Forces Family Boarding School Case Study
We spoke to a forces family whose children both started boarding in Year 4, and below they offer advice to other forces families looking for the right school and detail the reasons behind why they chose Highfield over other schools.
“There was a special bond between all the military children, we all got each other. Also, the community we lived in was the best thing about my time at Highfield.” Eleanor, age 14
“I think the grounds are one of the best things. I get to enjoy playing with my friends all the time.” Ptolemy, age 13
Tell us a little bit about your family. Where are you based? How old are your children?
Our children both started boarding at Highfield in Year 4. When Eleanor (our eldest, now aged 14) started, we had just moved from Wattisham in Suffolk down to Gosport. Ptolemy joined his sister 2 years later, by which point we were living in Yeovil in Somerset. Eleanor’s lasting comment she made once she’d done her trial board was “can I keep my friends for 5 years?” It made us focus on how moving around was affecting her. Our youngest, Ptolemy, is in his final year at Highfield and it is fair to say that we are all dreading our last day at school, as it has become such a huge part of our lives over the last 7 years.
Why did you choose Highfield over other schools?
We chose Highfield because of the family feeling we got when we came to visit. We loved the warm, nurturing atmosphere, especially in the junior boarding house. It is not easy leaving your 8-year-old for weeks on end, and I certainly couldn’t have left either of them if I was not completely sure that they would be well cared for pastorally. This is where Highfield stood out for us; the children that showed us around all those years ago were clearly happy, outgoing and independent children who loved their school and wanted to share this love with us. This enthusiasm has not changed in the time we have had children at the school.
Simply, because we didn’t know where or when our next move would be. The children needed to have continuity and by boarding at Highfield they would have that.
What does Highfield boarding have to offer that other boarding schools didn’t?
The grounds are spectacular! The woods where forest school, camping, outdoor cinema and capture the flag are played are wonderful, as is the trim trail and extensive playing fields. It was important for us that Highfield was a ‘full’ boarding school, not a day school that offered boarding. Highfield definitely fits into the ‘full’ boarding school category, with daily after school clubs and many boarders who stay in at weekends (quite a few military). The Sunday activities that are organised for them are fantastic.
What advice would you offer to other forces families looking for the right school for their child/ren?
I would say look for a school that is a ‘full’ boarding school where there is a strong boarding ethos and leadership team and I would make sure that a good number of boarders stay in at weekends. Location is also important – is the school easily accessible from motorways and airports? Is it close to family if you are overseas and need a guardian? Take advantage of trial boarding and make sure you ask your children what they think – so important as it will be their ‘home from home’ for several years.
To find out more about the fantastic boarding facilities at Highfield visit highfieldschool.org.uk/highfield-ages-8-to-13-/boarding-at-highfield