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【SCMP Education Post:Boarding Insider】Three sizzling schools right by the British coastline

Boarding 101


Educated just a few miles from the North Norfolk Coast myself, I am only too aware of the wonders a coastal setting can do for a child’s peace of mind, physical development, all-round enjoyment and inquisitive nature at boarding school. Here I look at three schools which make the most of their advantageous settings to deliver an enriching curriculum to their pupils …


When narrowing down UK boarding school choices, Hong Kong parents do not have to be so fixated on league tables, exam results and sending children to the most famous public schools. There are several boarding schools hugging Britain’s coastline which are no slouches in the academic department and with a capacity to offer alternative enrichment programmes which revolve around watersports. The atmosphere, too, at schools and colleges by the sea generally have a hint of the laid-back about them. Let us look at three schools which could see Hong Kong children skimming stones into the sea or having a laid-back revision session on the beach come the sunny month of May:


Roedean School

Located in Roedean village, right on the outskirts of the popular seaside town of Brighton and just a short walk to Brighton Marina, Roedean School educates girls aged 11-18. The School is located on a cliff and offers splendid views of Brighton Marina and the English Channel.


Roedean champions the idea of offering a package which “is much more than just work”. Not a school to get bogged down with league tables and academic results, Roedean focuses on providing an “all-embracing” education, preferring to value every single individual rather than a select few. At Roedean, a holistic education really does mean honing pupils’ interpersonal skills and offering them a wealth of memorable experiences.


Roedean does have a large number of day pupils yet boarding at the School is an extremely pleasant experience. Moreover, there are over 200 girls on site at the weekends. Exceptionally high standards of care, a convivial atmosphere in boarding houses and a vast array of inter-house competitions and events in drama, music and sport, all work together to ensure that girls are extremely happy.


Roedean’s co-curricular programme is excellent with girls in the lower years experiencing HHH. HHH stands for Head, Heart, Hand and the programme encourages girls to step out of their comfort zones and try something new, such as learning Russian, Sign Language or taking Cookery classes.


All in all, Headmaster, Mr Oliver Blond, has got Roedean ticking along nicely and the 2016 Independent Schools Inspectorate inspection report would seem to confirm my sentiments.


Plymouth College

Plymouth College is located in the town of Plymouth, Devon, and is for day and boarding pupils from the ages of 3 to 18. The College is co-educational.


In an academic sense, the College affords tremendous breadth and depth to pupils with plenty of subjects to choose for GCSE/IGCSE examinations. The IB Diploma is also available as is the BTEC Extended Diploma in Sport for the many sport-minded individuals who are attracted to Plymouth College.


It would be unfair to say that Plymouth College is all about enrichment but certainly activities are almost too numerous to mention. Given the College’s location, kayaking is popular, while training courses are given in outdoor survival. Outdoor Education is a prominent fixture in Plymouth’s curriculum, with the College’s push the provision of a holistic education never seeming to falter. Budding snooker players from Hong Kong may also be interested to learn that the College has access to a local club’s facilities in the autumn and spring terms. 


Plymouth College is internationally recognised for developing its own day and boarding students into Olympic and World champions. It is able to do this through a scholarship scheme perhaps better described as The Plymouth College/Plymouth Leander partnership. Of course, athletes gain a first-class education as well as top-class swimming training.


The Royal Hospital School

Located due south of Ipswich, The Royal Hospital School is a 11-18 co-educational school with naval traditions.


Perhaps the School is not as “coastal” as Plymouth College and Roedean, but it is still worthy of consideration due to its unique seafaring heritage and the excellent provision for sailing at a nearby reservoir.


Royal Hospital has a long tradition for musical excellence, something else Hong Kong parents may wish to consider. The School’s Music School is truly state-of-the-art, while the curriculum for years 7-9 emphasises practical music making quite strongly.


Just a short mention of Royal Hospital, but Hong Kong families are encouraged to find out more about this wonderful school keen on upholding its heritage and traditions.


All in all, three quite different schools in terms of atmosphere, traditions, academic provision and sporting priorities.


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