In recent years, there has been a rise in students opting to attend boarding schools rather than day schools. Joining a boarding school is viewed as a positive and rewarding experience as this environment will allow your child to be more independent while still having a secure and structured environment.
No doubt that you will have many questions during this decision-making process, like ‘will my child be looked after?’ or ‘is my child ready to go away from home?’, however, one question that usually gets overlooked is ‘what is the natural grade for entry to different schools?’ This is an important question to consider as you don’t want to miss out on the right time to apply.
Here is the best year to enter boarding schools in the UK, the US and India:
1) Boarding schools in the UK:
One of the oldest and most elite education systems in the world, British boarding schools are popular amongst families thanks to the prestige attached to them. These schools also serve as a stepping stone for further education anywhere in the world.
In the UK, the nomenclature for academic progression is slightly different than in India. What we call grade 9 and grade 10 is year 10 and year 11 respectively in UK schools. Similarly, year 12 and year 13, also referred to as the sixth form, are equivalent to our +2. Students in years 10 and 11, typically study in the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) curriculum and then move on to the sixth form where they choose between the A Levels or the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP).
The ideal time to enter boarding school here would be at the beginning of year 9 (grade 8) as this allows students to acclimatise to the curriculum as well as integrate into the community of the school. Enrolling earlier also allows students to take more advantage of all the opportunities available, enabling them to not only explore their interests but also to be eligible for school honours when they complete their schooling. The application process for entry into year 9 needs to start about two years in advance, when your child enters grade 6. Some schools may also have minimum requirements, such as grades and the student’s age, so be mindful of this when you are applying. If you want your child to join in the sixth form (grade 11), then applications should be submitted at the beginning of the preceding year (grade 10).
2) Boarding schools in the US:
International students usually choose to attend a boarding school in the US due to the strong academic results and holistic college prep programmes, which help students prepare for and apply to colleges, especially in the US.
Many boarding schools in the US only have four-year schooling–from grade 9 to grade 12. Keeping this in mind, your child should apply a year before they wish to join. In addition to this, the vacancies for admission drop substantially after the freshman year (grade 9). This means that it is easier to be admitted as a freshman than as a sophomore (grade 10), and it is much easier to be admitted as a freshman or sophomore than as a junior (grade 11). This is why some parents and students consider repeating a year, especially if they are a junior or senior, in order to improve their chance for admission. In fact, if you do visit boarding schools in the US, you will find that many students’ first year of boarding school is a repeat of their last year of public school.
3) Boarding schools in India:
Education in India, along with boarding schools in India, largely reflect the British education system as it has been adapted from the time of the British Raj.
In India, some boarding schools accept students as early as eight years old, however, many believe that eight is too young to send students to live on their own. This is why most schools have students who are in grade 6 or higher. Typically, you need to start your child’s application at least one year in advance, however, many traditional schools may require you to register your interest when your child is just a toddler!
If you are looking to make the change at a later stage, then your child can choose to transfer either before grade 9 or grade 11. It is important to remember that most of these schools are very competitive, with a large number of applicants for each seat, especially in senior classes. Entering earlier, say in grade 9, will enable your child to adjust to their new environment, both emotionally and academically, over the course of one additional year. This will also allow them to take their grade 10 exams in a familiar environment, where they are likely to score better as opposed to new surroundings.
Ultimately, it is up to you and your child to decide the ideal time for them to enter boarding school. There are a lot of factors involved, so take all of these into consideration before making your decision. If you are planning on visiting some schools, read our blog post on boarding school visits. If you have any other questions, please get in touch with us!