For many students, boarding can be hugely transformative. StoryBoard includes a growing series of boarding testimonials aimed to show how impactful and positive the boarding experience can be for students. The aim is to give a voice to real-life boarding experiences across our boarding community.

We’re always looking for more impact stories. Perhaps there is a boarder you know who has overcome adversity or challenging circumstances, and subsequently flourished within their boarding community? Or perhaps boarding has provided them with a platform to succeed after leaving school? If you have a student in mind, current or former, who would be willing to share their inspiring boarding story, please contact us at

Boarding testimonials

Ana's story

Ana with confirmation of her place at LSE on results day 2022

Name: Ana
School: Gordonstoun
Supported by Royal National Children’s Springboard Foundation

Boarding school has sparked a love for education and learning, allowing me to push myself in ways I never thought possible.

“Moving to boarding school wasn’t just a transition into an alien environment, but it was a catalyst for change in the trajectory of my life. Before boarding school, the assumptions about how my life would turn out were bleak. It’s no surprise though, when you consider the statistics of young people who have experienced considerable adversity. 44% of prisoners lost a parent under the age of 18 and only 6% of UK-based care-experienced young people progress onto university – compared to 50% of the general population. So, how could people be optimistic about my future when the odds were stacked against me? However, boarding school changed that. It allowed me to grow in an environment surrounded by peers who wanted to achieve similar goals, and where the focus was on me and my abilities, as opposed to circumstances out of my control. The stability afforded to me at Gordonstoun helped me to utilise all the resources that they had to offer, and provided me with opportunities I never would have had beforehand.

Boarding school changed my life in every way possible: it enhanced latent talents, developed leadership qualities, and gave me the strength to advocate for those not yet ready to use their voice. Gordonstoun gave me more than an education, but it gave me a home, a family, and an identity, one not carved as a by-product of my parents’ dysfunction.

The financial support from SpringBoard withdrew me from an environment of chaos and allowed me to develop and grow in boarding school, two incredibly transformational years. It enabled me to reach goals I never thought imaginable, highlighting how robust support throughout education is the key to ending generational cycles. Boarding school has sparked a love for education and learning, allowing me to push myself in ways I never thought possible. It has enabled me to realise I don’t just have to be defined by my childhood traumas, but rather defined by how I respond to them, and how I use those difficulties to move forward.

I’ve accepted an offer to read law at the London School of Economics and Political Science, something I could not have achieved without boarding school. It taught me that I can achieve what I put my mind to and I am equipped with the resilience to overcome any failures I may encounter. Boarding school taught me that there’s no point in having a story without telling it to others, and the confidence I’ve gained from Gordonstoun has enabled me to tell my story.”

Ida's story

Name: Ida
School: Epsom College
Supported by Royal National Children’s Springboard Foundation

The stability that a boarding school offers allows me to flourish

“As a child, my mother always reminded me to express gratitude whenever I could, as what we take for granted are things somebody else would jump at the opportunity to possess. Throughout my life, education has always been a priority for me. Due to challenging family circumstances, I constantly had to relocate as a child, which limited my access to an education. I clearly remember seeing my friends going to school or hearing about their stories and always longing to be a student. At 7 years old, I started my educational journey and since then, I have forever treasured the privilege of having an education. Today, I am studying at Epsom College and wish to study medicine at university after I leave school.

I have an amalgamation of identities that make me who I am, but one that has significantly shaped my motivations to study medicine is my Waltham Forest identity. Growing up in an area that has a lower socioeconomic status, I witnessed many injustices first and second hand. It bothered me that the Postcode Lottery existed in health, and it was comparable to the inequality in health present in my home country, The Gambia. This motivated me to study medicine, to dismantle the injustices and ensure somewhat equal access to healthcare on a regional, national and international scale. My strong connection to my local area motivated me to become a Young Advisor and connect young people to the Council to ensure their voices are heard. Today, I sit as a Trustee for the Young Advisors charity, allowing me to lead on decisions and advocate for young people nationally.

Another identity that defines me is my RNCSF bursary. My bursary opened a pathway for me to study at an incredible institution, Epsom College. During GCSEs, I would often have to pull late nights due to the inability to study in a small room with my sibling. Although I achieved an admirable set of results, it did affect how well I would function throughout the day. The stability that a boarding school offers allows me to flourish at A-Level and build a healthy study routine. I have also channelled my efforts into the school spirit by becoming the Deputy Head of my House, President of Amnesty International, sitting on the Medical Society committee board and being a founding member of the school’s first Black History Month committee.

As I have become older, it can sometimes still be a struggle to make ends meet but I am incredibly grateful for how much my life has improved. At Epsom, I also became a champion for youth health – gaining local press attention specifically for our campaign against the silence and taboo around domestic violence, an issue very close to home. Once I pondered the lack of funding available and the silence that existed, I took the initiative to design a panel event. I invited students, teachers and service providers to spark a candid conversation to explore what else we can do. This initiative led to me achieving the Mayor of London’s Youth Volunteer of the Year award.

