An historic occasion was marked at Bootham School on Tuesday 13 October when the heads of sixteen boarding schools from the area came together to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the founding of the York Boarding Schools Group. Set up in 1995, the group’s aim is to promote Brand York as a destination of choice for the ever expanding number of parents looking for the UK boarding experience. Jonathan Taylor, Headmaster of Bootham School, said:
“At Bootham we have boarders from nineteen different countries and the attraction of being in York and this whole area of the country is a big pull.”
Other Heads added their perspective on the special draw which the area provides. Andy Falconer, Head of St Olave’s School:
“St Olave’s School, York provides a safe, family, home from home boarding experience for 10-13 year old boys and girls. They live together in a beautiful big house, with the benefits of 47 acres of green space to play in, yet just ten minutes from the centre of York and the railway station.”
Leo Winkley, Head of St Peter’s School:
“St Peter’s York has been looking after boarders for almost 1400 years, ever since its foundation by Paulinus in 627 AD. They benefit from a thoroughly modern boarding experience in the heart of the city of York, with its lively culture, two universities and excellent rail links.”
Charles Ellison, Headmaster, Scarborough College:
"Visitors to Scarborough College immediately fall in love with the beauty and splendour of the Yorkshire coastline. Not too many schools can boast of having surfing on their Games curriculum and our location sandwiched between the beach and the North York Moors inspires everything we do, inside and outside of the classroom."
Rob Morse, Headmaster, Aysgarth School:
"Aysgarth's position in the foothills of the Yorkshire Dales offers boys the opportunity to experience a traditional childhood, specifically providing for boys' needs and enthusiasms, whilst sheltering them from the hurly-burly of modern day life”
Jessica Miles, Head at Queen Margaret’s:
“As a girls’ school, Queen Margaret’s is very lucky to be set in seventy-five acres of beautiful countryside close to York. The areas surrounding York provide the perfect environment for sourcing fresh ingredients for our food and this has contributed to Queen Margaret’s winning the Tatler award for Best School Food in the UK 2015.”
Stephen Mulryne, Head of Terrington Hall:
"A big draw for Terrington’s boarders is the outstanding beauty of North Yorkshire’s countryside. Waking up to it every day, they greatly appreciate exploring it on trips with their friends to the Moors and coast at weekends."
David Lambon, Head of Ampleforth College:
“Our boarding families really appreciate the beautiful environment in which their children are schooled here in North Yorkshire, knowing they are away from the pressures of big city life.”
Robin Fletcher, National Director of the Boarding Schools’ Association, said,
“It is a pleasure to congratulate the York Boarding Group on twenty years of success, a great example of what can happen when boarding schools work together.
“The UK is the world leader in boarding education with around five hundred boarding schools, over seventy-five thousand students and representatives from more than fifty countries. UK boarding dates back more than seven hundred years, but the newest boarding school was built as recently as 2013.
“Boarding offers a wide range of benefits including strong pastoral care, excellent learning and teaching and first-class facilities. The York Boarding Group perfectly demonstrates a group of schools commitment to pastoral care and boarding excellence.”
BSA National Director, Robin Fletcher, praised the group for their valuable work. During his speech he also addressed claims that boarding school pupils will suffer mental health issues and feelings of abandonment saying this was “dangerously inaccurate”. Robin said:
"I strongly sympathise with those who had a terrible boarding experience in the past, and recognise boarding is not best for every child but to suggest boarding is harmful as an unquestionable fact is simply untrue, inflames opinion rather than raising a legitimate and important issue and simply does not present a full and honest picture of the sector.
"To claim boarding is simply wrong and damaging is dangerously inaccurate. UK boarding schools today offer a great experience for more than 75,000 students from across the world. They are a force for good and give students a unique opportunity to forge friendships, create networks across the world and maintain strong family relationships.
"Of course, boarding won't be right for everyone which is why any decision to board today is carefully considered and discussed by parents, their children and schools. The days of children simply being 'sent away to school' by 'uncaring parents' are long gone."
The BSA, which represents around 450 boarding schools in the UK and another 50 abroad, runs courses for schools on helping boarders to develop resilience and managing emotional health issues.
Mr Fletcher added: “Emotional health issues can potentially affect children in all types of school, day or boarding. This is natural, something we recognise, and we provide professional training to our members so they can offer support to those who need it."
Story via TES.com @IrenaBarker and the York Boarding Schools Group