Choosing the right military boarding school

If you’re feeling confused by the sheer range of options that are available for military families or overwhelmed by the volume of information that’s out there, don’t worry – help is at hand.

We have put together a useful guide to help service parents at home and overseas choose the right UK boarding school for their child in the UK.

Things to consider:

When is your child due to start school?

It can take some time to find the perfect facility. We always recommend beginning your search between 18 months and two years before your child’s start date. (In most cases, though, we will be able to work to a tighter timeframe.)

Will your child be happy at boarding school?

Boarding school can provide an unforgettable experience for some children and often be the platform they need to excel socially and academically. Others, however, feel daunted by the prospect of being away from their family for a long period of time. It’s important to check in with your child and discuss their thoughts and preferences before you start the selection process.

Does the school make provisions for military children?

Some schools are highly adept at meeting the needs of service families; others are not. To save valuable time, speak to CSF Educational Consultants before you begin your search, as we have curated a list of independent schools throughout the country that recognise the needs of service families and are equipped to provide military children with the right level of support.

Would you prefer your child to attend a single sex or coeducational school?

The answer to this question will entirely come down to personal preference. Our team will be happy to explain the benefits of both setups, and the implications either of them may have on your child’s learning experience. Remember that some schools work to the Diamond system, which ensures children are taught in a co-educational manner in their early years and in Sixth Form, but placed in single sex classes between the ages of 11/13 to 15.

What type of boarding will best suit your child?

Full boarding arrangements continue to be popular, but many schools are now offering weekly and flexible boarding solutions, too. Consider which option will best suit your lifestyle and your budget.

Does the school accommodate your child’s unique requirements?

Perhaps your child excels at sports. Maybe he or she is interested in the arts. Either way, you should work to find a school that has the facilities and the funding to help them explore their passions.

If your child has specific educational needs, you will need to secure a placement with an school/college that can provide specialist support. Additionally, you may prefer your child to attend a faith-based school instead of a secular school.

Would you prefer to place your child in a small or large school?

Smaller schools typically provide closer-knit communities, so they are ideal for children who are not as socially confident. Larger facilities are often perfect for those who thrive on meeting new people, enjoy a varied social and recreational calendar, and don’t feel intimidated by larger crowds.

Do league tables matter?

League tables can provide you with a useful insight as to how your preferred school is performing in comparison to others in the same academic class or physical location. However, a school’s ranking is only one measure of its success. It’s vital that you consider the school’s suitability for your child as an individual, not just the score it has been given by independent assessors. Talk to our team to discuss the results from your preferred school and what they might mean for your decision.

Does the school offer any extra-curricular activities?

Your child will soon start to think of their boarding school as their second home – so it’s important that the school you choose boasts a varied selection of recreational activities that will engage and stimulate them outside of the standard curriculum. Be sure to ask your preferred school about their extra-curricular programme and consider which of these activities your child will enjoy.

What are the boarding facilities like?

Some children are happy to share their space with their peers, while others will prefer their own private room or bathroom. Access to communal areas and recreational facilities is also important. The best way to assess a boarding school’s environment is to arrange an onsite visit. We can accompany you to your appointment as part of our school selection and placement service.

Does it have a great record of pastoral care?

When it comes to choosing the right boarding school, your child’s wellbeing is the biggest consideration by far. Be sure to enquire as to what kind of support is available to students inside and outside of school hours. A school with an excellent pastoral care department will not only ensure your child is well looked after during their time at the school/college – it will also actively grow their confidence, improve their resilience, and instill discipline and respect that will see them through into their adult years.

Where is the school located – and what transport links does it offer?

As a military family, it’s inevitable that you will need to relocate from time to time. You need to consider how easy it will be for your child to reach your chosen school by road, rail or air in the event of a new posting or a permanent international move. Be sure to research the transport links surrounding the facility and raise any concerns with the school early on in your research process. (We can speak to the school on your behalf, if you wish.)

What are the fees?

In an ideal world, cost would not be a determining factor when it comes to choosing the right boarding school for military children – but for most of us, it’s a very important consideration indeed.

Find out what the standard tuition fees are per term, then contact our team to discuss whether you are eligible for special military discounts, scholarships, bursaries, or the Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA). All these options will bring down the costs involved in boarding quite considerably.

Please note that you will not be able to apply for the CEA if your family lives within 50 miles of your child’s boarding school.

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