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The 10 boarding schools with a reputation for excellence

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Boarding schools have earned a time-honoured reputation for providing outstanding education and an excellent start in life. Often offering flexi boarding and day school options they also give an opportunity for full boarding, where pupils can immerse themselves in home-from-home facilities and a family atmosphere that includes a rich extra-curricular as well as classroom life.

With impressive and extensive amenities they can give individual attention and a tailored experience that provides a unique pathway through school life and a solid grounding from which to go out into the world as confident, independent young adults.  

Here are some schools that could prove a home from home.

1. Ipswich High School 

Ipswich High School is a prominent day and boarding school, for boys and girls from Reception through to Sixth Form, situated in an idyllic 87-acre campus at Woolverstone Hall on the banks of the River Orwell in Suffolk. The school has long enjoyed a high profile across the region and is much respected for both its academic success year-on-year, and for its superb pastoral care and unrivalled enrichment programme.

They are renowned for ensuring their pupils are equipped to be so much more than highly skilled at passing exams. They believe great results are a by-product of an outstanding education, not its sole focus. They do this by providing them with the widest possible range of experiences, both in and outside of the classroom, to broaden their minds and create new opportunities for every pupil to thrive.

Boarding is available for pupils in Year 7 upwards on a full-time and weekly basis. 

Find out more at ipswichhighschool.co.uk

2. Ellesmere College

Ellesmere College, set in 150 acres of beautiful Shropshire countryside, has built up an enviable reputation over many years, not only for its outstanding academic success, but also for its ability to combine this with a broad co-curricular programme including an award-winning arts programme and world-renowned sporting programmes.

Ellesmere places its focus firmly on the individual – success is measured by the confident, resilient, empathic and life-ready young adults that begin their journey in Lower School, through Middle School to Sixth Form – making it the perfect platform for academic and personal success. Students aged from seven to 18-years-old can take full advantage of the rural setting as a day pupil or they can enjoy the home-from-home luxury of flexi or full boarding, allowing them to fully immerse themselves in everyday life at the college.

Find out more at ellesmere.com 

3. St David’s College 

St David’s aim is simple – create a unique whole person education centred on the individual, built on Christian principles, embedded in a family atmosphere. A whole person approach finds the true gifts of every individual and tailors their education.

St David’s allows each child to grow much more than just gaining knowledge to pass exams. The school removes barriers to learning with highly qualified staff delivering fun, engaging lessons in classes of around 12 pupils.
Many leavers go on to top universities to study architecture, engineering, maths, and a wide range of subjects. St David’s pride themselves on supporting students through BTECs and on into apprenticeships.

Pupils leave St David’s with unique personalities, individual strengths, and the core values of honesty, respect, and loyalty. They head out into the world with the determination to succeed and the will to never give up.

Find out more at stdavidscollege.co.uk

4. Merchant Taylors

Merchant Taylors’ is one of the country’s ‘great nine’ schools, founded in 1561 by the Merchant Taylors’ Company.

The school is academically highly successful but is also well known for its exceptional extra-curricular provision and impressive pastoral care. It has a unique tutorial system with each boy assigned a tutor who looks after him throughout his time at the school.

More recently, Merchant Taylors’ has excelled at sport, becoming Under 17 National Champions at cricket in 2017 and winning the U18 National Plate in hockey in 2018. The school focuses on developing the intellectual strengths of its pupils in an atmosphere that is challenging, exciting and enjoyable.

Facilities are superb and give every boy the opportunity to find several things at which he, personally, can excel.

The school enjoys a campus of 285 acres of parkland with easy access from the Metropolitan Line.

Find out more at mtsn.org.uk

5. The American School in England

The American School in England is a co-educational, independent, day and boarding school. Its mission statement encapsulates its core values: TASIS England nurtures intellectual curiosity and emboldens each learner to flourish as a principled, open-minded and compassionate member of a global community.

Students aged three to 18 from more than 50 countries benefit from individualised attention as they are taught in small classes, averaging at around 15 in each. They are encouraged to play their part in the learning community both in and out of the classroom. Comprehensive programmes of athletics, the arts, and extracurricular activities enable students to explore and develop their talents and excel wherever their strengths lie.

