'There's a sense of normality away from turbulent home life'

29th April 2005 at 01:00
Academy aims to point the way to a new boarding role, reports Graeme Paton

At the end of the day, almost all 900 children at Sir Roger Manwood's school in east Kent head for the exit. But not Andrew Willers, 17. He is among 60 pupils who live in accommodation in the grounds of the state-funded grammar school in Sandwich.

The teenager, from Highgate, north London, said his parents wanted to educate him privately outside the busy capital, but could not afford the likes of Eton.

So they applied to one of the country's 35 state schools with boarding facilities, where children are charged less than pound;6,000 for accommodation and tuition is free.

"I have had a lot of friends whose parents have divorced and school offers a sense of normality away from a turbulent home life," said Andrew, who joined the school at 11.

"For me, it was hard at first but being in this environment has given me an opportunity a lot of my friends at home would never be able to experience."

Andrew, who went to a state primary school and plans to study music at Liverpool university when he leaves in the summer, said: "In some cases boarding can cause you to drift away from your parents; you are going through your formative years away from your family."

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