How do you justify seding your child to boarding school?

(877 Posts)
sunshine75 Tue 05-Aug-14 19:15:12

I've read some pretty horrific things lately about boarding schools and the damage they can cause. See this article from the Guardian.

www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jul/20/damage-boarding-school-sexual-abuse-children

However, I have no personal experience of one and have no close friends who went to one. Therefore, I don't want to be hasty in forming a negative opinion about them.

So, if you chose to send your child to a boarding school then I'm curious as to why you chose to? For example, why did you chose boarding over a really good day school? Is there anyone who chose a boarding school for a much younger child and was this a really hard thing to do?

goinggetstough Tue 05-Aug-14 19:22:21

Just in case you missed all the previous posts on this subject:
www.mumsnet.com/Talk/am_i_being_unreasonable/2015376-If-you-have-a-child-at-boarding-school

babasheep Tue 05-Aug-14 19:24:09

I think people left their dcs in boarding schools because their jobs require them to stay away a lot. Also some parents work hours are very irregular and long, basically use the board schools as childcare. Then they spend quality time with their dcs over weekends and holidays.

sunshine75 Tue 05-Aug-14 19:30:53

Thanks - I haven't been on here for a while. I will check the thread out.

happygardening Tue 05-Aug-14 21:49:05

I'm not sure I have the energy to join this debate (I have tooth ache) so think I'll leave it for a while and just watch what happens.

Lottiedoubtie Tue 05-Aug-14 22:03:33

That article is deeply disturbing. But lets be clear it is about the horrendous tragedy caused by abuse in boarding schools. It is not about boarding schools in general.

Maryz Tue 05-Aug-14 22:05:09

The trouble with these threads is that 50% of the people on them (mostly who know nothing about it) presume it's akin to child abuse.

Boarding school is great for some children. It can enable them to go to a school which suits their interest (sport, music, whatever), it can give them stability (if their parents move around a lot, or have highly-pressurised jobs, or sadly if the have no parents), it allows some children to achieve in a way they couldn't at a local comprehensive, and some of them just enjoy it and are very happy there.

All are good reasons if you can afford (or can get grants or scholarships) to send them.

Obviously for the odd child who is miserable, or the odd school which is dreadful (unusual these days), it's not such a good idea. But that doesn't mean the system is wrong hmm

TeenAndTween Tue 05-Aug-14 22:05:29

off the top of my head.

potential benefits:
- great academics
- good extra curricula activities
- friends always on tap
- good for parents who work long or unpredictable hours
- good stability when parents move around a lot for work (eg services)
- develops independence
- long school holidays
- often single sex, helping to focus on academics
- keeps teens 'on the rails' by not giving them opportunity to 'hang about'
- no arguments at home re schoolwork
- following family tradition

potential downsides
- you have to have trust in the school to keep them safe
- not spending so much time with your child, may impact relationship
- ££££
- if have friendship problems in school, can't get away from them - more important than ever that the school is 'right' for your child
- often single sex so child may have difficulty relating to opposite sex

Many schools now do weekly boarding or have 'day boarders'. Things much more flexible these days than 30 years ago. A lot of experiences of now-parents are way different from those of children today. (Think mobile phones and Skype for keeping in contact for example). Also safeguarding much more strong now.

Lots of children go to boarding school and love it.
Some children go to boarding school and hate it.

It's a judgement call for individual parents in individual circumstances, no black or white right or wrong answer.

Maryz Tue 05-Aug-14 22:07:42

And in relation to the article - there was abuse at loads of schools in the 60s and 70s, and in sports clubs, and in churches and in tv stations.

Abuse isn't reserved for boarding schools, so the article is irrelevant to boarding school today.

