What are UK Boarding Schools?

The main difference between boarding schools and regular schools is that at boarding schools, students stay the night at school. For UK boarding schools, there are lots of different ways in which this works. Sometimes, students can just stay for one or a few nights per week (known in the UK as ‘flexi-boarding’). Otherwise, students can stay at school for the entire week and over weekends as well. 

How does boarding at school in the UK work?

At many famous private boarding schools in the UK (Eton, Rugby, Harrow, Badminton, etc.), the standard arrangement is ‘full time’ boarding. As a result, students stay overnight at the school on all week nights and weekends by default. They only go home at half term and holidays.

When can I visit my child if they are at boarding school?

Students are required to go home during half terms. ‘Half term’ is a week-long holiday in the middle of each term/semester and school holidays. For international students, their options are to return to their home country or to remain in the UK, staying with a guardian.

International students must have a guardian in the UK. This is required by both the school and UK law. It applies if their parents are in another country. A guardian is typically someone who is over 25 and a UK resident. This can be a relative or friend of the family. It can also be a British person who professionally acts as a guardian for international students. Advisors and consultants can be helpful in assisting with finding a guardian if parents need help.

How do classes and activities work at UK boarding school?

Many UK boarding schools have classes and sports activities on Saturdays. This contributes to the sporting and academic excellence in which these schools take great pride. Many of these schools allow students to return home for a limited time at weekends. This can be after Saturday classes and activities are completed.

What about weekends at UK boarding school?

There are also some weekends when students will be released from school on a Friday morning or afternoon. They will be allowed to return home for the rest of Friday and all of Saturday and Sunday. These are known as ‘exeat’ or ‘leave’ weekends. These weekends show that it is important for international students to have a guardian in the UK. Students must be comfortable staying with their guardian, since all students must leave the school for the exeat weekend. They would likely not have time to return to their home country just for the weekend.

Still have questions about how boarding school works? Reach out to us today and we can help.