UK boarding schools that mould well-rounded learners for university and beyond 

boarding schools
Boarding school pupils have multiple opportunities to build essential skills that will prepare them for university and beyond. Source: Campbell College Facebook

Boarding schools are known for offering students the opportunity to flourish through their strong academic curriculum and varied extracurricular activities within a supportive learning environment. 

Pupils often have multiple opportunities to build essential skills such as independence, self-reliance, adaptability, and interpersonal communication, among others, both inside and outside the classroom. As a result, they become well-rounded learners who are not only prepared for their next academic step but lifelong success.

Academic success aside, many boarding schools also focus on student’s growth and development through structure and discipline, inculcating a sense of punctuality and discipline in pupils that they may carry with them for life. This moulds them into responsible, independent, and confident individuals who are ready to tackle future challenges.

If your curiosity is piqued, here are four boarding schools that produce well-rounded learners who are ready to take on the world:

Campbell College

Located in the vibrant city of Belfast in Northern Ireland, Campbell College is an HMC day and boarding school for boys aged 11 through to 18. Belfast has long been famous for students from around the world — this coastal city is safe and affordable, which means students enjoy a quality education within a picturesque location. Here, people are known for being friendly, so whether students are making friends at Campbell or simply chatting to the locals, they will receive a warm welcome.

boarding schools

Campbell is diverse, welcoming pupils of 30 different nationalities. Source: Campbell College Facebook

Campbell is diverse, welcoming pupils of 30 different nationalities to this home away from home. This adds a unique international dimension to the College while students enjoy a solid British education. Boarding has also been a central part of Campbell — they have 150 boarders; the interaction between day pupils and boarders also provides students with a mutual learning experience valued in international workplaces.

Campbell is only 70% academically selective — while they celebrate academic success, the College measures success in terms of how each pupil improves and progresses on his individual academic journey. Apart from instilling students with academic excellence, Campbell also emphasises a balanced lifestyle through participation in sports, arts and a wide range of extracurricular opportunities.

This is achieved via their 100-acre campus, which boasts superb on-site sporting facilities, including 11 rugby pitches, two Astro-turf hockey pitches, a 25-metre swimming pool, five cricket squares, several indoor gymnasiums, a shooting range and a lake, which means there’s something for every child’s interests. Echoing this is the College’s Headmaster, Robert Robinson, who notes: “We are committed to providing an education that enables each and every boy to fulfil his potential — whether in the classroom, on the stage or the sports field.”

Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate

Known locally, nationally, and internationally for its outstanding pastoral care, high-quality boarding provision, and exceptional academic outcomes, Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate (QE) welcomes girls and boys from three months to Year 13. Set in more than 220 acres of beautiful North Yorkshire countryside, QE provides students with a vibrant and nurturing learning environment that allows them to develop the skills, independence, and self-esteem needed to thrive in the multicultural, technology-driven world.

boarding schools

QE understands the importance of developing the whole student by presenting opportunities for students to learn beyond the classroom. Source: Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate Facebook

Their students reap the rewards of QE’s flexible curriculum, innovative and dynamic teaching, and excellent facilities, as reflected in their successful student outcomes. QE’s strong academic results consistently rank them among the UK’s top 10 day and boarding schools. In 2021, the School received its highest ever number of offers for Oxford and Cambridge Universities. Their learning programmes reflect different approaches for students of different ages and a unified vision of education for the whole child.

Apart from their outstanding academic excellence, QE understands the importance of developing the whole student by presenting opportunities to learn beyond the classroom through extensive enrichment, co-curricular programmes and athletic activities. Students are spoiled for choice and can choose from martial arts, wrestling, dance and gymnastics to table tennis, cycling, archery, fencing and boxing.   

“Our academic results speak for themselves,” says Amy Martin, Chair of the Collegiate Board. “But what really sets us apart is our wrap-around pastoral care for students and the incredible facilities and accommodation that they benefit from as part of campus life.”  

Kilgraston School

Offering an outstanding education for girls aged five to 18, the Kilgraston School — a boarding and day school in Scotland — nurtures students’ natural qualities of curiosity, creativity and confidence. Here, the emphasis is on academics, character education, and the pursuit of passions. 

Students at Kilgraston learn and develop skills through small class sizes, hands-on projects, sports, and community activities. Source: Kilgraston School Facebook

Kilgraston is part of the Sacred Heart Network. At the heart of their ethos is their focus on the concept of the whole person through the five Sacred Heart goals: a living faith, personal growth, intellectual values, building community, and active social awareness. The School is nestled in the beautiful Perthshire countryside with its stunning scenery and wildlife. Its campus consists of 54 acres of parkland, offering students a tranquil learning environment, while nearby towns and villages are easily accessible.

Students at Kilgraston learn and develop skills through small class sizes, hands-on projects, sports, and community activities. Each pupil — both day and boarders — has a form tutor. Not only do they deliver world-class teaching, but they also continue to mentor students outside the classroom on the playing fields, in the dorms, and on their weekend trips and activities. 

Throughout their spare time, students have the option of pursuing a wide range of activities, including sports, music, art and design or drama. The School’s facilities include a hockey astroturf pitch, eight floodlit all-weather tennis courts, extensive playing fields, a sports hall, fitness suite and climbing wall, and a 25-metre indoor swimming pool complex. 

In an HMIE and Care Inspectorate report, inspectors note: “Young people thrive in this stimulating environment for learning and make the most of the extensive range of enriching activities and learning experiences offered to them.”

King’s Ely

For over 1,000 years, King’s Ely has encouraged its students to take risks in their learning, push beyond the boundaries of their expectations, and discover more about the world around them. This day and boarding school is home to students aged two to 18, with boarders from seven years old.

Pursuits beyond the classroom are important at King’s Ely. Source: King’s Ely School Facebook

King’s Ely is strategically located just 15 minutes north of Cambridge and is just over an hour from London by train. They are a short walk from Ely train station, which provides direct rail links to Cambridge, London, Peterborough and The Fens, making it highly accessible. 

King’s Ely teaches students life and leadership skills, including collaborating, problem-solving, and expressing themselves effectively. The School provides students with a broad range of subjects to intelligently stimulate and instil the knowledge they need to function in the world after leaving the School. 

Further attesting to the School’s academic prowess is its student success. Last year, 86% of King’s Ely students secured a place at their first choice university, not just in the UK but also across the world. A total of 100% of students got a place at university, while over 50% of their students secured places at Russell Group universities. Pursuits beyond the classroom are just as important at King’s Ely. When students aren’t studying, they have the opportunity to immerse themselves in music, sport, rowing, art, or drama and theatre.  

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