Because sometimes the choice isn't between a boarding school and a really good day school. Sometimes the choice is boarding and something shit/not appropriate for the child child.
We're looking at sending our ds1 to a boarding school. We like the school. We don't like the local school. Ds1 wants to go there and at 13 we believe he's perfectly capable of deciding for himself and to discuss it with us.
I doubt our other children will go there but we will look at that on a case by case basis.

elastamum Tue 05-Aug-14 22:16:46

Both my DC are day pupils at a big independent school that is mostly boarding. They do 8am to 9pm. They love it. It is a great school, fantastic sport, art, music and drama and every evening they get their homework done at school and then hang out with their friends. I love having them home each night to chat and catch up, we have a great relationship, and my biggest fear is that they will ask to board at sixth form and I will really miss them. I am a single parent and both me and their dad have full on jobs and travel, so it is a good solution for our family.

If you have no experience of this type of school, you have no idea what it is like

Toapointlordcopper Tue 05-Aug-14 22:22:12

Of the kids at DCs school who are day pupils, appx half are desperate to board instead, and are on waiting lists. For some it really is a Harry potter world of sport and clubs and plotting deeds after lights out with their best mates.

Thirdtimearound Tue 05-Aug-14 22:26:33

Mother of a Son who was at a boarding school and is still there but now as a day boy. I have a very different story to tell. My DS was just 8 when he chose to go to a school to board, there was not a choice really as he wanted to be a chorister and with the long hours and various events it couldn't of worked any other way. My DS was very happy and I watched his academic ability rise two fold. The bullying and general lethargy of his previous schools were all left behind. As an only child he gained brothers all living in the boy chorister boarding house and rarely was there any trouble between the boy strong of 18 under one roof that you may expect.

I was the one who suffered however. Whilst he settled in nicely and got on with his desire, I was the one in tears and missing him til it hurt. I was almost relieved when his voice broke so I could have him home. I would never of removed him for my own personal gain and never would I of shown my misery.
He came home to me a very rounded and very happy boy with a completely different way of thinking (forward thinking)

Know your child before you make such a decision and don't let your fears hold them back. It's a very rare occurance and one thing I was taught in law school was to never believe what you read in the papers as they are hugely magnified and have no filters when it comes to getting readers attention, whether their information is incorrect or not,it's always elaborated beyond ridiculous.

mum9876 Tue 05-Aug-14 22:34:21

My nephew goes to boarding school. It suits him. He likes organised activities. He likes sports. He has no siblings close in age. He likes to be with his mates. He can go home every other weekend. Often he chooses not to. He comes from a family with two professional parents. It can be a bit sporadic in terms of meal times etc. He likes the consistency. My sister would not force him to go there, he has the choice. He chose to go and stay there.

Haffdonga Tue 05-Aug-14 22:50:55

TeenandTween as a boarding school victim myself I can agree with some of your potential benefits but others just don't hold up to scrutiny.

You said: I say :

- great academics but the same academics if you are a day pupil
- good extra curricula activities also all available to day pupils
- friends always on tap likewise the bullies and bitches are always there sharing your bedroom with no respite or escape
- good for parents who work long or unpredictable hours agreed
- good stability when parents move around a lot for work (eg services) agreed
- develops independence definitely. But do you really want your 11 year old so independent that you've never met their friends or know what they get up to?
- long school holidays surely not a reason to choose a school?
- often single sex, helping to focus on academics haha. You really think that's what a bunch of teenage girls focus on if no boys around?
- keeps teens 'on the rails' by not giving them opportunity to 'hang about' there is a lot of 'off the rails' behaviour at BS. It tends to happen when people are unhappy. Lots of drink, drugs and pregnancy at my naice girls' school
- no arguments at home re schoolwork no arguments at home at all, with parents who know literally nothing about their child's daily school life, small successes and worries
- following family tradition Now there's a great reason to choose a school.

So in summary, the only real benefits are to the parents who are released from the responsibility of actually participating in their dc's childhood.

Maryz Tue 05-Aug-14 22:56:27

A lot of that is rubbish, Halfdonga - the academics and activities are only available to children on a day basis if they happen to live near the school - most children at boarding school don't live near enough to go as a day without spending a lot of time travelling.

Children who are happy at school might like to be near their friends - obviously if they are being bullied, that particular school isn't for them, boarding or not.

