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Boarding schools for children under 11 is just wrong

(552 Posts)
babybarrister Thu 21-Mar-13 22:13:49

If I were PM for the day this would be on my to do list.
Children under 11 are too young and if their parents cannot look after them it should be raising serious alarm bells not generating slaps on the back for complying with an outdated tradition.

babybarrister Sat 23-Mar-13 18:17:36

I mean I know lots of kids currently boarding

fishybits Sat 23-Mar-13 18:32:40

If abroad the MOD provides a school. It's not always a good one, the fact you are changing schools every 18 months to 2 years doesn't change, the fact 1 parent may be in a war zone or away for the best part of a year doesn't change. CEA provides stability and unless you have experienced life in a Forces family you cannot hope to understand the benefits a boarding school provides to service children.

How many children under the age of 11 do you actually know well enough to be able to say with complete confidence that they are being damaged by being at boarding school OP?

countrykitten Sat 23-Mar-13 18:39:12

I would have loved to board as a child but was not allowed to. I KNOW I would have been much happier. So CelticPixie please do not presume to know what it best for all children because you don't.

countrykitten Sat 23-Mar-13 18:39:56

is best rather - and the same applies to the OP.

looseleaf Sat 23-Mar-13 18:46:19

I haven't read the whole thread but boarded at 8 (with a year living at a relative's before that).
I can understand why the op raises the question but it's very wrong to judge others IMO. And surely some children would be happier than in an unstable home? (In my case I do really feel hurt and wish I'd been wanted at home with my lovely parents. But try not to dwell on it as even though I don't believe in boarding young everyone just does what they can or feel best and i think to raise the issue now would be pointless and damaging. at least I can bring our children up differently and I tell them constantly how loved they are as was never told once as a child even though I was.

grovel Sat 23-Mar-13 18:46:54

The OP has caught judge-itis rather early in her career.

girlwiththedragon Sat 23-Mar-13 18:50:46

OP out of interest - the kids you know who are boarding - are their parents friends of yours? Are they incapable of caring for their children and do you express your opinions to them? Why were you 'visiting various prep boarding schools' if you are of the opinion that they are such terrible places?

goingupinfumes Sat 23-Mar-13 19:26:23

Mt DH borded from 11 because he asked too!! he saw he was missing out on the fun.. he loved it.

OwnedByACockerSpaniel Sat 23-Mar-13 19:37:08

Fishybits Being a forces wife boarding school is something I have really given thought to. I don't think I would have the heart to uproot them everytime a new posting came about and should I have children I thought perhaps boarding them would be a good option, atleast they would have a stable friendship base and schooling.

However I don't think I would board them till 11+ when serious examinations begin so I can half see the OP's point but we know of many familes who boarded under 11 and their children love it, they dont have to follow mum/dad about and get to live with friends. It does not mean they love their children any less.

But I don't want people to think I can't look after them so have sent them away sad

jcscot Sat 23-Mar-13 19:44:21

Owned, I'm in the same position as you. My children are aged 6 and under and too young to board but it's almost certain they will board at senior school. Stability for education means boarding school or commuting for the serving partner. We're currently doing the latter but it's not sustainable for the long term although we're making it work for now.

countrykitten Sat 23-Mar-13 19:46:51

Cocker who cares what stupid people think- do what you want to do.

OwnedByACockerSpaniel Sat 23-Mar-13 19:47:04

We did commuting for about 6months and that was just between husband nd wife, we found it hard in all honesty. I can't imagine what it would be like for a family, it definatley is not sustainable for a long period of time like you say. I am sure you will figure it out smile

jcscot Sat 23-Mar-13 19:57:50

We've been doing it for six years - initially weekly as the posting was relatively near, then fortnightly when my husband was posted. He's also served two op tours in that period. I'm near my family, which helps a great deal but it isn't ideal. I feel isolated from patch life and we're out on a limb when it comes to accessing welfare etc. My husband's next posting will not be conducive to commuting and we're considering a move back to quarters. However, once we start that cycle, boarding will be inevitable.

I wouldn't be keen on boarding for prep unless necessary but age 11 is a different proposition. There are some schools which offer excellent pastoral care and take a lot of Forces children.

fishybits Sat 23-Mar-13 19:59:58

Cocker, you must do what is best for your children and your family. It really doesn't matter what anyone else thinks.

My brother and I went at 7 and loved it. My sister went at 11 and hated it so my DF left the Army to provide her with the type of stability she required. The local service school was not up to the job so really he had no option but to leave or to live apart from his family separated by 1000s of miles.