More importantly, as the first SpringBoarder from my secondary school, I can show other young people with similar backgrounds to me that if I, a young black woman who lives and has always lived in a council flat, can make something out of virtually nothing, then they can too as long as they believe in themselves. Looking back on my own life, I realise how life-changing this sort of representation would have been for me and my own self-esteem. Today, I have an unwavering passion to improve the world and ensure that my financial need will no longer become a barrier to what I can access.”

Luke's story

Name: Luke
School: Reed’s School
Supported by Royal National Children’s Springboard Foundation

Boarding at school during the week pulled me out of an often-stressful home situation.

Luke has grown up in a family facing significant medical challenges. His father suffered from a debilitating mental disorder that required frequent, extended periods of hospitalisation, during which Luke was unable to see him.

Luke was awarded a bursary place at Reed’s School in June 2011 as a weekly boarder. Shortly afterwards, his brother was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer and, despite intensive treatment, died a year later.

“Alex’s death gave me more of a reason to board at school and there was no better place for me to spend my time. Surrounded by friends and great teachers, many of which I’d dare to also now call my friends, that only wanted to see me succeed in the face of great tragedy.

Boarding at school during the week pulled me out of an often-stressful home situation. My mum, quite rightly, was always trying to make sure that myself or my siblings were happy; with me having a great time at school with my friends and sticking to a good routine, she never had to worry about that.

I can’t say how exactly my life would be different, but moving to board at Reed’s was an opportunity that has led to countless others. From speaking at charity events to taking on positions of responsibility at school and university, each new opportunity has increased my confidence to take on the next.

Since leaving Reed’s, I have completed a degree in Maths from Loughborough University where I was elected Hall Chairman of Falkner Eggington hall in my first year. I now work as a Senior Executive Researcher for a commodities recruitment firm in central London.

Royal National Children’s SpringBoard Foundation has absolutely changed my life for the better. Going beyond just supporting boarding fees, I was flattered and grateful to be asked to speak at events and meet some great people making a real difference.”

Yuriel's story

Name: Yuriel
School: Millfield School
Supported by Royal National Children’s Springboard Foundation

I am more confident now, inspired and have plans in the future to help people like me.

Yuriel comes from a single parent, low-income family in the heart of Tottenham, London. He experienced challenges as a younger student and struggled to find his place within the school community at the start of secondary school. However, inspired by the example of his mother and older sister, he turned it around and was awarded a bursary at Millfield School sixth form. Yuriel made such a positive impression at his new boarding school, that after a year he was made Head Boy. He is now studying Mathematics and Statistics at Queen Mary University London.

“Boarding school has forwarded my life in unprecedented ways. The experience has given me a lot that I will forever be grateful for. I am more confident now, inspired and have plans in the future to help people like me.

The best thing about boarding school was the vast array of people that I was exposed to. In particular, as a result of attending Millfield School, where 20% of pupils are international, I have been gifted with the lesson of how to interact with persons of different culture, religion and morals.

I am now studying Mathematics and Statistics at Queen Mary University of London with the aspiration of studying in America later down the line to complete a master’s or PhD.

My experience with the Royal National Children’s SpringBoard Foundation and boarding school has been an immense blessing which I will be eternally grateful for. It is the reason why I continually mention that the best two years of my life were spent at Millfield School.”

Caleb's story

Name: Caleb
School: Westonbirt School

It has been an incredible opportunity and experience for me.

Hi, my name is Caleb and I am a full boarder at Westonbirt School in Year 13. I have been boarding for a year now and I absolutely love it. It has been an incredible opportunity and experience for me and I would totally recommend it, especially in Sixth Form. It is a really great way to develop independence and has helped me to improve many skills such as time management and communication. Westonbirt has lots of great reasons to board from the amazing facilities such as a gym and golf course, to the great weekend trip opportunities. We have been on trips to interesting cities and adventurous locations.

I know boarding is not for everyone but I think for Sixth Form in particular it is really been beneficial to my studies. Boarding at Westonbirt has given me time to study both alone and with my classmates which allows us to discuss ideas and compare answers. Furthermore, it has given me the chance to have an awesome social life. I mean, I literally live with all of my mates.

After Westonbirt, I plan to study Aerospace Engineering at university. Westonbirt’s off site Year 13 boarding house is giving me a taste of university style living.

Hannah's story

Hannah’s last Speech Day at Westonbirt

Name: Hannah
School: Westonbirt School

Boarding provided a crucial sense of continuity.

