Although they’ve become increasingly popular with students from overseas in recent years, the rising cost of British boarding schools has actually prevented many middle class families living in the UK from being able to afford them.
The top five most expensive British boarding schools have more than doubled in price since 1994. But along with the more elite establishments, there are cheaper alternatives when it comes to boarding.
“Some good schools charge fees of just £21,000 (Dh98,727),” says Sarah Sparling of UK boarding school specialists Anderson Education. “They may have a charity foundation that offers funding, or they’re located further away from London and the South-east, which make them less costly.”
Campbell College boys school in Belfast, which sits on 100 acres that include a lake and a forest, is recommended by the Good Schools Guide and yet costs a mere £12,576 a year.
Failing that, British passport holders might consider a state boarding school, which usually charge annual fees of about £12,000.
For second and subsequent children attending the same school, sibling discounts are often available.
A parent of a particularly gifted child might consider applying for a scholarship – but don’t expect it to mean a discount off the fees. “These days, finances are reserved for bursaries and means-tested pupils,” says David Wesley, the director and founder of The British Boarding Schools Show.
He claims that many British boarding schools select half their sixth form students “based on almost perfect GCSEs” and the other half are chosen “because they think they will contribute to the community”. “They might be a great chess player, or a talented sailor, for example,” he says. “The advantage of scholarships is they can really help with applying for university, especially for students wanting to head to the United States to study. A scholarship can really help your child to stand out.”
Ronald Mangravite, author of the book American Prep: The Insider's Guide to US Boarding Schools, says that many US boarding schools have generous financial aid programmes that even upper income families can access. He adds that American universities place a high value on students who have been to boarding school. "Many college placement officers at the schools are personally acquainted with their college counterparts; it's a kind of club, in many instances."
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