Nick Wergan, headmaster at Steyning Grammar School in west Sussex and chair of the Boarding Schools Association (BSA), said that there has been a growth in the number of pupils opting to stay over night at school from time to time.
“The trend of the growth is in flexi-boarding,” he said. “This is not boarding for an entire term, it is maybe a weekly boarder, or staying on certain nights during the week.”
The BSA represents the UK’s leading boarding schools including Eton College, Harrow School and Winchester College.
“It is a natural response to demand. Parents are asking for it, and you have spare beds,” Mr Wergan said. “It suits parents and the young person benefits from the time. It is a national phenomenon.
Flexi-boarding as a phased-introduction to full-boarding
At Peterborough Tuition we’ve found that parents may also use flex-boarding as a way to introduce their children (and themselves!) to the idea of a full-boarding senior school.
Mr Wergen commented how flexi-boarding is a particularly popular option for children are staying late at school for an extra-curricular pursuit, whether it’s a debating club, a sports match or a zuma class.
Selecting a private school that provides for the option of flexi-boarding option also suits parents with high-flying careers that involve frequent travel abroad, who would otherwise need to arrange mid-week childcare.
While students whose families live overseas are more likely to be enrolled as full-time boarders, British parents are more likely to be interested in the flexi-boarding option, he said.
Helps to reduce termly fees
One reason not cited in the article is financial; if a family lives within commuting distance flex-boarding could perhaps be used as a way to reduce the termly fees, albeit by only a small amount compared to the overall fees charged.
Data from the Independent Schools Council’s annual census reveals that the proportion of weekly and flexi-boarders has increased for the past consecutive years.
In 2016, 15.7 per cent of boarders were weekly or flexi boarders, which has now risen to 17.9 per cent, a small increase but one that forward-thinking schools would do well to capitalise upon.
Would you consider flexi-boarding?
Do you know whether your school offers flexi-boarding?
Do you know of families who’ve used flexi-boarding & if so, did it work for them?