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Boarding School in Wiltshire, UK

Boarding School in Wiltshire, UK

A boarding school is a residential school where pupils live and study during the academic year. Boarding pupils gain beyond academics, garnering highly beneficial skills to prepare them for life.

Stonar is a private school located in Wiltshire that provides boarding services. Stonar was founded in 1895 as an independent school for girls. Stonar has 120 staff and became fully co-educational in 2016. The school accepts children aged 2-18 from over 15 countries and is rated ‘Excellent’ by ISI due to its progressive curriculum, tailored approach, and pupil achievements in academia and personal development.

Stonar is known for its world-class equestrian provision and is regarded as the UK’s finest riding school. 

What are the benefits of a boarding school education?

The benefits of a boarding school education include academic rigour, personal growth, and individual attention from teachers and tutors to ensure they gain the exam results and certifications to secure entry to their chosen university or career path. 

The boarding school environment provides a blend of academic focus and personal development, which leads to five distinct advantages, as listed below.

  1. The environment leads to efficient learning
  2. There is a sense of community among the boarding family
  3. Improved discipline and behaviour
  4. Provides the experience of independence and adulthood
  5. Pupils develop social and emotional skills 

What is boarding school like for girls?

The boarding school experience for girls varies depending on whether the school is single-gender or co-educational. At co-educational boarding schools, pupils of both genders share classrooms and eat together in the dining hall but mainly have separate rooms and boarding houses. In addition, younger and older female pupils have different living spaces.

The youngest female boarders in Year 5 share a bedroom with up to six other girls. As pupils get older, the room capacity reduces to quads, twins, and even singles due to an increased need for privacy and individual study. Sixth Form girls have a dedicated boarding house.

Sixth Form pupils are at the stage of preparing for life beyond school, and they have different uniform rules. Sixth Formers must wear a suit, while younger girls typically wear a school blazer, a blouse or shirt, a skirt, and leather school shoes. In some boarding schools, girls may wear trousers instead of a skirt.

Girls need specific sports kits for hockey, swimming, netball, cricket, and tennis.

Male and female boarders enjoy access to the wider school facilities at weekends and evenings.

What is boarding school like for boys?

The boarding school experience for boys means living in an all-male area of the boarding house. All genders study the same curriculum and share classrooms and communal or dining areas in the school.

Junior and Senior boys have a specific area of the boarding house. The youngest male boarders share a bedroom with up to two others. As pupils get older, the rooms more closely resemble studies, enabling them to have privacy and quiet for individual study.

In the evenings and at weekends, pupils of all ages can use the outdoor spaces, common rooms and kitchen.

When boys reach Sixth Form, they are required to wear a suit - a variance from the younger pupils who wear a blazer, shirt, tie, and trousers, with leather school shoes. 

Boys’ major sports include rugby, football, swimming, hockey, cricket, and tennis, and they need suitable kit for each sport.

What is the best age for boarding school?

The best age for boarding school is from 9 to 18 years old and will depend on each child’s child's maturity, academic needs, and family circumstances.

Pupils need to be old enough to be away from home and able to handle the responsibility of living and learning in a boarding environment. 

What does boarding school life look like?

Boarding school life is varied, depending on the school, but there are general things that boarding schools have in common.  Pupils and their House Parents live together as a boarding family. House Parents and other pastoral staff support pupils academically and personally to optimise learning and personal development.

During the week, boarding school life follows a specific schedule for meals, lessons, and supervised/supported study times. There are no lessons on weekends, so pupils can relax and be with friends, and there is a fun calendar of activities to keep all age groups busy. 

Pupils stay at school for most of the year, including half term, but return home during the longer school holidays.

What is an equestrian boarding school?

An equestrian boarding school is a school where pupils live, have regular academic lessons, and attend specialist classes in horse riding and related activities, such as stable management, horse care, and horsemanship. Senior pupils can undertake specific equestrian qualifications. 

Equestrian schools can help riders improve their skills, learn about horses, and develop a lifelong love of riding. There are lessons for riders of all ages and skill levels. For less experienced riders, schools will run friendly, low-key weekly competitions in dressage and showjumping. Performance athletes are provided with academy coaching and will represent their school in more significant competitions. 

Some equestrian schools provide stabling, and pupils will tend to their horses before breakfast by mucking out, checking them over, and giving hay. Undertaking horsemanship skills to a high standard will result in five transferable skills for life, as listed below.

  • Time management
  • Responsibility
  • Work ethic
  • Teamwork
  • Communication skills

How much does a boarding school cost?

Boarding school fees vary from school to school and can cost up to £50,000 per annum in the UK. Typical fees are detailed in the table below, including all meals, compulsory textbooks and stationery, personal accident insurance, and most clubs.

Boarding: UK

Per Term


Years 9 - 13



Years 7 - 8



Years 5 - 6




Boarding: International

Per Term


Years 9 - 13



Years 7 - 8



Years 5 - 6



How does the admission process work?

Each boarding school will follow a similar admissions process, from an initial visit to the offer of a place.

The five steps to the boarding school admission process are listed below.

  1. Visit the school
  2. Complete an application form and pay the fee to register interest
  3. Prospects sit entrance exams/tests and interview by Head Teacher
  4. Schools send letters with an offer of a place and a start date
  5. Parents accept the offer and enroll their child

Although some boarding school admissions can be completed in two weeks, it is recommended to begin searching and organise a school visit a year before the desired start date. As part of the admissions process, pupil records, reports, and exam results will likely be requested at the registration phase.

Boarding schools in the UK, and in particular highly desirable places such as Wiltshire, are in high demand.

Why is Wiltshire great for education?

Wiltshire is great for education due to its high-quality schools, culture, and welcoming community. Wiltshire is a county in South West England, United Kingdom. Around half a million people live in Wiltshire, of which 35,000 are school pupils.

Pupils have resources to follow in the footsteps of the area’s several famous authors, with access to 34 libraries. Culturally, Wiltshire is interesting for young people because it has many historical sights, local events, and opportunities to immerse in the area’s natural beauty.

As a place to live and learn, Wiltshire is an excellent choice for education. It is known for its ham, iconic chalk horses, and prehistoric monuments but also for being an area with stunning scenery, offering a stimulating, inspiring, and calm learning environment for pupils. Wiltshire is also an area with a low crime rate, making it a safe place to live.

Wiltshire has many high-quality schools rated as "good" or "outstanding" by independent school inspectors. Wiltshire is also home to fine equestrian schools, and the area’s wealth of greenspace is the perfect environment for horses and equine education.