Boarding demands
Secondary Focus
High quality boarding facilities with all the mod-cons are becoming standard among boarding schools wishing to fully engage with the international student market. Bethan Norris finds out more.

Students expectations change as fast as our globalised society does," says Thomas Keen at Carlsbad International School in the Czech Republic. "Our students have an opportunity to travel, search and compare worldwide. Therefore their expectations are higher in every aspect, no matter if you speak of study programmes, boarding, location or accompanying programmes."

The high financial and personal costs involved in studying at a boarding school overseas means that facilities are continually increasing in standard as schools seek to keep up with student and parent demands. Eric Duwe from Wisconsin Lutheran High School in Milwaukee, WI, USA, believes that increased expectations on behalf of international students are due to their high aspirations for what they will be doing after graduation. "Students and their families want facilities that are conducive to their high expectations of individualised care and attention to get ahead in academics," he says. "English skills and co-curricular activities that are all part of the resume for getting into a top university."

Typically, boarding schools worldwide are moving away from the traditional dormitory-style accommodation towards more home-from-home style accommodation with single or double rooms within houses staffed by house parents. Eric points out that a low ratio of students to house parents ensures that each student gets individualised attention and adds that agents are particularly interested in boarding schools due to demand from parents. "Families want to rest assured that their students are going to get consistent and reputable care that dovetails with the quality education they receive," he says.

With this in mind many boarding schools have updated their facilities in recent years and Nav Rai from the Swiss International Scientific School in Dubai says that as the school is new the boarding facilities were designed to specifically suit the needs of the young person. "The SISD boarding rooms have a maximum of two students, each with their own large study area, wardrobe, en-suite bathroom and ergonomically designed furniture and beds. The design brief for the boarding rooms was to create a room which inspires the student to perform at their best, which has translated into a room which is filled with natural light, comfortable and incorporated with technology."

In the Czech Republic, Thomas says that CIS is one of the newest international boarding schools in Europe and the campus reflects the standards and expectations of the 21st Century student from various cultural and social backgrounds. He adds, "We will use the 2017 summer holidays to increase the quality of accommodation, facilities and services for our current and future students. Our school campus is located just 200 meters away from one of the oldest tennis venues in the Czech Republic. There is intensive reconstruction with a new sports hall with fitness facilities also in process. Our students will have an exclusive modern facility around the corner."

Elise Ecoff, Head of School at North Borward Preparatory School, part of Nord Anglia Education, says that the school is about to "break ground on a state-of-the-art 500-bed dormitory, which will serve as the new anchor for our international residential programme". She adds, "Living on campus provides an unparalleled setting for learning to live with and among peers."

At Bodwell High school in Vancouver, BC, Canada dormitories are designed around halls for 40 boys or girls, according to Paul Yuen. "Each hall has two washrooms, four laundry sets and a hall lounge equipped with an entertainment centre, a kitchenette and an advisor's office good for a private conversation," he says. "For 500 boarders there are two caféterias, two gymnasiums, an indoor swimming pool, two theatres for movies, karaoke and talks, a band and music room, a large playing field and a fleet of four school buses and four passenger vans for outings. There is wi-fi adequate for several hundred active users at the same time."

Cultural and age differences between students mean that demands vary according to student markets. Boris Samaryanov from Star Travel in Russia points out, however, that there is one requirement that very few students can live without. "The most important wish, regardless of the country of study, is the quality internet for communication with parents and preparation for lessons."



Theresa Glasmacher, Barbara Glasmacher International, Germany

 "Students and their parents have become more demanding in that they expect proper and cosy boarding facilities. En-suite bedrooms and single study rooms are not so much an issue but state-of-the-art bathrooms and showers are. The common room and kitchens are expected to be light and tidy and the furniture fairly new."

The Full Experience

As well as fantastic and modern boarding facilities, parents are also keen to know that their children will be well looked after physically and emotionally while they are away from home. Therefore, pastoral care can be just as important for schools to get right as the physical environment. Bruno Rodrigues from Yazigi Travel in Brazil says, "Besides the academic highlights of each boarding school, parents and students are interested in the full experience and that includes everything the student is going to be doing outside the classroom and in their free time. They want to have a wonderful experience not only academically speaking but the whole experience."

Paul Yuen at Bodwell High School says that the facilities are the "hardware", but the more important component of a meaningful boarding life is "a team of youth advisors working in shifts including weekends and holidays to take care of a hall of 40 students". He adds, "They maintain a healthy routine, oversee safety, provide timely comfort and guidance, collaborate with teachers, counsellors and health professionals and report to parents."


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