Weekly Boarding schools Near London

Capital exodus: Why London families are sending their children to boarding school

The day that her eight-year-old son started boarding is vivid in Alexandra Lloyd's memory. Her husband took the day off work and the family watched the funniest film they could find. Tom changed in to his school uniform in front of the television and they piled into the car with his luggage.

"I was determined to stay jolly, " says Lloyd. I kept telling myself: 'Tom is going to be fine. I am going to be fine' and I was – until we got there and a housemistress touched me on the shoulder and said, 'Don't worry. It is going to be OK'. "

At that point, Lloyd burst into tears and had to be ushered in to another room. She was one of three mothers wearing dark glasses for the headmaster's reception that day.

Alexandra and her husband Charles are one of an increasing number of London couples opting for boarding. Long working hours, the cost of after-school child care, and fear of their children wandering around London on public transport are contributing to the trend.

For the Lloyd family, the move was prompted by the limited choice of day schools in London. Tom had been happy at Wetherby School, the pre-prep for four to eight-year-olds close to home, but his parents wanted to avoid the emphasis on competitive exams to more sought-after secondary schools that characterises the London scene.

Tom had the academic ability to succeed but his parents were reluctant to embark on the intensive coaching needed to ensure a place. They were looking for a more relaxed atmosphere and more open space.

What better place than The Dragon, the co-educational boarding school in Oxford for children aged eight to 13 that has two-fifths of children coming from London and others from homes less than a mile away? Parents visiting for the first time comment on the green fields and trees, according to John Baugh, the headmaster. "They want their children to have freedom to run around, which many London prep schools can't provide."

Mrs Lloyd was a boarder herself, at Wycombe Abbey, the girl's school in High Wycombe, but was not planning on a boarding education for her four children. But she was bowled over by the facilities at The Dragon and thought it the right school for Tom.


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Jonathan Randal Vaughan (born 16 July 1966) is an English broadcaster and journalist. Vaughan has become well known as a television and radio personality and has also built a reputation as a film critic. He co-presented Capital Breakfast alongside Lisa Snowdon on...

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