State boarding – a guide for Channel Island families!
Shaftesbury School is extremely proud to be one of just a handful of state boarding schools across the UK and the closest to the Channel Islands. With fewer than 40 currently operating, state boarding schools are not widely known about or well understood, with most people associating boarding schools solely with the private sector. So, we thought we’d offer a guide to explain what we can offer to students from Jersey & Guernsey.
What is a state boarding school?
A state boarding school is a school which offers a boarding option, but only charges fees for boarding – not for education. The education is paid for by the government, which funds it just as it funds any other state school.
While the facilities and strong academic results can often mean these schools are mistaken for private schools, they are not. The fees are substantially lower than at a private boarding school, where parents pay for both their child’s board and their educational provision, as well as extra-curricular activities.
Who can board?
Shaftesbury School not only welcomes day pupils from the Shaftesbury area, but it has a rich tradition of welcoming pupils from around the UK and abroad as boarders.
With boarders from as far afield as France, Brazil, Portugal, Dubai and Saudi Arabia, we have a dynamic atmosphere and take joy in celebrating cultural diversity, which enriches and enlivens the experiences of all.
Boarding is a great option for many families, where one or both parents work long hours or travel for work for example, including those in the armed forces. Being able to board and still access a state-funded education is also a great option for families living in remote areas, such as island communities, including the Channel Islands.
What we offer?
We have much to recommend us, with families choosing us for a wealth of different reasons, from our beautiful location in Shaftesbury, surrounded by stunning Dorset countryside, to the quality of the education, to the benefits of being part of a stable boarding community.
Our boarders achieve excellent results, being able to take advantage of a first-class state-funded education with a rich and diverse curriculum. But there is much more to be gained from the experience of boarding besides.
With exceptional pastoral support and in a stable and nurturing environment, we encourage boarders to tackle challenges and take responsibility for themselves, developing their independence and allowing them to grow confident and capable young people.
And, as we say at Shaftesbury school, our boarders are never bored with a rich-offer of co-curricular activities and opportunities not only at weekends, but after school too.
Options encompass sports, arts and music, with an activity on every single night and at least one trip out each weekend, along with big visits and excursions throughout the year including trips to theme parks, Christmas markets, water parks, the theatre and more, and activities such as ice skating, paintballing and bowling.
Our boarders also take full advantage of everything on offer in our local community, accessing the local swimming pool and the school’s courts and pitches, and clubs and activities in the area, be that the Army or Air Cadets, Stagecoach performing arts school, or a wide range of sports clubs.
So, we’re an excellent choice for all sorts of families, including those from Jersey and Guernsey.
An invitation to boarders from Jersey & Guernsey
While there are many parts of the country where families could benefit from joining Shaftesbury School, here, as an example, we look at The Channel Islands.
Children from island families often number among boarders at schools in the UK, with families looking to enrich and expand their children’s experience – but many are unaware that they can access a state boarding school rather than meet the expense of a private school.
Unlike in the Isles of Scilly, there is no state boarding option within the Channel Islands themselves, so families looking to take advantage of what state boarding can offer them will naturally look to this part of England to accommodate them.
We are, (we think!) the closest state boarding school to The Channel Islands so Shaftesbury School is a great choice, located within easy reach of Bournemouth and Southampton airports and the port of Poole, where ferries depart for both Jersey and Guernsey on a regular basis.
We want to reach out to Channel Island families, so if you would like to know more about state boarding at Shaftesbury School, get in touch with admissions officer Tracey Dunn at firstname.lastname@example.org or on +44 1747 852469.
Town and country – weekly boarding at Shaftesbury School
While there are certainly plenty of dyed in the wool city dwellers out there, it is also the case that for many, living in the capital is more a matter of necessity than of choice; they stay put in order to be in easy reach of their places of work, or to take advantage of the job opportunities and higher pay London affords.
