Free Boarding Schools: An Affordable Alternative

by | May 21, 2024 | Education and Schools, Families Moving to London

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Boarding schools often seem out of reach due to high fees. In 2020, the average boarding fee at private schools was £11,609 per term. However, did you know that there are affordable options known as state boarding schools? These “free boarding schools” are more accessible because tuition is government-funded. Let’s explore what makes state boarding schools a great choice.

What is a State Boarding School?

State boarding schools are government-funded institutions that offer weekly or full boarding. These schools appeal to families working abroad, in the Forces, the diplomatic service, or with international companies. They’ve become popular because they offer high-quality education without the high fees of private boarding schools. With tuition covered by the government, parents only pay for accommodation and meals. This makes them an excellent alternative for those seeking a boarding school experience at a fraction of the cost.

How Many State Boarding Schools Are There in the UK?

There are around 30 state boarding schools in England. You’ll also find a couple in Scotland and two in Northern Ireland. These schools collectively offer around 4,000 boarding places. While there are no state boarding schools in London itself, many are located in the home counties surrounding the capital. This makes them accessible for families living in or around London.

 

State Boarding School Fees

State boarding schools are significantly cheaper than private boarding schools. Fees range from £12,000 to £18,000 per year, compared to private schools, which start around £40,000 per year. The reason for this affordability is that parents only pay for boarding and meals. Tuition, as with other state schools, is covered by the government. This makes these schools a more viable option for many families, providing the benefits of boarding without the high costs.

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Eligibility for State Boarding Schools

State boarding schools are open to British citizens and anyone with the right of residence in the UK. Since January 2021, these schools are no longer open to nationals of other European Economic Area (EEA) countries. Detailed information regarding admissions criteria for applicants can be found on each school’s website. Some state boarding schools are grammar schools and thus academically selective. Others may have specific boarding criteria, such as prioritizing students from certain backgrounds or regions.

Choosing a State Boarding School

Choosing the right state boarding school is important. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Distance: How far are you willing to travel for concerts, parents’ evenings, matches, and weekend pickups? Many experienced boarding school parents suggest choosing a school no more than 90 minutes away.
  • Activities: What happens after school and on weekends? Do the activities match your child’s interests in sports, music, art, or drama?
  • Number of Boarders: How many boarders are your child’s age? How many stay at school during weekends? For full boarding, it’s crucial that your child doesn’t spend weekends with few friends or activities.
  • Entrance Criteria: If the school is academically selective, is your child likely to meet the requirements?

These considerations will help you choose a school that best fits your child’s needs and your family’s logistics.

Visiting State Boarding Schools

Visiting shortlisted schools is essential. Here are some tips for your visit:

  • Grounds and Facilities: Don’t expect the extensive grounds and facilities of many independent boarding schools. However, a bit of tattiness doesn’t matter as long as you don’t sense neglect.
  • Location of Boarding Houses: Some schools have boarding houses on the main campus, while others have them in separate locations. Make sure you know which setup you’re looking at and if it fits your child’s character.
  • Accommodation: Single en suite rooms aren’t essential. Many younger children enjoy the camaraderie of dormitories.
  • Atmosphere: Could you imagine your child living here? Does the school feel friendly? Are the pupils happy and enthusiastic? Most importantly, is your child keen to join?

These visits will give you a feel for the school’s environment and whether it will be a good fit for your child.

State Boarding Schools Near London

There are no state boarding schools within London itself. However, there are several state boarding schools in the surrounding home counties. Here is a list of some notable state boarding schools near London:

  1. Colchester Royal Grammar School (Essex)
  2. Cranbrook School (Kent)
  3. Gordon’s School (Surrey)
  4. Hockerill Anglo-European College (Hertfordshire)
  5. Holyport College (Berkshire)
  6. St George’s School (Harpenden, Hertfordshire)
  7. Wymondham College (Norfolk)

These schools offer a mix of weekly and full boarding options and are accessible from London.

How LondonRelocation.com Can Help

Navigating the transition to state boarding schools, or “free boarding schools,” can be challenging. LondonRelocation.com simplifies the process by offering expert advice and personalized services. From finding the best school to managing the logistics of your move, our team ensures a smooth and stress-free relocation. Contact us today to start your journey toward a quality and affordable education for your child.

Free Boarding Schools: An Affordable Alternative | London Relocation

Conclusion

State boarding schools, often referred to as “free boarding schools,” offer an affordable way to experience the benefits of boarding education. With lower fees than private schools, they provide an excellent alternative for families seeking quality education without the high costs. Understanding the key aspects of these schools, from fees to eligibility and choosing the right one, is crucial.

If you’re considering state boarding schools for your child, contact LondonRelocation.com today. Our experts can guide you through the process and assist with all your relocation needs, ensuring a smooth transition to a new educational environment.

In summary, free boarding schools are a fantastic option for families looking for affordable boarding education. By exploring state boarding schools, you can provide your child with a quality education while managing costs effectively. Don’t hesitate to reach out for expert advice and support in making this important decision.

FAQ

Are there any free boarding schools in the UK? Yes, state boarding schools are often referred to as “free boarding schools” because tuition is government-funded. Parents only pay for accommodation and meals.

Does London have free schools? London does not have state boarding schools within the city, but several are located in the surrounding home counties.

How much does boarding school cost in London? State boarding schools near London typically cost between £12,000 and £18,000 per year. This is much cheaper than private boarding schools, which can start around £40,000 per year.

Can I get funding for boarding school in the UK? While state boarding schools are already affordable, some schools offer bursaries for low-income families to help cover costs. Additionally, some charities provide funding and support for students in need.

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