DH is in till he's 55 or until the job isn't fun anymore so DD is likely to go to boarding school but we'll see nearer the time what is best for her.

ihategeorgeosborne Sat 23-Mar-13 20:10:22

My dh went to boarding when under 11. He said he hated it. He was bullied and terribly home sick apparently. It has affected him as an adult too. He says he's never really felt like he knows his parents, and when he talks to them, conversations, seem stilted and not what I would describe as loving. He felt bad for years and had counselling and all this came out. I wouldn't send our dc to boarding school in a million years. I want to watch them grow up myself and know them and understand them.

countrykitten Sun 24-Mar-13 10:42:30

But what was wrong for your dh is right for many children - it's your choice not to send your dcs to board and it is just as valid a choice for other families to send their dcs to board. I would have loved it and one of our older dcs has asked to board next year and we are more than happy to let him.

Not all boarders are screwed up wrecks by their experiences and I do get annoyed with people who continually imply this - it suits some personalities and not others. Just like a lot of things in life....

NeverKnowinglyUnderstood Sun 24-Mar-13 14:57:29

One of the things that I am very aware of.. although I am VERY anti boarding... is that boarding is different to how it was when I went.

We had a letter a week from parents (if they had remembered to write) and a supervised letter each week that we could send. there was no phone contact at all. So from the age of 7 I was dropped of in a cold building (no central heating in those days) and picked up at the end of term 10-12 weeks later.
There were kind teachers and not so kind teachers and I would be misrepresenting it to say I was constantly miserable. However, it was not a normal, healthy upbringing.

I know that most boarders now have mobiles, skype and email to contact their parents, and the possibility of being able to chat to your parents whenever you need to is going to provide a much healthier relationship with parents than in the olden days. Also it was totally exceptional for someone to leave our school at any time other than exeat's half terms or main holidays. These days flexible boarding is much more common, once again, providing a healthier relationship with family.

The passionate feelings for me come from clear ingrained feelings of being stuck away from everyone and everyhting I loved. So even though I understand things have changed I personally can't get over the experiences i have had to make that choice for my children.

Sadly I feel that in order for people to make positive comments about modern boarding it feels like there is a "get over it - it wasn't that bad" undercurrent about peoples negative experiences.

A tough subject to be impartial about

teatrolley Sun 24-Mar-13 15:11:35

I wouldn't board full stop. I like seeing them everyday.

TheOrchardKeeper Sun 24-Mar-13 15:20:14

I'm not sure it's a one size fits all argument BUT

it royally fucked my gran up. She went from the age of 10 til she left school & despite meaning well & caring about us as a family she can be incredibly cold and even says herself that it stunted her emotionally, as she felt abandoned & just had to get on with it.

She basically has an extreme case of 'stiff upper lip'.

But some people are fine. Wouldn't do it myself though!!!

difficultpickle Sun 24-Mar-13 15:29:37

Sorry OP I must have completely misunderstood your posts. I guess you didn't mean this FWIW I have never met anyone who boarded under 11 who has a good word to say about it- they felt that their parents were abandoning them. An ex boyfriend who was sent at 7 never forgave his parents for sending his brother at 11. I read this as meaning you had friends who had boarded under 11 who were now adults.

I thought you were saying that you thought boarding under 11 was wrong because your friends had boarded at under 11 and were screwed up as a result. I didn't realise you had friends with dcs under 11 who boarded. If those dcs have confided in you that they are unhappy then surely you would say something to your friends, those dcs parents? I would be horrified if ds was secretly confiding in one of my friends about how unhappy he was boarding when he was saying to my face how much he loved it. I would hope that my friends would tell me.

wannaBe Sun 24-Mar-13 16:29:51

The problem is that by the time the damage has been done it's too late. And it's possible to love an experience while at the same time still being damaged by it.

I went to boarding school from the age of five. I am one of the "acceptable" hmm cases because I am visually impaired and therefore had to go to a specialist school. I weekly boarded here in the UK. We had midnight feasts, were told stories, in general there were staff we loved and we all became good friends - probably better than friends who only see each other in the playground. When I was nine we moved abroad and I was sent to the only school of its kind in the country, except this time I didn't speak the language. So I was dropped off at school and had to spend a week at a time in an environment where people wouldn't talk to me at first because I didn't speak their language and they didn't speak mine. There you had two choices - you learned the language or you didn't make friends. I was fluent within six months.

