Letter: Benefits of boarding school for parents and children

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The Independent Online
Sir: I found your report and leading article (27 April) on private schools and boarding extremely interesting. It may be that, as you suggest, boarding is now seen as less fashionable or appropriate, although the bizarre reference to the brutal adolescent rituals strikes absolutely no chord with those of us who have first-hand experience of boarding in the Nineties.

What has been overlooked, however, is education's best-kept secret, namely that in various parts of the country there exist high-

achieving state schools that also provide a boarding facility. Because such schools charge only for the boarding itself, with tuition provided free of charge, they represent outstanding value for parents who do need to make use of boarding. Sadly, however, because they are such a secret, even these establishments find difficulty in filling boarding places at present.

Even though it has arguably a somewhat chequered history and, for some, a tarnished reputation, boarding education can be the salvation of families for whom job mobility or family disruption make it appropriate for children to be boarders. I commend to all such families - indeed to all with any interest in using boarding education - the often first-class but largely unconsidered opportunity state school boarding represents.

Yours faithfully,



The Westgate School

Winchester, Hampshire

27 April

(Photograph omitted)