The benefits of boarding schools

Jan 5, 2022

Boarding is a vibrant and important part of the culture at Dragon School and our Head, Emma Goldsmith, is passionate about its benefits. She has seen these for herself having taught at Rugby and Oakham, run the first girls’ boarding house at Bloxham School and been a parent of boarders. Boarding schools build character and emotional intelligence and the challenges and isolation of lockdown highlighted how wonderful it can be for children to have the support and guidance of a boarding community.

Boarding Schools: Advantages

Emma was on the panel for a discussion entitled ‘The Boarding Advantage’ at the Independent Schools Show in Battersea. The way in which the ISS promoted the talk to London parents articulated several of the pluses that boarding schools offer:

  • No commute
  • green space
  • activities and clubs to hand
  • friends on tap

Emma joined Alastair Chirnside – Warden of St. Edward’s, Henry Price – Headmaster of Oakham School and Phillip Evitt – Head of Highfield School to talk about the advantages of boarding life and answer questions from the audience. The full session was recorded and you can view it here.

Modern boarding schools

It was fascinating to hear about how boarding has evolved and become more flexible to suit families’ lives. This is in sharp contrast to the days when children were sent away for the whole term. Nowadays parents of boarders have regular contact with their children, visit them at school frequently and work in partnership with schools. Boarders are able to make the most of the amazing variety of opportunities on offer at their schools thanks to the additional time spent there and can excel academically and in extra-curricular pursuits as a result. The rich diversity of the community (international boarders, children of ex-pats) strong relationships between pupils and teachers and the depth and longevity of friendships (yes – Harry Potter was referred to!) were also highlighted as real benefits of boarding.

Character and independence

Emma talks about how boarding develops character and how apt the expression ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ is in the context of the support a boarding community can provide. She replied to a question about the benefits of boarding in Years 7 & 8 by stressing that it is the ideal preparation for doing so at senior school. The extra time with friends in the evenings and weekends also gives these children the chance to make the most of being top of the Prep School.

Emma was also recently invited to provide a ‘View from the Top’ on the subject of boarding for Talk Education, the school advisory website. Emma talks of the boost to her own children’s confidence and independence when they became boarders and how it proved to be an excellent preparation for university as well as providing incredibly close friendships. She also explains how boarding teaches children to live in a community, build resilience and nurture self-reliance and organisational skills. You can watch the clip here.

Prep School Boarding in Oxford

The largest day and boarding prep school in the UK, Dragon School has a very flexible approach to boarding with a thriving community of full boarders from the UK and overseas being joined by weekly boarders from London (there is a direct Sunday bus service) and the Cotswolds. Many day pupils from Oxfordshire and the surrounding villages spend 1-3 nights boarding each week. Find out more by visiting our boarding webpages.

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