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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)???

CarpeVinum Sun 01-Sep-13 10:09:07

Would they pay for something like this...

There is also a primary aged one, Brightschool, but spelled differently, I'll see if I can find a link.

That way you get a British ed, have them at home with you and have continuity despite moves. But you do have to put your back into slotting them into real world social opportunities cos school doesn't provide it on a plate. And depending on time zones the school day can be at odd hours.

Might not suit or appeal, but if niether of the brick options appeal it's possibly a potential compromise.

CarpeVinum Sun 01-Sep-13 10:09:18

Bowlersarm Sun 01-Sep-13 10:13:32

Is there no compromise?

I.e. could they be schooled locally, then go abroad to school at 13 which would be a far easier an age to deal with it.

RustyBear Sun 01-Sep-13 10:16:55

My BIL was a diplomat (now retired) so he and my sister had a similar choice and they decided to put both my nephews in boarding school rather than have to keep moving them. DH and I used to pick them up and put them on the plane for holidays, and we sometimes had them for half term when their parents were far away.

My sister preferred the stability of boarding school to frequent moves and was very glad both boys were safely in England during Suharto's fall in Indonesia in 1998, when they had a tank in the front garden, barbed wire all around the boundary and their house full of refugees - some of them with horrifying stories to tell. I don't know what part of the world you are likely to be in, but its potential stability might be part of the equation.

Both boys are close to their parents, though I don't think they illustrate one way or another the effects of boarding school on a child's independence - one is the most independent person I've ever met, the other the complete opposite.

They both went to Windlesham House School - quite a long time ago, as they are 31 and 28 now, but I have seen the school warmly recommended on here recently.

Kenlee Sun 01-Sep-13 10:22:30

I opted for boarding school in the UK for some very obvious reasons.

1) She will have a continuity in her education and friendship circles.

2) Her accent will remain British and not an amalgamation of different accents

3) The most important is that she will get a fantastic oppurtunity to be herself and to be what she wants to be.

Others may complain and groan at the decsion but as we are not in the country. I think what others think is rather arbitrary.

Lampshadeofdoom Sun 01-Sep-13 10:29:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mirry2 Sun 01-Sep-13 10:39:47

I would send them to boarding school at 11. This is what happened to me. Constant moving school wasn't a problem for me up to that age and I think that's why I've always been able to adapt easily to change and have always been able to socialise and fit. My education suffered but I soon caught up at boarding school, which I loved.

CarpeVinum Sun 01-Sep-13 10:44:29

Found it !

That's the primary age one.

Have no idea what it's like, I've never used it. But like Interhigh it is based on live lessons not independant distance learning.

PeriPathetic Sun 01-Sep-13 10:59:58

If you know you will be overseas for the duration of their education you could look at schools teaching the International Baccalaureate system. This ensures that whenever the kids change schools they won't end up repeating subjects.

That's the idea of it anyway. IME it doesn't quite work like that, but it's better than moving from curriculum to curriculum.

Some kids do really well when changing schools a lot, others don't. It's very hard to know how it will all turn out too.

We've gone the boarding route as it was better for our child.

ChimneyDeep Sun 01-Sep-13 11:04:22

I was going to say boarding school before I read they were only 9. If you can wait for secondary age and you think your children would suit the school you've chosen, then boarding could be a great move offering real stability and a good standard of education. Friends I know who move about, albeit with much younger children, have found standards at different schools/in different systems vary wildly, and the social side is extra complicated in international schools by the whole school population being so transient, it wouldn't be just your dc moving about.

BettyBotter Sun 01-Sep-13 11:09:19

Having boarded myself I'd say definitely international school until starting GCSEs (14). Then board them if you have no alternative.

Don't miss your 9 year old's childhood. sad

summermakesmesneeze Sun 01-Sep-13 11:12:40

As I child I attended several schools due to my parents moving about, and I can honestly say it wasn't a problem for me until I started secondary school. We moved halfway through my first year and I was GUTTED to be leaving my friends and some great teachers. I never settled into my next (and final) school. I think it's such a big change going into secondary and friendships are so important at that stage.
If it was me I would find a boarding school that fits all my criteria for when my kids got to that age.

Elibean Sun 01-Sep-13 11:15:47

I have a dear friend whose parents moved every 2-3 years (her father worked for Shell). She was definitely affected by the loss of friends over and over again, and has grieved that as an adult.

That said, if her family had acknowledged and honoured the losses, and helped her keep in touch with friends, it would have made a huge difference (she says). They coped with guilt by brushing losses under the carpet and 'moving on', which wasn't helpful at all.

She then went to boarding school for Secondary, which was a good experience, for her (but then, her family were stressful to be with so a good escape!).

So I would say, International Schools for primary - when kids need their parents/family more than their friends. And then the choice of boarding for secondary, when education and friendships start to assume a lot more importance.

But it's a hard call, and not black and white, and depends on the child too....what does your child say about it, OP?

NoComet Sun 01-Sep-13 11:35:58

9-11 y DCs are, perhaps the most fun they will ever be.

I totally agree boarding school at 11 or 13 (DDs friends scho has a lot of local day children from local state schools and it's main intake is 11, others schools tend to pupils from prep schools and seniors start at 13) if that's what they want.

