Scottish independent schools offer so many benefits to international students. Alongside a world-class education, students can utilise the exceptional outdoor activities Scotland has to offer alongside the cultural and sporting excellence of Scotland’s major cities.
Choosing a new school can be a daunting experience by itself, let alone when it involves travelling across the globe to join a boarding school for the first time. We recently spoke to Gemma Gray, Director of Marketing and Admissions at Fettes College, Edinburgh, who explained the benefits of boarding in Scotland and how to choose the school that is right for you and your child.
The benefits of boarding
“Students who are educated within a full-boarding environment benefit immeasurably from having the time and space to flourish and develop their talents. Every day, their academic studies are interspersed with a wide range of activities (Fettes has over 40 activities to choose from) and weekends allow for social gatherings, trips and cultural events as well as simply relaxing, recharging and socialising with friends.”
A strong support network
“Although the structure of boarding provision will vary from school to school, at Fettes, students are supported by their housemaster or housemistress (HM), assistant HM, tutor, matron, house prefects and other senior students.
“All members of the academic staff undertake duties in houses and play a full part in co-curricular activities building strong, positive connections with students, not just as academic teachers.
“Additional help and advice are always available from our 24/7 medical centre, the school counsellor and from the chaplain. The care and welfare of our students is fundamentally important to us as we know that only a happy, supported child will truly flourish.”
“Every boarding house is like a family - a group of staff and students looking after each other, helping, encouraging and simply being there when needed. These homes-from-home are where lifelong friendships are made, trust is fostered, and loyalty forged.
“As well as the strong bonds made with fellow housemates, the commitment of housemasters, housemistresses, tutors and matrons also leave a lasting impression. These individuals are dedicated to caring for and encouraging each student, making it their duty to understand the personality, quirks, talents and aspirations of all students in their care.”
A rich and diverse community
“Scottish boarding schools naturally attract students from around the globe, with a diverse mix of students at Fettes adding to our vibrant community (70% are from the UK, 15% are UK ex-pat families and 15% come from international families, with 40 countries represented).
“Learning to get on well with other people, whatever their background, is a vitally important life lesson and the diversity of our community encourages tolerance and mutual understanding.”
“Our boarding pupils are with us seven days a week, learning, developing and growing with those around them - the life-long friendships made are testament to this. The Old Fettesian Association has over 5,000 members worldwide who continue to regularly meet and connect with Fettes. Run by enthusiastic regional representatives, they welcome new alumni and their parents in every corner of the globe – a worldwide Fettes family.
“We fundamentally believe that students who are happy and supported will develop into well-rounded, well-educated, interesting, independent minded, confident and civilised individuals who are equipped to play full and constructive roles in society.”
Here are Gemma’s top tips for anyone looking to send their child to a boarding school in Scotland:
- Always visit your shortlist of schools, as only then will you get a true sense of whether your child will thrive there.
- Ask how many full boarders a school has, not weekly or flexi because you will no doubt want your child to be surrounded by their roommates seven days a week.
- Ask whether the school offers taster days or overnight stays as these are the perfect way for getting a feel for what boarding will be like.
- Communication – how does the school communicate with parents? Do they have a great social media presence so you can keep up to date with events?
- Experience – do they have experience with international and ex-pat families? Can they put you in touch with people in your region?
Note: Fettes College, Edinburgh enjoys a reputation as one of the UK's leading co-educational boarding schools for students aged 7-18. Fettes has achieved the maximum of 6/excellent by the Care Inspectorate and is ‘sector-leading’ in their pastoral care.