For parents in particular, for whom the appeal of city life has perhaps worn thin over the years, the idea of raising a family in the country is often an appealing one. Many would love to make the move, and take advantage of all that fresh air, wildlife and nature, open space, and to enjoy a different pace of life.
We’re seeing more families from London and other big cities and towns choosing weekly boarding at Shaftesbury School – enabling their children to have all the benefits of life in a country town, without the need for the entire family to uproot and move.
While daily commuting into London is undoubtedly a stretch too far, making the journey on a Friday and back on a Sunday night is quite manageable with the direct train from nearby Gillingham covering the distance to London Waterloo in just over two hours.
The best of both worlds
Having a child away at school during the working week can work well for other reasons too, especially for families when both parents are at work full time. When you’re juggling professional demands with shorter school days, working long hours, or travelling for work, weekly boarding can mean calmer, less frantic evenings for both parents and children.
At school, a weekly boarder has the clear structure and ample time to keep up with their work, they can easily socialise with their fellow boarders and friends each evening without having to find somewhere out of the house to hang-out together, and there is no rushing about to clubs and activities.
And when the weekend comes, they can head home to enjoy quality time with their family, hopefully having taken care of all their school work and extra-curricular activities between Monday and Friday. For older teens, there is also the advantage of being able to enjoy everything the city has to offer over the weekend, while not being hindered by its distractions during the school week.
Weekly boarding offers further flexibility too, so if a work or social commitment comes up for parents at the weekend, there is always the option for a student to stay on at school.
Affordable, flexible, and fun
For hard working families the financial implication of weekly boarding must also be a consideration – but here too some welcome news. Being one of only a handful of state-funded boarding schools in the country, parents need only pay for the boarding element, not their child’s education, which in private boarding schools represents the lion’s share of the fees.
In addition, weekly boarding fees are lower still than full boarding fees, and in the case of children whose parents are in the armed forces, a further discount applies.
Again, the flexibility of weekly boarding has huge merits for military families, who can take up the option when they live within a reasonable distance for weekend visits home, safe in the knowledge that they can move over to full boarding should a posting take the family further afield.
Flexibility and fitting in with the busy lives of working families are two key reasons why weekly boarding works well – but ask any boarder and they’ll give you a whole heap of reasons why it works for them; many love spending more time with their friends, others appreciate the independence of travelling up and down on the train, and for some it’s the extra special welcome and quality time they enjoy when going home only at weekends.
Get in touch to discuss how weekly boarding might work for your family get in touch with our admissions officer Tracey Dunn at email@example.com or on +44 1747 852469.
We are always happy to talk to prospective parents and students, either over the phone or a video call, or in person.Read More
When it comes to children and young people, the only constant is change, especially when it comes to their growing capabilities. It can be a challenge for parents and carers to always match their expectations to the realities of what children can do for themselves, and what they can contribute to the family and beyond it.
Likewise for a child, it can be all too easy to get stuck relying on mum and dad for certain things long after they need to, or they may go the other way and end up battling with them to have their growing sense of independence recognised – especially as teens.
This is one of the multitude of reasons why for many families boarding works so well. It gives children the opportunity to rise to challenges and discover what they are capable of more independently, while still in a safe and nurturing environment.
Resilience and Mental toughness
At Shaftesbury School helping our boarders develop their independence is one of the key tenets of our approach, and for that reason we set expectations high. So rather than levelling the path ahead of them, we know it is so important to offer students both opportunities and challenges.
While our staff are always on hand with guidance and support, we aren’t constantly reminding students and chivvying them along. As such children will inevitably make mistakes along the way, but we know that being the best you can be doesn’t mean getting things right the first time – or even the second, third or tenth time. It means trying your best, being prepared to fail and falter, but coming back and trying again.
The foundation for mental resilience ought not to be adversity – but rather the many small challenges overcome in a supportive environment which can prepare children for the bigger challenges they will inevitably face in adult life.
