Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital, offers a broad range or independent education choices including many schools that offer boarding.
Edinburgh is extremely well located for boarding pupils as it offers excellent transport links via the international airports both in Edinburgh and Glasgow, the national rail network, and of course the road network linking to the rest of Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom. For these reasons, Edinburgh is a popular choice for parents who live overseas.
For some families boarding school is a tradition which spans many generations, and for others it is a practical solution to the difficulties presented by the need to move location frequently. Edinburgh’s boarding schools can provide children whose families need to move often with security and stability that may otherwise be disrupted by these frequent moves, in a convenient location.
Boarding in Edinburgh is usually either full time or on a weekly basis with pupils returning home at the weekends. Out of the eighteen independent schools in Edinburgh, ten offer boarding places, however at the majority of Edinburgh’s independent schools only limited boarding places are available, with the majority of pupils attending as day pupils. They are essentially day schools with a boarding facility. Some of Edinburgh’s most famous boarding schools include Fettes College, Loretto School, Merchiston Castle School and St George’s School for Girls.
Edinburgh’s boarding schools pride themselves on creating a “home from home” for the children that stay with them, creating small, closely knitted communities in which children can settle and thrive, and in which other pupils and school staff can become like members of an extended family. Boarding is usually either full time or on a weekly basis with pupils returning home at the weekends. However, increasingly schools are also offering boarding on a flexible basis which can be helpful at busy times such as in the lead up to exams, or if parents need to be away from home for a finite period.
Fees at Edinburgh’s boarding schools are significantly higher than for independent day schools in Edinburgh as the children are living at the school for the majority of term time. Pastoral Staff at Edinburgh’s Boarding Schools Edinburgh’s boarding schools are very experienced and sensitive to the issues that arise from children being separated from their families and they do their best to integrate new boarding pupils into the “family” that is the Boarding House.
Boarding facilities at Edinburgh’s boarding schools are generally modern and welcoming with a mixture of private bedrooms and public social areas. It is often the case that younger children will share bedrooms but older children will often be provided with private bedrooms as schools recognize the need for privacy both socially and for the benefit of studies. Children are usually able to fill their rooms with their possessions, posters etc. as they would at home.
Boarding Houses usually also offer public kitchen and laundry areas (schools also provide a laundry service) as well as sitting rooms, television, and sometimes games rooms. Nearly all of the independent schools that offer boarding in Edinburgh will allow a pupil to have a trial boarding session at which they can stay for a night and fully experience boarding.
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Is Boarding School Right For Your Child?
As a parent, making the decision to send your child to boarding school is very difficult. The first step is deciding if your child will thrive at one of these types of schools. To do this, you must first understand the differences between the two types of boarding schools: traditional and therapeutic.
Boarding School Options
A traditional boarding school is a good option for children who are already motivated to learn. Some of these schools have a specific subject focus, such as math or music.
A therapeutic boarding school is a good option for children who have behavior problems, such as skipping school or being disruptive in class. Most of these schools have classes every day about dealing with emotions. These classes are held in addition to regular school classes.
Understand that there is a big difference between therapeutic boarding schools and military schools. At a military school, the focus is on changing a child’s attitude through rigid rules and discipline. At a behavior-focused boarding school, the focus is on teaching the child how to control his actions and deal with his emotions in a positive way. The one thing that both types of boarding schools have in common is that there are trained professionals who help children with their academic pursuits as well as their emotions. Many schools have adults on hand around the clock to help students.
The Pros and Cons of Boarding Schools
One of the main benefits of sending a child to boarding school is the quality of education that child will receive. Boarding schools, especially private boarding schools, focus on small class sizes so that the students can learn with the aid of the teacher instead of the teacher expecting the students to learn independently.
Students at boarding schools are often more challenged academically than students at traditional schools. This is something that most colleges and universities smile upon when they are considering applicants. Sending your child to a boarding school is a wonderful idea if she is ahead of her class, especially if she is in honors or advanced placement classes.
Subject-focused traditional boarding schools are a good choice for children who already know what they want to do with their lives. For example, a child who wants to become a doctor will thrive at a boarding school that focuses on science. Likewise, a child who wants to be a Broadway performer will be a good fit at a boarding school specializing in the arts.
One of the cons of sending your child to a boarding school is the guilt that you will probably feel when he leaves for school. This will be worsened if he does not want to go. When this happens, just remember the reasons you are sending him there in the first place. At most boarding schools, your child will come home for the holidays and other school vacations. Plus, most of the time you can go see him or bring him home for a weekend.
Is Your Child Ready?
When you decide that your child should go to a boarding school, you need to consider that child’s maturity level. A child who is good at managing time and money will often thrive in an independent environment. Although there is a lot of supervision for children at boarding schools, the students are responsible for caring for their own possessions and managing their own money and time. The exception to this rule is military schools and some therapeutic schools, where free time and other privileges must be earned through good behavior.
A child who makes friends easily and gets along with a variety of people will usually thrive at a boarding school. A shy child will probably be miserable unless he already knows at least one child there.
Choosing a School
Plan to visit at least three schools before you make your choice. When you tour each school, bring a notebook for you and your child to take notes about the campus, the staff, the dormitories and any other notable features. Ask questions about the school’s approach to education, what facilities are available and how their programs can benefit your child.
Find out what the graduation and college acceptance rates are. Some schools have earned a reputation for placing their graduates at prestigious colleges. Be sure that reputation is backed up with placements from the last graduating class.
Involve your child as much as possible in the decision-making process. This might not work if you’re considering a military school, but it’s essential for academic or therapeutic schools. Both you and your child should be as comfortable as possible with your choice.
If finances are a consideration, keep in mind that many boarding schools have scholarships for children who meet certain requirements. Excellence in academics or athletics could earn your child a free ride. There are also low-interest loans available to help parents pay boarding school costs.
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