Boarding School Inglese – esperienza scolastico all’estero

While the number of students taking up boarding school places has remained steady over the last fifteen years, the balance between international and British students has altered quite dramatically.

With over 25,000 non-British pupils enrolling in 2015, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Russia swept the board. While, European countries such as Germany, Spain and France also remain at the fore, the number of Italian enquiries for British boarding school places have doubled in recent years with Italian students choosing to complete their studies in a country famed for its education system, often in historical buildings set amidst beautiful English countryside. Not to mention the chance of better career prospects and a more cosmopolitan way of life.

With Italian schools closing their doors for the summer in early June, a trend is developing for students to hop over to the UK for a 4-6 week, full-immersion “taster” of the traditional boarding school system. The obvious advantage here lies in the fact that British schools break up later in the summer. This allows Italian students to dip into the normal term-time curriculum and activities and experience boarding school at its best, as opposed to pursuing a more language-focussed format more commonly offered by summer schools.

The most popular age to come seems to be at the end of Years 7 and 8 or even Year 10 as students look to the future, planning their studies for Sixth Form and even their university prospects. For Italians, there is a strong argument for studying the IB diploma; aside from the fact that is has been recognized by the Italian Ministry for Education, it also offers the easiest transition from the Italian style of education and eases entry into Italian universities.

Interestingly, A’ Levels are also increasing in popularity, however, as pupils prefer to specialize in three or four subjects, dropping those they have little interest or expertise in.

With 90% of Italians choosing to stay on in the UK after finishing boarding school to take up places at top British universities, the emphasis is on choosing the option that best facilitates their university career.

So what is it that attracts Italians to our shores aside from their love for our capital city? It is our approach to teaching, to the strong, nurturing and supportive relationship between teachers and pupils, the excellent pastoral care our boarding schools offer and the endless variety of co-curricular activities available – to everyone. They love the self-confidence that this instills in the children and which develops as a result of focusing on the subjects they excel at rather than, as one Mum told me, plugging away at those they struggle with. One of her principal criticisms of the Italian system was that the end-game was always the exams; at British boarding schools, it is about the individual and securing the brightest future possible for them, supporting them every step of the way.

This is what we excel at.

William Wilcox
William is a Director of Which Boarding School.

For over 100 years William’s family has been involved in private education in the UK. During that time they have owned and run private schools as well as built up excellent relationships with boarding schools throughout the country. William is also the Chairman of Directors at a UK independent school.