We want our students to take responsibility – for their belongings, for their environment, for their learning, and for each other –while being bolstered by our school structures and guidance and support from teachers and pastoral staff.
Through our curriculum we want to help children to be curious, to enquire, think and learn, rather than memorise designated facts. And we know that boarding allows students to continue learning outside of the classroom, from staff and other students, and as they themselves step up to be role models to their peers and younger children.
Likewise, our co-curricular offer, which includes plenty of opportunity to become involved with the local community, through a sports team, drama club or Army Cadets for example, encourages our boarders to challenge themselves to try new things and build their confidence.
And throughout the year we will have presentations by the local police, drug and alcohol services, nutritionists and internet safety officers equipping young people with the knowledge and guidance they need to make safe decisions.
Seeing new boarders who have arrived with trepidation and doubt blossom with confidence as they begin to learn how capable, mature and resourceful they really are is one of the highlights of our work at Shaftesbury School.
We know that becoming a boarder and leaving your home and family for chunks of the year can feel quite overwhelming – even intimidating. But inevitably what follows is the enormous boost to self-esteem and confidence that comes with overcoming that initial hesitancy.
Children and young people who learn to push through something difficult in life, to face a fear or do something novel and alien, step forward from those moments with a deeper reserve of confidence which will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives. We’ve seen for ourselves in the capable, considered, mature, determined and balanced and resilient young people who leave our boarding house at the end of their secondary school education.
Confidence, self- reliance and independence – these are among many character traits that boarding at Shaftesbury School can help unlock.
Being an international boarding school means we have students coming to stay with us from all across the world, and with each new country brings a whole host of new international influences and cultures for us to learn!
A huge part of what we do at Barton Hill House is making all our students feel at home within the school community and the wider area. We often have fun-filled sessions where we look at different international cultures and activities together and work as a team to understand them.
Supporting international students
A lot of our international students speak a whole range of different languages and sometimes English isn’t their first language. Part of the way we help support and welcome them to our school is through offering additional support within the boarding house and the school.
It’s important to us that our international students feel completely at home while they’re with us. That’s why we offer all sorts of opportunities for them to develop their English through private tuition, discussion groups, group prep-sessions, 1-1 support, and much more!
Cultural learning and activities
As part of helping the other students understand and develop their cultural knowledge, we often host a variety of different cultural activities to not only help our boarders bond as a mini-community, but to educate them on the way other cultures are celebrated.
Previous activities have included; learning how to make sushi, celebrating Chinese New Year, keeping up to date with international sporting events, and even sampling cuisine from different countries at our dinners.
Setting them up for leading a good life
These international influences are always such a great addition to life here at Barton Hill House, as not only do they help educate our students in the ways of the world, but they expand their understanding of other cultures and their impacts as well.
At Shaftesbury School, a big part of everything we do is to encourage students to become the best they can be, and by encouraging to become more educated in this way it helps to make them much more worldly, understanding the importance of different cultural relations and how they make our world a much better place. Not to mention the fusion of cultures encourages all our students to be much more inclusive, leading to less prejudice in their adult lives – working to make the world a much more understanding and inclusive place.
We have every faith that the children we work with are going to do amazing things globally and we know that these influences and activities are so beneficial to their development – and not to mention a lot of fun too!
To learn more about our boarding community and the international influences we have, get in touch with our admissions officer Tracey Dunn at firstname.lastname@example.org or on +44 1747 852469.Read More
Why boarders are never bored – extracurricular trips and activities at Shaftesbury School
There are many good reasons to be a boarder at Shaftesbury. As well as the excellent pastoral support, a settled environment, strong friendships, the opportunity to gain independence and confidence, and the ability to focus and excel academically – there is also all the extra-curricular fun! COVID curtailed a lot of the trips and activities last year… so we’re looking forward to hopefully getting back to normal!
