UK Boarding Schools: How to Choose the Right School? by Metropolis Education

  • 3 Mar 2023 3:50 PM
UK Boarding Schools: How to Choose the Right School? by Metropolis Education
With over 2000 independent schools in the UK with over 400 offering boarding it’s sometimes tricky to know where to start.

Without a doubt there is a school in the UK to suit every child, so choose carefully to ensure that your child enters one that best suits their academic abilities, talents, support needs, personality, hopes and dreams.

The best school for a child is not necessarily the most academic or one with a highest position in the league tables. Children learn best in an environment where they are happy and can grow in confidence, and schools with demanding academic programmes will not be suitable for all. This is where some initial thought before you start researching can really come in handy.

Co-education or single sex?

The majority of schools in the Uk are co-educational however many still offer single sex or single sex until Sixth Form. There are arguments abound for and against single-sex education, but the decision should be yours and your child’s.

Would he/she thrive in a school without the distraction of the opposite sex? Or do you feel that, since life is co-educational, school should mirror that? Only you can decide which option would be the most suitable but do be sure to discuss the options with your child.

Environment – town or country?

There are great boarding schools across the UK, in both towns and country, city and seaside. Many combine the beauty of historical buildings with excellent modern teaching facilities. Good road and rail links mean that transport to and from UK airports and railway stations is never problematic.

Schools often arrange transport to correspond with flight times so your child is looked after from the moment they arrive in the UK until they leave for home.

What if my child has particular talents or strengths?

All schools offer a wide variety of extracurricular activities to keep boarders busy and happy. But just as traditions and ethos vary from school to school, some schools also have particular strengths. Some will specialise in a particular area, such as sport, music or performing arts.

If your child has a special interest or talent, you may like to choose a school that has the best facilities and experience to nurture this talent. Some may even offer scholarships (a fees reduction for excellence) in a particular area.

What if my child needs help with English?

ISC-accredited schools provide extra lessons for non-native speakers of English, either in small groups or in one-to-one sessions. The number and frequency of these lessons will be decided when your child arrives in school, but you can be sure that they will receive an appropriate level of English language support from expert, specialist staff to ensure that they are able to take a full part in all areas of school life.

Some boarding schools have international study centres for students from overseas, which prepare them for studying within the British education system. These centres offer teaching in small classes and all subjects and their staff are trained in teaching English as a foreign language.

Do I agree with the ethos and traditions of the school?

Ethos and traditions of schools vary enormously. In some, children may call staff by their first names, wear no school uniform, plan their own curriculum, and opt out of team sports or acts of worship.

In others, tradition dictates that pupils are called by surnames, special uniforms are worn for formal occasions, everyone learns Latin, and representing the school team or membership of the chapel choir is the most important personal achievement outside the academic curriculum. However, most schools fall somewhere in between these two extremes.


Independent schools in the UK vary in cost from around £10,000 - £20,000 for a day place to around £40,000 for a full boarding place Boarding schools vary in their fees ranges, so it is useful to have a good idea of the amount you are prepared to pay before you start your search.

In addition to fees, there will be costs for uniform, sports gear, trips and outings, individual music lessons and, for older pupils in public examination years, some course books. You should try to have a limit and then try to stick to it – some schools might be able to help talk through options for scholarships and bursarial support.

Getting the right advice

To help narrow down your shortlist of schools use our handy website or contact us for free, impartial advice on 

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Related links

Invitation: UK Education Event in Budapest by Metropolis Education

Why Study in the UK? By Metropolis Education

Boarding Schools: A Home Away from Home? By Metropolis Education

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