Boarding life is an essential part of the British private school experience and a way for Hong Kong parents to encourage their children to learn independence and engage in communal living with students from diverse backgrounds. Most international students studying in the UK choose to reside in the boarding facilities provided by the schools, while local students may or may not opt to stay on campus. As a private boarding school that accepts both local and international students, the overall proportion of boarding students in the institution also plays a significant role in parents' school selection process.
Previously, we discussed the proportion of international students by dividing it as a percentage of the total student population. Similarly, the ratio of boarding students throughout the entire school can be simplified into three categories: predominantly day schools, semi-boarding schools, and full boarding schools. These classifications, unlike the previous categorization based on international boarding student percentages, offer a unique study abroad experience for students who are new to the UK.
Predominantly day schools: Easier communication among boarding students
In this type of school, the primary intake consists of day students, and the proportion of boarding students generally does not exceed 10% of the total student population. Most of the boarding students in these schools are international students. Before choosing this type of school, parents should be aware of one key aspect: although local day students make up the majority, the students residing in the school's dormitories are predominantly international students. This creates a more internationalised boarding environment, which may lack some aspects of authentic British culture. However, students find it easier to integrate into dormitory life within a community of international students. As an example, Chigwell School accepts international student applications for Year 12 entry. This large-scale school has a boarding population that accounts for only 2% of the total student body. In a boarding environment primarily composed of international students, students share similar learning and living approaches, facilitating mutual exchange. Furthermore, in an environment with a smaller proportion of boarding students, classmates can form deep bonds, often becoming lifelong friends. This type of school is more suitable for students intending to apply for higher years of study.
Semi-boarding schools: Ideal support and facilities for boarding students
When the proportion of boarding students in a school accounts for approximately half of the total student population, we refer to such schools as "semi-boarding schools." This category is the most common, and these schools typically provide well-rounded support and facilities for boarding students. Some schools even arrange for teachers to support boarding students academically and socially during weekends, ensuring comprehensive assistance. These schools are suitable for various types of international students. When selecting a school in this category, parents should pay attention to the percentage of international students among the total boarding population, as well as the school's provision of academic support and extracurricular activities suitable for their children.
Full-boarding schools: Suitable for independent and proactive students
If boarding students account for 60% or more of the total student population, we classify those schools as "full boarding schools." Generally, these schools have a larger historical scale and provide the most traditional and comprehensive support for boarding students. For example, they may require half-day classes on Saturdays (Saturday School), which is one of their distinguishing features. Compared to the previous two categories, "full boarding schools" typically exercise stricter control over the proportion of international students. Parents choosing this type of school should be particularly cautious. Some international students have expressed that adapting to the environment in a full-boarding school may take longer due to the different habits and routines of other foreign students. We recommend that students with a higher level of English proficiency or those attending international schools in their own country consider applying to "full boarding schools," as these institutions prioritise student independence and are more suitable for students with stronger adaptability skills.
Considering factors such as entry grades, school size, the proportion of international students, and the overall ratio of boarding students in UK private boarding schools, the following sections will delve into key aspects that parents and students are highly concerned about: admission procedures, assessment models, and deadlines. Emphasising the importance of admission procedures and deadlines is an essential step in planning to attend the desired educational institution!