Information for Potential Gap Students who want to work in a Boarding School in the United Kingdom.
First of all well done on taking the initiative and making steps to find a boarding school for your gap year. When I ran the gap students at the school I worked in, I was always impressed by potential gap students who took the initiative rather than applying through an organisation.
If you are just leaving school rather than university then I would suggest that you apply to Prep schools in the UK as a first point of call. These schools run from age 2/3 to 13 years rather than the senior schools which run from 13 to 18. The senior schools are moving towards appointing graduate assistants rather than school leavers because of the closeness in age between the gap student and the oldest pupils. However some senior schools are still appointing school leavers so please do not cross them off your list. The organisation that represents all of the prep schools is the
Independent Association of Prep Schools (IAPS)
11 Waterloo Place, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, CV32 5LA
+44 (0)1926 887833
Have a think about where you want to be located. There are boarding schools all over the United Kingdom. Are you looking for a school based in a city or one in a more rural location. If you are going to travel during your time over here then you may wish to be close to a major airport so that you can access flights to other European countries more easily. First point of call must be to look at a school’s website and see if it interests you in terms of location and boarding provision offered.
The independent schools organisations that may have more information for you, can be found below;
I would also suggest that you look on our website to search for schools that interest you.
Find out if the school appoints a number of gap students each year. I would recommend that you find a school that does as you will then have people to work with who are of similar age and doing a similar job.
Regularly visit our jobs page at BSA the posts advertised change all the time and some will be for Gap/Graduate assistants.
My advice would be to complete your CV and a cover letter and find the schools that interest you and then email them your letter and CV. Tell them what you can offer a school such as theirs in relation to the kinds of jobs they might be looking for you to do. They may be looking for any or all of the following;
Sport, list any skills or qualifications you may have or will have by the time you come over. Investigate their website to see which sports they offer. Don’t be afraid to include any sporting interests and achievements you have even if they do not do the sports you do. Schools are always looking for lifeguard qualifications so if you have these then great, if not you might like to look into getting the relevant qualification before you come over.
Boarding duties, List any work you have done with young children including your own siblings if you have any. Show them that you are a responsible, caring young adult who enjoys working with younger children. Avoid sounding like someone who just wants to travel and use the school as a base while they do!
Administrative duties, List any jobs that you have that involve dealing with the public and any jobs or posts that show you are organised and methodical in your approach. UK boarding schools thrive on lists and paperwork and they have to follow strict regulations regarding paperwork. The job you are looking for requires someone to be responsible and work as part of an extended team.
All UK boarding schools have to comply to a set of National Minimum Standards. It may be good research for you to read through these regulations which will give you a good understanding of how regulated the schools are. The National Minimum Standards can be found here. I would also suggest you look at the inspection report that will be displayed on a school’s website of any that you are interested in. It will give you a clear picture of the school’s strengths. Look for an ISI or Ofsted report
Attach to your letter and CV a full length photograph, make sure you look smart and have a big smile on your face. Make each letter personal to the school in some way. A standard letter sent to many schools will be easily spotted and may not impress!
Finally you might like to look at the following YouTube clip. It is from a Prep school called Vinehall School in East Sussex and will show you what a typical day in the life of a gap student might be.
Be prepared to work hard. You will be living in the boarding provision alongside the staff and pupils and the job will be so much more fun if you throw yourself into it whole heartedly. I hope you find a great school and have a fantastic year. If you do come to the UK you may be sent on one of our BSA Gap Student Training days. If you do please make a point of saying hello and letting me know how you got on with your application process.
Assistant Director of Training