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The benefits of boarding and the wrap-around care that Fettes provides


by CHARLIE G O MINOGUE, Head Fettes Preparatory School
CHARLIE G O MINOGUE, Head Fettes Preparatory School

The mention of boarding to many will elicit a wide range of responses. For some, visions of Hogwarts will colour the opinions; for others, cold showers and colder atmospheres might be more the thing. Many current parents at schools such as Fettes will have had no experience of boarding themselves and those that have will have had a mixed experience; however, the reality is that none of the above is accurate and it will be important to shine a light on the purpose and current reality of the modern boarding house if parents are to make informed decisions.

Positive influences and a healthy, balanced, lifestyle
Positive influences and a healthy, balanced, lifestyle

As children grow up, the reality is that they begin to take their influences from people other than their parents. This means, sadly, that they start to listen to us less, leading to those constant sources of friction: mobile phone usage, screen time, homework, music practice, food and many more besides. Choosing boarding therefore, at the right age for your child, means that they are happily accepting outside influences from trusted professionals and a carefully nourished culture rather than pushing against parents with whom they are biologically pre-disposed to disagree.

Having your child surrounded with positive influences and a healthy, balanced, lifestyle is what every parent wants, and this is what boarding provides. The joy of listening to your child enthusing about games of table tennis with friends, the debating competition they won or the wide games they played in the grounds rather than worrying us about how long they spend on their own in their room at home, can’t be over-estimated.

Fettes Prep Baking Activity

All of this means that boarding becomes something that even parents who live close to school will consider. Many of our boarders at Fettes come from within easy reach of the school and it is a privilege to work with these families. Boarding is often something that is suggested by the children, with parents the ones needing to be persuaded, and this is a healthy scenario. It is a genuine partnership between the professionals in school and parents at home and the children benefit.

Fettes Prep Gardening
Fettes Prep Gardening

The shape of the day and week is different in a boarding school and all pupils gain from this, including those who don’t board. A boarding school day is more varied, and children have access to all the activities that any parent would want their children to be exposed to but often don’t have the time, resources or energy to provide themselves. Regular sport, music and drama are a given, but activities as varied as skiing, coding, dress making and frisbee golf give days variety and balance, even for day pupils. These activities are often optional, giving parents the flexibility to pick up as late as 7.00pm at Fettes Prep; a significant benefit to many hard-working parents, who also do not have to stand over their children completing homework as it is all finished in school.

We help our young people find their feet in the world.
We help our young people find their feet in the world.

As parents, we want our children to mature into independent adults with interests and skills of their own: love them as we do, we don’t want them to be hanging around the house into their 30s! This does not happen overnight and, gradually, there needs to be a move towards ever increasing independence. As we navigate the choppy waters of parenthood, the old adage about it taking a village to raise a child still holds true. We need other, trusted, adults and positive cultures around our children to help them on their way. Boarding schools, whether your child boards or not, provide parents with just such an environment and it is a joy to work alongside so many parents as we help our young people find their feet in the world.

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