Boarding Schools Across Societies
Boarding Schools manifest themselves in different ways in different societies. For example, in some societies children start boarding school at an earlier age than in others. In some societies, a tradition has developed in which families send their children to the same boarding school for generations.
One observation that appears to apply globally is that a significantly larger number of boys than girls attend boarding school and for a longer span of time.
In the United States, boarding schools for students below the age of 13 are called junior boarding schools, and are not as common and not as encouraged as in the United Kingdom, India and Pakistan. The oldest junior boarding school in the United States is the Fay School in Southborough, Massachusetts. Other boarding schools are intended for high school age students, generally of ages 14–18. About half of one percent or (.5%) of school children attend boarding schools in the United States. This is much lower as compared to Britain or commonwealth countries. In Britain about one percent of children are sent to boarding schools. Boarding schools for this age group are often referred to as prep schools. Some notable examples are Choate Rosemary Hall, Phillips Academy Andover, Phillips Exeter Academy, Episcopal High School (Alexandria, Virginia), Portsmouth Abbey School, Pomfret School, St. George's School, Milton Academy, Deerfield Academy, Asheville School, The Gunnery, Army and Navy Academy, Culver Military Academy, Cranbrook Kingswood, Western Reserve Academy, Shenandoah Valley Academy, Woodberry Forest School, Saint James School, The Hotchkiss School, Millbrook School, Kent School, Westtown School, Miss Porter's School, NJ West Ridge Academy, Blair Academy, The Hill School, Northfield Mount Hermon School, The Lawrenceville School, Shady Side Academy, The Emma Willard School and Canterbury School, the state's first Catholic Boarding School. St. Grottlesex is the colloquial name of an additional group of five geographically grouped schools: St. Paul's School, St. Mark's School in Southborough, MA, The Groton School in Groton, MA, The Middlesex School in Concord, MA, and Chapel Hill - Chauncy Hall School in Waltham.
Boarding schools in England started before mediaeval times, when boys were sent to be educated at a monastery or noble household, where a lone literate cleric could be found. In the 12th century, the Pope ordered all Benedictine monasteries such as Westminster to provide charity schools, and many public schools started when such schools attracted paying pupils. These public schools reflected the collegiate universities of Oxford and Cambridge, as in many ways they still do, and were accordingly staffed almost entirely by clergymen until the 19th century. Private tuition at home remained the norm for aristocratic families, and for girls in particular, but after the 16th century it was increasingly accepted that adolescents of any rank might best be educated collectively. The institution has thus adapted itself to changing social circumstances over 1,000 years.
Boarding preparatory schools tend to reflect the public schools they feed. They often have a more or less official tie to particular schools.
The classic British boarding school became highly popular during the colonial expansion of the British Empire. British colonial administrators abroad could ensure that their children were brought up in British culture at public schools at home in the UK, and local rulers were offered the same education for their sons. More junior expatriates would send their children to local British-run schools, which would also admit selected local children who might travel from considerable distances. The boarding schools, which inculcated their own values, became an effective way to encourage local people to share British ideals, and so help the British achieve their imperial goals.
One of the reasons sometimes stated for sending children to boarding schools is to develop wider horizons than their family can provide. A boarding school a family has attended for generations may define the culture parents aspire to for their children. Equally, by choosing a fashionable boarding school, parents may aspire to better their children by enabling them to mix on equal terms with children of the upper classes. However, such stated reasons may conceal other reasons for sending a child away from home. These might apply to children who are considered too disobedient or underachieving, children from families with divorced spouses, and children to whom the parents do not much relate. These reasons are rarely explicitly stated, though the child might be aware of them.
In 1998, there were 772 private-sector boarding schools in England and 100,000 children attending boarding schools all over the United Kingdom. In England, they are an important factor in the class system. In Britain about one percent of children are send to boarding schools. Also in Britain children as young as 5 to 9 years of age are send to boarding schools. Most societies around the world decline to make boarding schools the preferred option for the upbringing of their children. However, boarding schools are one of the preferred modes of education in former British colonies or Commonwealth countries like India, Pakistan, Nigeria, and other former African colonies of Great Britain. For instance in Ghana the majority of the secondary schools are boarding. In China some kids are send to boarding schools at 2 years of age. In some countries, such as New Zealand and Sri Lanka, a number of state schools have boarding facilities. However, these state boarding schools are frequently the traditional single-sex state schools, whose ethos is much like that of their independent counterparts. Furthermore, the proportion of boarders at these schools is often much lower than at independent boarding schools, typically around 10%.
The Swiss government developed a strategy of fostering private boarding schools for foreign students as a business integral to the country's economy. Their boarding schools offer instruction in several major languages and have a large number of quality facilities organized through the Swiss Federation of Private Schools.
In Canada, the largest independent boarding school is Columbia International College, with an enrollment of 1,700 students from all over the world. Robert Land Academy in Wellandport, Ontario is Canada's only private military style boarding school for boys in Grades 6 through 12.
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