One vital decision you may have to make when choosing your child’s school is between a day school and a boarding school. Each has different advantages and disadvantages, and a great deal depends on your child. Among boarding schools, there are considerable variations too: options include full boarding, where students only go home for the holidays, weekly boarding, where students go home at weekends, and flexi boarding, where students board on the evenings and weekends their parents choose, usually booked some way in advance.
Full boarding is becoming increasingly rare, though many of the UK’s most prestigious schools still work on this basis. This is the logical choice if you live very far away from your child’s intended school, as staying put at school at the weekends, spending time with friends and doing social activities can be preferable to lots of travel back and forth. Full boarding is more sociable, offering an all-round education that usually sees your child having the opportunity to take part in lots of clubs and activities. If your home situation is challenging, then full boarding can also offer your child the chance to focus on their education.
Weekly boarding has been suggested as the best of both worlds. It’s typically the choice of parents who may live near to the school but have busy careers; it spares you the daily routine of taking your child to school and nagging them through their homework, which means that the time you spend with them at weekends is all quality time. It also avoids the disconnect from family life that full boarding can lead to, especially if siblings are at different schools.
Busy parents might also want to consider flexi boarding. If your child has a regular club or activity that goes on late, or you work very late certain nights a week, you can tailor their boarding schedule around that routine, but have them stay at home more often than other ways of boarding would allow. The disadvantage is that flexi boarding can interrupt some of the camaraderie that appears in more structured boarding environments.
Finally, day schools are the conventional option, especially if you live near the school, for students who are shy, and for those who take part in activities outside of school. Day schools let you spend more time with your child, and let them spend more time with their siblings. For younger students, day schools can a better option ahead of switching to boarding later on, when they’ve become more independent.