Why boarding can be a great opportunity for children
PUBLISHED: 13:54 27 July 2020 | UPDATED: 13:54 27 July 2020
For many children there is much to be gained from going to boarding school.
Jon Timmins, director of boarding at St George’s School, Harpenden, explains why he believes it can be such a positive experience for young people.
Q: Tell us a little about St George’s?
St George’s is a coeducational, non-selective school and one of only 30 state boarding schools in the country. The education is paid for by the state, with families only paying for the boarding element, making the overall cost considerably lower than you might expect, yet with no sacrifice of quality. We have just under 120 boarders here, across three boarding houses, and offer a full seven-day-a-week experience, with around two-thirds of boarders staying at school for the weekends.
Q: What would a typical day be like for a boarder?
It starts with breakfast at 7.30am before boarders join day students for the school day. School finishes at 3.40pm and boarders then have time to enjoy afterschool activities. Prep begins at 5.30pm and supper is an hour later. After supper, the more senior boarders continue with their studies while the younger ones have more free time or activities. Bedtimes are staggered according to age but even the most senior boarders are expected to be in their dorms and quiet by 10.30pm. At weekends the routine is different with sports fixtures, free time, film nights, chapel, activities and trips.
Q: What do pupils enjoy most about boarding?
Many would say it is the opportunity to develop in terms of character and independence. However, above all else, boarders say that being with your friends all day every day is the best part.
Q: What benefits do you believe there are to those who board?
The opportunity to gain a sense of independence is huge. This can take many forms, from being able to domestic chores to getting on with schoolwork. It might also be to gain some experience of living away from home before university, forging meaningful relationships with your peers and learning to coexist with people with all sorts of backgrounds and cultures.
Q: Why do families choose boarding as an option?
For some it is a lifestyle choice, while for others it is the extra-curricular opportunities or the social aspect. This is often the case with only-children or where there are much older siblings. Boarding can also offer stability and consistency where parents need to be mobile. Some UK-based families choose boarding because their local schools do not meet the criteria they seek, whereas some overseas families want a British education. For others, where there might be significant safeguarding or welfare issues, a boarding school can significantly change the trajectory a young person is following, giving them the chance to flourish, thrive and succeed in a stable and safe environment.