Hogwarts effect stronger overseas than at home, boarding-school leader says

British pupils no longer choose to go to boarding school because they want to be like Harry Potter. But their overseas counterparts do

Adi Bloom


The Hogwarts effect, which saw a rise in the numbers of pupils wanting to come to boarding school in order to emulate Harry Potter, has dropped off among British pupils, according to the Boarding Schools' Association. 

But the Hogwarts effect is still strong among overseas pupils, he added.

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Speaking of the Hogwarts effect, Robin Fletcher, the association's chief executive, said: “Certainly, there was a bit of a rise when the books first came out. Probably inevitably, that’s slackened off a little bit. 

“But I think it’s still a factor for overseas children.”

Mr Fletcher was speaking to Tes at the Boarding Schools’ Association’s annual conference, held in London this week. He said that a range of influences now inform a British child’s decision to go to boarding school. 

“I think UK families will have all sorts of sources of information about boarding schools,” Mr Fletcher said. “They might live near one. They might know people who’ve been to one. Harry Potter is only one of the influences they’re considering.”

By contrast, he said: “Overseas, Harry Potter might have a slightly disproportionate effect. If you live in China, you might just see Hogwarts and think, I want to go to a boarding school like that.”

Nick Wergan, chairman of the Boarding Schools' Association, agrees that the Hogwarts effect is lessening in the UK. “It’s more: ‘I want to bridge the gap of independence from school to university’,” he said. “It’s the community, the friends, the enrichment.”

But Mr Fletcher argues that, while Hogwarts is a fictional school, and boarding-school pupils do not, in fact play Quidditch, the Hogwarts effect highlights many qualities of real-life boarding schools. 

“While Harry Potter is a completely mythical place, it does show young people living together in community, trying new things, bonding with each other,” he said. “Becoming independent characters in a historic environment. That is representative of boarding.”

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Adi Bloom

Adi Bloom is Tes comment editor

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