Parents still back boarding at state schools

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THE vast majority of parents would recommend state boarding schools to other mothers and fathers, according to a new poll.

These schools offer high academic quality, opportunities for pupils to fulfil their potential, and practical solutions for families, it claims.

The survey, commissioned by the State Boarding Schools Association (SBSA), questioned more than 1,500 parents with children at 29 state boarding schools across the UK earlier this year.

Its findings, published yesterday, have been welcomed by the headmaster of Ripon Grammar, the only state school still offering boarding in Yorkshire.

Martin Pearman said state boarding was still in demand and that the school was now planning to expand its boarding facilties for girls.

He said the majority of the school’s 70 boarders stayed at the school during the week and went home at the weekend.

He said; “It remains very popular with parents. I would say our boarders come within a 50 mile radius of the school. It improves pupils’ self confidence and independence and is actually a really good way of preparing students for university.”

Families with children at state boarding schools do not pay for their education, but do pay boarding fees, typically at a cost of up to £10,000 a year. Mr Pearman said he believed some parents were choosing Ripon Grammar who might otherwise have chosen to have their children educated privately if state boarding were not available. He added : “We provide an excellent education and parents only have to pay for the boarding which is around £3,000 a term, something like the third of the cost of some private schools.”

The SBSA’s survey found more than nine in 10 (93 per cent) parents and carers nationally said their child is at least fairly happy in their boarding house, the poll found.

And 95 per cent said they would be at least fairly likely to recommend their youngster’s school to other people, with 72 per cent agreeing that they would be very likely to do so.

The same proportion (95 per cent) said they would be at least fairly likely to recommend UK boarding in general, with around two-thirds saying they would be very likely to do so.

Parents were also asked to choose from a list of the three factors that were most important in their decision to send their child to their current boarding school.

The most popular answer, picked by 42 per cent, was because the school offered high academic quality, followed by the school providing opportunities for pupils to fulfil their potential (36 per cent). Other popular reasons for choosing a boarding school were because their child wanted to board (22 per cent) and because it was a practical solution for family and work circumstances (21 per cent).

Just under a fifth said they chose state boarding because of the quality of the boarding facilities, with the same proportion saying it was because the school had a good mix of children from different backgrounds.

Paul Spencer Ellis, SBSA chairman and head master of the Royal Alexandra and Albert School in Reigate, Surrey, said: “This survey shows parents recognise boarding offers a fantastic, all-round education for children. State boarding schools offer children from the UK and abroad an incredible breadth, depth and quality of education at great value.”