When you think of the UK, the British empire and its string of awards, achievements and inventions immediately come to mind. It is the home of over 100 Nobel Laureates, nearly 300 gold medallists, and countless patents that lead to products that range from the Aston Martin to Digestive biscuits.
Another great export? The British education system. With a history of providing one of the world’s best education for many centuries, children in British schools, especially in boarding schools, benefit from a rich mix of tradition and innovation.
“British qualifications are a currency and you can trade them across the world,” says Hilary Moriarty, national director of the UK’s Boarding Schools’ Association.
There are many reasons why a British education is the best one can get in the world. For one, English is used by 1.5 billion people as a first or second language — at British boarding schools, pupils can develop their skills in this lingua franca, going from novice to native in a guided and collegial environment.
Secondly, the numerous extra-curricular activities allow pupils to discover what interests them and to gain social skills.
Lastly, pupils here are encouraged to develop active independent thinking. With knowledgeable specialist subject teachers, children also receive quality lessons.
If you seek a school that provides the skills, knowledge and experience to prepare your child for university and beyond, consider these esteemed British boarding schools:
Saint Felix School
A Saint Felix School education is outstanding. It fuses an inspirational environment with a kind and caring community — in other words, the finest of British boarding school experiences.
Here, any child can achieve their full potential. Whether it’s academics, sports, or the arts, all pupils have the opportunity to challenge themselves and to strive to be the best they can be.
A wide breadth of subjects and activities — led by subject specialists — make this possible. At Sixth Form, students can choose from a wide range of A Levels, from traditional subjects such as Latin and Ancient History right through to Design Technology. Every member of staff is wholeheartedly committed to the individual needs, personal welfare and happiness of every pupil — with no compromise to the values of hard work and good behaviour. Students benefit from many cultural offerings, with literary and music festivals within easy reach of the school campus.
Located on a 75-acre campus near the seaside Southwold town on the beautiful Suffolk coast — within easy travelling distance to Cambridge, Norwich and London — Saint Felix is a co-educational, independent school for pupils aged two to 18, with day and boarding options available from age 9 onwards.
Boarders enjoy a rich experience where they live, work and learn from each other in three boarding houses filled with peers who come from the UK, Europe and countries such as Russia and Tanzania, to name but a few.
There are opportunities to undertake tailored short study courses here too — including full boarding — for at least two weeks at any given time within the Saint Felix academic year. For more information, click here.
For the past 80 years, Gordonstoun School’s broader curriculum, based on the founder’s motto “There is more in you,” has helped students develop their character through teamwork, responsibility, resilience, internationalism and compassion among others.
Famous for pioneering the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and the Outward Bound Movement, Gordonstoun is a founding member of the Round Square — an organisation that believes in teaching students about social responsibility on top of academic excellence. As a result of these out-of-class activities, all Gordonstoun students become responsible and confident individuals.
Set in a 200 acre campus nearby the beautiful Scottish highlands and the Moray Firth beaches, Gordonstoun offers both indoor and outdoor learning opportunities for 500 girls and boys from 40 countries. Student wellbeing is paramount here — they are assured of excellent pastoral care. Each student also has a tutor for academic support.
Students can have day and boarding options at the Junior and Senior Schools — they can choose from full, flexi and weekly boarding, and participate in enriching activities on weekday evenings and weekends. They can board at Gordonstoun House and seven other Houses — all of which provide access to outstanding facilities such as the Sports Centre, performing arts studio theatre, and dance studios.
If you’re looking for a school that helps students acquire the academic qualifications they need to go on to the next stage of education while simultaneously acquiring the wisdom needed to lead a good life, look no further than Bootham School.
Bootham is located in the historic city of York and offers education for students between the ages of three and 18 through its Junior School and Senior School. Here, learning is not only confined to the classroom. Students can choose from a wide range of sports, after school activities and volunteering and social action opportunities to build new skills.
Quaker Schools like Bootham aim to develop a caring community that values the peaceful resolution of conflict and provides opportunities for service to others, especially the less fortunate. Students and staff of all faiths and none are welcome here, while its Quaker ethos sits happily with people from all backgrounds. Students will develop skills such as a strong sense of social understanding, the ability to deal with adversity, and a strong sense of self-worth.
Bootham’s Senior School headmaster Chris Jeffery said their knowledgeable and passionate teachers focus on offering students personalised, well resourced pastoral care and personal development. It is unsurprising why the majority of their students have secured places at their chosen university course. “I firmly believe that all parents ultimately want their children to be good people even more than they want them to be successful people; doing both is what we specialise in!”
Downside is a forward-thinking independent school for girls and boys located in rural Somerset, just outside of the UNESCO World Heritage City of Bath. It is one of England’s oldest and most distinguished Catholic schools. Set in 500 acres of glorious English countryside, the school’s campus has plenty of space for students to learn and grow.
Downside is home to 340 boarders and day pupils aged 11 to 18 and has nearly 30 nationalities represented. Here, students enjoy high-quality education, reflected in their excellent GCSE and A levels results and have ample opportunities to develop new skills and interests outside the classroom. The school offers over 100 co-curricular activities, clubs and societies.
Students benefit from tailored careers support and guidance throughout their time at Downside. A dedicated careers team works with the students to decide upon the right subjects to get them onto their chosen degree course, and realise their aspirations beyond the School. Downside also has an excellent STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subject provision and offers Computer Science from Year 7 to GCSE and A level.
Most students secure places at their first-choice university. Destinations include some of the UK’s top universities such as Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College London.
Getting on the career ladder or taking the next step in professional development can be a daunting prospect. Downside ensures that all School leavers have professional network support including help about various career options, career pathways, mentoring and work experience.
*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International