The rise of flexi-boarding, with figures showing more families are choosing this option
6th September 2019
Spend a night at Woldingham School in Surrey — with its wellness room, indoor tennis dome and a menu offering cod steak with prawns and tarragon, all just an hour’s drive from London — and you may feel like you’re on an upmarket mini-break. It’s perhaps no surprise, then, that the number of ‘flexi-boarders’ — pupils who stay the night at school just once or twice a week — has grown three-fold since it was introduced three years ago.
The 2019 Independent Schools Council (ISC) census shows that the proportion of weekly and flexi-boarders has increased for the third consecutive year, now making up 17.9 per cent of all boarders.
For one single father who is an infantry colour sergeant, an arrangement where his daughter stays at Oakham School in Rutland for four nights a week fits neatly around his military career. ‘Through the week I can concentrate on my work and my daughter is getting a great education and having experiences that I don’t think she’d get at a day school. But then we have the weekends together, and so we’re getting the best of both worlds,’ he says.
Having offered flexible boarding for the past five years, Oakham has now allocated flexi-boarders dedicated houses. ‘There will always be those who want the full boarding model, which is why we’ve been really careful with our house allocations so that we’re supporting individual needs,’ says deputy head Sarah Gomm. ‘Yes, being a flexi-boarder is slightly different to being in a full boarding house but it’s not different in developing that independence and camaraderie.’
Government to launch major review into support for children with special needs
The Government is to launch a major review into support for children with special needs amid concerns about funding pressures and a “postcode lottery” of services.
The review will look at improving services for families, better equipping school staff to meet pupils’ needs, and what is driving rising demand for support.
It comes in the wake of growing concern about the state of provision for children with special educational needs (SEN).
The review will look at how support in different areas can be made consistent, and will seek to understand what is causing rising demand for support including “the role of specific health conditions in driving demand”.
It will examine the role of health care in SEN, and so will have input from the Department of Health and Social Care.