Daily Telegraph: International boarding schools
28th October 2015

Boarding abroad

Sending expat children to school in Europe can boost their language skills and career prospects 

For expatriate parents, boarding schools in the UK may seem the best option for their children, offering stability and the best standard of education.

But many international schools also take boarders, ensuring continuity even when short-term contracts and frequent moves are the norm. These can be cheaper than a UK boarding school, while giving children the chance to experience the benefits of living abroad.

Between eight and 10 per cent of the 1,500 students at King's College, the British School of Madrid, are boarders, said deputy headmaster Matthew Taylor.

Spanish students make up about 80 per cent of the school roll, but the boarders are a mix of British and other Europeans and students from China and South Asia.

"Typically, they have parents who travel a lot, so they're looking for somewhere stable," said Taylor. "Another factor that attracts them is that their children will leave here bilingual in English and Spanish, and that is really important."

"It can be up to half the price of a similar school in the UK"
Matthew Taylor, deputy headmaster, British School of Madrid


The annual fee for a sixth form boarder is 24,000 euros (£17,708). Exchange rates favour British families - and data from the Independent Schools Council shows average boarding fees for a sixth former in the UK are £32,169 a year.

"It can be up to half the price of a similar school in the UK," said Taylor.

A key difference between boarding in the UK and at an international school is the composition of the student body, said Robin Fletcher, national director of the UK-based Boarding Schools Association(BSA).

While most UK boarding schools have a sizeable number of overseas students, British pupils are the majority, but that is not always the case at an international school.

"By definition, at an international school you will have a more diverse population," said Fletcher.

International schools make up about one in 10 of the BSA's membership. The UK, where boarding is most established, sets the pace.

"International boarding school quite often have a lot of staff from the UK and you would expect them to be strong academically, have good facilities and a very high standard of pastoral care," Fletcher adds.

Boarding was not the norm in Romania when Transylvania College, an international school in Cluj, opened a small boarding house two years ago. Although most students are Romanian, many boarders are from elsewhere.

"We're very different to a lot of boarding schools," said Gillian Greenwood, head of school. "I think the boarders see themselves as a mini-community within a community."

The school, which offers both a Romanian and UK curriculum, provides a wide range of extra-curricular activities and organises weekend trips for boarders.

Transylvania College is a member of the Council of British International Schools (COBIS). COBIS chief executive Colin Bell said: "If you are choosing a school, you have got to look for quality, including pastoral care and safeguarding, and we are confident that our schools can provide that."

At Aiglon College, in the Swiss Alps, skiing is a major attraction, with other winter sports. Diversity is key, said headmaster Richard McDonald. There are 56 nationalities represented among its 366 students.

"There is quite a strong Anglo-Saxon heritage but Aiglon has its own culture, which is not necessarily nation-specific," he said.

"Parents might not want their children to be fitted to a British norm, but here they can keep hold of their identity and experience different cultures."

Modern languages are an important part of the curriculum. The school offers about 12 languages, as well as the International Baccalaureate diploma, an alternative to A-levels.

Source: Daily Telegraph 28 October 2015 

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