Eleven things you’ll remember if you went to a boarding school

I went to boarding school for sixth form and the experience completely changed my life.

I went from a grammar school where people looked at you funny if you only got a B on a test to an alternative universe where your social standing was determined by the type of tie around your neck.

Boarding school taught me to be independent; I was introduced to people who I never thought in a million years I would meet, including actual princesses of other countries.

But, most of all, it taught me about pride, ambition, discipline and camaraderie that has stayed with me until this very day.

Here are 11 things you’ll know or reminisce about if you went to a boarding school.

1. Everyone called each other by their surname

There are some people who for about a year I had no idea what their first name was because of this.

Tough times if you had a surname that was hard to pronounce.

2. God help you if you missed prayers before bedtime

The guilt was almost too much to bear so you rarely did it.

Because you knew, if you got caught, either matron or one of the boarding house masters would give you an earful that you had no energy for.

3. Matron was your best friend and arch-enemy wrapped into one The original love/hate relationship.

She was like your mum away from home, gave you advice, the best hugs and sometimes, if you were good, even sweets.

But if you got on the wrong side of her all of that went out of the window.

Life was not easy if she was not on your side, so you made up with her ASAP.

4. Day students arriving in the morning was one of the highlights of the day

The fresh and boundless energy they brought.

They didn’t look as stale as we boarders, who basically never left the four walls of our prison, sorry, boarding house.

They brought tales of the outside world. OK, you had Google, but they could tell you about what was going on in the local high street.

5. House rivalry was very real

House competitions, no matter the challenge, were the most exciting points of the year.

Battle lines were drawn, cross-house friendships ceased for the duration of the competition.

Most of all for the time you were in competition, if they cut you open you would bleed your house colours.

Loyalty was everything.

6. It’s a miracle nobody died from cross-country running each year.

The treacherous muddy fields and awful weather.

I’m a netballer, but this was honestly the worst time of year for me.

I would see some people storming ahead like they actually enjoyed the rain and subsequent wet hair slapping them in the face.

I could never comprehend how almost catching pneumonia was fun and, unfortunately, compulsory.

7. The fight for the television remote

For two years I didn’t watch my beloved EastEnders because the drama of fighting for control over the television remote was not worth the hassle.

Hundreds of boarders spread across the school, the majority of whom are in the games room which has just one television.

Who could be bothered with that?

8. Who needs EastEnders when you have debating club?

Utter pantomime. Oh the drama of it.

The arguments, the persuasive rhetoric, the nail-biting public vote at the end.

Those debaters were writing Shakespeare and they didn’t even know it.

9. Apart from good grades, everyone’s aim in life was to become a prefect

You weren’t even quite sure what a prefect even did or what special powers were bestowed on them.

You just knew that the teachers treated them differently and with respect.

For that alone you were down for being one.

10. Ties determined your social standing

Forget what your parents did, what was around your neck determined who you were in school.

If you had just your basic house colour tie you were simply unambitious.

You wanted to reach the top of every field. You wanted your full house colour tie, but you also wanted a sports tie or a music tie.

11. You make friends for life.

The friends you make within the four walls of your boarding house are your friends forever. How could you possible not stay mates with someone who understands why you randomly wake up at 7.14 every morning even years later (a hang-up from morning roll-call)? Who else will understand how you can make snap judgements on people’s personalities after asking, ‘What house was he in?’ Who else was with you during all the highs, lows, trials, tribulations, breakups and makeups during one of the best times of your life? Your fellow boarder, that’s who.

How about discussing this article over on our Forum?

The Metro

Mum Divides Opinion As She Slams Parents Who Send Kids To Boarding School

Boarding schools have always been a contentious issue, now one mother has reignited the debate after slating parents who choose full-time boarding.

Some of the world’s brightest minds have attended boarding schools, from Prime Ministers to members of the royal family and even actors such as Eddie Redmayne.

However, the idea of sending your kids off to live at a school miles from home has always been a point of contention.

Now one Mumsnet user has reignited the long-running debate after asking parents to explain their decision to “send them away” to be raised by other adults.

The post read: “I’m going to get flamed probably by the people who send their child to boarding school full time.

But how could you?

Read more and vote at Heart.