Every day, and weekends too
Ask our boarders what they enjoy about their lives at school and all the activities, clubs and trips they can experience here will always be high on their lists.
Not only does our Barton Hill House offer lots of space inside and out for games and relaxation, but we make it a priority to offer a wider range of activities across the evenings and weekends, encompassing sports, arts and music, so there is something to suit everyone.
In fact, we ensure there is an activity on every single night – be that swimming, sports or a film night, and at least one trip out each weekend, often to nearby towns and cities such as Salisbury, Yeovil, Southampton and Bath.
Big trips and activities
Visits and excursions throughout the year are also a highlight. These include trips to theme parks, Christmas markets, water parks, the theatre, museums, animal parks such as Longleat and Monkey World, days out shopping and sightseeing, and activities such as ice skating, paintballing, bowling and even a roller disco!
Not only do our boarders have the opportunity to see new places and try many fun things, but they get to do it together, alongside their friends – which, as they’ll attest – makes everything from the journey there to the experience itself twice as much fun!
Getting involved in the community
But we don’t always need to travel to find things to do – we also take full advantage of everything on offer in our local community. Our students have access to the local swimming pool and the school’s courts and pitches, and many choose to join clubs and activities in and around the area, be that the Army or Air Cadets, Stagecoach performing arts school, or a wide range of sports clubs.
We always encourage students to engage with the local community and many of our boarders play for local teams and work in the charity shops. And there is plenty to enjoy in the picturesque town of Shaftesbury itself, which may be small, but is safe and offers everything you need and plenty to do.
So if you’re under the mistaken impression that being a boarder means being stuck at school – think again. They may be boarders, but they are never bored!
To learn more about joining our boarding community get in touch with our admissions officer Tracey Dunn at email@example.com or on +44 1747 852469.
We are always happy to talk to prospective parents and students, either over the phone or a video call, or in person.
Summer holiday bucket lists – five Dorset must-dos to add to yours
Whether you write a list or just keep a few ideas in your head, all of us will look forward to some special treats or activities we want to enjoy over the school summer holidays.
We’re so lucky in this beautiful county of Dorset to have many wonderful locations and activities on our doorstep – so we thought we’d take this opportunity to share a couple of our favourites with you in case you’re getting stuck for ideas, or you’re just looking to add a few more gems to your own holiday bucket lists.
#1 Durdle Door
It’s hard to imagine a lovelier part of the coast than that which you’ll find around Durdle Door, a stunning naturally formed limestone arch on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast. It’s downright charming – including its name, which is thought to date back 1000 years, with Durdle coming from the Old English thirl, meaning to pierce, bore or drill. We love the walk from Lulworth Cove along to Durdle Door and back – which means you can enjoy two of the most picturesque Dorset coastal landmarks in one day!
#2 The Shaftesbury Fringe
Shaftesbury might be small but it does punch above its weight when it comes to festivals and events, from the 161-year-old Shaftesbury and Gillingham Show which pulls in crowds of 25,000, to the rather new Shaftesbury Fringe, founded in 2016. This performing arts festival is a celebration of all things creative, with both new and established artists performing and exhibiting across 30 venues in the town. The festival is often used by artists as a warm-up opportunity on their way to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival later in the year – making it the perfect place to catch rising stars on their way to the big time!
#3 Gold Hill
Whether it’s a regular jaunt for you, or you’ve never scaled it– and it’s always surprising how many local folk fall into that camp – a walk up Shaftesbury’s famous Gold Hill never disappoints. This steep cobbled street, made famous by the long-running iconic Hovis ad, is well worth the effort for the view looking down from the top, described as ‘one of the most romantic sights in England.’ Get along and see for yourself if you agree!
#4 Kingston Lacey
This fabulous 8,500-acre estate includes a 17th Century home, formal gardens and swathes of parkland, all managed by the National Trust. Spend a day exploring and top it off with a visit to the nearby Barford Farmhouse ice cream gardens where you enjoy their sumptuous range of ice creams made right there on the farm while relaxing in their pretty gardens. Though closed for 2021 we’re hoping this much-loved ice-cream lovers haven will reopen again next year!
