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Boarding School or constant moves between International Schools?

(55 Posts)
alisita85 Sun 01-Sep-13 09:56:41

My husband and I are battling with the decision of what to do for our two sons education. Stick with me as its a bit complicated...

Both of our jobs take us to live overseas, but neither job is well paid - one as a government employee and one with a Church job. However both jobs provide a choice for our children to either be educated at an international school where we live or go to the UK for boarding school.

Our decision would be fairly straight forward and we wouldn't think twice about international school if we were going to be in one country for all their education. However we will be reposted to different countries every 2-3 years. I am concerned that moving to a new school, new country, new friends (or lack of), up to 6 times during their school lives will be detrimetal to their education and their ability to form lasting relationships. International schools vary greatly and we couldn't be sure they would have the same educational system (UK, USA, etc) from one year to the next.

Even more difficult will be that on occassion we will spend a couple of years working in the UK, at which point they would switch back from international school system into local state schools - taking whichever places are left as we don't have a UK address and won't be part of any regular intake. If however the boys attend boarding school they wouldn't have this issue as they will be entitled to continue in their boarding schools even whilst we are on home postings (potentially during those years as day/weekly boarders).

I've struggled to find any genuine academic studies on the importance of continuity of education, potential effects to relationships as an adult of constant moves as a child, or a balanced assesment of the pros/cons of boarding school (from prep age 9). So any recommedations of studies appreciated.

Also interested in personal experience - neither of us was privately educated so a new world for us!

I know this is a very controversial topic - and some of the old threads on boarding schools are quite offensive, so please keep comments helpful. We don't need you to offer criticism on our job choices and the implications that has and I can assure you we love our boys very much and aren't parents who want to 'ditch' our children at boarding school because we don't want them at home. We would find putting them in boarding school a very hard thing to do but would be prepared to if it is the best in the long run. Hence why we are asking advice on what would be the best for them in our unique circumstance.

So, any thoughts on which is best - boarding school from 9 years (v young to live away but with long holidays at home, supportive family living close by and stability) or regular moves to new schools (with no continuity of education or friends but the opportunity to live at home year round)???

MrsSchadenfreude Fri 06-Sep-13 14:46:31

Alisita, we asked our two what they wanted or didn't want from a school. This helped narrow our focus hugely, and made them feel as if they had some say in where they were going. DD2 wanted no school uniform, not religious, not single sex, and strong at art, where she could continue her French and learn Japanese as well, and where she could have her own bedroom. A tough ask, but we found what we think is the perfect school for her!

oscarwilde Fri 06-Sep-13 17:10:14

I would also think that boarding for second level would work best for your sons preferably at 11 & 13 when they can go together. 9 & 11 seems v young especially since your DS2 is the less gregarious of the two.
Lots of schools offer trial weekends so perhaps it is worth looking into whether they could attend for a week or two as a boarder if you are home during the 9-13 years as a taster.

The only caveat to all of that is your incomes and I would choose schools very carefully on that basis.
How isolated will they be at boarding school especially if your income doesn't run to ski trips etc in half term (too short to come to you)
Proximity to any family for visits
How often can you budget to come and see them, or meet them half way.

Mrs S - it sounds like a fab school. Is it in the UK?

mirry2 Fri 06-Sep-13 20:17:57

The only caveate I would add to my previous positive posts about boarding school is about age. Most of the children at my school started at 11 but I do remember one ltttle girl of none who was very unhappy. she missed her parents who lived in Africa and used to wet the bed. We were all very supportive of her (no bullying in my school - really). My brother went at 10 and I do remember the night before he went, that he was crying at night because he'd read a Billy Bunter story which i think was about bullying at boarding school My dm came in to comfort him, saying they were very old stories, written long ago when times were different etc and he was fine after that. So you need to make sure your dc are emotionally ready.
The other thing was that we went to a co-ed school, supposedly to keep each other company and I remember my df laughing when we said we didn't speak to each other all term as we were too busy doing our own things and making friends.

I really did love my school and I am still in contact with school friends scattered all over the world. We all loved each other like siblings - sorry to be soppy about it.

duckylou Thu 19-Sep-13 00:50:51

Your OP isa but vague on dates. It sounds like you're I would wait to see if your postings really do change so rapidly and keep the family together in the meanwhile at international schools. For all the anecdotes about screwed up expat children, i know of screwed up boarding school individuals who have all the symptoms of being institutionalised during their teens. In most cultures the only children sent 'away' to school are difficult ones or those below average in their studies. Its very British idea to think that staying at school is better than coming home at the end of your school day.

duckylou Thu 19-Sep-13 00:51:59

Sorry for my typos!

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