The traditional British Boarding School is something of a global legend. When we think of the Boarding experience, we can’t help but conjure pictures of enigmatic Hogwarts-ian structures, complete with ancient stained glass windows and acres of tumbling forest. Parents imagine neat rows of well-behaved, pristine-uniformed children, all of whom are eager to learn from, arguably, the most prestigious school curriculum the world has to offer; while children picture endless days of adventure.

There comes a time when all parents must take a tentative step back and allow their loved ones to forge their own path in the world. In the case of the UK Boarding School, children are able to develop independently, academically, socially and culturally in the safety of an all-inclusive campus, and under the encouraging wing of some of the most highly-qualified, dedicated teachers education has to offer.

In 2014, 92 percent of school leavers from independent schools went on to study at Higher Education level, and back in 2012, 75 percent of those enrolled at Boarding School in the UK received offers from some of country’s most prestigious universities. These are the schools that have the best support, teaching and facilities in the world, and parents who invest in their child’s Boarding School experience rest easy in the knowledge that they are investing in success.

Here is our list of the Top 5 UK Boarding Schools for Girls:

1. Mayfield School, Mayfield, East Sussex

Mayfield School is a leading independent boarding and day school for girls aged 11-18. The School is set in the picturesque landscape of Sussex, in southeast England, an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Set in the heart of the tranquil English countryside, yet just 50 miles from central London, pupils at Mayfield have the best of both worlds. 

Academically, the school performs way above par. The girls leave Mayfield with a genuine love of learning, something they continue to nurture and benefit from far beyond the walls of academia for the rest of their lives. Mayfield’s curriculum reflects the school’s Catholic roots, providing a breadth and depth of opportunity by placing equal value on every subject. 

If your child has a talent and a passion for the arts, the dedicated staff at Mayfield will strive to help her reach her full potential, just as they will for a girl whose strengths lie in maths or science. Every girl has particular talents, and the staff at Mayfield see it as their job to help her find and develop them. 

At Mayfield, girls are encouraged to challenge themselves as much outside the classroom as inside it. There is a huge variety of extra-curricular activities on offer throughout the Autumn, Spring and Summer Terms. The girls are encouraged to explore their creative potential through activities like ceramics, photography, chapel choir and jewellery club; they are inspired to challenge themselves through clubs like Duke of Edinburgh, and sporting activities like hockey, swimming, water polo and riding; and are stimulated intellectually through the Oxbridge Book group, the Ancient Languages and Crafts Club, Astronomy Club and the Debating Society. In this way they develop the confidence to succeed both in life, and by extension, academically. It is for all of these reasons that Mayfield girls leave as some of the most versatile and innovative thinkers the country has to offer.

“The girls’ moral awareness is notable. Moral principles permeate the School community and are central to all its activities.” – ISI Inspection Report

To find out more about Mayfield School or to request a prospectus you can contact the Admissions Office – or telephone +44 (0)1435 874642.

2. Sherborne Girls, Sherborne, Dorset

Sherborne Girls is a Boarding and day School for girls between the ages of 11 and 18. Sherborne is a quaint market town, situated in northwest Dorset, that perfectly blends history and culture with a host of events and activities. The rolling hills of Dorset present the perfect backdrop for scenic country walks, while the old Castles and the Abbey provide a unique dose of antiquity that come together to make the Sherborne experience so special.

The School offers an expansive, contemporary education that emphasises the importance of the inquisitive mind, and instils the kind of positive work ethic that drives the children to excellence. Lessons are both stimulating and fun, and the girls are taught to investigate and challenge; to explore and to debate; and to express themselves openly and with confidence, no matter what their ability. The School has a history of academic excellence, with girls consistently achieving outstanding results at GCSE, A Level and IB level. Sherborne’s curriculum caters for girls seeking a highly academic focus, as well as those in search of an all-round, applicable education. The School provides Academic Enrichment for all its girls, and the effective Tutor System means every girl is supported through to the end.

The quality of activities available to girls at Sherborne is such that it really has to be seen to be believed. Each week, the School tutors ensure each girl has her own, tailor-made plan, allowing her to flourish within the safe and supportive environment of the School. Music, sport, drama and art all have elite-level opportunities running alongside open, full participation, for those who wouldn’t call themselves an ‘expert’ but would love to take part. All the Junior girls are members of a sports team, whether it’s swimming, hockey, lacrosse, netball, athletics, tennis or cross country; while the older girls have a host of exciting physical fitness activities incorporated into their timetables. The School’s ethos is that all girls should get involved with something that will develop and enhance their own individual passion. But if a girl wants to try something new – she can! And – she most definitely should!

“It is important to me that we develop an environment which will allow each and every girl to find the combination of challenge and opportunity suited to her unique talents and gifts.” – Jenny Dwyer, Headmistress

3. Badminton School, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol

Badminton is a day and Boarding School that has thrived at the forefront of girls education for more than 150 years. The campus is vibrant and homely, giving the School a genuine community feel and making every girl feel at home from the very first moment she arrives. The School is situated in Westbury-on-Trym, on the fresh and leafy outskirts of Bristol – one of the UK’s most lively university cities. Bristol provides all the facilities and amenities of a major, diverse city, but its convenient position in the South West of England means the young girls at Badminton are spoiled for choice when it comes to large and open green space.

