you to talk to other parents and students to find out how good they are!
- Personal style
Your teenager is an individual and you want the best boarding school for them. This is harder to define, but essentially you want a school that allows your child to grow up as an independent thinker and not a clone of every other child! You will get a feel for the style of the boarding school through reading their literature and this is where you need to trust your instincts; if something does not sound right to you, then do not choose that school.
Preparation beforehand will save you many a wasted trip to a school that does not suit your teenager. Think through what you want from the school; talk it over with your teenager, they may have different views. When you agree a compromise between what they want and what you feel is best, then you are ready to choose the best boarding school for your teenager.