How parents find flexi-boarding fits their child’s needs better

A recent article in The Independent by Camilla Turner chimes well with what we’ve noticed when talking to first-generation boarding school parents, flexi-boarding is on the rise.

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.

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