At fair, British boarding schools stress all-round development | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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At fair, British boarding schools stress all-round development

By, Mumbai
Apr 15, 2024 08:43 AM IST

The fair, featuring 14 renowned British boarding schools, drew many students and parents who were looking for a more than academic excellence.

Mrunalini Singh, a working professional from Dubai, flew to Mumbai to attend the British Boarding School Fair held in the city on Sunday. She wanted to choose a school for her son for grade 9. “As my son is currently in grade 7 learning the British curriculum, I am looking for a better boarding school for him in the UK. He is interested in sports too, so my focus is mainly on the school that will give more importance to sports.”

Mumbai, India - April 14, 2024: Convening admissions heads from 14 renowned British boarding schools is present at Mumbai at the British Boarding School. Notable attendees include Sevenoaks School, Millfield School, Haileybury School, and others. Consolers are counselling to parents at Lower Parel, in Mumbai, India, on Sunday, April 14, 2024. (Photo by Anshuman Poyrekar/ Hindustan Times) (Hindustan Times)
Mumbai, India - April 14, 2024: Convening admissions heads from 14 renowned British boarding schools is present at Mumbai at the British Boarding School. Notable attendees include Sevenoaks School, Millfield School, Haileybury School, and others. Consolers are counselling to parents at Lower Parel, in Mumbai, India, on Sunday, April 14, 2024. (Photo by Anshuman Poyrekar/ Hindustan Times) (Hindustan Times)

The British Boarding School Fair, featuring admissions heads from 14 renowned British boarding schools, drew many students and parents who were looking for a more holistic development besides academic excellence. Parents often find the exposure to international standards and cultural diversity offered by these schools attractive.

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There are approximately 500 boarding schools across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, with 1,926 Indian overseas students enrolled in 2023, according to the Independent School Council. Notable attendees at the fair included prestigious institutions like Sevenoaks School, Millfield School, Rugby School and Brighton College among others. Hosted at a five-star hotel in Lower Parel, the fair aimed to provide comprehensive guidance on curriculum choices, extracurricular activities, and pastoral care systems offered by British boarding schools.

Organised by The Red Pen, an independent education consultancy, the fair serves as a platform for interaction between students, parents, and admission directors from top British boarding schools. These schools typically enroll students in grades 8 and 11, offering curricula such as the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) and A-levels or the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme. The annual fees for UK boarding schools usually range from £40,000 to £70,000 ( 42 lakh to 73 lakh).

Admission requirements vary, with schools assessing students’ academic records, conducting interviews, and administering entrance exams. Alex Patton, the deputy headmaster of Brighton College, said, “India is a major market, and we commend Indian students for their academic prowess and enthusiasm for education. Most of the schools in the UK have witnessed a surge in Indian student enrollment, reflecting the growing popularity of British boarding schools.”

“This academic year, Brighton College is going to open a new complex with additional classrooms, a computer science suite, social space, a dance school, drama schools, and other facilities. In the recent past, we invested around 55 million pounds for new infrastructure,” he added.

Parents and students who visit the stalls feel a strong connection to the history of Millfield School, says Andrea Critchley-Hope, head of senior admissions at the school. She said, “We have a strong connection with India as our school was founded by RJO (Jack) Meyer in 1935, following his return from India with seven Indian boys, six of whom were princes. He came to be known as ‘Boss’ Meyer.” Mentioning that at least 25 Indian students enroll every year, she said, “Four years ago, we invested in a cricket ground, golf club, and other sports activities which attract more Indian as well as other national students to our school.” Additionally, the school provides three scholarships for students pursuing advanced education in art, drama, and sports.

Laura Bursey Faulkner, director of admissions at Rugby School, said there has been a 20% increase in the number of international students in British Boarding Schools in the recent years. She said, “The school offers more than 200 co-curricular choices, enabling students to excel in any stream of their choice.”

Anuj Arenja, a healthcare businessperson and father of two daughters, shared, “I am an alumnus of Sevenoaks School, and I enjoyed my stay there as well as the quality of education, so I decided to send both my daughters to a British boarding school.”

Arenja pointed to the shortcomings of Indian schools, saying, “In India, many schools provide world-class education, but students are unable to explore their complete abilities in the current education system.”

Speaking about the UK boarding school system, Namita Mehta, president of The Red Pen, says, “It is a well-structured educational framework with distinct levels that caters to a wide range of students. I attended Charterhouse, a British boarding school. It set my course towards the University of Oxford and honed my leadership skills as well, which I value even today. I hope the British Boarding School Fair in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkatta becomes the steppingstone to many such journeys.”

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