#5 Gorcombe Extreme Sports
This outdoor activity centre has everything to please the thrill-seekers out there, with more than 10 activities to try, from quad biking to clay shooting to an extreme assault course. Go with a gang of pals and prepare to come home tired, muddy and very happy!
These are just a few of our Dorset favourites – we bet you have many more on your own lists! We wish you a great time ticking them off and hope you enjoy the rest of your summer holiday!Read More
Get to know our Head of Boarding Craig Knowles
He used to play for a former Premier League football team; He’s worked in Egypt, Portugal, America and Canada; He’s planning a trip to Bermuda…
Which of the above applies to our brilliant Head of Boarding Craig Knowles?
The answer is – all three!
In this blog we’d like to introduce you to the man at the helm of boarding at Shaftesbury School.
Who is our Head of Boarding?
Craig leads our team of houseparents and boarding staff, helping to ensure every student living with us Barton Hill House has the personalised pastoral support and wrap around care they need to be happy and to succeed.
Craig is known for his positive and encouraging approach, and his fundamental belief that with enough effort and work – anything is possible.
It is something he knows to be true from his own experience of years of intensive training and competition to become an elite athlete, and earning his place playing for his beloved Bolton Wanders, then a Premier League team, where he was part of the squad from 2003 to 2005.
He’s even rubbed shoulders with some football legends – partnering Les Ferdinand up front playing for Bolton reserves, and in the same game played against Gerrard Pique!
Craig went from the football pitch to hitting the books, studying sport at the University of Central Lancashire, before embarking on a new career coaching young elite footballers around the world.
But it was during a graduate year at Gordons School in Surrey where he trained to become a PE teacher that he got his first experience of living and working in a boarding house; he had found his calling and refocussed on pastoral care.
After roles in boarding houses at Steyning Grammar School in West Sussex he joined Shaftesbury School as Senior House parent in 2017, becoming deputy head of boarding two years later and head of boarding earlier this year.
He brought not only a wealth of experience to the role, but plenty of expertise too, having completed the Boarding Schools’ Association’s Diplomas of Professional Development in Boarding in 2014, and a diploma in Leading Boarding Forward (Management) last year – both of which are degree-level courses.
Most recently he received his level 3 accreditation through the BSA and is now just one level away from becoming a BSA Accredited Boarding Practitioner – a status which recognises boarding staff who are making a personal, professional commitment to best boarding practice.
Since stepping into the top spot Craig has fostered a warm and caring environment at Barton Hill House, providing a sense of security and a second family, where everyone feels they belong.
He’s also a big advocate of fun! (Although admittedly World War II documentaries, running and cross fit qualify as fun for Craig himself!) With ideas for trips, games and events he fosters an atmosphere of excitement, curiosity and creativity, which he knows to be fundamental to the learning journey.
Craig is, of course, always ready to share his insights on the benefits of boarding and the multitude of good reasons to choose boarding at Shaftesbury School. So, to arrange a meeting or a tour get in touch with Get in touch with our admissions officer Tracey Dunn at firstname.lastname@example.org or on +44 1747 852469.Read More
Stability, support, & discounts for military families
There are many children and families for whom boarding is a great choice, but for military families in particular the stability and consistency it offers are particularly welcome.
A lot of parents in the armed forces see postings taking them from place to place every few years. But while families will often move together, uprooting home doesn’t have to mean uprooting children from their schools, teachers, and friendship groups.
Discounts for military families
Here at Shaftesbury School, mindful of the particular needs of military families, we have implemented a 10% discount on boarding fees for children with a parent or guardian in the armed forces, and ask for a reduced deposit of £500 from these families.
