Choosing and assessing schools


Choosing to board is a personal decision for parents to make with their child and the support and advice of the school. Every school is different and we look at ways to assess the schools available.

  • What About Boarding

    What about boarding schools?

    The Independent Schools Council (ISC) is a membership organisation that brings together seven education associations and works on behalf of more than 1,300 independent schools in the United Kingdom, which educate more than 500,000 children every year. 

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  • Inspections-of-accredited

    Inspections of accredited independent boarding schools

    All English accredited independent boarding schools are inspected on a three-year cycle. The current cycle started in April 2016. If the boarding school is in membership of one of the five independent school associations (GSA, HMC, IAPS, ISA, Society of Heads) and thus accredited by its association, the inspection of boarding is carried out by a specialist team of boarding inspectors from the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI). 

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  • Ofsted inspection of boarding schools

    Much of the material in the previous article Inspections of accredited independent boarding schools is relevant to Ofsted’s inspection of boarding schools and I would recommend reading this article as well. The material has not been repeated here as it is available on the previous pages.

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  • Governance

    The importance of good governance

    Many parents do not research closely the composition of the governing board when they are considering a school for their child, but the role of the governors is critical to the success – or otherwise – of a school. 

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  • standards

    Turning minimum standards into excellence

    The Boarding Schools’ Association (BSA) is committed to supporting everyone involved in boarding – adults and children – offering high quality guidance and training that benefits schools, their staff and, perhaps most importantly, the children and young people who board. Our primary objective is to raise professional standards and we have an extensive and diverse continuing professional development (CPD) and training programme for all staff working in boarding environments throughout the UK and beyond. 

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  • School visits: questions and answers

    School visits can take many forms. They can involve meeting the Head or perhaps attending an open day. Whatever the format, the first meeting is crucial so if possible always try to visit a school on a normal day. If it goes well, follow it up with an open day visit. Further visits can then be arranged; for example, potential boarders should have the opportunity to stay overnight. 

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  • League-tables

    League tables – just one measure of success

    One of the great joys and benefits of a boarding education is the fact that it provides the time and the space to offer a rich array of opportunities which enable young people to grow and develop and explore the person they are. They discover passions and interests, they develop their character and they learn to play a positive part in a community – all things that will help them to lead a happy and fulfilled life. Putting a numerical value on such an education and measuring how well a school delivers its objectives can be challenging, but it is not unreasonable for parents, governments and professional associations to want to see levels of accountability and to assess how a school is performing. 

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  • Faith

    Faith in our schools

    Faith schools have often been – and continue to be – controversial. People opposing faith schools express concerns about the possible indoctrination of developing minds whereas supporters point to the strong moral compass they provide in a world which provides so many temptations and distractions for young people.

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  • arts

    Specialist schools – arts, drama, music

    The specialist schools programme is a UK government initiative that encourages secondary schools in England to specialise in certain areas of the curriculum in order to boost achievement. The Specialist Schools and Academies Trust is responsible for the delivery of the programme. Currently there are nearly 3,000 specialist schools, or 88 per cent of the state-funded secondary schools in England. In the independent sector the term ‘specialist’ tends to focus more on developing outstanding talents mainly in a range of extra-curricular activities such as drama, music and the arts. The principal independent boarding schools in music, dance and drama are covered below. 

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