Finding a UK boarding school for your child while living in Dubai

Choosing a UK boarding school is difficult enough when you live in the UK. When you live in Dubai, it makes selecting and visiting schools a huge task. Sue Anderson, a UK-based education expert and former expat speaks to Mother, Baby and Child about her tips for finding the right boarding school for your child.
UK boarding school Dubai

Choosing a boarding school is no easy task, can you identify with what parents are going through?

I know exactly how it feels; I’ve lived overseas for many years, moving frequently due to my husband’s job and having four children all with very different needs and aspirations. This makes finding the right school a very challenging task. Let’s be honest, not all of our children are outstanding students and selecting a school that will ensure that every child achieves their best is vital for happy, successful children and parents. I always say that I want these children to be top of the pile, not struggling at the bottom of the class.

What are the benefits of sending children to UK boarding school?

A UK boarding school education offers a first-class quality education, it provides stability of education for families particularly when students are approaching the two years when they study GCSE or A Level/IB. Boarding in the Sixth Form (Years 12 and 13) is an excellent stepping stone to university. Students are encouraged to become more confident and independent and learn to live away from home yet in a safe, secure environment. There is excellent provision for students with special educational needs, either in mainstream schools with a good learning support department or a specialist school depending on the learning need and support required.

Tell us how to choose a boarding school in five steps.

  1. Contact education consultants. They will discuss with you your child’s academic ability, strengths, interests and other criteria including location, a talent in sports or a love for music.
  2. Your education consultant will recommend schools for your consideration and arrange for information to be sent to you from there.
  3. We encourage you to shortlist schools, answer your questions and encourage you to visit schools in the UK during term time; we can make the appointments for you.
  4. When you have chosen your first-choice school, we help you through the registration process and arrange for entrance tests to be sent to the current school.
  5. We liaise between the school and parents until they have accepted an offer.

Which qualitative elements should parents keep in mind when choosing a boarding school and why?

  1. That the school will provide a supportive and challenging environment to meet the needs of each child in terms of academic level, strength in sport, music, art, drama and the size of the school.
  2. A good full boarding environment with plenty of full boarders in the school during evenings and weekends.
  3. Depth and breadth of learning support if required.
  4. Visiting a school during term time is the best way to see if the school provides the type of environment where your child will thrive, be happy and reach their potential academically and socially.

Is the cost of going to boarding school really worth it?

The devaluation in the £ exchange rate has made the option of UK boarding a more realistic option for many families. Average boarding fees are £25,000 per year which includes boarding accommodation, tuition, food, laundry and some education-related activities. Brexit has not as yet had any impact and is unlikely to for the next few years. If cost is a concern for families, there are other options. Students can apply for a scholarship if they are academically strong or have a talent in sports, music, art or drama – this will provide a discount on the boarding fee. Families can also apply for a means-tested bursary and sibling discount. For students with a British or EU passport, there is the option of a state boarding school where the family pays for the boarding accommodation only and fees average at £5,000 per year. Investing in your child’s future is the best investment that you can make in providing for their future success and happiness.

Sue Anderson is an education consultant at Anderson Education, an independent education provider offering families free, impartial help and guidance on UK boarding schools as well as summer and language programmes. For more information, head over to Anderson Education.

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