Fergus Llewellyn

A world away

The best of today’s boarding schools are a welcoming, stable home from home, says Fergus Llewellyn – but with opportunities that home might not offer

The best of today’s boarding schools are a welcoming, stable home from home, says Fergus Llewellyn – but with opportunities that home might not offer

‘I f schools are what they were in my time, you’ll see a great many cruel blackguard things done, and hear a deal of foul bad talk. But never fear. You tell the truth, keep a brave and kind heart, and never listen to or say anything you wouldn’t have your mother and sister hear…’


— Tom Brown’s Schooldays, 1857

For many, the term ‘public school’ conjures up a host of pejorative images: a little boy shedding a discreet (he hopes) tear as his self-absorbed parents step away to their rediscovered freedom; disturbingly strapping sixth-formers awaiting the new contingent of quaking third-formers; severe, buxom Matrons administering spoonfuls of evil medicine; and terrifying masters ready to pounce with their cane at the slightest wrongdoing.

The reality nowadays, of course, is quite the opposite. It is not the child shedding a tear; far from it. He or she
has rushed off, eager to start an exciting new adventure, giving only a cursory glance to Mother and Father and
promising to ring them when memory allows. Now it is the mother who sheds a discreet (she hopes) tear, as her young offspring leaves to grow up ‘far too fast’. She forgets the fact that she’ll see her child in six days’ time at the rugby match, the school play, the variety show, the careers talk, the house weekend barbecue, the chapel evensong…

With modern family life as busy as it is, boarding schools can provide a much-needed sense of stability,
routine and companionship. Supervised study sessions with other pupils not only make group projects that bit
easier and provide valuable help when stuck; they also ensure that prep really does get done.





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