Haileybury has announced that its boarding numbers are up by 100 pupils compared with six years ago. This is in direct contrast to the recent national trend which indicates that boarding in general is on the decline.
In September 1999 there were 372 boarders at the school, compared to the 472 in January 2006.
"This is an intensely satisfying development," says the Master, Stuart Westley.
"In 1999, the total number of boarders in the country as a whole was reducing; schools which were partly boarding were closing their boarding operations. In fact, that total number of boarders nationally has continued to decline in four of the last six years, hence we have been swimming against the tide!"
Mr Westley attributes this success to the fact that Haileybury provides its boarders with a fulfilling, happy experience. The school has also invested in excellent facilities in recent years, the most recent development of which is the extension and refurbishment of the Lower School boys’ boarding facility.
"The pupils at Haileybury appreciate the wide range of activities which are available to them outside normal school hours," Mr Westley says. "They also enjoy being with their friends, having excellent food and being able to take advantage of our flexible approach to the weekends after games on Saturdays, when they are able to return home if they wish to."
Nicola Huggett, Head of Boarding at Haileybury and Housemistress of Allenby, says the enthusiasm for boarding is as strong as ever.
"A boarding education encourages breadth not only academically but across all spheres of school life. It should encourage students to lead a better life, as it should promote a sense of social cohesion – a shared vision of the society in which we want to live.
"Flexibility and adaptability are the desirable attributes of future employees," she continues. "Education has to be about creating curiosity, about enthusiasm, about getting on with other people and about being able to take risks. The life within a boarding environment gives pupils the opportunity to experience being part of a team in either sport, a House, music, drama or more than one of these areas," says Mrs Huggett.
Parents are realising that this is where the value of a boarding education lies. "The gains for individuals are immense," she concludes.