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Are you thinking of sending your child to boarding school in the UK?

Helping your child prepare for boarding school in the UK:

top tips from Minerva Tuition

Starting at a new school is a daunting experience for pupils and parents alike. Starting at boarding school from overseas may be a doubly daunting prospect.

Minerva Tuition has successfully assisted many families with the transition to boarding school in the UK. Once the transition has been made, we support families thereafter, ensuring all is running smoothly for the duration of the school years.

Today Charles Johnson, one of our senior tutors, shares his expert advice on how both pupils and parents can prepare for this exciting experience.

Charles offers schools and university advice to Minerva Tuition clients. In his 30 plus years of experience in education, Charles has been not only an excellent history and politics teacher, but also a Deputy Housemaster, Housemaster, Deputy Head & Headmaster at various boarding schools around the UK. Both Charles and his son attended the same boarding school. Having been a boarder himself and having guided his son through the same process, Charles is uniquely placed to help you prepare.

Charles extends his appreciation to a client of Minerva Tuition for her assistance in the writing of this article. Her three children have made successful transitions to three different English boarding schools; they are currently thriving in their educational & extra-curricular pursuits.

We bring you this advice in two parts. Part 1 – the House System & Campus

1. The House System

a. While schools may seem large and forbidding, the main social unit is much smaller and more manageable. Most boarding schools in the UK are divided into House units of about 60 pupils, looked after by a dedicated group of staff supervised by a Housemaster/Housemistress.

b. Most likely you will be assigned:

a buddy, usually from the year above in your House. It is his or her job to help you to settle in.

“a tutor” - these are often a member of the House team. This is a teacher whose specific job is to help you to find your feet both socially and academically

c. Most schools also have a House Matron (sometimes called a ‘Dame’). Their job is to keep a close eye on all the new pupils – along with the Housemaster or Housemistress.

2. Strange names & unfamiliar surroundings:

a. Some schools use strange vocabulary but you will soon get used to this. In my school, for instance the first years were called “shells” which seemed a bit strange at first. Do not worry too much about it.

b. Some of the schools’ campuses are large. (One Minerva client reported that, in a normal school day, her son walks about 12,000 steps- so be prepared to re-sole shoes!) Do not get too agitated about always being in exactly the right place at the right time. The best advice is to stay in a group, leave plenty of time and keep updated with timetable changes. There are always people around to help. Never be afraid to seek it!

c. Make sure that you develop good listening skills - especially when communicating with staff like Housemasters/Mistresses, tutors and teachers. They will be imparting useful information!

In the second half of this article, we shall be sharing our advice on:

- relationships with other pupils

- homesickness

- work habits

For further information about how Minerva Tuition can help you and your child prepare for boarding school in the UK, or to enquire about any of our other services, contact We would be delighted to help.


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