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The Boarding School Option: Sending Your Children Abroad

The Boarding School Option: Sending Your Children Abroad

For many parents living and working as expatriates overseas, sending their child to boarding school is a consideration. Certainly living in remote or under-developed areas, boarding back in their home country is the only option.

So why is boarding school education becoming increasingly popular in a country like the UAE, where international schools are in abundance? And how do parents make the decision to send their children to another country for the remainder of their academic lives?

WSA speaks to an expert and a parent of a boarder…

The Boarding School Agent:
Samantha Plumbridge, Middle East Representative & Marketing Manager for Sue Anderson Education, offers free, impartial advice and guidance on UK Boarding Schools. She says, “Continuity and stability are the main reasons UAE based expatriate families choose to send their children to boarding schools.

“If the family are often moving and relocating, particularly in the GCSE and A-Level years, this can be seen as the only option as well as being the ideal stepping stone to university. Children who require more support for Special Educational Needs, that isn’t readily available in the UAE, may be better off in a boarding school that can better cater to these requirements.

Anderson consultants start by talking to the family to find out about the individual child and the needs of the family (academic ability, strengths, interests etc). The company says it has visited over 350 UK boarding schools and is able to recommend schools for a family’s consideration, and help them every step of the way until they have chosen the best school for their child(ren).

“Although we only deal with boarding schools in the UK, we work with clients from all over the Gulf region and have had enquiries from nationalities such as American and Canadian expats who want to consider the UK for schooling as it is a lot closer to the region.”

Boarding school places tend to be available from Year 7, but most children from the UAE board from Year 9 (age 13/14) or for sixth form.


The cost of boarding school in the UK averages at around £25,000 per year which includes full board, tuition, food, laundry.”

The parent:
A UAE based mum with an eleven year old daughter tells WSA why she made the decision to send her daughter to be educated in the UK. “My husband’s job takes us all over the world and my daughter had attended four schools in four countries during her primary school years. This kind of movement is just not sustainable in the long term so when it came to move her to secondary school we agreed that boarding school in the UK would be the best option to give her more stability, the opportunity to thrive academically and socially, as well as grow and develop her independence.

When looking for a school we knew we wanted full boarding, not weekly boarding, so that she didn’t find herself on her own at the weekend when everyone else went home. We researched exam results, available activities, reputation, proximity to family, and transport arrangements to and from the airport. We finally chose the school that stood out for us in terms of academic excellence as well as its wide variety of activities provided.

I personally would not have sent my daughter to boarding school any younger than eleven. In a girls school there is a big intake in Year 7 so lots of girls are new together, whereas intakes decrease as they get older so it’s possibly harder to make friends.”

Ten questions to ask a boarding school (when you’re making your decision!)
1. When am I able to speak to my child? Are there structured call times?
2. What assistance/induction/orientation is there for new students?
3. Will there be a regular two-way communication between parents and teachers?
4. What security is there at school?
5. What medical facilities are there?
6. How many weekend boarders are at the school? What weekend activities are there?
7. What after-class activities are there? What do students do after the end of the school day?
8. What are the discipline procedures?
9. Is there an adult that my child can talk to if they are having any issues/problems?
10. Is the food nice!?

Further reading: www.andersoneducation.co.uk


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