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Boarding school

Best questions to ask on school visits and tours

7 replies

stickystick · 07/05/2023 01:39

Thought it might be helpful to start a thread to help those grappling with boarding school open days, by posting the questions you have found MOST effective in terms of unlocking useful information from staff panels and pupil tour guides…

here are a few of my favourites…

  1. can you give me an example
    of differences between the way housemasters run their houses here?

  2. if you couldn’t be in your house, which house would you choose? (to pupils)

  3. what would you change about the school?

  4. what do you think the school
    should do more of/less of?

  5. what opportunities are there for children to be taught new sports/skills as beginners?

  6. how academic is this school? (ask a housemaster this question out of earshot of the head)
OP posts:

PerSeer · 07/05/2023 07:34

Main strength of the school? Main weakness?
Compulsory sports/hours? Compulsory chapel/timeslots?
Dining arrangements (in-house is better for community and hygiene)

The question about “change” is excellent, the one about academics is moot as they can usually be distilled from league tables for most.


doglover90 · 07/05/2023 10:56

How many children go home on Saturday?


stickystick · 07/05/2023 11:47

@PerSeer not all schools participate in league tables… But really that question is trying to get at the difference between what the Head pitches the school as (ie what s/he wishes the school to be) and what the reality actually is. Housemasters tend to be much more realistic.

OP posts:

leftandaright · 07/05/2023 19:41

For boarding, ask pupils , out of earshot of any staff, if you can go home at weekends that aren’t formal exeats. If there is any suggestion of yes then you can pretty much chalk the school up as weekly boarding with just the overseas pupils and any friendless ones living in far flung uk corners staying at school. Schools calling themselves full boarding schools are often just smoke and mirrors - they are not. Obviously this only applies to parent seeking a true full boarding school.
along the same lines, ask pupils how. Many in the year and house are uk based and how many overseas. A lot of schools lie about how many overseas they have in the school. Again this applies more to full boarding schools. The next question is good to ask only if there are similar schools nearby. Ask pupils why they chose this school over school X. See if they come up with a positive reason to choose school Y or say a negative reason for not choosing school X.
mask to be touted by pupils who share similar interest to your dc’s interests so you can quiz what involvement your ex can have when it comes to their chosen hobby/hobbies. No pony being toured by a music scholar if your child is tone deaf and lives for hockey …..


illiterato · 08/05/2023 18:56

How many teams do you typically field for matches? - important for smaller schools in particular if your child is a B/C team legend.

If a child plays a sport not offered at school but offered locally, will the school support the logistics of that (the enthusiasm for this has varied a lot so worth asking if relevant for your child).

For co-ed schools with boarders and day, check the gender balance for each- some "50-50"schools are actually quite imbalanced when you separate day and boarding, depending on alternative day/single sex boarding provision.

If there are Flexi boarders, do they have separate dorms or are in with the full boarders?

I have some sympathy for schools answering the overseas students because how to define? And also it's not really what the parents are asking.


TeenDivided · 08/05/2023 19:00

Who could you talk to if you were lonely / unhappy / bullied
How do you get to see a doctor if you need one
What type of pupil doesn't thrive here


FriendlyLaundryMonster · 14/05/2023 14:53

I’d make sure you meet matrons as well as houseparents; they have a great influence on the feel of the house.

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