Badminton’s primary aim is to give all of its girls a world-class education. The School firmly believes in a rich and holistic educational experience in which the pupils’ hunger for learning and strive for the highest of standards. Girls are encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning, and therefore develop skills such as independent thinking, self-analysis and reflection. The staff at Badminton are aware that they have a responsibility to equip the girls not only with the skills that grant them success in exams, but also in life, as they become part of a competitive global community that is constantly and rapidly changing.

Badminton School is specially structured to give the girls a chance to participate in their own choice of clubs, activities and societies that present challenge, but also enjoyment, outside of the everyday curriculum. Some clubs involve competitions with other Schools, such as Public Speaking, Debating, Model United Nations, First Aid and Science, teaching the girls the value of healthy competition and sportsmanship that they’ll carry with them forever. Other clubs include Go Green, Klimate Kops, Climbing, Tennis and Speech and Drama class that allow them to excel as a strong link in a team, as well as an individual.

“Pupil’s attitudes to learning are excellent. They approach their work with enthusiasm and are very focused in their individual tasks.” – ISI Report

4. Kilgraston School, Bridge of Earn, Perthshire

Kilgraston is a Boarding and day School for girls aged 3-18. The School is located in Perthshire, a county of central Scotland that boasts a proud and dramatic history chock-full of tales of Jacobite uprisings, kidnapped Queens, ancient civilisations and the legendary Stone of Destiny. The girls of Kilgraston School can discover mystical castles, historic buildings, museums and the Kilgraston experience that combine to unravel the region’s riveting history.

Kilgraston’s reputation for outstanding academics consistently precedes it, and year after year, the School’s dedicated girls achieve some of the best results in Scotland. The School’s new, state-of-the-art Science Centre has only served to enhance Kilgraston’s reputation for first-class learning and teaching. The staff at Kilgraston are keen to ensure that the girls receive a varied and balanced education, undertaking a wealth of opportunities specially selected for enriching and extending the girls’ understanding. Girls leave Kilgraston with enquiring minds that are thirsty for knowledge, equipped with the now-innate skills for innovation and leadership that will be sought by employers throughout their future career.

Kilgraston encourages all forms of creativity, community service and personal challenge, and recognises the importance of the girls experiencing a range of activities to enhance their whole development. The School’s co-curricular activities are seamlessly incorporated into the core curriculum, and even the girls come to view the fun they have outside of the classroom as a fundamental part of their education. Kilgraston girls excel on the pitch, on the stage and in the orchestra, and are as likely to be seen in their grubby Wellies as in their tartan sashes! The School’s reputation in the realm of Art and Design is legendary, with many past pupils achieving national recognition. From the breathtaking surroundings of the department balcony, with Central Hall below, Kilgraston girls get the chance to study a range of art disciplines across both traditional and new media.

“Our girls will be the leaders of tomorrow in a wide variety of professions and businesses. We believe that there should be no limitations on their ambitions either personally or professionally, and we offer a world class, exciting and challenging education where it is natural to step into leadership positions.” – Mrs MacGinty, Headmistress

5. Talbot Heath School, Bournemouth, Dorset

Talbot and Heath is Bournemouth’s leading independent School for girls aged 3-18. The School adopts a modern and dynamic outlook to both education and the wider world, but remains proud of its tradition and its roots in academic excellence. Bournemouth, a large town situated directly East of the UK’s Jurassic Coast, enjoys one of the most pleasant climates in the country; the lucky Bournemouth residents experience 7.7 hours of Summer sunshine each day, something the girls of Talbot Heath can relish in as well.

Pupils of Talbot Heath are encouraged to achieve truly great things within their academic studies. Staff at the School do not believe in a ‘One Size Fits All’ approach to teaching and learning, so the GCSE and A Level option blocks are adapted each year to suit the children’s choices. Teachers are dedicated to their students both in and outside of lessons, and the girls reap massive benefits from ample opportunities to work individually, in small groups with their peers or one-to-one with the teacher whenever they require. The curriculum is constantly evolving to suit the needs of these young ladies; in September 2012, the School introduced GCSE Physical Education and Drama, along with A Level drama following a focus group chat with students and their parents. As a School, Talbot Heath is both attentive and innovative, constantly adapting to the ever-changing needs of all its bright young pupils.

School life is not just about lessons for those at Talbot Heath. Each and every day, the School provides events and activities to enhance pupils’ overall learning experience, to broaden their interests and to immerse them in a variety of extra-curricular shenanigans. Educational visits, field trips and participation in national competitions and events form an integral part of life at Talbot Heath. Staff urge the pupils to delve in head-first, and soak up the extra-curricular fun so that her passion can develop and her self-confidence can bloom. Debating Society, Eco-Teams, ‘Living History’ days, Japanese and Cookery clubs are just some of the many activities that form the tapestry of Talbot Heath; vibrant, busy supportive and friendly, Talbot Heath is a lively learning community where every girl can find her niche.

“Pupils are extremely well educated, in accordance with the School’s aims.” – ISI Report

Main image via Mayfield School