Re-opening Boarding

We are so happy to have our Boarders back at Highfield. The safety of the children remains our paramount concern and we are implementing all government advised protective measures against Covid-19, and every stringent hygiene and social distancing requirement.

The following information provides details about our approach to ensuring the health, safety and well-being of all children and staff, while ensuring that we continue to provide a first-rate boarding education for every child, whether from the UK or overseas.

The following information provides details about our approach which we review and update as the guidance on Covid-19 evolves and according to the advice we receive from the Government Public Health England (PHE) and the Boarding Schools Association (BSA).

LAST UPDATED: 13th May 2021

Is boarding open at Highfield?

We are delighted that our boarding provision is now open to all full boarders. In order to mitigate the risk of infections, regrettably our Steps to Boarding programme is not available until further notice.

New boarders are welcome, and regardless of when they start at Highfield, they are given a friendly and thorough induction to the school and boarding school life. They receive the highest levels of pastoral support and guidance as well as the support and friendship of a peer mentor to help them through their first weeks and months at Highfield.

Are Boarders arriving from overseas required to quarantine on arrival in the UK?

From May 17, international travel is allowed to gradually resume. The UK Government has published three lists of countries; a Green, Amber and Red List with different rules for each.

  • Countries on the ‘Green List’ do not have to quarantine on arrival in the UK unless they receive a positive test result. Testing is required before travel, and 2 days after arrival.
  • Travellers from countries on the ‘Amber List’ are required to test before travel, on days 2 and 8 after arrival in the UK, and to quarantine for 10 days. This can be shortened to 5 days with the ‘Test to Release’ scheme. 
  • Foreign travellers from ‘Red List’ countries are not allowed to travel to the UK.


To find out about the planned timescales for lifting restrictions in the UK, read our blog article; Four-Step Plan to Ease UK Lockdown.

What happens at Exeats if quarantine rules remain in place for some countries?

Provision is in place should a child or children be required to isolate, or be unable to return home due to quarantine restrictions. Where children are unable to be looked after by family, host families or guardians we will work with parents to ensure children are well cared for.

We will continue to monitor quarantine and travel requirements and liaise with parents to ensure that we can do the very best for children at Exeats. 



What precautions is Highfield taking to keep children safe from Covid-19?

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. You may also be interested to read our Covid-19 Boarding Handbook for more information about how we are managing boarding safely.

What are the current procedures for managing boarding safely during Covid-19?

Boarders are separated into distinct groups to create separate 'households' (or boarding bubbles) with their own living zones. There is one for the Junior boarders in Years 4 to 6, and then children in Years 7 and 8 are organised as two separate bubbles, socially distanced when inside at times such as breakfast and supper, toast and prep, but when outside able to sit and play together, albeit in conformity with social distancing requirements. 

We have conducted a thorough Risk Assessment of the Junior and Senior Boarding Houses. The number of pupils in dormitories has been reduced to ensure there is more space available for each pupil. Boarders will also notice changes to the layout of areas such as Common Rooms and bathrooms to aid with social distancing. 

For more information, see our Covid-19 Boarding Handbook

Is wearing face masks obligatory at Highfield & Brookham?

In line with the new government guidance, from 17 May, children are no long required to wear masks in school, but may continue to do so if they wish.

Staff continue to wear masks in situations where social distancing is not possible such as when when moving around in corridors and communal areas.

We recognise and understand that the wearing of masks may be unusual or disconcerting for some, yet reassuring and normal for others. This is robustly addressed as part of our pastoral care programme, and we support and guide all pupils in being tolerant and respectful to each other.

What is the procedure if a pupil or member of staff develops symptoms of COVID-19?

If a boarder becomes unwell with possible COVID-19 symptoms their parents are notified, and the child is able to isolate in one of the designated and very comfortable isolation rooms we have created, where we will conduct an on-site test. The test results take approximately 20 minutes to be confirmed.

If the boarder tests negative: they may return to lessons once they feel better and have been free of fever for 24 hours, without the use of medication.

If the boarder tests positive: they will need to self-isolate for 10 days. Children who are not able to isolate at home will be cared for by the Boarding Staff and Nursing Team. The rest of their boarding bubble will need to quarantine for a total of 10 days in line with current government guidelines. If another child tests positive in that same bubble, the quarantine will again be for 10 days from the onset of those symptoms. If more than one member of the boarding household bubble tests positive, we will liaise with Public Health England and the Health Protection Agency on next steps. 

If a day pupil or member of staff should test positive they and their household must remain at home and self-isolate for a period of 10 days.


How will pupils or staff who develop symptoms be tested?

We are delighted to say that the school has been able to purchase its own supply of on-site fully accredited Covid-19 antigen tests which offer a very fast turnaround time, with results available within 20 minutes.

The availability of these tests, in conjunction with the safety protocols being operated in the boarding houses, means that we are able to run boarding successfully and avoid lengthy periods of isolation for our boarders while awaiting test results. 

How will the children required to quarantine access their lessons?

Lessons will be recorded and the children will either be able to join live or watch the lesson at a later time.  As was the case during the Summer Term 2020, teachers will provide instructions and resources for them to access.

What health care facilities are available for boarders at Highfield?

Highfield’s Health Centre has been relocated to a spacious room previously used as a classroom in the boys’ Boarding House. This area has been chosen as it has two separate entrances, each with bathroom facilities. This means that any unwell or injured child can be triaged by the Nurses and guided to the appropriate entrance. In this way, we will limit any unwanted exposure to possible COVID-19 infection. The new Health Centre has plenty of space for private consultations and a comfortable rest area.

If a boarder becomes unwell with possible COVID-19 symptoms they will be cared for in isolation dorms allocated in each Boarding House. Parents will be informed and an on-site COVID-19 test will be carried out. Results take approximately 20 minutes to confirm.

Our two qualified and experienced school nurses run the Health Centre and look after the medical needs of the Boarders.

Following the Coronavirus outbreak, Highfield has also acquired a large stock of face masks and protective personal equipment (PPE) to ensure all staff have the appropriate equipment for performing their roles. 

I am interested in my child starting as a new pupil at the school, but worried about making a financial commitment right now. What is the current fee/deposit policy?

The coronavirus pandemic presents us with extraordinary circumstances and an unprecedented level of uncertainty, which especially affects our families overseas. We completely understand the challenges for international parents trying to make plans and wish to ‘de-risk’ the decision as much as possible. That's why we introduced our ‘Covid-19 Guarantee’.


  • If, after paying your deposit, your child is unable to start at the school for a Covid-19 related reason, we will return your deposit, or allow you to defer your place (subject to availability). You will not be liable for the term’s fees.
  • If attendance at the school is still subject to Covid-19 restrictions when they are due to start, and we are only able to offer your child remote teaching, you will be given the option to defer your place until they are able to attend in person. 

Read more about our ‘Covid-19 Guarantee’.

My child is due to start as a new pupil, but what would happen if they arrive late because of visa or quarantine issues?

We understand that the coronavirus pandemic has caused delays with visas, and that quarantine requirements can fluctuate. We are happy to be flexible and allow new pupils to start later in the term, or to defer their place, as long as there is space available. We will make sure the child is brought up to speed academically, and helped to integrate and make friends quickly. New pupils whose start date is delayed to part way through the term, will only be charged for the part of the term’s fee that they are able to attend.

The coronavirus pandemic presents us with extraordinary circumstances and an unprecedented level of uncertainty, which especially affects our families overseas. That’s why we have introduced our ‘Covid-19 Guarantee’.


You may also find our Visa Information page helpful.



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