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

Councils pressured to place children in boarding schools instead of care

The government will lean on “reluctant” councils to place vulnerable children in boarding schools instead of costly residential care, an education minister has said.

Officials will promote boarding as an alternative to care, against what Lord Nash described as a backdrop of historic “prejudice”, as part of a drive to place more vulnerable children in state and independent boarding schools.

Boarding School Partnerships, an organisation that links care charities and councils with boarding places for children, was launched earlier this year with ministerial support and funding from the Department for Education and Education Endowment Foundation.

[Is this just an attempt to prop up the failing UK boarding school industry, bedeviled by ongoing abuse scandals and Boarding School Syndrome? If they can’t fill their beds with overseas students, let’s dump looked-after kids in them and tick another box…]

Schools Week

UK exporting Boarding School Syndrome to BRICS….

With BRICS students propping up declining UK boarding, news that another UK boarding school is keen to export Boarding School Syndrome to China…

UK-based girls boarding school Wycombe Abbey has announced it will open its second international school in China, as part of its agreement with Chinese education provider BE Education.

The Wycombe Abbey International School Hengqin will open in September 2019 in the Hengqin Special Area, in Zhuhai in China’s Guangdong province.

“I am sure that the students in Hengqin will flourish with the introduction of our unique boarding environment and blend of English and Chinese curricula.”

The PIE News

We can’t prevent Boarding School Syndrome so we will just take away their smartphones

Just when children and early teens need more private contact with their parents, one school plans to give them less…

Surrey boarding school BANS mobile phones

A Surrey boarding school has banned the use of mobile phones for year 9 and 10 pupils.

Cranleigh School is said to be the first in the UK to prohibit the use of the device for  its first two year groups.

The co-educational school in Surrey, educates pupils from age 13 to 18.

Staff claims that the move has proved popular with parents and pupils alike.

Deputy Head (Pastoral) Dr Andrea Saxel says: “We were already on the stricter end of smartphone use but this academic year we have decided to limit use in those two-year groups completely.

“Pupils have plenty of opportunity to contact home via private landlines and e-mail. [Not the same as being able to call or message their parents in private on their own phones without boarding schools monitoring their telephone calls and email messages.]

“There is extremely compelling evidence to show that constant access to social media sites is damaging to children’s self-esteem and mental health. [There is also compelling evidence of damage to children’s self-esteem and mental health from Boarding School Syndrome and other abuse at boarding school.]

Eagle Radio

Feeling down? It could be the ‘September blues’

BBC News has a feature on the “September Blues”. The article talks about the shortening days, the return to routine and the changes in the weather. Seasonal affective disorder

For some former boarders and most boarding school survivors, September brings back memories of something else. The return to institutional life after the brief escape of the summer holidays. The feeling of abandonment for those send away to board at too young age…

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