The enduring legacies of British boarding schools go beyond its sprawling manses, lush campus acreage and crisp school uniforms. Underneath its stately facade, the tradition of excellence comes from continuous innovation in student-centric pedagogy that takes a pupil’s holistic growth into account.
A British education is accepted worldwide, and is a ticket to some of the world’s best universities. Robust academic success aside, UK boarding school graduates excel outside of the classroom too. Whether in athletic achievements or community service, a boarding school experience in the UK offers the whole package for a well-rounded education.
Here are four boarding schools in the UK embodying excellence:
Marymount International School
What sets the students of Marymount International School London apart from others? In this Catholic all-girls school, that also welcomes students of all religions and none, there are no limits to what students can achieve. Marymount London girls are bold, independent-thinking leaders and innovators, thanks to the school’s holistic International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum.
Marymount London’s distinctive character lies in the fusion of its RSHM (Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary) heritage and the IB philosophy, allowing girls to grow intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. This IB-RSHM alchemy — resonant in its classrooms and boarding life — is powerful. It transforms girls into agents of their own formation, as seen in its alumni list of inquirers, communicators, risk takers and principled learners who possess a strong sense of self.
Thoughtful inquisitiveness about the world underpins the school’s academics and co-curricular activities. Both the IB Middle Years and Diploma programmes require students to put their gifts and talents at the service of others, which resonates with the school’s own mission to develop students who are firm in faith, vibrant in hope, rooted in love and one in service’
The IB’s emphasis on reflective and self-regulated practice, combined with a boarding school environment that promotes the development of courage, resourcefulness and resilience, enables Marymount girls to become principled changemakers in our world.
In an increasingly polarised world, Marymount girls are equipped for and committed to building respectful intercultural connections. No single nationality is dominant at Marymount London. The girls thrive in a strong tight-knit community of 250 students between the ages of 11 to 18 coming from over 40 countries. Each girl is encouraged to embrace her own culture and is heard for exactly who she is, which nurtures empathetic communication between different linguistic and cultural traditions. To learn more about Marymount London’s holistic approach, click here.
St David’s College
At St David’s College in Llandudno, set in a stunning 30-acre Tudor Estate, nestled between the North Wales Coastline and Snowdonia National Park, education goes beyond academic growth. Learning outside of the classroom is equally important to foster emotional intelligence in a student’s learning experience —the award-winning Outdoor Education programme allows inquisitive minds to grow in self-esteem and confidence.
The dedicated Outdoor Education Department makes it possible for students to surf the Irish Sea and conquer the peaks of Snowdonia. This is made possible through instructions from highly qualified staff. They work collaboratively with the pastoral and academic teams to understand a child’s individual needs.
Students flourish in sports at St David’s. They can hone athletic talents by playing at regional and national levels in sports such as cricket, cross country and rugby. Its rugby team is particularly outstanding: St David’s is the only school with a female rugby pathway in North Wales. Platforming girls’ participation in sports inspires a can-do attitude among the boarding community, where each child is free to pursue their strengths and interests.
Specialist care is extended to pupils requiring one-to-one support at the Cadogan Centre. Founded over 50 years ago, the centre is run by highly-qualified teachers with Teaching Dyslexic Learners Level 7 qualifications who band together to offer around 500 hours of one-to-one specialist support lessons weekly. It also has designated teaching rooms for individual and group classes, in addition to an online facility for virtual learning.
In the foothills of the Scottish Highlands and an unparalleled setting of natural beauty, yet within easy reach of Edinburgh and Glasgow, Glenalmond is an exciting and restless place of learning, but it is also a place of activity, of warmth and most importantly, of community.
The aspiration for every Glenalmond pupil is to be decent, to have clear values, and have the courage to stand by them. The pupils have the best academic education they can so that they face the future with the greatest number of choices, while experiencing a rich range of opportunities.
GCSEs and A Levels are complemented by Scottish Highers and the Extended Project Qualification. Carefully-designed programmes nurture the academically gifted through discussion groups and lectures, and there is also an excellent Learning Support Department.
Glenalmond is a positively welcoming, cross-cultural community. Wellbeing is rightly high on its agenda. Technology use is responsible. Leadership remains a cornerstone of Glenalmond life, and grants lasting benefits. These skills manifest themselves in the creative and independent work of its pupils on campus, adventure, and expeditions.
Pupils develop competences through a varied enrichment and co-curricular programme which, in turn, provide confidence. Outstanding results, virtuoso performances in the concert hall, on the stage, or on the pitch are natural by-products.
A Glenalmond education holds on to the best from the past while equipping the pupils for tomorrow, shaped by the community in which the pupils and the teachers live, learn, and play.
Durham School is located at the historic City of Durham, offering independent, co-educational and boarding experiences for students aged 11 to 18. Rooted in six centuries of tradition, students build solid relationships among peers and school staff in an inclusive pastoral structure. Students can opt for full, weekly or occasional boarding, centred around three Houses.
The school thoroughly prepares its students for the GCSEs in a wide range of subjects as a platform for more specialised study at A Level, taught by dedicated and experienced teachers. Students are given the space to reach their full potential in small, engaging lessons. Pupils that need additional help can rely on Durham School’s Learning Support Department, which tailors learning according to a student’s needs and abilities.
At Durham School, there is always something for everyone through its co-curricular activities. The school boasts long-standing excellence in sports, while musically-inclined pupils can perform at the famous Durham Cathedral in one of the largest cathedral choirs in the country. Students can choose from a wide selection of clubs and societies to venture in new or existing interests.
*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International