The Complete 2024 Guide To UK Boarding Schools

Academic results, tuition fees and prestige are important factors when choosing a school. However, many often overlook aspects such as boarding options which cover accommodation and meals. These are just a handful of things to evaluate besides the bare essentials. In our complete guide, we will give you the breakdown of everything you need to consider when choosing a boarding school in the UK.

2023 UK Boarding School Guide
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Table of Contents

What Is A Boarding School?

A boarding school provides education for pupils who live on-premises, as opposed to day-school. Houses in which the pupils live have senior teaching staff appointed as housemaster or housemistress, taking parental responsibility. Therefore, students are well taken care of. There are many different types of boarding schools. Some are co-ed, all-boy or all-girl.

Why Choose A Boarding School?

There are many advantages of studying at a boarding school.

Students mature quicker

Since pupils live away from home for a long duration of time, pupils have to be more responsible in their daily lives. Of course, there are teachers and guardians present to ensure the students are well taken care of but pupils also have to learn to be independent, being able to plan and know their schedules, manage their time and increase their social skills.

Learn new cultures and languages 

Pupils are in an environment where they mix with students from all around the world. Therefore, students are able to learn from each other about their respective cultures and may even consider pursuing studies there! Opportunities may even be opened to students and they can learn the basics of other languages which can be very helpful in the near future.

Academic Experience

Boarding schools are known for their prestigious academics and skilled learning. Boarding schools offer a wide range of subjects including maths, sciences, history, geography, drama, IT, literature and foreign languages. All of these qualifications are highly regarded by universities and employers in the UK and around the world.

Students are provided with passionate and hardworking teachers who only want students to excel and move on to the best universities. Teachers live on campus and are available for extra help after the school day ends. Weekend study sessions are the norm. Class sizes are also small for pupils to receive maximum attention and help.


Boarding schools provide top-class facilities and an array of the extra curriculum with the best coaches! Boarding schools encourage students’ to take up new hobbies and learn new skills, ensuring them to enjoy their time and have the best school experience. When students are living a happy life, they are motivated to do their best.

Co-ed Vs Single-gender Boarding School - Which To Pick?

Gender types may play an important role when it comes to choosing the right boarding school. There are 2 types: Co-ed or single-gender.

Single-gender schools claim that students learn better as they teach students the best way that suits them, that certain teaching methods are more effective for them.

However, co-ed schools believe both genders should learn to work well together since the nature of universities and companies require both girls and boys to converse and succeed together. Studies have shown that the absence of the other gender may improve outcomes such as girls are more comfortable putting their hands up in science lessons; ditto boys in English lessons.

The choice of subjects has shown to differ between school types such as more girls choosing science and maths-heavy subjects at an all-girls’ schools compared with mixed schools whereas boys at single-sex schools spend more time on extra-curricular interest – music and drama.

When it comes to boarding schools, all have separate boys’ and girls’ boarding houses, meaning lessons are co-ed, but domestic life is single-sex. If both co-ed and single-gender schools have the same academic statistics, how should you choose? Parents should always ask children which they prefer and which they would flourish in.

University Pathways And Partnerships

The UK boarding school system is split into three levels:

Primary Education

For children aged 4 or 5 to 11 or 14. May be referred to as the primary school, infant school, junior school, pre-preparatory school or preparatory school.

Secondary Education

For pupils aged 11 or 13 to 16. May be referred to as the secondary school, high school or senior school.

Pupils study for their GCSE exams in the last two years of secondary school (age 14 to 16). Alternatives include Standard grades and Intermediates in Scotland or the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme.

Sixth Form

For students aged 16 to 18. The two years are often called Lower Sixth and Upper Sixth. At sixth form level, most pupils take A-levels. Alternative qualifications include Standard Grades and Highers in Scotland or the International Baccalaureate.

Application Deadline

For most schools, applications for boarding places should be submitted to the College before the September prior to the start of the academic year the student wishes to enter. For example, applications for entry in either September 2025 or January 2025 should be submitted before September 2024.

School Ranking

A school’s ranking is an important factor when choosing a place to study. Past student results often say a lot about the quality of education and learning environment a school provides.

