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The UK’s most dynamic boarding schools

British boarding schools
Boarding school environments encourage students to work on their independent thinking skills and take responsibility for their actions. Source: Farringtons School

The best British boarding schools provide benefits that extend beyond the academic. With multiple opportunities within and beyond the classroom, pupils build important life skills like independence, self-reliance, adaptability, effective communication, and more. They learn alongside individuals of various nationalities. They enjoy immeasurable personal growth. They build character. 

All of these are important for future success. A survey by The Association of British Boarding Schools found that 70% of students believe their boarding school has helped them develop maturity, self-discipline, independence, as well as valuable critical-thinking skills. Here are four British boarding schools that best exemplify this successful track record:

Headington School

Graduates who progress to Oxbridge, Russell Group universities and prestigious academic institutions all over the world. A wealth of teams, clubs, societies, lectures, trips and enrichment opportunities. A home away from home for boarders. These features define Headington School.

British boarding schools

Headington School offers a huge range of extra-curricular activities that support each individual girl’s ambitions. This includes music, drama, weekend outings and practical GCSE options. Source: Headington School

Located just one mile away from Oxford city centre with 23 acres which encompass plenty of green space, it is a leading British independent day and boarding school for girls aged three to 18.

Here, every girl flourishes and thrives within and beyond classrooms. The goal is to prepare pupils for the future, an endeavour that starts early at this school described as “excellent” by the Independent Schools Inspectorate. Specialist programmes are offered for Medicine and Veterinary Science, Architecture and Law. Work experience and careers programmes start in U3 including one-to-one chats, careers profiling, as well as talks and lectures from inspiring professionals.

That’s not all! The school’s extensive alumni support network, Headington Connect, provides mentoring and work experience opportunities. Students also benefit from the school’s strong links to Oxford University and Oxford Brookes University.

Headington believes that students learn as much, if not more, outside the classroom as they do inside it. The school’s new Creativity and Innovation Centre, called The Hive, emphasises on cross-curricular learning and the development of skills such as creativity and problem solving. Facilities — such as Art and Textiles teaching spaces, Lens Media Studios, Digital Manufacturing Suite, 3D Workshop — lend girls the support and tools to let their imaginations take flight.

Girls can begin boarding at one of Headington’s four houses from 11 years old onwards. It’s a flexible offering — this means girls can board occasionally or in full, tailored to each individual’s best interests. What’s constant is excellent pastoral care — that’s non-negotiable. Applications at various entry points are welcome — to learn more, register for its Virtual Senior School Open Morning for overseas families on September 17 here.

Farringtons School

If you seek a boarding experience that offers the means to both escape and embrace the demands of the 21st century, a community that promotes Christian values, and historic buildings blended with state of the art facilities within a stone’s throw of central London, head to Farringtons School in Kent.

British boarding schools

At Farringtons School, learning is neither limited to the classroom, nor measured solely by exam results. Source: Farringtons School

Steeped in history and tradition, but forward thinking in its approach, Farringtons School provides an outstanding all-round education. At this leading independent, co-​educational, day and boarding school for pupils aged three to 18, dedicated teachers help each pupil achieve their full academic potential.

For its competitive fees, students receive an impactful education. Small classes ensure each pupil develops the knowledge, skills and experience they need when it comes to their GCSE and A Level options. It’s a strategic approach — many Farringtonians progress to prestigious Russell Group universities.

English language support is available in various forms, from creative writing competitions and theatre trips to residential writing retreats and literary tours. A robust enrichment and cultural programme teaches the art of leadership and teamwork, as well as those all-important soft skills.

When they’re done honing their many talents at the end of their day, Farringtonians return to their “second home.” These small boarding houses — set upon safe and secure grounds — are where they are surrounded by a “family” of differing ages, nationalities and personalities.

Step outside and they’re close to major airports and the vibrancy of the nation’s capital. To learn more about its boutique-style boarding facilities, Christian ethos and unbeatable location, arrange a visit or to attend one of its many Open Days held throughout the year.

Queen’s College, Taunton

Queen’s College, Taunton is a forward-thinking independent school creating caring, ambitious and well-educated boys and girls. There is no better investment than a Queen’s education. Here, students learn not for school but for life through Queen’s enriched and enhanced opportunities.

British boarding schools

Located in the region of Somerset, Queen’s College, Taunton is on the outskirts of the historic county town of Taunton, overlooking the Quantock and Blackdown hills, areas of outstanding natural beauty. There are fast and easy train links to cities such as London, Bath, Bristol, and Exeter. Source: Queen’s College, Taunton

All students have the opportunity to take part in two extracurricular activities per day. This includes sports and the performing arts, as well as clubs such as fencing, chess and robotics. On evenings and weekends, they have full use of the campus facilities.

What sets Queen’s apart is how it combines strong academic results, fantastic facilities and a robust performing arts programme. At this centre of excellence, a team of highly dedicated   practitioners, all of whom have professional experience, lead three large-scale productions each school year. The setting? Some of the best facilities in the country, including a fully-equipped 570-seat theatre complete with state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems, the largest in the region.

“My entire family fell in love with Queen’s immediately,” enthuses one parent. “The school is simply beautiful, with a huge range of facilities for the children to develop. The staff are so helpful and friendly and are always keen to answer any questions or worries we may have.”

Queen’s offers a diverse range of A Level and equivalent level BTEC vocational courses for sixth formers, from Art, Biology, and Business to Sport and Outdoor Adventure. Students moving into year 10 can choose from 22 GCSE courses on offer. To learn more about Queen’s fully immersive traditional British boarding school life, click here.

Christ College Brecon

Not many schools can boast a campus set within the stunning scenery of a national park — Christ College Brecon can. Situated on a picturesque site on the outskirts of the historic market town of Brecon, Wales, Christ College Brecon is a boarding and day independent school for boys and girls between the ages of seven and 18.

British boarding schools

At Christ College Brecon, every pupil strives for academic and artistic excellence, guided by a robust support system and dedicated teachers. Source: Christ College Brecon

“We are fortunate to be based in such a beautiful area with so many opportunities for young people to develop their moral compass for life,” shares Gareth Pearson, head of Christ College Brecon. Those opportunities include an outdoor education programme where pupils gain more than physical prowess — they harness leadership skills, self-confidence and teamwork experience too.

Here, every pupil strives for academic and artistic excellence, guided by a robust support system and dedicated teachers. Each week, hundreds of instrumental and vocal lessons take place. Two out of five pupils in the school learn at least one instrument. One out of three take part in at least one choir or ensemble. In its auditorium, pupils perform ambitious productions of Scrooge the Musical, Phantom of the Opera and Beauty and the Beast, mentored by professionals. This year pupils will be tackling The Addams Family.

Rigorous academics, a rich balance of extra-curricular activities, an enviable location, supportive pastoral care and wellbeing system — at Christ College Brecon, it’s an environment focused on character education that spurs today’s young talents into tomorrow’s well-rounded leaders.

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International