Most boarding schools these days are weekly, or at most monthly boarding. Parents still have a massive amount of input into their children's lives, they see their friends (stay in each others' houses for weekends, half terms and holidays), keep in touch by skype and text and phonecalls on a daily basis.

It isn't at all like ye olden days where 8 year olds were put on a train in September and picked up on Christmas Eve.

And yes, kids can get into trouble at boarding school. They can also get into trouble at home, or if they live in questionable neighbourhoods, or at a day school.

Your sneery "released from responsibility" statement is grossly unfair and inaccurate in the vast majority of cases.

hidingmystatus Tue 05-Aug-14 23:13:28

Why send my child to boarding school? Because they consistently begged to go from age 7. And they were perfectly suited to that sort of life. And it's a really good school for my child which caters to all their interests and provides a lot of opportunity. Basically, because it is the best option for THEM.

You choose a school that suits your child. If that's a boarding school, fine. If it's not, fine. But criticising others for doing something that suits their child is like criticising them for not marrying someone you'd marry.

Minifingers Tue 05-Aug-14 23:44:25

My parents sent me because their posh friends told them it was ESSENTIAL for stability for my education while my parents were living abroad. Bollocks to that, I wish I'd stayed with my parents.

Adults are heavily invested in believing that boarding school is great. My parents were. We never told them different but my sister and I were emotionally damaged by the experience. It took many years for me to recognise the harm of being separated from my family for so many years when I was young and vulnerable. I wasn't emotionally literate enough to understand or articulate it to myself at the time.

Minifingers Tue 05-Aug-14 23:46:43

I still find it incredible that people think that it's better for a child to spend most of his or her formative years living in an institution instead of in a family.

Thirdtimearound Wed 06-Aug-14 00:09:26

Omg they really are not an institution these days. There is a routine which a lot of kids are not used to but actually prefer it's not confusing for them. I think in the modern world st home is quite a fast moving and erratic place, especially if parents are working, each day isn't always certain. In a boarding school they know exactly what's happening day in day out, it seems to relax them, seem happier.

I can assure you my ONLY Sons boarding made me quite unwell and if showed an iota of unhappiness, he would of been home in a heartbeat.

TheSarcasticFringehead Wed 06-Aug-14 00:30:29

My best friend is boarding school educated. Some of it was great but it didn't make her independent, no way. Althoigh she would walk herself around school and get used to life without parents from a younger age, boarding school life doesn't tend to make you independent imo as it is more regimented and timetabled. If you went home by bus and went out to the shopping centre and cooked food when your mum is late and helped with the DIY and didn't have a lot of extra curricular activities so you could deal with being bored and not having much to do, that would be fostering independence, but not boarding schools imo. It was a sharp leaning curve when she went to university.

TheSarcasticFringehead Wed 06-Aug-14 00:34:28

Illustrated by third - I think in the modern world st home is quite a fast moving and erratic place, especially if parents are working, each day isn't always certain. In a boarding school they know exactly what's happening day in day out, it seems to relax them, seem happier.

It might be relaxing but what will they do when they are the ones deciding and are in that erratic, fast moving life as an adult, without having grown used to it?

Kenlee Wed 06-Aug-14 01:17:09

Actually this is all I can say about boarding. My DD finished her first year last year and absolutely loved it.

Academia is great she says it doesn't seem like she is in school often enough but seems to be able to retain a lotof knowledge somehow.

School bullies no matter where you go there will always be that nasty group. You learn to deal with them by being smarter and just dismissing them. They don't like it but your there for your friends not them.

Absent from home. Yes we do get the weekend obligatory facetime call. Which is always cut short by her wanting to do something with friends. Whatsapp replies are down to yes no answers. Unless money is required or permission is needed for a trip or something else.

When she comes home during Christmas, Easter and Summer break. We talk through dinner and most of the night about her school life and how she enjoys it with her friends. Which although they live in different time zones they manage to whatsapp each other constantly.

