10/12/2012 10:51 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Boarding School: Would You? Could You?

Boarding school: Would you? Could you? Getty

Around the age of 13, I went through a phase of begging my long suffering parents to send me to boarding school. Not that I had a terrible home life you understand, quite the opposite. I wasn't craving freedom from the confines of the family home or unconsciously desperate for more discipline (my mother had that down!).

My reasons were somewhat more unsophisticated. I rather fancied the uniform. Little straw hat, burgundy pleated skirt, persil white blouse and matching wool jacket with the school emblem on the breast pocket. I fell in love with that uniform which I had spotted on a flyer found in the local library. It knocked my comprehensive school navy blue number into a cocked (straw) hat, and you got a school swimming costume. Burgundy naturally. Now that was posh.

Delusions of grandeur? Possibly. I was attempting, supported all the way by raging pre-pubescent hormones, to ignore the huge streak of common in me, of which I am, now as an adult, ironically very proud.

I suspect, reflecting on the utter nightmare I was as a 13-year-old, my parents were sorely tempted, had they only been able to rustle up the fees. Maybe that's why they suddenly initiated a syndicate on the football pools come to think of it...

But I'm pretty sure they never really would have sent me away from home just as I would never dream of sending my daughter to boarding school.


Apparently around 90,000 children attend boarding schools in the UK. Whilst I refuse to believe that 90,000 sets of parents can all be hard-hearted, cold cyborgs, void of emotion or empathy, I am frankly perplexed as to why a parent would make that decision.


There is, apparently, a line of thinking that suggests tearing your child away from the security of his own home and those whom he loves, at a time when he is most vulnerable, somehow magically instills Independence and confidence. That great British stiff upper lip so admired by those who often use it as an excuse to avoid confrontation and any show of public emotion.

To me (and if this were the Daily Mail I would no doubt be red arrowed for this) it's a bit like spanking your child. Those who do can often be heard justifying their actions by announcing to anyone who will listen that it did them no harm as a kid. I wonder how many parents who send their children to boarding schools were themselves packed off with their favorite teddy bear.

Admittedly having no personal experience of boarding schools, I'm willing to accept that my comprehensively educated brain is most likely brimming with prejudices. But consider this:

Today when I picked my child up from her school, she was, as ever, bursting with stories to tell of her day, her little hands full of pictures drawn for me and her father. She is learning to read and write and we are witnesses to her progress and development on a daily basis. I am her mother. Not only do I have a responsibility for my child's education, I need and want to be a part of it. I want to take part in her life as she grows and learns and becomes an adult.

Why on earth would you want to miss out on that?