In recent years, there has been a surge in the popularity of state boarding schools. This is mainly due to the increasing number of families with both parents working long hours. Schools that offer full, as opposed to weekly, boarding appeal to families who are busy with work.
The best part? State boarding schools offer free education while only charging the fees for boarding. Similar to state schools, the tuition cost is funded by the government. In the UK alone, there are over 34 state boarding schools. When comparing the fees at private boarding schools which can be upwards of 35,289 pounds per year for full boarding, state boarding schools are more affordable.
The majority of students in state boarding schools are day pupils, but many of them stay for after-school activities alongside boarders.
These state boarding schools all follow the National Curriculum, with students being taught by fully-qualified teachers and taking the same exams as they would if they attended a non-boarding state school. Though the exams are the same, it has been found that with each year students in state boarding schools outperform those in state schools.
If you are looking for an excellent state boarding school for your child, consider these four institutions for a unique, focused and quality educational experience:
The Wellington Academy
Located in the heart of Wiltshire, The Wellington Academy aims to produce young adults who are ambitious, inquisitive and independent. With these personality traits in hand, students will be ready to take on the challenges of life and to become effective and contributing members of the local, national and global community.
Every week in school, all students are encouraged to join at least one extra-curricular activity from a broad and diverse menu, including sports clubs, theatre, music, creative arts or learning a new language.
At The Wellington Academy Boarding House, students are happy, safe and achieving. The school believes boarders “enter as strangers and leave as family.” In its home away from home environment, boarders develop and grow at their own pace amongst a diverse boarding community. The experienced boarding team covers a wide range of subject specialisms, and is able to help support boarders to realise academic goals in an environment that fosters learning and also have a lot of fun along the way!
The activities programme is varied termly and based on house parent and boarder interests. This year, clubs have included various sports, arts and crafts, dance, board and computer games and even a Lego club.
Weekend trips are included in its affordable fees. As well as excursions to nearby cities, popular trips include Thorpe Park (the UK’s most thrilling theme park), the cinema and go karting. Leafy Wiltshire has convenient links to London — being one hour from Heathrow and one hour and 10 minutes from Waterloo — making it easy for family visits.
“The TWA boarding experience was fantastic. The boarding house ran numerous activities which provided boarders with the full experience,” shares graduate In’aam Opesanwo. “My fondest memory however, would be when the boarders were taken on a trip to Wales to go gorge walking. This was an activity I had never done before, in a place I had never visited. The experience was new, thrilling and filled with memories I carry on till now.”
Hockerill Anglo-European College
At Hockerill Anglo-European College, students achieve as well as their independent school peers, but at half the cost. On average, 75% of Hockerill graduates have progressed to prestigious Russell Group institutions. In 2022, 6% went on to Oxbridge. The average International Baccalaureate score was 36 points, surpassing the 2022 global average of 32 points. More than half (53%) of GCSE results in 2022 were 9-7. The Sunday Times placed Hockerill third of all comprehensives, based on academic achievement in its 2022 guide to the best schools in the country.
Such impressive results are built on the back of a strong, caring community with a global perspective. As students pursue an ambitious academic programme, they make the most of excellent co-curricular opportunities attentive pastoral care and the spacious, leafy campus in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire.
Hockerill is one of the largest state schools offering the prestigious International Baccalaureate Middle Years and Diploma Programme, as well as the GCSE programme in Years 10 and 11. This is enriched by its special focus on languages and music with bilingual sections offering students the opportunity to study humanities in French or German in Years 9 and 10.
Beyond the classroom, there are some 100 clubs on offer each week. These span music, sports, language, culture and leisure. Students also go on trips and exchange programmes to Europe, Uganda, India and Japan.
To learn more about how Hockerill could be a place where your child could thrive and succeed, click here.
Steyning Grammar School
Steyning Grammar School (SGS) is a unique, successful and dynamic learning community set in the small historic market town of Steyning in West Sussex. Its “Journey to Excellence” is built on traditions of excellence and highest expectations, combined with a commitment to innovation and new thinking – to support students in preparation for their exciting futures.
Steyning Grammar School is a day and residential school with a large Sixth Form College and all the curriculum choices that size enables. It has one of the most successful boarding provisions in the UK, the only state boarding facility in Sussex, accommodating full and weekly boarders where students are happy, engaged and keen to learn.
SGS is proud to be part of the Bohunt Education Trust (BET). BET’s vision is that the highest expectations, an ethos of “enjoy, respect, achieve,” unparalleled opportunity and highly effective teaching combine to develop students who are game changers.
BET aims to give all students, regardless of background, an outstanding education and skills in the classroom and beyond. The boarding experience uniquely equips students with the character they need to flourish throughout their school career, and into later life, in a safe, nurturing and diverse environment.
The Royal School Wolverhampton
While established as a Free School and State Boarding School in 2016, The Royal School, Wolverhampton has an illustrious history of enrichment that dates back to the 1850s — when local philanthropist and businessman John Lees founded an orphanage on the site that later became an independent school. Today, the non-selective, non-denominational Free School welcomes boys and girls between the ages of four and 19, representing various ethnic, social and cultural backgrounds. Each student can attest that life here is far from dull.
Here, they gain key skills while nurturing enduring friendships, all thanks to a structured and vibrant daily routine designed to inspire. However little or much time students spend living and learning in harmony, is entirely up to their needs — The Royal offers cost-effective full, weekly and flexi-day boarding with comfortable accommodation in shared rooms on site for up to 80 pupils.
Learners within this connected community quickly develop the confidence to thrive. Years 7 and 8 take on the Senior Curriculum, which comprises a broad range of subjects based on the National Curriculum in great depth. Years 9, 10 and 11 are reserved for the GCSE — a three-year programme that covers the compulsory subjects of English, Mathematics and Science plus four further options selected during Year 8. Final examinations are taken towards the end of Year 11 before students advance to Year 12 to begin the A Levels and/or BTECs. Once this period is complete, a majority graduate with above-average results to boast on university applications.
The academic rigour that fuels these outcomes is balanced out with enriching extracurriculars. The School’s award-winning “Boarding Passport” documents all the skills and activities boarders acquire and enjoy during their time at the school, such as participation in student clubs, leadership opportunities, or the school’s Elite Squad for swimmers. Pair rare offerings with a renowned pastoral care system and students have a recipe for success — both in university and beyond. To let your child experience the dynamic combination for themselves, click here to learn more about admissions.
*Some of the institutions featured on this article are commercial partners of Study International