As a state boarding school, one of just 38 in the UK, we only charge for boarding fees, with tuition fees met by the government through taxes – making Shaftesbury an attractive and more affordable option than many private boarding schools.
Military families can face unique pressures and stresses, with parents away for extended periods often in challenging and dangerous environments, so we understand that pastoral support for children from these families is incredibly important.
We not only offer consistency and continuity of education but also that all-important continuity of place and experience too, with house parents helping to create a family feel and a home-from-home atmosphere.
Boarding, by its very nature, means we get to know children really well, and can effectively support both their learning and academic progress, and their emotional and social well-being not just within the school day, but around the clock, nurturing and responding to their individual needs and interests.
A happy community
Evening and weekends here are full and fun, and the community is lively, happy, and diverse, with overseas and UK boarders sharing and learning from each other, as well as from the local day pupils.
As our boarders will tell you, they are happy here and as their teachers can confirm, at Shaftesbury School they grow in resilience and independence too. With wrap-around support and care, they can spread their wings and discover who they are, achieve their potential, and develop into kind and capable young adults too.
To learn more about joining our boarding community get in touch with our admissions officer Tracey Dunn at email@example.com or on +44 1747 852469.
We are always happy to talk to prospective parents and students, either over the phone or a video call, or in person.Read More
Why makes boarding at Shaftesbury School different?
When you think of a boarding school does your mind take you to the Hogwarts School of the Harry Potter books, a vast castle with its tower-top dormitories? Or maybe you think of Enid Blyton’s Mallory Towers, and a world of midnight feasts, lacrosse games, and jolly hijinks? What you probably won’t think of is a state school with a boarding house – but this is what Shaftesbury School in Dorset has to offer.
Unusual yes – but not on its own. There are in fact almost 40 state boarding schools across the UK, combining free state-funded tuition and boarding accommodation– and they are becoming more and more popular.
Intrigued? Let us tell you more about our state boarding school in Dorset.
Boarding at Shaftesbury actually dates back to 1898 – but plenty has changed since then! Boarding is now provided at Barton Hill House, a purpose-built boarding house set in generous gardens a short walk from the main school.
This welcoming, comfortable and modern building, which can accommodate up to 100 students, was first opened in 1994, but reopened in 2012 following extensive refurbishment and new building works.
So you can forget giant, drafty dormitories! We have two, three and four person rooms, most en-suite, with separate accommodation for boys and girls, as well as a common area and dining room. Sixth formers have their own study rooms in our dedicated Sixth Form House, along with a huge common room with sofas and TV.
But while this lovely space offers all the creature comforts our students need, it is the pastoral support underpinning a warm and caring atmosphere that makes this a true home-from-home.
The boarding house is run like one big family home, with our house parents there to meet the wellbeing and emotional needs of students as well as to support their learning. As our students will tell you, they are far from distant authority figures – but treat students like their own children, and are totally committed to ensuring they are safe, healthy, happy and have the best possible experience at the school.
Who can board?
The short answer is anyone! Subject to our entry criteria, we welcome students from across the UK and around the world. Students might come from the other side of the globe – or live a few miles down the road, and still opt for the boarding experience.
As well as termly boarding, we offer day boarding, providing an extended school day from breakfast to dinner, and weekly boarding, where students go home at weekends. When you consider that many families have both parents working full time, often long hours, and evenings can be a mad rush of afterschool activities, music practice, and homework, these flexible options provide a stress-busting solution for many families, actually giving students more time to study and relax.
Where can I find out more about boarding in Dorset?
All the details about boarding and the wider Shaftesbury School experience are on our website, as is an application form to board at the school – which also includes an application to the school so there is no need to contact the LEA or make a separate school application.
And we are always happy to talk to prospective parents and students, either over the phone or a video call, or in person, pending with lifting of pandemic restrictions.
Get in touch with our excellent admissions officer Tracey Dunn at firstname.lastname@example.org or on +44 1747 852469.Read More