Although Cayman has excellent schools, many parents will look to broaden their children’s horizons by sending them to overseas boarding schools.
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Over the years the image of boarding schools has changed immeasurably; the transformation from the hardship and coldness of Dickens’ Dotheboys Hall to the spellbinding excitement of Hogwarts has been both evolutionary and revolutionary. However, the changes in perception and the reality are not works of fiction; boarding schools in Britain and North America are flourishing and should be a real consideration for families thinking about the future schooling of their children.
Why Choose Boarding School?
There are many reasons for choosing the boarding school path, from the standards of teachers, to the friends and connections that are made. The following are all factors to consider when deciding if boarding school is right for you and your child.
1. First Rate Education:
The reputation of leading schools in the UK, USA and Canada is not just a label of prestige from the past; the academic, sporting and social success of these schools is in the present and the future. Academic excellence, their successes in international exams and their students winning places at Ivy League and Russell Group universities speaks for themselves.
2. All-Round Education:
Boarding schools are concerned with much more than academic prowess; pupils exceeding their potential in the classroom is paramount, of course, but the ability to be involved in whichever sporting, creative or intellectual pursuit that stimulates a child, is of huge importance too. All these things are on the student’s doorstep; schools are extremely busy places where children are seldom bored or lonely and, rather charmingly, it is still seen to be cool to do something rather than nothing.
Success is achieved through sound teaching and individual care and attention. Staff at boarding schools are with their students 24 hours a day and are there to ensure that every child is happy and performing well at all times, addressing problems swiftly. Boarding schools are well-equipped and qualified to support most learning requirements and a wide range of schools offer specialist additional support for learning and emotional needs.
Boarding schools have some outstanding facilities and offer beautiful spaces in which youngsters can grow and develop. Academic and sporting facilities can be state-of-the-art, and boarding houses are often not far off a reasonable hotel.
Whilst boarding school pupils can no longer rely on the ‘old school tie’ to garner success in later life, a boarding education exposes youngsters to a huge array of people – some of whom will become life-long friends. They will probably know these people better than they know anyone else in their lives. The ability to live and work with such a huge number of people is what gives boarding school students the confidence and maturity to excel in their future worlds. Exposure to the wider world and internationalism also helps prepare students for the world of business.
Boarding school fees can seem eye-wateringly expensive – fees can be as high as GBP£32,000 or US$59,000 a year. However, boarding schools are working increasingly hard to ensure that they are not ‘elitist’ and seek to attract the students who will most benefit from all the school has to offer. It is always worth asking about bursary and scholarship assistance.
There are people who can advise you about UK or North American private schools, and it is worth seeking guidance – this is, after all, one of the most important decisions you will make for your child. However, it is important to choose a consultant who really knows the full range of British or North American independent schools and the complicated admission procedures involved.
Remember to ask them about things that you cannot find out from reading a school’s prospectus: whether the school is warm and welcoming and the students are known for being kind; what the pastoral care is like; does it run a house system, and if so what are the benefits; does it empty at weekends; does it have a reputation for having a drug problem; does it cater well to students who require learning support; will your child flourish academically there or drift to the bottom third of the academic group.
The details of two school consultants who specifically work with Cayman families can be found below.
At least two school fairs usually take place in Grand Cayman each year offering parents the opportunity to meet representatives from various overseas boarding schools. Here are the details for future reference:
British Schools Fair Cayman Islands
The 2022 Cayman Islands Boarding School Fair was held on 30th October from 12pm-5pm at the Westin. Staff from a wide range of British and Canadian schools (for pupils aged 8-18) were there to talk to parents and students. At this annual fair, the school representatives are happy to conduct school interviews or have a private meeting with you while they are here. For information on which schools usually visit and for updates on the 2023 fair see this link.
Caribbean School Fair
Bedi Walker's school fair usually comprises the top 40 US and Canadian boarding schools and is held on a Sunday in the middle of November from 4pm to 6pm at the Marriott. For more information please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cayman has no boarding schools, so choosing an international boarding school is difficult, as visiting overseas schools is a huge task. Make a list of your child’s needs and wants and then choose to visit schools that tick those boxes.