Looking beyond a narrow definition of academic excellence, the school promotes essential attributes such as resilience, adaptability, curiosity, and reflection. Students are also encouraged to develop international-mindedness – the ability to interpret and analyse issues from different perspectives through the lens of intercultural understanding and a respect for others.

Find out more at tasisengland.org

6. Oxford International College

Oxford International College (OIC) is the UK’s number one A-Level college, in national rankings including the Times League Table and the Daily Telegraph League Table.

Known for its academic record and university destinations, OIC attracts students seeking places at the world’s top universities and on competitive courses – such as medicine, law, engineering, economics and architecture.

OIC’s combination of academic, career preparation and welfare provision offers impressive outcomes. In 2020, 50% of OIC applicants were admitted to Oxford and 58% of the entire cohort progressed to Oxbridge, Imperial, LSE, or UCL. Yasmin Sarwar, OIC’s Chief Education Officer, has seen 100% of students in her schools receive offers from Russell Group universities during her almost 20-year career.

The college’s progressive nature has proved a winning pedagogy. OIC is a small college that tailors a unique academic pathway for each student, oriented to sparking and sustaining an individual passion for lifelong learning.

Find out more at oxcoll.com

7. Haberdashers’ Boys School

The Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School, founded in 1690, is renowned for offering a world-class education and regularly topping league tables. It is located on a rural, 100-acre site with its sister school, Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls, in leafy Elstree, Hertfordshire.

Haberdashers’ is within easy reach of central London and is near to junctions on the M1, M25 and A1. The schools share one of the largest coach networks of any school in the UK, allowing pupils from far and wide to benefit from a Haberdashers’ education.

The Boys’ School prides itself on ‘nurturing excellence’. Pupils benefit from an energetic and enthusiastic learning environment for inquisitive minds in a simply outstanding environment, with truly exceptional facilities.

Haberdashers’ is a diverse, multi-cultural and happy school with a rich history of producing confident and self-motivated young adults, who are fully prepared for the challenges of the future.

Find out more at habsboys.org.uk

8. Christ College

Situated within the Brecon Beacons National Park, Christ College is an independent co-educational boarding and day school. Founded in 1541, the college is one of the oldest schools in Wales.

Consistently achieving excellent results, over the past three years, 43% of A level grades were A* or A and 85% grade A to C. 46% of GCSE results were grades 9 to 7. This strong track record
has enabled the majority of Christ College pupils to progress on to their first choice of course and university.

The school quickly becomes a second home and pupils and faculty become family. Its second curriculum, which complements academic study and promotes the pupils’ character development, includes music, creative and performing arts and an excellent sport and outdoor pursuits provision.

“One of the best value schools in the UK, where the fees comprise almost everything and extras are limited.” – Good Schools Guide 2020.

Find out more at christcollegebrecon.com

9. Lucton School

Founded in 1708, Lucton School is set in a peaceful, rural location in 55 acres of beautiful Herefordshire countryside.

There is a good mix of day pupils, weekly boarders and full boarders. Many team and individual sports are offered and boarders enjoy a wealth of weekend activities – sporting, cultural, social and just good fun – all included in the fees.

Senior boarders have individual rooms – although some younger ones prefer to share – and pastoral care at Lucton is second to none.

An Oxford University admissions tutor commented that the typical thing about Lucton students is that there is no typical student – they are very much individuals! What they do have in common is that they leave Lucton confident in their abilities and strengths, ready to embrace opportunities and play their part. They also achieve excellent results at A-level and GCSE and secure an impressive range of university places.

Find out more at luctonschool.org

10. Queen Anne’s

Students at Queen Anne’s School in Caversham, Berkshire, now have the opportunity to record and mix music of all genres to a professional standard with a new recording studio and top editing software.

The opening of the studio at the independent boarding and day school for girls aged 11 to 18-years-old marks the completion of stunning new facilities in The Scott Music Centre.

This is an addition to a suite of 24 iMacs, 23 new pianos, sound-proofed practice rooms and the fully digitised St Cecilia Recital Hall.

Set in 35-acres and just a short walk from the River Thames, Queen Anne’s School prepares over 450 students every year for an ever-changing world. Staff achieve this through an exciting and continually evolving education, steeped in excellence and innovation.

Students will excel and achieve at the school through first-class teaching, education clinics,
co-curricular opportunities and pastoral care.

Find out more at qas.org.uk

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