Is boarding school right for my child?

Stay home or stay away? Experts, parents and students give their views on how to know if a boarding school education is right for your child.

Perhaps you are considering a boarding school education for your child. You are now navigating the myriad of options available around the world, trying to find the perfect fit. But how do you know your child is right for a school? Or whether boarding at all is the right decision for your family?

Their Personality

You know your child better than anyone, and understanding their personality type is key to understanding how they might fare at boarding school. However, do not think that because your child is quiet or reserved that it isn't a suitable option.

Gordonstoun’s Deputy Head Pastoral said:

“For the extroverted student, boarding is a natural fit: some parents have described their child’s boarding experience as a “non-stop sleepover”. That said, for those of a quieter disposition, some parents announce that it was the best thing to ever happen to their child as they “came out of their shell”.

Finding friends

Many prospectus’ will proudly showcase major events and all the grand moments in a school year, but the beauty of boarding often lies in those small moments which happen off-piste; a hot chocolate with the houseparent, flicking through magazines with friends, and chatting through the day’s gossip with your closest companions in the boarding house. It is in these ‘small’ moments that friendships are forged. In fact, many alumni tell us here at Gordonstoun that the friendships they make whilst boarding last a lifetime, and it is one of the most treasured aspects of an education at Gordonstoun.

OG Tessa Lumley said:I came out of Gordonstoun with great exam results and after lots of amazing adventures on the sea and in the hills - but the most abiding gift of boarding there and in the Junior School was the people I lived and learned with. They are still, all these years later, the friends I turn to and value most in the world”


Physical distance from our children is challenging for them, and for us as parents. So find a school that can tell you how they settle new pupils in, what is done in those crucial first few weeks to help build friendships and address any homesickness. If you’re in a different time zone from your child’s school, how does the school manage and facilitate communication home? If the prospective school can’t answer this, you may want to look elsewhere

The right school

At Gordonstoun, our small class sizes, outdoor education, arts and sports programming, all ensure pupils are kept busy from the day they arrive. This is an incredible way of warding off homesickness and nurturing friendships from day one. For example, pupils may go on a camping expedition the first weekend they arrive at our school, something that has proven to be a real leveller. Putting a diverse range of students from all over the world, from varied socio economic backgrounds, in a tent, in the Scottish Highlands, forces them to quickly find common ground. It encourages teamwork and undeniably allows them to get to know each other better.

Victoria, pupil at Gordonstoun said: “After a few days even, I felt completely settled down because everyone is so supportive.”

Do not ask “is boarding school right for my child”. If you are considering boarding school, make a shortlist, visit with your child and be sure to talk to them about how the school is right for your child. Experience tells us that with the correct support, all children can thrive and benefit from the opportunity to board.

Arrange a personal visit to find out how Gordonstoun can help your child to fulfil their potential. Email or call 01343 837829