Monday, May 20, 2024

A class apart?

Melanie Butler dives into the data on boarding schools

Statistics show that British boarding schools are the top-performing sector in UK EFL, based on reports from British Council inspection reports.

On average, a boarding school will be awarded nine areas of strength by the inspectors, out of a possible 15. This puts them ahead of the universities, with an average of eight areas of strength, and one standard deviation above the average score of five achieved across the total of all accredited language centres.

The sector performs particularly strongly in welfare, the area we focus on for our sector rankings for young learners. These schools have an average score 4.16, compared to 3.95 for summer schools and 3.03 for year-round providers. Of the seven providers in this issue who score more than five bonus points, four are boarding schools: Millfield, Bishops row College, St Clare’s Oxford and Moreton Hall. We should say, however, that the highest score overall went to two summer school providers.

Many boarding schools have hundreds of years of experience, as Matthew Siegal of Stonyhurst (founded in 1592) points out in our case study opposite. St Edmund’s, Harrow and Sherborne are also more than 400 years old.

Newer boarding schools, however, can also do well. Just after the war, two language schools were set up to promote international understanding, and both became successful boarding schools: St Clare’s Oxford became one of the first UK schools to introduce the International Baccalaureate, and Concord College was ranked as number four in the country for A level exam results on its 70th birthday last year.

No boarding school is required to be inspected by the British Council, they choose this additional accreditation for their English language provision, typically their summer programmes. But some, like Sherborne and Moreton Hall, accredit their International Study Centres. Rossall School has chosen to accredit all its English language provision.

Images courtesy of STONYHURST LANGUAGE SCHOOL and Library
Melanie Butler
Melanie Butler
Melanie started teaching EFL in Iran in 1975. She worked for the BBC World Service, Pearson/Longman and MET magazine before taking over at the Gazette in 1987 and also launching Study Travel magazine. Educated in ten schools in seven countries, she speaks fluent French and Spanish and rather rusty Italian.
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