Government continues to flog failed social care boarding school scheme

Whilst looked after children do deserve the best chances in life, sending them away to boarding school is probably not the answer. Boarding School Syndrome for all? Previous schemes have failed in the past and for good reason. Those who look after children in care don’t want to expose them to anymore harm in UK boarding schools…

BBC News


The numbers are down, the fees rise but the outlook for UK boarding is booming?

With Brits staying away from UK boarding with all the ongoing abuse cases, rising fees, schools swamped by overseas students. The UK boarding school industry tries to put on a brave face but…

We saw the reality last weekend at the Independent Schools Show…

“Global oil crises, shrinking wealth, falling birth rates in Asia, visa regulations, and students choosing foundation courses over boarding schools, all contributed to reduced enrolment from overseas pupils in 2016/17.

Nineteen key markets in British boarding schools have dropped since last year’s ISC figures, including Russia, down 20.5%; Nigeria down 30.9%; and Central & South America, down 19.7%.

This information was delivered by the British Boarding Schools Network’s market analysis at its recent workshop in London. Enrolments from mainland China remain stable, having increased in recent years.”

The PIE News

Pre-teens don’t belong in boarding schools

There is no good reason why we should continue condemning innocent children to the insular world of boarding schools. And, for the record, I am not writing this from an ivory tower. Of the 16 years in the 8.4.4 system, I’ve been a boarder for the first 12.

I was barely seven years when I saw my dad walk out of the school gate, leaving me amongst strangers at a time when I was a stranger even to myself. The feeling of abandonment has stuck with me ever since. In this, I know I’m not alone.

Are boarding schools worth it? The separation from parents, the money paid and exclusion from society? Are boarding schools overrated?

Four things are worth remarking about boarding schools. One, a majority (if not all) offer an environment fraught with emotional, academic and social pressure. Expecting children under 13 to know how to respond to pressure is expecting something greater than a miracle.

At this vulnerable age, what children need most is an emotionally meaningful relationship, not pressure. And only parents can offer that. Teachers, however dedicated, cannot provide emotional satisfaction to every kid in the class.

If kids are to grow into healthy adults, they have to be brought up in a family, which is the microcosm of the society. Remember it takes a village, not a boarding school, to raise a child.

Is this from the UK? No, it’s Kenya…


Inquest into former boarder’s death sees father criticise ‘sleepiness’ of mental health facility

The father of a singer who was hit by a train in Chelmsford has criticised the apparent ‘sleepiness’ of the mental health unit treating his son.

An inquest is currently underway into the death of 23-year-old Patrick Aspbury, who died after he jumped onto the tracks and stood in front of a train at Chelmsford Station on April 12.

Patrick, who became famous in 2005 for being a member of three-piece boyband the Choirboys, was an inpatient of a mental health ward at the Linden Centre, in Broomfield, at the time of his death.

Patrick’s father, Peter, spoke about his son’s treatment and subsequent death while giving evidence at Essex Coroners’ Court this afternoon (Tuesday, September 12).


The court heard how Patrick took up a place at King’s Ely boarding school when he was eight and eventually went on to study at Surrey University, before dropping out in his second year.

Essex Live


My son is about to start boarding school and he can’t stop crying

My son is 13 and due to start boarding school. This year he has started to show a lot of anxiety; first around his exams this summer, convinced he would fail (he didn’t); then around going to a boarding school 40 minutes from where we live. This anxiety has led him to cry for hours, so much so that I can’t comfort him. He is a sociable person, makes friends easily, is good at sport and popular. However, he is also entering puberty.

The Times (subscription)

Bullying: our daughter was hounded out of a top boarding school

When her teenager was badly bullied, one mother found that all that mattered to the school was its reputation

With the glorious benefit of hindsight I have no idea what we thought we were doing eight years ago when we decided to send our very urban youngest daughter to an all-girls boarding school in the middle of the countryside, miles from any form of civilisation. What misguided belief made us think that she would be happy and settled when she could visit us only every three weeks, and even then for less than 24 hours?

The Times (subscription)

First state-funded primary boarding school in the east of England

Sad news, that with all the evidence of harm from early boarding, the Sapientia Education Trust (SET) (of which Wymondham College is the founding school) has decided to open an early state boarding facility.

In April this year, SET was granted permission (by the Department for Education) to open the Sapientia Primary Prep School as part of a wave of 111 free schools around the country.

The school, for five to 11-year-olds, will create 450 places, 30 of which will be boarding, making it the first state-funded primary boarding school in the east of England.

Eastern Daily Press