The Independent Schools Council (ISC) estimates that from 2021 to 2022 there was a 4.5 percent increase in the number of boarders in the UK. Driving the increase, is an explosion of new markets; British Boarding Schools Network (BBSN) reported a 148 percent rise in students across the same year from Central and South America, mainly coming from Mexico. At ACS Cobham, we too have witnessed this significant growth, welcoming students from almost every continent around the world – resulting in an average 13 percent rise in our boarders year on year.
The benefits of joining a boarding school, for me, are easy to see. Today’s boarding schools feel like a home away from home, and the boarding experience has never been more tailored or dynamic. Co-curricular clubs, first-class facilities and the rapid rise of flexible-boarding all contribute to why there has never been a better time to board.
Here are five reasons why you should consider sending your child to boarding school.
Boarding school is more flexible than ever
Today, many boarding schools, including ACS Cobham, offer a five-day boarding option alongside the traditional full week, which has grown in considerable popularity over the last few years. The more conventional seven-day boarding option allows students to fully immerse themselves in boarding life, and have access to a carefully-nurtured community that has been crafted, in part, by other boarders and their experiences. Our students also reap the benefits of our academic tutors who run evening study sessions while enjoying entertainment with peers such as karaoke nights and pool table competitions.
Five-day boarders also benefit from this environment, and therefore still develop emotional, social and intellectual discourse, alongside a first-class education Monday to Friday. This is combined with all the added extracurricular opportunities, while still maintaining family time at the weekends.
Students live an enriched life
Life at boarding school is filled with extra-curricular clubs, with continued growth and development at the centre, so that students can continue to extend their learning, after the school day, without even catching a bus. At ACS Cobham, similar to a university college campus atmosphere, day-to-day life is structured to include study time, athletics offerings and academic challenges, as well as more casual leisure time. By carefully planning our routine this way, we keep our boarders busy, while still allowing for time to relax and reflect.
Boarding school prepares young people for the future
At its core, boarding fosters independence and ensures young people, when they leave us, are ready to engage with the world and go on to build a better one. Learned and regularly reinforced skills at boarding schools such as cooking, emotional and wellbeing resilience, managing relationships and conflict resolution, will all ease the process of settling into university and the ever-changing, wider working world; making it far less daunting. If by the end of their studies, our young people leave us with the academic and emotional intelligence needed to empathise and engage with tomorrow’s big issues, we will have succeeded.
Most boarding schools are now co-ed
It may surprise you that just 6% of schools in England are single-sex. Co-educational schools far better nurture emotional and social development and categorically create a more authentic culture. One day, students will graduate into a world where they have to work alongside people of different genders. An integrated approach to boarding, like we have at ACS Cobham, where girls and boys live in the same building, but on different wings, with access to both same-sex and communal space, helps achieve this. Ultimately it means our young people are better equipped, and better prepared, to become the next generation of global thinkers and doers.
Boarding schools are diverse, inclusive spaces
Boarding schools offer a rich tapestry of nationalities from around the world and are melting pots for an understanding and acceptance of others. At ACS Cobham, we have students of over 70 different nationalities – all with different cultures, perspectives and lived experiences. This international, intentionally rich environment, furnishes young people with valuable life skills and helps maximise their potential. It’s the exchange of heritage, diversity and mindsets that makes being a student in a multicultural boarding school so engaging, and above all, it’s the perfect preparation for the future world that awaits them.
By Barnaby Sandow, Head of School at ACS International School CobhamTIOB News