What are the benefits of a boarding school education?

Pupils playing games at Bedford School

Bedford School offers a home from home experience for all UK and international boarders - Credit: Bedford School

From learning valuable life skills to improving family relationships, the benefits of a boarding school education are far-reaching.

We speak to James Hodgson, Head Master of Bedford School, about the advantages of choosing a boarding school for your child and how it can enhance their academic and personal development. 

Activities and social opportunities 

Tug of war competition at Bedford School

Boys form strong bonds and learn sportsmanship skills through inter-house activities - Credit: Bedford School

An obvious benefit of being at school for longer is the chance to enjoy the fullest range of activities and social opportunities. Without the hassle of getting to and from school, boarders are free to make the most of the school’s facilities and participate in extracurricular clubs, including sports, music, art and drama, academic societies and wider-interest groups such as astronomy and debating.

Camaraderie between pupils is strengthened by regular inter-house events and competitions, as James explains: “Through the twinning of day houses with boarding houses at Bedford, boys form strong bonds, share invaluable experiences and learn sportsmanship skills.”

Structure and routine

Boys socialising in dorm room

Boarders enjoy the benefits of being part of a community through the house system - Credit: Bedford School

While some may wonder if boarding school life is too regimented, boarders are relatively free to choose what to do with their evenings and weekends. However, boys at Bedford School are encouraged to spend their time purposefully with what James calls “helpful structure”, which includes a regular slot for homework in the evenings.

“What we find is that this quiet time motivates all of the boys to get their heads down to work simultaneously," says James. "This is helpful when you have pupils who aren’t productive on their own and has proven to be particularly successful in the lead up to exams."

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Readily available resources

Boarders also benefit from readily available resources to help enhance their personal and academic growth. Not only do they have access to additional learning support from teachers and specialist tutors, but there are also older boys, housemasters and matrons on hand to help with any issues.

“Boarders have round-the-clock access to specialists who know the school and understand the issues that commonly arise among teenagers – any time there is a problem or if a boy needs extra support, academically or pastorally, there’s always someone there to offer a helping hand,” says James.

Improved family relationships

Some parents may feel a sense of guilt when their child goes off to boarding school, but most families actually find that their relationship improves after spending time apart. “When our boarders go home at weekends or during the holidays, they’re looking forward to spending quality time with their families,” says James. “By removing the challenges of everyday family life, the result is a much more grown-up and enjoyable relationship between parent and child.”

Long-term benefits 

House singing at Bedford School

Camaraderie is strengthened through house activities such as singing - Credit: Bedford School

Perhaps the most important advantages of boarding school life are the character-building values and life skills that are learnt along the way. Through the house system, boys at Bedford School have an appreciation of the benefits of being in a community and develop qualities such as kindness, resilience, confidence, independence and teamwork.

“A good boarding school enables a pupil to leave feeling comfortable in their own skin, able to stand on their own two feet, hold their own in any company,  get on with a range of people and understand their own strengths and weaknesses,” says James.

Why choose Bedford School? 

Located on a leafy 50-acre site, Bedford School offers a home from home for all UK and international boarders and is highly regarded by their families.

“As one of the top boarding schools in the UK, we pride ourselves on our family feel, where boarding and day school pupils happily co-exist," says James. "The school campus is idyllic with wonderful facilities while being close enough to Bedford town to keep the boys grounded."

To find out more about Bedford School and boarding school life, visit bedfordschool.org.uk.