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EL Young learners: All on board for excellence

Face Painting courtesy Bishopstrow College

Melanie Butler examines the different types of UK boarding provision accredited by the British Council

Boarding schools may be among the smallest of the market segments of accredited English language providers – under thirty are currently accredited English language providers – but they are the highest-performing. With a mode average of nine areas of strength and a median score of 8.35, their inspection results are outstanding. Uniquely, British Council inspectors have yet to award a single need for improvement to any boarding school, and 50 per cent have a strength in the care of under-18s.

The accredited language provision offered by this sector falls into two main categories: boarding-school-run summer schools like St Edmund’s, joint second in our Centres of Excellence rankings with fourteen strengths, and international study centres – like Bishopstrow with thirteen strengths.

The summer schools include some, like Millfield and Bede’s, that are run in more than one centre and, for legal reasons, are often run by a private company wholly owned by the schools. This can cause confusion. The nine points awarded to Babssco (the British Association of Boarding School Summer Course Organisers) by the British Council were not awarded to the association but to one of its providers: Harrow Enterprises, a wholly owned subsidiary of Harrow School.

International study centres (ISC) teach English and other subjects, normally including maths and science, to students planning to go on to a British independent school. Some are stand-alone schools, like Bishopstrow, while others like Taunton International and Sherbourne International are separate centres owned by British boarding schools. ISCs are experienced practitioners of Clil and English-medium instruction and offer English and academic subjects at their summer schools, which could be perfect for children attending Europe’s many bilingual schools.

Under British educational law, you don’t have to be a residential school to be a boarding school. International Community School, for example, is an international day school in central London and one of the highest risers in our Centres of Excellence ranking. Because it offers host family accommodation to its year-round students, it is legally a boarding school and has to meet the national minimum boarding school standards, a far tougher test of child protection than required by the British Council.

All the boarding schools in the British Council scheme have passed these standards, one reason for their outstanding results. One boarding school, St Clare’s Oxford, also owns a language school for young adults and has been inspected by four separate child inspection schemes – receiving a point of excellence from all of them.

Pic courtesy: Bishopstrow