When I was eleven my dad was offered another job and my parents moved 500 miles away meaning that I then had to term board. I did so happily, by this time I had essentially become a part of a whole different culture, english was no longer my first language and we spent every weekend doing interesting things, music, mountain climbing, various other activities...

But it was no substitute for the fact that I never knew what it was like to goo home after school and tell my family about my day (my sister did). I never got to spend a birthday at home from the age of five or have a party. While our school was different to some that are mentioned on here in that we could talk to family whenever we wanted, and did, the reality is that when your family are 500 miles away (and have chosen to be) they can't be there for you when you need them. My parents didn't really know any of my friends, yes occasionally they came down and if I went with them for a weekend then I brought a friend, but they didn't really know any of my friends. They didn't know who my boyfriends were or get to meet them, it wasn't my parents I went too when I was upset but friends, or mostly I just dealt with it myself.

And now that I'm an adult my family wonder why it is I don't go to them, it's simple really, they couldn't be there when I was a child, so why would I choose for them to be now that I'm an adult?

And yes, I understand the thinking behind the fact that I had to go to a more specialist school. But no, I don't understand the thinking behind moving to a foreign country and then choosing to move 500 miles away from a child you already only see every weekend.

but in truth I didn't realise a lot of this stuff until I had my own child and suddenly realised all the things I never experienced when I myself was a child.

I can't say that I hated the boarding experience - I didn't. But I can say with certainty that boarding has a profound effect on people that we often can't see at the time. And I don't know a single other person who boarded (and I do know hundreds) who doesn't feel that way as an adult, even though the experience as a child wasn't necessarily a negative one iyswim.

difficultpickle Sun 24-Mar-13 16:42:52

wannaBe that sounds horrible. I'm lucky that ds boards because he wants to (he will soon have to but it is a seemless transition). We are near to the school so can see him during the week. He is allowed to phone home every day and has his own phone. He has plenty of local friends he sees at weekends. He is usually at school for his birthday but that doesn't stop him having a party at a weekend to celebrate. He works hard but gets to have fun too.

He was offered two places and we chose the one that was nearest to ensure that we play an active part in his school life, which would have been harder if he was further away. I can imagine it is a lot harder if you feel that neither you nor your child really has a choice about boarding.

becky2209 Tue 04-Jun-13 16:54:24

Reading some of these comments (not all) has really upset me in a way.

Reason being

I am now 22 years old and for the final 7 years of my education I attended two boarding schools the first of which was a specialist school for children with dyslexia (thats me). For my mother it was one of those situations where she felt she was doing it for my own good and not because she wanted to send me away or any of the awful things being mentioned above! I was 11 when I first started, it took me about a term to settle in during which term I admit I found it very hard but I was lucky enough to be able to go home every friday and come back every monday morning. However after the first term I really settled in and began to absolutely love boarding school life and I was actually very sad to leave at the end of my two years there. By the end of those two years my mother and father had then found me another senior boarding school to go to (per my request) I then spent from the age of 14 to 18 absolutely loving being at boarding school. Boarding school has formed the independent, strong minded, happy and energetic girl that I am today! I am currently on my gap year and am leaving to travel around the USA for 3 months in just over a weeks time, something I feel I would not have had the confidence to do without that boarding school experience. I also feel that being at boarding school helps you gain alot of expereriences as a child that you may not get until later on if living at home for use of a silly example, bed sheets, every Saturday morning was sheet change where the matrons would wash our old ones and give us new ones to put onto our beds, where as at home at the age of 12/13 you would go to school and mum would do that for you.

I remember having so much fun at boarding school like my school was set up into different houses, i happened to be a Crossways girl and each house had its own traditions like we were always known for our friendly family like ways and christmas parties along with other things which was amazing to be a part of! I also remember the midnight feasts, the long chats with the lovely matrons if you were really happy, really upset or neither were you could just talk to them about absolutely anything you wanted, i remember having constant girlie movie nights or trying to have roll call in the dark because of the power cuts! I have so many happy memories! People need to stop using boarding school as a threat for "naughty" children (I hate that word) it gives it the bad name that it really doesnt deserve.

Yes I know there are some good boarding schools and some bad ones and if you do choose to send your child to boarding school then that is something you need to be aware of but isn't that the same for day schools as well?

Veryunsure Tue 04-Jun-13 17:07:15

I always wanted to go to boarding school not any boarding school though, Whyteleafe I wanted to be friends with Elizabeth. thanks for that Enid

theodorakisses Tue 04-Jun-13 18:09:02

Agree that it's a troublemaking thread.

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