Boarding school parents 'suffer as children have fun'

Many children enjoy boarding school but their parents suffer agonies of doubt and guilt, according to a survey published yesterday.

The poll of 5,000 parents with children at private and state boarding schools shows homesickness is just as traumatic for them as for their children.

The survey, by the Independent Schools Information Service, is part of a campaign to reverse the decline in the number of boarding pupils, down by one-sixth since 1990. Average boarding fees are now more than pounds 10,000 a year.

The report says its findings "lay to rest the notion that boarding parents are uncaring egoists who cannot wait to hand over responsibility for their children to others".

For many parents, it says, "successful results of boarding have been bought at some cost - not just financial but emotional and, for many, a kind of anxiety somewhere between doubt and guilt".

One parent said that, during the first term, her daughter was desperately homesick.

"We all found this an extremely difficult time," she said. "Despite her pleading to be removed, we persevered."

Two weeks into the second term, the problem was happily resolved by negotiating a new weekly boarding arrangement.

One in three parents believes that their relationship with their child improves because of boarding while only 7 per cent feel it deteriorates. Four out of ten are first-time buyers of boarding education, with neither parent having had any personal experience of boarding.

Most parents have to justify their decision to use a boarding school to other parents, particularly the parents of those who are 10 or younger. One in five children starts boarding before they are nine.

Parents choose boarding because they believe it makes their children more mature and independent. They are more interested in the many extra- curricular activities on offer than in a particular school's academic reputation

Six out of ten choose boarding after considering local day schools and around one-fifth of parents opt for them because they live overseas or serve in the armed forces.

Overall, only a quarter of parents are concerned about whether a school is co-educational or single- sex, though it is important for 59 per cent of parents in girls' schools.

The weekly letter home is apparently a thing of the past. Nearly half of boarders never write to their parents but almost all telephone home several times a term. Nearly a quarter telephone several times each week.

Parents gave a variety of reasons why their children enjoyed boarding. One parent of three brothers at preparatory school said: "The boys think it's cool to board."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £45,000

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific