The UK is well known for its boarding schools. They are, however, numerous, each with unique features that appeal to a wide spectrum of parents seeking the best boarding education for their children.
One way to find the right fit for our children is to look at pupil integration. Moving away from home can be hard for young people, who may struggle to adjust to new environments and miss the familiar comforts of the only world they’ve left behind.
The more at home pupils are in their boarding school, the likelier it is that the school has a diverse student body, robust pastoral care and engaging programmes. In other words, it has the building blocks to nurture students into confident, competent and successful adults.
Here are four UK boarding schools that fit this description best:
At Woldingham School, girls age 11 to18 learn to #WriteYourOwnStory with inspirational boarding in stunning countryside less than 30 minutes from London. Facilities are excellent; its 700-acres campus in the Surrey countryside has a verdant beauty and peace few other places can replicate. With a train station onsite, the glitz and energy of London, one of the world’s most exciting capital cities, is only a short rail journey away.
In each boarding house — tailored to its respective year groups — girls find a home away from home with fellow students from the UK and around the world. From Year 10 upwards, students get a “Room of their Own” and in Upper Sixth, they have ensuite study bedrooms — features unique among UK boarding schools.
It’s the perfect setting for each Woldingham student to become the author of her own story. Whatever ‘story’ each student decides is right for her, Woldingham staff take time to focus on the needs of each student and her aspirations. Wellbeing is a key priority and the school has an excellent reputation for its pastoral care.
Woldingham has the most amazing range of activities, drama and sports – with more than 80 clubs and activities. There is even a 600-seat auditorium where alumnae including Emma Corrin and Carey Mulligan started their acting careers as Woldingham students.
As one of the oldest schools for girls in the UK, Woldingham has a long track record of success, with Woldingham students thriving academically at top UK and international universities to become first-class sportswomen, accomplished musicians, and award-winning authors and actors and leading politicians, to name a few
By the time it’s ready to leave Woldingham, students are confident, compassionate and courageous young women ready to take their place in the world.
Woldingham’s mantra is: ‘Whatever you want your story to be, we’ll will help you achieve it.’ And we agree.
The largest co-ed boarding and day school in the UK with over 1,600 students, Millfield School consists of Pre-Prep, Prep and Senior levels, in two large campuses that stretch over 360 acres in beautiful Somerset. With a heavy focus on child development, Millfield School believes every child is brilliant at something.
To draw out children’s hidden talents and maximise their learning potential, the “Millfield Way” involves tailor-made programmes, specialised coaching and world-class facilities such as an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a recital hall, cutting-edge science laboratories, and equestrian and golf centres.
Their 18 boarding houses include specialist Year 9 only houses and five day houses, together with a spacious dining room, an art gallery and music centre; the Prep School has two boy houses and two girl houses with ample outdoor space all around.
Their distinct “Nine at Millfield” programme ensures its Year 9 students have a successful and seamless transition from prep and junior schools. Coupled with a small class size averaging 11 students and a warm positive environment, the children are guaranteed to have optimal personal attention with sufficient support that will help them excel in their different passions.
Renowned for academic excellence, Winchester College pupils enjoy a close bond with exceptional teachers who care deeply about nurturing independent thinking and innovative learning. Winchester College believes encouraging boarders to talk with their Housemaster, friends and teachers during meal-times at individual Houses equips pupils with strong confidence to talk about anything in any situation.
The Housemasters and Headmistresses act as the focal point of every child’s life in all aspects, be it mental and physical health, academic progress or community involvement. The House Team — consisting of house tutors of various academic backgrounds and 24/7 medical staff — provide additional support for daily wellbeing; the Pastoral Support Group headed by the Second Master oversees students’ pastoral care.
Div, a multidisciplinary hallmark programme at Winchester College, allows 15 pupils from different boarding houses to follow a predetermined syllabus for Years 9 to 11 while the Sixth Form dons decide the subjects; such students turn out to be more critical and better-articulated thinkers.
All pupils, especially those with Special Educational Needs can also avail themselves of the excellent personalised Learning Support services at the Learning Centre; even Div students in different year groups can partake of study skills and mindfulness sessions.
Westbourne School’s enviable reputation as the #1 School in all UK League Tables since 2015, as well as being named IB School of the Year in 2019, means all students here get a first-class academic education in one of the most supportive learning environments in the whole of the UK.
Located in Penarth, Wales, a top 10 place to live in the UK, Westbourne School’s classes have an eight-to-one student-to-teacher ratio. Teachers’ doors are always open, allowing students to access unparallelled support such as one-to-one and private follow-ups whenever they face difficulties. Those needing more English language support can attend ESL lessons during Autumn Term weekends.
Boarding at Westbourne School is very much a home away from home: the fully co-educational Boarding House has separate floors for boys and girls, and is a short two-minutes walk from the Senior School and Sixth Form.
House parents, well-experienced in looking after international students, take care of boarders. Every day, boarders can take advantage of homework clubs and after-hours support. Home-cooked meals, after-homework games, mixed activities and excursions are also offered, contributing to a tight-knit family-like atmosphere that all students enjoy immensely.