BvS to host first British boarding schools fair
There might be some debate as to whether North American or British boarding schools are better, but one man who isn't ashamed of showing his bias is senior educational consultant Niall Browne.
Mr Browne said he ‘lives and breathes' British boarding schools and has witnessed more families flocking to independent schools in the UK because of their reputation for academic excellence, competitive pricing and accessibility.
His company, BvS Education, will be hosting the first ever ‘British Schools Fair' in Bermuda on September 25 and 26 from 4.30pm until 7.30pm.
Eleven top schools from the UK will be on hand to meet interested parents and students at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess.
He said the fair will allow local families to explore the opportunities and learn more about the value of a British education.
“I would encourage Bermudian parents that might be considering this to go along and see how their child can benefit from going to one of these schools,” he said.
“I am just hugely enthusiastic. I believe what young people can experience from going to the UK is so huge and so many great young people that I met in Bermuda would benefit from that.”
A British boarding school education can also provide an “excellent stepping stone” to university and teaches young people structured independence, he said.
Mr Browne said the recent surge in the number of families interested in sending their children to Britain could be due to a number of factors. “Firstly because Bermudians now are able to go to UK universities at the home fees rate, therefore their centre of gravity educationally has shifted towards the UK a little more,” he said.
“Another thing is the world is starting to feel like a smaller place and London doesn't seem to be as far as it used to, and with the daily British Airways flight, travel is a lot easier than before.”
He said many Britons tended to forget that its independent education system was top notch internationally. The country also boasts some of the best and oldest schools in the world, such as Sevenoaks School, founded in the 15th Century.
“The reputation of British boarding schools is not just a hollow thing,” he explained. “It's brought out by the fact that our students are enormously successful academically.
“They dominated their professions in this country and around the world, but also everything else that goes with that holistic idea to education, the sport, the facilities and extra curricular activities are all available at these schools.
“Most of the education in British schools is first class and the international qualification and the exams are internationally recognised, like the International Baccalaureate (IB), A-levels and GCSEs. These are the qualifications that everyone needs and has heard of and people won't be like ‘What's that?' when you show them your resume.”
He said the environment at such schools has also evolved over the years.
Gone are the days when parents would send their children off to boarding school kicking and screaming and not see them again until years later.
These days, many young people thrive in the British boarding school setting and can benefit from high quality of accommodation, facilities and teaching.
Mr Browne said: “Often in Britain we have this stereotype that children who come from British boarding schools are arrogant, but it's not that at all.
“They're just very confident and that comes from having an education where they are exposed to so many different things and are able to do so many things well.”
Students also learn how to become friends or simply get along with different kinds of people — a skill they can take with them when they venture out into the big, wide world, he said.
“I also think these schools allow children to really be themselves. If you are a chess player or musician or play sports, they will be praised for being good at that.”
With smaller class sizes, young people were also given more individual attention and care in a boarding school environment.
“They are also never going to be bored and unhappy because they are surrounded by warmth and friendship and that is a wonderful thing.”
A British boarding school education isn't cheap. The cost is approximately £30,000 ($47,400) a year, which works out to £10,000 ($15,800) a term.
American boarding schools typically cost around $52,000 a year, which actually makes them more expensive, considering the current exchange rate.
Mr Browne said many schools also offered scholarships and bursaries, which interested parents can ask about at the fair.
To register for the event on September 25 and 26, visit: www.bvs-education.co.uk and click on ‘British Schools Fair'.