Ray McGovern - New Chairman of Boarding Schools’ Association
18th September 2013

Ray McGovern, former chairman of the State Boarding Schools’ Association and Headmaster of St George’s School in Hertfordshire, is the new chairman of the Boarding Schools’ Association (BSA), taking over from Christian Heinrich, Headmaster of Cumnor House preparatory school in West Sussex.

The Boarding Schools’ Association represents member boarding schools in the UK, in both the state and independent sectors, including primary as well as secondary schools. There are 470 schools in BSA, educating and caring for approximately 72,000 boarders.

Mr McGovern became Headmaster of St George’s School in Harpenden in April this year. Founded in 1907, St George’s is a large co-ed school, taking both day pupils and boarders from the age of 11 and achieving some of the best GCSE and A level results in the country.

Before his appointment to St George’s, McGovern was Headmaster of Sexey’s School in Bruton, a state boarding school, where he was previously Deputy Head.

Prior to joining the teaching profession, he served in the Royal Air Force as an aircraft engineer from 1983 to 1992.

His first job in education was as a lecturer in Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering at West Thames College London. From there he went on to become a teacher of Design Technology and Deputy Head of sixth form at Charles Darwin School in Kent. Following this, he was appointed Head of Technology at Christ College, an independent boarding school in Brecon, becoming a Housemaster the following year.

‘Many people assume that all boarding schools are elitist,’ says Ray McGovern. ‘What many may not be aware of is that BSA member schools cover a diverse range of educational opportunities for children from an equally diverse range of backgrounds. Independent schools and state boarding schools (where the education is free); single-sex and co-ed; large and small; selective and non-selective; full boarding, flexi and weekly. Whatever the child’s and family’s needs, there will be boarding school that will meet them.

‘For the family with two working parents who leave home early and don’t get back until late, boarding schools offer parents – and their offspring - a quality education that fits family needs, providing stability and security, supervised homework and loads of extra-curricular activities. This also applies for lone parents who need to work shifts or run their own businesses. For parents who live in remote rural areas where a daily trip to and from school may take several hours, and for parents who serve in the Armed Forces and are posted abroad two or three times in a child’s school life, boarding schools offer a safe environment, continuity of education without the disruption of changing schools, a chance for their child to enjoy sport and music, and experience a properly managed and varied day. On a sheer cost analysis basis, boarding can be very attractive when compared to the time and cost associated with parents taxiing their child to different sports and activities throughout the week.

‘My most recent experience has been in the state boarding sector, where the education is free and the boarding is paid for – usually by parents – and costs between £10,000 and £12,00 a year. But state boarding schools also offer vulnerable and disadvantaged young people across England and Wales an alternative to a childhood in social care. As soon as a child is in the social care system, his or her educational progress is likely to be significantly reduced. I would like to see the government ensure that at every stage where social care is being considered there is a statutory mechanism for boarding school to be part of the consideration. ‘

Ray McGovern is married with three children, aged between 14 and 22. His interests include horse-riding and singing tenor in a choir.

Media enquiries to Sheila Thompson at BLJ London Ltd on 020 7 932 1599 or at

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