An interesting article on DailyMail.co.uk yesterday, on ‘Whether boarding school scars children for life?’, talked about how people who did go to boarding school often feel that they were affected long-term. And speaking from experience, I think it definitely can have an adverse effect.
According to the article, around 90,000 children attend boarding school in the UK, and, for most, it remains a mark of privilege – boarding school fees cost between £16,000 and £25,000 a year.
Read the full article here (Source Dailymail.co.uk 11 Feb 2010)
Parents might think it will give their children a head start in life, but do they really think about the impact it could have on them emotionally? Especially at the age of seven, eight or even ten or eleven, it still so young and children are so reliant on their parents for emotional support. It’s easy to understand why a child can feel abandoned, which can then cause problems later in life.
It has made me think back to my days at boarding school. I went at the age of 10. My mother, a single working mum, wanted me to get the best education possible and decided this would be the best way. No one took into account how I would cope with it emotionally. I was very ‘unstreetwise’ and this, combined with the fact I was the youngest and one of the smallest in my year, meant I had really tough time. I didn’t know how to stand up for myself.
I remember getting a sickening feeling in my stomach on the way back to school and crying as my mother left. We were only allowed home one weekend either side of half term and one phone call a week, and the attitude was very much “tough, pull yourself together”.
There was a lot of bullying and bitching. Girls were stripped and given cold baths, eggs were put under mattresses of girls that were disliked, people were sent to Coventry (no one would talk to them), there were fights. I still have scars on my hands where I was scratched by one girl when I refused to hold her books.
The experience has made me very anti boarding schools and also all-girls schools. I look back at my school days in anger and I do think it affected my confidence and ability to build proper adult relationships. Whilst I don’t blame my mother, because I do understand her reasons for sending me to a boarding school, I could never imagine sending my daughter off to boarding school.
However, that said, my understanding is that boarding today in many schools is a very different experience. Children don’t just get left to get on with it, to see if they will sink or swim. A lot of schools work in partnership with families and the child’s welfare is the most important aspect. In some places children can board for a day, a week, or the odd weekend if they have school activities. It’s much more flexible and a much better way of doing things.
What do you think about this? Would you send your child to boarding school?