Organization skills are up. whereby our itinerary for our Korea trip was arranged by her with help from a Year 9 Korean boarder. She had a friend's family who went to Bangkok and she was refered to as an online guide to help them get around to the beat places..( Hmm we goto BKK a lot).

So I would say boarding if it is right for your child is great. They get to play more and think independently.

We do miss her but to be honest as she says its 6 weeks to half term. Then another 6 weeks to Christmas. haha she has even convinced her Dad to pay for half term airfare back to HK. So she can follow him on his biz trip to Korea....

happygardening Wed 06-Aug-14 08:28:36

Boarding is always controversial on here. My DS2 boarded from 7 years old. Before he and I looked at the school I thought parents who sent children off to boarding school were monsters especially little children. Although the kindest funniest easiest to work with friend/work colleague adored by all went to boarding school from 7 but I still had many of the misconceptions that are detailed by those above.
We looked at boarding through necessity. We knew we wanted DS2 prepared for CE and but there were no prep schools within sensible driving distance (we're rural) so we planned to move house for yr 5 to get him into a day prep (we weren't in a position to move at that time). My DS was at a tiny roses round the door/thatched roof/accessed through an orchard primary school the sort of place many in cities dream their DC's could attend. But for him it was not working he is exceedingly bright but with a particular ability at math (IQ score over 140) basically not only was he better at math than his classmates he was also better at math than all the other pupils and the staff (all four of them), who frequently made errors which he felt duty bound to point out. He was given his own text book to do at home but the staff couldn't tell him if the answers were correct because they couldn't do the questions. After some discussion we were told by the governors that they had neither "the time interest or money" to offer him more support as statistically the chances of another one coming along with his ability in the next 20 years were small. I then approached a marginally larger primary, one of the counties top performing school they also when pushed were going to do little more. My DS was bored stiff, he always had friends or friends with siblings at boarding prep so had none of the misconceptions/prejudices that many have so at 7 years old he off his own back suggested he went to a boarding school.
I'd be the first to admit I went to look at it very reluctantly, to say the least, but what I saw was happy relaxed fresh faced tanned children, who were being allowed to be what they were, children. I won't bore you with the differences in curriculum the extra curricular activities etc because I know some think their primary school offers the same thing, but I genuinely felt that the lessons and math in particular with it's specialised teachers and classrooms, removed from the the restrictions of Sats and the national curriculum would be more challenging and interesting for him. Unable to find this in any day school (state or private) within sensible doable driving we felt we had little choice.
Ten years later we're still full boarding, at various times in his life my DS has been offered viable day/flexi boarding options and still he stays. I'm not going to pretend he's been happy all the time but can any child at any school claim every day has been happy I doubt it.
He's not institutionalised by any stretch of the imagination in fact far from it, he is significantly more independent than friends who don't board and has been effortlessly able to shift for himself from an early age, he's exceedingly adaptable, a common trait amongst boarders, can very quickly read a situation and work out what's expected of him, he's learnt to live, sleep, eat, play and work along side a group of people who are all different from him some who he likes, some who he doesn't, a non team sports player and a natural non team player he's learnt how to work in a team. He lives with the distracting, the irritating, the funny, the serious, the difficult, the untidy, the hard working the lazy and yet manages to cope and adjust effortlessly. A skill which I believe will stand him in good stead when he goes out to work. He may not be able to boil an egg but he has learnt many other practical skills which non boarders don't have.
He also doesn't need his spare time filled with activities in fact he loves to be bored, nor does he need a rigid routine he would tell you the joy of being at home is that you're with your family and the chance to sit and do nothing in an unplanned day.
Boarding is not right for all children or parents but for many for it is a as I so frequently say a positive life enhancing experience.

Minifingers Wed 06-Aug-14 09:30:38

"Omg they really are not an institution these days."

Definition of an institution: "an organization founded for a religious, educational, professional, or social purpose"

A school is an institution. Of course it bloody is. It's not a family is it?

At boarding school you are cared for by paid carers, who may be very nice and kind, but they aren't your parents and they don't love you as a parent would. They may not even like you much or have much interest in you.

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