Sending your child to boarding school commands a lot of debate amongst parents in Australia. While the benefits and drawbacks of boarding school are often highlighted to parents, important considerations regarding lifestyle choices and individual personalities are less emphasised in the selection process.
In Australia there are currently 188 boarding schools, 94 of which are co-educational, 54 are exclusively girls and 40 are exclusively boys. Factors including location and size of the school are important differentiating considerations in understanding the setting of each school. Urban boarding schools often have a low boarder to day student ratio, creating a smaller boarding community. Access to the city gives urban boarders additional freedom and bursts the ‘living in a bubble’ rhetoric of boarding school.
Rural boarding schools that are based outside the city provide boarders with a more holistic boarding experience. Here, the boarder to day student ratio is switched and, as a result, there is generally a boarding-focused schooling experience for the majority of students, including day students.
Weekly boarding provides a bridging option for parents who are still deciding if boarding is right for their child and helps with curbing homesickness in younger students.
Independence and personal responsibility
Independently making decisions regarding study and social life without the influence of parental structure provides students with time-management skills and a sense of personal responsibility from an early age.
Holistic approach to education
Boarding schools generally emphasise personal development more than day schools as they play a large role in setting the environment in which the students develop their world view. This can include offering more extra-curricular activities and student services as well as integrating worldview principles like positive education into their curriculum.
Low student-teacher ratio
A low student-teacher ratio provides opportunities for more specialised learning experiences for students, through one-on-one tutoring. Allocated study times with teacher supervision during the evenings also provide a chance for students to consult with their teachers on a greater scale, assisting with their learning.
Spending so much time with a cohort growing up leads to deep friendships, as students share the same challenges and experiences in their school environment and generally get to know each other on a deeper level than day students.
Every student who goes to boarding school will experience homesickness at some point. When this happens it’s not just hard for the student but also for their parents and family. A large geographical distance can create an emotional separation, distancing parents from their child’s development.
Living at a boarding school and being immersed in a holistic boarding culture can distort expectations of the real world for some boarders. This can be hard for students when adjusting to life outside of the structured support network of a boarding school.
High school fees
Boarding schools are a lot more expensive than day schools due to the extra costs incurred in living expenses, meals and other compulsory add-ons that come with the boarding experience. As most boarding schools are also private schools, fees already sit at a high threshold.
Ultimately, boarding school isn’t for everyone and the lifestyle preferences that your family has are to be taken into consideration when making this decision.