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Interviews with Experts

Boarding & Summer Schools advisor Sara Sparling

"Parents often comment to us that they do not hear from their children because they are so busy. We have also had parents comment to us that it improves their relationship with their children; they get longer School holidays (2 weeks October half term, 3-4 weeks at Christmas and Easter plus a long summer holiday) which is quality time without the pressures of School work or nagging about homework or endless driving between activities." (SS, April 2013) 

  • Boarding School Advice

    What does Anderson Education offer?
    Free impartial advice and guidance on choosing a UK Boarding School, summer or language programme.
    It is a very personal service to meet the needs of the individual child and their family.

    How long has the business been running?
    SAC was set up in 2000

    What background do the staff have at Anderson Education?
    Sue has lived abroad as an expat mother with children at Boarding School; she has worked in independent schools for 25 years.
    Sara has lived abroad, has children who went to Boarding School and was a boarder herself.
    Sue and Sara are Education Consultants supported by an administration and marketing team and in-country representatives

    How many UK boarding schools has Anderson Education visited?
    We have visited over 350 schools; the visits are important to identify the strengths of each School and how they are going to meet the needs of the individual child. This also enables us to recommend suitable schools to families for their consideration. The schools all look good from their websites and prospectuses, families appreciate our impartial advice and guidance on helping them short list schools.

    Which countries do you mainly operate in?
    Our main markets are countries in the Middle East and more recently in Europe; we work mainly with expat families.

    When a parent approaches you for advice about UK boarding schools, what are the key criteria you need about their child?
    Academic ability, strengths, interests eg music, art, sport drama; personality. Location is sometimes a factor, to be near family or airports.

    How do you ensure your advice is impartial?
    We work with many schools, each is unique and we have developed good relationships with them; it is as helpful to the School as it is to the family that we are referring suitable students to them.

    In general, why does a parent want their child to go to a UK boarding school?
    For stability of education if they move job/country frequently, particularly at key points in their education (eg GCSE, A Level or IB)
    As a stepping Stone to a good university either in the UK or World wide
    Support for children with special educational needs; the UK has a reputation for supporting a wide breadth and depth of learning difficulties

    What does Anderson education believe is unique about UK boarding schools? What do you think most children gain from attending them?
    A UK Boarding School encourages Independence and confidence in children, there is a wealth of opportunities available to them and fantastic facilities (some schools have 350 seat theatres, 9 hole golf courses, 25 m swimming pools, equestrian centres etc). They make very good friends and have a lot of fun! Small class sizes and excellent teaching staff ensure each child has the potential to achieve to the best of their ability.

    From what age can a child attend a UK boarding school?
    Boarding is offered from the age of 7

    At what age do most expat parents want to send their child/children to a UK boarding school?
    Popular points of entry are age 11, 13 and 16

    In what case would you encourage parents to send their children to single sex boarding schools as opposed to co-ed school?
    It depends on the individual child; we would recommend that they consider and visit both.

    Do you come across many cases when parents want their child to attend a UK boarding school but the child does not?
    We don’t come across this situation, it is more often the other way round! Children today are much more involved in the process of selecting a School and will have done their own research on the internet – Harry Potter also opened up many Young minds to Boarding life!

    How have UK boarding schools changed in the last 15-20 years?
    They are much more flexible and communication between School and the family has greatly improved; the facilities have improved no end!

    Do you think the recent negative publicity surrounding former teachers at UK boarding schools has affected attendance?
    We have been working with an increase in enquiries and some schools are full the year before entry.

    Do many children who have lived broad struggle to integrate into the different culture of a UK boarding school?
    The schools are very international and recognise all religions and cultures; they will often have up to 25 different nationalities. The schools have an induction programme that supports children when they first arrive at the School.

    How do you and how do you advise parents to prepare their children for attendance at boarding school?
    Depending on age the children can be involved; the visit is very important and meeting staff eg house parents. When they visit the School they may be shown round by pupils of the same age, they often find it easier to ask questions to a pupil than a member of staff. Some schools offer a buddy system so the student can be in touch with other students before they start or they arrange a new boarders day in the summer term before they start.

    Are parents often more anxjous about their children leaving home than the children themselves?
    Yes! Parents often comment to us that they do not hear from their children because they are so busy. We have also had parents comment to us that it improves their relationship with their children; they get longer School holidays (2 weeks October half term, 3-4 weeks at Christmas and Easter plus a long summer holiday) which is quality time without the pressures of School work or nagging about homework or endless driving between activities.

    How do you match up the best school for a child?
    Academic ability – from academically selective to schools that offer a range of vocational qualifications; learning or language support required
    Interests – we have requests to take a pony to School; that they swim at a national level and need to continue training at this level; that they would like to study languages, focus on sciences or be involved in a School farm. We also consider area, if they want to be close to grandparents who get the opportunity to be involved by watching sports matches and School plays. Depending on the character of the child a small or large School may suit them.

    How many schools do you suggest parents visit prior to making a decision?
    We recommend that they visit 3 or 4 schools; we can make the appointments for them.

    Are children able to give schools a trial run?
    Schools will arrange a taster day or stay if the parents request; some children attend a summer School in preparation.

    Are there boarding schools which cater for children with learning difficulties?
    Yes, there are mainstream schools with very good learning support departments and schools which are more specific to the needs that they support.

    Do you believe that UK boarding schools give good preparation for UK univerities?
    They certainly do; universities are receiving applications from a lot of students with very good grades, UK Boarding schools are very good at giving students opportunities to enrich their personal statements to really make them stand out. The staff are also experienced in preparing the students well, they start preparing the all important ‘personal statement’ early and get guidance from external speakers and universities.

    What are the current average costs for attendance at a UK boarding school?
    Fees generally include Boarding accommodation, tuition, laundry, food, education related trips; they vary across the country, on average £25,000 per annum.

    Can you offer help and advice with grants and scholarships?
    Yes, we can. Most schools have a range of scholarships awarded for excellence academically or in sport, music, drama etc and means tested bursaries dependent on income.

    If a parent is interested in your service, how should they get in touch?
    They should contact us by pone +44 1474 815450, email to sara@andersoneducation.co.uk or complete an enquiry form through our website www.andersoneducation.co.uk

    April 2013