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Boarding school specialists from Anderson Education, who have helped several students from within the region find suitable institutes in the UK, are returning to the kingdom to offer families further advice.
The UK Boarding School Information Day, which will be held at the British Club on January 19 from 2pm to 6pm, will shed light on issues such as educational stability, financial benefits and finding the perfect fit for individual students.
Education consultant Sara Sparling, of Anderson Education, said: “The UK Boarding School Information Days in Bahrain have always been successful and popular with families flocking to the event from Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
“It gives families the opportunity to talk to the consultants, receive free advice, get a list of recommended schools for their consideration and help throughout the process.
“With increasing costs of living in the Middle East and a current favourable exchange rate, the option of a UK boarding school is a serious consideration for many expatriate and international families.
“It offers stability of education for families that move often, a stepping stone to university and a breadth and depth of learning support that may not be widely available at a local school.
“There is a boarding school in the UK to suit every child but finding that school can be a daunting process. We have placed more than 25 students from Bahrain in schools in the UK in the past three years. We have been visiting Bahrain as part of our UK Boarding School Middle East Tour since January 2007.”
Danish parents Claus and Hanne Hansen, who have been living in the kingdom for the past 10 years, sent both their daughters Anna and Luna to board at schools in the UK and recommend the choice to other families.
Hanne, a finance director for Seef Dental, who lives in Saar, said: “Anna was 16 when she moved in 2014. She was attending the British School of Bahrain at the time. Luna just moved in September last year as well at the same age and she was a student at the St Christopher’s School.
“Both my daughters were doing really well academically but for Anna she was having a hard time balancing her sporting life with her academics. She played for the U16 Bahrain national football team but there was a lot of driving around whereas abroad everything she needed was on campus which gave her enough time for her studies and sports.
“As for Luna, she felt limited in Bahrain with things to do and wanted to try something new. Both are doing really well and are happy.
“We are considering sending our son Oliver, who is now 13 and studying at St Christopher’s School, to the UK as well in the future.”
According to Sara, many British boarding schools boast an excellent reputation worldwide thanks to having professional and dedicated teaching staff, excellent facilities for music, drama, sport and art, homely facilities with excellent care, a safe secure environment, a seven-hour flight to the UK from the Gulf and progression to universities worldwide.
There is also a supportive environment for those students who need learning support or English language support.
With the current exchange rate a UK boarding school is now a particularly good option for many families, Sara added, with the Bahraini dinar worth around twice the value of the British pound.The termly fee (for three terms per year) ranges from £7,500 to £11,500 and this includes tuition, boarding accommodation, food and laundry. Scholarships are available for academically strong students or students who excel in music, drama, art or sport. Securing a scholarship can often provide discounts on the overall cost.
State boarding schools are also an option for EU passport holders. The family pays for boarding only from £3,500 per term.
As a first step, identify your criteria so that you have a clearer idea of the type of school that would suit your child and you may like to consider:
Academic Level – All schools encourage their students to achieve their academic potential. Some schools offer an academically competitive environment with an expectation that their students will achieve top grades while other schools will have a broader range of academic abilities. Students are taught in small classes.
Full boarding environment – it is important for international and expat boarders to be part of a busy full boarding environment with lots of activities and trips arranged during evenings and weekends. Many families consider London and the south as they are perhaps more familiar with the area, however, schools in the Midlands, North, South West and East offer good full boarding environments and often reasonable fees.
Fulfilling talents and passion in sport, music, art and drama – if your child has a talent and passion it is important that they are able to continue and develop this, whether it is representing the county at rugby or playing in the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Sports and Performing Arts academies offer the opportunity to develop a student’s skill alongside academic studies.
The curriculum – there are a wide range of options available: GCSE, A Levels, IB Diploma, Btecs, Foundation Programmes and Pre-U. Within these qualifications there is a breadth of subjects to choose from.
Type of school – Prep schools offer a boarding education from the age of seven through to 13, senior schools are for students from the age of 11 or 13 to 18. There is also the option of girls’ schools, boys’ schools and co-ed schools.