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Boarders enjoy just being there

But less than half would choose to send their own children to a similiar institution. Cherry Canovan reports.

LESS than half of boarding school pupils would be keen for their own children to board, despite enjoying the experience themselves.

A survey of 3,500 pupils in the upper-sixth found that only 49 per cent were likely or very likely to consider boarding for their children.

A third of the pupils had not made up their minds, according to Sophie Marsh of the Boarding in the 21st Century campaign, which organised the survey.

"Some of the boys said they weren't going to have children. At 17, it is not something they would consider," she said.

However most respondents had enjoyed boarding, with positive responses from more than 70 per cent.

The experience may have helped them academically - they are three times more likely than the national average to go to university.

More than 95 per cent planned to go to university, while nationally only 32 per cent do so by the age of 20.

Ms Marsh said: "Boarders do obviously have better access to their teachers because they are around a lot in the evening."

But academic success is not the main thing the pupils value. Asked what the main characteristics of a boarding school were, only half said the education was better while 92 per cent said it had helped them to live with others.

Two-thirds felt a greater sense of community, but a third said boarding schools are isolated from society and a similar proportion said they deny pupils privacy.

The survey follows a study carried out by Harrogate Ladies College last month which claimed that boarding actually saves parents money.

The pound;13,500-a-year North Yorkshire school said parents save on food, travel, entertaining, heating and childcare while children are away.

PUPILS IN THEIR OWN WORDS

ADVANTAGES:

* Being there for others and having someone there for you. A constant social life, you don't miss out on anything with friends.

* Feeling part of team and living with friends means that you get to know people better.

* Rapport with teachers is better. Everyone knows you and you know them.

* I have met lots of different types of people and seen the ways they live and their customs and it has made me more independent.

* Being with friends every night, sharing even the littlest things. Opportunity to play lots of sport, make better friends and meet varied people.

DISADVANTAGES:

* Sometimes I feel isolated and too protected.

* When you live with friends for such a long time you start to get irritated with them.

* You must organise your social life around school arrangements and weekends.

* The long distance you live from most of your friends in the holidays can be difficult.

* I'm not able to meet with friends from home - sometimes I feel excluded if I haven't been around.

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