Hello I’m Hannah and I was a full boarder at Westonbirt School for 5 years. I started boarding as soon as I joined the school in Year 9, after previously boarding at my prep school too. I was warmly welcomed by both the boarding staff and the girls in my dorm, and after the initial nerves and excitement of a new term, we all settled in quickly. As I progressed through the school, boarding provided a crucial sense of continuity. This was particularly helpful with my studies as I had the uninterrupted time and facilities to do my prep in the organised prep slots supervised by our house staff. This example of the gentle but ever-present support of our housemistresses meant that we always felt we had the help we needed but also the encouragement to make our own choices and decisions. This support extended to all aspects of boarding life. A particular favourite of mine was the exciting opportunities that being a full boarder brought including weekend trips out, from the water park to the polo and the Christmas lights in London.

Due to the vast range of boarding opportunities Westonbirt provides, every boarder is able to partake in events and trips that appeal to them. This emphasis on variety meant that we were able to give our own ideas of new trips in our weekly boarder’s meetings. These meetings were a great way to effectively learn to communicate with others and contribute to any improvements for our boarding house. As a Sixth Form boarder, there were further responsibilities and opportunities, including being able to represent the school at events such as year group parent evenings and Association tours. These opportunities were made so much easier by being a boarder, as you were only ever a short scenic walk away from the main building – another benefit of boarding life. Throughout my time at Westonbirt, boarding has helped me develop many transferable skills, with perhaps the main skills being self-confidence, teamwork and leadership. These important skills, I believe, will play a major role in my future and have already allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and organise a 3 month stay in Italy this autumn to become an au pair.

Sarah's story

Name: Sarah
School: Westonbirt School

Being an only child, boarding also helped me to become better at communicating and compromising with my peers.

I am Sarah and I have been boarding at Westonbirt from Year 7 all the way up to Year 13. I really enjoyed my 7 years of boarding as it really helped me to be a part of the school, especially in a place like Westonbirt where there is such an amazing sense of community. Boarding also helped me massively with my academic studies, as I had access to the prep rooms and libraries at all times, allowing me to be in an environment that helped me to focus, even during the weekends. Boarding also enabled me to be a part of many other opportunities such as rehearsals for drama productions after school and musical performances during the weekends. As I was already there at school, a lot of traveling time was saved.

Being an only child, boarding also helped me to become better at communicating and compromising with my peers. Now that I have left school, I am fully equipped to build friendships during my gap year and at university. I am planning to do a year of traveling around South East Asia and Europe and then go on to study History of Art at University.

Anthony's story

Name: Anthony Madu
School: Elmhurst Ballet School

I just hope that younger dancers from anywhere around the world … I just hope to inspire them to pursue their dreams and never give up.

Three years ago Anthony Madu was just a young Nigerian boy with dreams of becoming a dancer. Then, after a 44-second video of him practising his barefoot ballet skills on the backstreets of Lagos went viral, his life changed beyond recognition.

That video of Anthony pirouetting in the rain was watched more than 16 million times and brought offers pouring in. The 13-year-old met the Queen when she visited the ballet school that gave him a scholarship.

Anthony, now several inches taller than in his video, is in his second year at Elmhurst Ballet School in Birmingham, which is celebrating its centenary. The visit by the Queen, who is the school’s patron, was postponed last month when she contracted Covid.

Camilla, who described in 2020 how she had taken up Silver Swan ballet tutorials to keep fit, told the pupils that ballet schools were “so important”.

She said: “Every time I come here, I never cease to be impressed by the students. It’s the discipline, the manners and the pleasure that you all give everything.

“And, speaking as an ancient Silver Swan who took up ballet very, very late in life, I just had no idea quite how difficult it was. So when I go and see a performance now, I just sit and study all the movements and think, ‘I don’t know how anybody does it!’”

Carlos Acosta, artistic director of Birmingham Royal Ballet, joined Camilla for the visit and later described how Anthony’s journey mirrored his own from Cuba to Europe to study dance.

Acosta, who is a vice-president of Elmhurst and was principal guest dancer with the Royal Ballet for 17 years, said: “The opportunities facing Anthony are exactly what I faced when I first arrived in Italy at the age of 16 and then in London at the age of 18.

“It’s a whole adaptation process that could be very choking at times, but he’s been very well nurtured here and is being well cared for by teachers who understand how very hard it is for him, but I think eventually it will make him stronger in every way.”

When the Queen asked Anthony if he had always loved dancing, he replied: “Yes, since I was five years old.”

Disney announced in September that it would be making a documentary about the youngster, whose family live on the edge of the Nigerian capital, Lagos. He had little formal training there but showed great talent.

Speaking after the Queen’s visit, Anthony said of Elmhurst: “My dancing’s going well, it’s really, really great and I’m really enjoying it.”

Talking about his journey, he added: “I just hope that younger dancers from anywhere around the world … I just hope to inspire them to pursue their dreams and never give up.”