Here are the top 5 schools based on A-level results 2023:

Pupils at these schools/colleges have obtained outstanding results. Boarding schools are known for their academic excellence, with the help of skilled teachers and the hard work of the students. Weekend study sessions are the norm and teachers live on campus, offering help whenever needed.

This provides a huge advantage as students can constantly ask for guidance and it will be given to them.

To see the UK School A-Level Results for 2023, click the link below: 



Fees are different for every school. However, the average boarding fees per term for pupils at senior boarding schools is £9,895.

Preparatory boarding school fees are usually lower, at an average of £7,287 per term.

Entry Requirements

Entry requirements vary from school to school. Students will need to undergo entrance exams and interviews. For the exams, The standard exam entrance points for most academically selective boarding independent schools are 4+, 7+, 8+, 11+, 13+ and 16+. 

How To Prepare

Students are advised to have some coaching or individual preparation unless children are sitting exams from well-established feeder schools which provides all the information needed for the exam.

Year 10-11 (GCSEs)

Entry at Year 9 depends on the reports given from the current school. Students have GCSE choices for a two-year programme running throughout Years 10-11.

Years 12-13 (Sixth form)

Entry at 16+ depends on the results achieved from their GCSEs. Normally, students need to achieve either five or six GCSEs at grade C or above. Certain schools set their own tests in the subjects the applicant wishes to study in the sixth form and hold interviews with them either during autumn or spring term before the year of entry.

For Overseas applicants, if it is not possible to be in the UK at the normal time of an exam, pupils may either be examined during a visit to the school or is sent papers to an approved examination centre in the pupil’s country. These entrance exams can be taken in some British Council offices and overseas schools that satisfy the criteria for administering and supervising external examinations.


As with any investment, it is best to scout for reviews of specific schools before committing as your UK education journey is a once in a lifetime experience. You can check out some of our UK school reviews or get a free consultation with us at our office in Kuala Lumpur.


Pupils at a boarding school live with other pupils in a boarding house – there may be several boarding houses in each school. Girls and boys stay in separate accommodations. 

There will also be at least one house parent who lives on the premises who is there to look after students and care for their needs. Young boarders will probably share a bedroom or dormitory with other children whereas older boarders usually have their own private bedroom or share a room with just one other pupil. 

Boarders might also have their own bathroom or washing facilities. Most boarding houses have comfortable communal areas where pupils can relax, socialise and watch television with fellow pupils.

Student Services And Pastoral Care

Ensuring students’ mental health is at its best is one of the significant areas of UK boarding schools. There is a house system in most, if not all UK boarding schools where every pupil is given a house which consists of other students.

This provides pupils with a home away from home, building friendships with those away from home as well. Students do assignments, sports, and eat with each other.

UK boarding schools believe this gives a family to them where pupils can talk to each other and grow together in not only academic-wise but mentally and emotionally. Most houses have a headmistress or headmaster, some even have peer-mentoring where students are trained to help mentor their friends and be there for them.

Besides the house system, schools have counsellors and teachers who will listen and give the best advice to pupils. Students may be given mentors where they build a close relationship with and can share daily problems with. Mentors are assigned to students for all their time at the school, forming a strong relationship and trust.

Extracurricular Activities

Extracurricular Activities are a major part of UK boarding schools. There is an array of activities for pupils to pick from such as sports and arts! 

UK boarding schools want all students to be involved in their extra curriculum, to try out new things and learn new skills which may develop into strong career options or new hobbies. 

Alongside premium facilities at UK boarding schools are the skilled and experienced coaches who guide pupils and help them excel in the sport/art activity they love, bringing out the best in them.

Many UK boarding schools organise stage drama and dance productions, and often there are several each year, bringing students to work together which takes teamwork and boosts confidence. 

If being on stage isn’t really your child’s forte, they can volunteer for backstage which is an important factor of the productions such as lighting and sound.

Besides that, students can engage in community service, including charity fundraising, working with the disabled and animal welfare. Schools will often have links with many local organisations. This helps students to develop compassion and love to those who need it most.

We hope you enjoyed this guide! Do share it with your friends and family!

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2 thoughts on “The Complete 2024 Guide To UK Boarding Schools”

  1. Theophilos Doumit

    I’m a Greek Lebanese 14 year old boy and I’m searching to join either a public school or a public boarding school located in england!
    Please if you can help me?!

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