9 is too young for them to decide, they'll either knee jerk say they'll miss you or knee jerk say they want to make permanent friends.

Truth is 9-11 friendships are pretty unstable, DD1 went to senior school with her friends, but she isn't in lessons with them because they are in different groups and sets.

Yes a boarding school might organise thinks to keep long young boarders with their junior friends, but as I say our local schools senior depts. are way larger than the junior schools. There is a large influx of state school DC, overseas DCs and pupils from little private schools. Peer groups will change.

gininteacupsandleavesonthelawn Sun 01-Sep-13 11:42:11

Given that you've said neither is Highly paid etc I'd find new jobs meaning we could stay in one country for at least the bulk of their education. At a push I'd say internationals schools, I wouldn't even entertain the uk boarding school idea.

Labro Sun 01-Sep-13 11:48:22

How old are your children now? Moving every 2-3 yrs depending on ages can fit into the 'normal' moves quite nicely (infant, junior, secondary) my brother is a vicar and has moved around on a similar time scale, the need to 'stay put' educationally only really became necessary when his dd became secondary age. If possible, most friends I know do international school for primary years and then boarding from 11 onwards but that does depend on which country you are likely to be in and its stability. Another friend has moved from Australia - England - Canada - Malaysia and then back to Aus all in the space of her sons 9 yrs spending on average 2 yrs in each place, and has found the best way of doing it is to have dc in either the independent school or international school system in each country, as they then don't end up in different year groups each time. If looking at boarding, check the actual numbers of full boarders, the number of international boarders, what happens at weekends (you don't want a school that empties out on Saturday until Monday morning) and whether there is facility to flexi board when and if you need it as some don't offer that option.

alisita85 Sun 01-Sep-13 13:36:54

Thanks for all the advice. I'm amazed by Interhigh - looks incredible and although I'm not sure its right for us but its definitely not something I'd rule out either - especially if we decide against boarding and end up somewhere with not so great international schools.
Good tips Elibean on dealing with the loss of friends - even if we go for boarding school, we will still be moving house regularly and that inevitably implies loss (even if just of a favourite bedroom, pet etc) and its a good reminder that its better to deal with this properly that just tough it out!
We haven't spoken to the boys yet about what they want to do - I think we wanted to have some idea ourselves of what our ideal situation is before giving them options we wouldn't be happy with. Our eldest would definitely leap at any chance of independence but our youngest is much quieter personality so don't know how he'd react. Our other concern is that they are utterly inseperable and the youngest would find it v hard to be left behind if his big brother went away to boarding school 2 years before him.

senua Sun 01-Sep-13 16:44:55

I think that continuity of education gets more important as they get older i.e. as they get to public exams.
Before that, their educational level isn't so important. There are pages and pages of Government stuff online so you should be able to spot any glaring omissions in the DCs' education and rectify it yourself (anything up to and including Y8 isn't going to be rocket science!). Can you access BBC bitesize from abroad?

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

Not all boarding schools are private; do you know about State boarding schools?

Talkinpeace Sun 01-Sep-13 18:42:21

Friends are currently in the far east with their kids at the international school and looking at UK boarding from 13 as the relocations continue
At younger ages, they feel that being near parents is more important than continuity.
At the older ages it flips.

NB inseparable at 7 may be very happy to be apart by 13 !!

senua Sun 01-Sep-13 19:30:59

Our other concern is that they are utterly inseparable and the youngest would find it v hard to be left behind if his big brother went away to boarding school 2 years before him.

As TIP says, much can change over the next few years and they may be glad to see the back of each other when the time comes.grin However, if the two years difference also means two academic years then it does seem ideal: you could send them off together - one for Y9 and the other for Y7 - so they could look out for each other at school.

mirry2 Sun 01-Sep-13 19:54:08

I never had a problem with going to boarding school because my parents always talked about it (and in a very positive way) as fact from when I was about 6 years old. I don't remember them ever saying a negative word, and that was also how they dealt with moving schools and countries - as an adventure.
(And I went to a lot of schools - about a dozen in different countries- before I went to boarding school at 11).

Gatita1980 Sun 01-Sep-13 20:22:24

I was at boarding school from 10-18 and loved it, I was at one between 10-13 and then Marlborough College 13-18. I had many friends who were International Students and they were always happy to have the continuity of friends and staff, especially in the exam years.
I now teach and would advocate boarding school if it would provide stability for your children, I see how much moving around disrupts students.
Good luck with your decision.

BlackMogul Sun 01-Sep-13 20:29:47

I would definitely opt for boarding. Moving all the time and leaving friends behind can be traumatic and damaging . There are boarding schools that start at 13 for senior school but have prep school boarding schools attached to them. Or do the international school for the youngest for 2 years then move to the same senior school. Many families do not have children in the same schools at the same time and boarding means lots of new friends for older child and how long will he socialise with his brother anyway? Children do grow up and form different friendship groups.

mercibucket Sun 01-Sep-13 20:41:27

if you will be mixing in internatiinal circles and international schools, most foreign nationals and us service will be using internstional schools and moving every 2 or 3 years. they will know loads of people in lots of countries and will be internationalist rather than uk in outlook. i know loads of people who grew up like this. they tend to go on to work abroad and like travelling, but so did their parents!

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