Boarding | Highfield Prep School, Hampshire

When considering boarding, some of the first questions that parents have are, ‘is it right for my child’, and ‘is it still relevant in today’s world?’ We can help you explore the answer to the first question and to the latter, the answer is definitely yes – we currently have the highest number of boarders since compulsory boarding was abolished in 1999!

Boarding at Highfield Prep School is entirely optional. There is no right or wrong when it comes to when and if to board and for how many nights. Every family is unique regarding what suits them.

Boarding gifts children with the space and time to do things they need and want to do. Many of our boarders live locally, in Hampshire, Surrey or West Sussex, but without the need for the daily commute to school, their time is free to concentrate on their studies and to enjoy a broad range of activities from playing cricket in the nets, biking around the grounds or simply enjoying extended time with their friends. We are thrilled to have a number of international and forces families as well as a number of London families as part of our boarding community.

As an introduction to boarding, Highfield offers as gentle a start as is possible, and our experience has been as positive as we all hoped.

Children have the option to board from Year 4 where they can join our Junior Boarding House. This is a cosy family home where children in Year 4 and 5 can ease into boarding in a quieter environment before they move up to the separate Senior Boarding House in Year 6. Year 7 and 8 are our most popular years for boarding, when families think about building strong foundations for the transition to senior school. Boarding helps children develop an independence and individuality that drives them on their educational journey ahead.

The approach to boarding is excellent - we love the Junior Boarding House to start and there's a great balance of freedom and guidance.


BSA Covid-Safe Charter

We are proud to have committed to adhering to the Boarding Schools' Association's (BSA) COVID-Safe Charter. Established in May 2020, the Charter aims to ensure the safety of all pupils and staff as schools begin to re-open across the UK, following closures due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

To read 'Questions and Answers' about how we are managing boarding safely, visit the Re-opening Boarding page or for further information read our Covid-19 Boarding Handbook.

We offer three types of boarding to help you find an option that suits you and your family.

Full Boarding

Full boarding is seven nights a week and this is our most popular option. Families are busier than ever, and boarding enables parents to concentrate on their careers without impacting on family time, eliminates the daily homework battles and gives children the extra time to devote to their studies and interests. Children do have the option to go home after sports matches on a Wednesday and/or Saturday afternoon but the majority choose to stay to participate in the fantastic programme of weekend activities.


Our Steps-To-Boarding is for two or three nights per week and offers a gentler start to boarding and is especially popular for children in Year 4 and 5. As with full boarding there is no ‘hot bedding’, children have their own bed in one of our modern dormitories that typically house between four to eight children.

We were able to choose the two nights that worked best for Charlie and his brother and sister.  He would spend less time involved with logistics and more time doing the things he needed and wanted to do. He was achieving more during the hours after school that we could have ever asked for.

Occasional Boarding

We offer families boarding on an ad hoc basis. This is a very popular option with parents who may have a social event or a business trip and it’s probably cheaper than a babysitter and likely to be a lot more fun! This option is subject to space and children wouldn’t necessarily be in the same dorm each time.

How are the dorms structured?

Dorms vary in size, there are four to ten children per dorm all of whom are in the same year group. Children are asked to choose a selection of friends with whom they would like to share. Each term we change the dorms in order to help facilitate new friendships and to help children learn how to get on with others - an important life skill.

How many boarders are there?

Numbers always increase throughout the year. The summer term is the most popular term for boarding because it is the time families start to think the transition to senior school. We typically have around 130 children boarding during the week and around 20 steps-to-boarding children. This is around 50% of Highfield Prep pupils.

What do the evenings look like for boarders?

School finishes at 4.40pm. This is when the evening begins for our boarders. A typical evening looks like this:

  • After school clubs, which many of the day children are involved with, until 5.40pm followed by prep
  • Dinner is at 6:30pm and followed by a varied and extensive range of evening activities from 7pm.
  • Between 7:40pm and 8:10pm year group bedtime bells are rung and children start their bedtime routines including showering, toast and brushing of teeth.
  • Throughout the evening, children are also able to use this time to relax in their dorms or call home using school phones or FaceTime with school iPads.
What happens at the weekend?

All Highfield Prep School pupils attend Saturday school. Lessons run until 12.30pm followed by afternoon matches. These usually finish at 3.30pm when day children go home. Some boarders decide to go home on occasional weekends but a large contingent stay for the majority of weekends to enjoy the fun and varied weekend activities programme. On Saturday afternoon the children are encouraged to play with their friends and make the most of the fantastic facilities we have here at school. Saturday evenings are great fun in the Boarding House and there are various fun activities with which to get involved.  

Sundays offer a much needed relaxing start and the children are woken up from a ‘lie in’ at 8.30am. The children then head down to a continental breakfast which keeps them going until the highly anticipated Sunday Brunch. Sunday activities, either in house or out of school to wonderful destinations, then take place.

What happens on Exeat weekends?

We have Exeat weekends every half term (two either side of Half Term in the Autumn Term and one either side of Half Term in the Spring and Summer Terms). The weekend starts at 4.40pm on the Friday and all boarders, including international boarders head home for the weekend. For our international students this may mean spending the weekend with their friends or a guardian. The school is closed until boarders return at 7.30pm on the Sunday night.

Who is there to look after my child at night?

We have four fantastic Houseparents across the Junior and Senior Boarding Houses. They are supported by team of eight Graduate Assistant Teachers.  In any one night we have six members of resident staff on duty. They are there to support any child who may feel unsettled in the night. If your child is unwell they will be able to see our Nurse in the morning.

The quality of boarding is excellent. Boarders are extremely happy with life in the boarding houses.

ISI Boarding Report

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