May 2015 issue

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Scotland, Wales
and Northern Ireland

While the majority of boarding schools in the UK are to be found in England, there is excellent provision in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales which should not be overlooked, says Jane Vernon Smith.

According to Clare Sender, Development Director at Campbell College, Belfast, Northern Ireland offers excellent, affordable, traditional education, and is, she suggests, “the hidden gem in the boarding school offering of the United Kingdom”.

Thanks to a recent upturn in marketing activity, however, these schools may not remain secret much longer. “Last May, the five schools came together to host 26 overseas agents at a workshop, and also offered visits to the schools,” she reports. “This was the first time a joint event had been organised, and it was very well received by the international education agents. They were impressed by the high quality they found and the ease of access from London,” she affirms.

With the lower cost of living in Northern Ireland compared with the UK as a whole, school fees are lower too, Sender points out. At Campbell College, for example, the termly boarding fee for 2014/15 is UK£4,070 (US$6,139) for EU students and UK£5,740 (US$8,658) for non-EU students. This, Sender underlines, is “often less than half that of our mainland competitors. Furthermore, the country has a first-class education system and a very friendly, family-based society.”

According to Sender, the specific attractions of Campbell College are the ease of access (within a five-minute taxi ride of Belfast City airport), and excellent value for money. In addition, she cites the United Nations findings that Belfast is the second safest city in the world. “Northern Ireland, in recent times, has moved on and currently enjoys peace and prosperity,” she highlights.

At The Royal School of Dungannon in Northern Ireland, international boarders come from Hong Kong, Spain, Kenya and Germany. Here, seven-day boarding is the norm, and there is plenty going on at weekends, notes Headmaster, Dr David Burnett, with many overseas pupils spending their weekends and half-terms with local families.

Centrally located in the market town of Dungannon, the school is academically very successful and in 2014 it was ranked by the Daily Telegraph newspaper among the top 100 UK schools for A-level performance, Burnett highlights.

Welsh boarding schools also compete happily alongside the best England has to offer. At Cardiff Sixth Form College, spokesperson Tatiana Sadkina comments, “Our strongest selling points are our A-level results (top in the UK for independent schools) and our university destinations.” In 2014, she highlights, it sent 16 pupils to Oxford and Cambridge Universities and 21 to medical schools.

However, Sadkina adds, the key to attracting overseas students to Cardiff is making parents aware of it as a destination. “We normally try to sell Cardiff as a safe and friendly city, which, at the same time, is a capital city, so can offer the same lifestyle one would expect from a capital,” she says.

With its roll comprising over 80 per cent internationals, Cardiff Sixth Form College has students from almost 30 different nationalities, Sadkina notes, with the largest numbers from Hong Kong, Malaysia, Botswana and Thailand, as well as the UK.

Scotland, meanwhile, has some very well-known schools, some of whose histories date back a long way. While the country has its own education system, its boarding schools often offer the widely respected English curriculum and exams.

Founded in 1827, Loretto School, in a leafy location close to the national capital, Edinburgh, is one of Scotland’s oldest boarding schools, and offers English GCSEs and A-levels. With a focus on “nurturing the individual in mind, body and spirit”, it is placed among the top seven per cent of UK schools for value-added at A-level, according to Director of External Affairs, Jonathan Hewat. Its sporting reputation is also impressive, boasting its own golf academy, which, he comments, offers outstanding coaching, with access to some of the finest courses in the world.

Gordonstoun School in Elgin, Morayshire, in the north of Scotland, is one of the UK’s few remaining full boarding schools. According to spokesperson, Marina Edge, “Gordonstoun aims to develop resilience, integrity and compassion in students and a positive attitude to life and to new experiences.” She explains that this is achieved through a unique curriculum, which in addition to a rigorous programme of academic studies, also includes its world-leading Outdoor Expedition and Sail Training Programmes; regular community service by every student; participation in a range of sport, drama, dance and music activities; an international perspective; and an emphasis on opportunities to hold leadership positions.

With overseas students accounting for a third of total numbers, and over 37 nationalities represented, international exposure is high, and is further enhanced with the opportunity to participate in various international service projects in overseas locations during the summer holidays.

Strathallan School in Forganderry, Perthshire, by contrast, has a low number of foreign nationals; currently only nine per cent do not have English as their first language. Most pupils are full boarders (weekly and flexi-boarding are not offered), and benefit from a huge campus – covering 153 acres (62 hectares) – with its own golf course, tennis and shooting academies, stocked lake and canoe lake.

“Scotland has a huge amount to offer – it is a wonderful place to grow and develop,” says Director of Marketing & Development at the school, Tessa Howard-Vyse. While pointing out that overseas families have had a number of preconceptions, regarding bad weather, accents that are difficult to understand and accessibility, she underlines, “This is easily overcome once they understand how accessible we are to London and the rest of the world, and our safe and secure campus only 10 minutes from the city.” jvs@hothousemedia.com

Contact any advertiser in the this issue now

The following language schools, associations and accommodation providers advertised in the latest edition of Study Travel Magazine. If you would like more information on any of these advertisers, tick the relevant boxes, fill out your details and send.







Centre of English Studies  
ELS Language Centers  
Kings College  
St Giles International  
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Ability English  
Cairns Language Centre  
English Australia  
ILSC Australia  
Impact English College  
Monash College  

CERAN Lingua International  

Central de Intercâmbio  
UNISUL- Universidade do Sul de Santa Catarina   

Mandarin Spring  

Anglophiles Academic  
Country Cousins  
Heart of England Language School  
Islington Centre for English  
Kilgraston Language and Activities School  
Oxford Royale Academy  
Queen Ethelburga's College  

Accent Francais  
Cours de Civilisation Française de la Sorbonne  
Groupement FLE  
Institut Catholique de Toulouse - IULCF  
Institut d'Etudes Françaises  
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LSF Montpellier  
Paris Langues  
Riviera French Institute  

MEI Ireland  

Intercultural Institute of Japan  


Education South Africa  
Bay Language Institute  
EC Cape Town  
Eurocentres Cape Town  
Good Hope Studies  
Inlingua Cape Town   
Interlink School of Languages  
International House Cape Town  
Kurus English  
LAL Cape Town  
Language Training Centre   

California ESL  
Summer Study Programs  
University of California Berkeley  
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Calgary Board of Education  
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Central Quebec School Board  
Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board  
Eastern Townships School Board  
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English Montreal School Board  
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Ottawa Carleton District School Board  
Qualicum International School Program   
Simcoe County District School Board  
St James - Assiniboia School Division  
Waterloo Catholic District School Board  

Carlsbad International School  

United World School of English  

Saint Denis International School  


UNISUL- Universidade do Sul de Santa Catarina   

Algonquin College  

Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University  

University of Liverpool  

University of California Berkeley  
University of California San Diego  
Summer Study Programs  


ANDE-LM Ltd Agency  

British Council  
Twin Group  
Trinity College London  

CareMed GmbH  

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