What is a boarding school?

The history and tradition surrounding boarding schools goes back over hundreds of years. In the past, boarding schools in European countries such as Great Britain, Germany and Switzerland were exclusively affiliated with convents and monasteries. Upper class children were educated there and young people aspiring to the priesthood or with a religious vocation were recruited from among them.

Nowadays, not all boarding schools are incorporated within a religious environment and teaching methods have changed fundamentally over the past years. At present, boarding schools are predominantly institutions providing comprehensive full-time care.

Furthermore, learning is not only considered as pure imparting of knowledge at boarding schools, but rather as a means of increasing the students' entire potential. Academic proficiency, as well as talents in the arts or a great facility in sports are fostered in the best possible way, so that children with particular interests can develop their personal strengths.

Three types of boarding schools:

  • Co-educational boarding: pupils live and learn together in the same building complex. Accommodation and schooling are managed by the same entity.
  • At this type of boarding school day pupils who live at home are allowed to attend classes at the boarding school.
  • Boarding schools without a school building of their own. The pupils live together in boarding accommodation but attend a local day school for their lessons.

Boarding schools have been in favour with pupils and particularly with parents for a long time. Many parents are not satisfied with the current educational level of state schools and want individual educational facilities tailored to the needs of their children. In addition, parents expect several advantages from boarding schools, such as

  • intensive encouragement of young people’s individual skills and talents
  • individual support in case of learning or behavioural difficulties
  • assistance with homework
  • attention to childrens’ special requirements and wishes
  • improved education and upbringing
  • guidance with social behaviour within the community

Since learning in small groups is most effective, the small size of classes in boarding schools positively influences the personal development of the pupils. Professionally trained teaching staff attend to every pupil individually and take great care in encouraging the development of talents.

Different sponsorships

Boarding schools vary in orientation and educational aim, depending on their sponsorship. The differences lie within the various pedagogical approaches (e.g. Steiner, Montessori etc.), and whether they adhere to religious principles. Others are managed from the private sector.

Besides boarding schools with private backing, there are also state sponsored boarding schools.

For further information please refer to our heading "Boarding in...":

Great Britain
New Zealand