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State boarding

Choosing a boarding school can be a daunting experience for any parent. A state boarding school is one where you pay for boarding and the education is free. The government pays for the education as it would at any other state school in England. This means you would be paying around £4,000 a term for full boarding.

Excellent results

Each year, state boarding schools regularly out-perform other state schools with many topping academic league tables around the country. The combination of the excellent state-funded education and a stable boarding community enables pupils to make the most of their talents and abilities.

The best of boarding care

State boarding school facilities, pastoral care and the quality of teaching is frequently judged ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted.

Most schools are 11-18 schools, though some offer boarding at primary level. Most schools are mixed, but there are a small number of girls' schools or boys' schools. Some schools are selective.


Admission to state boarding schools in the UK is limited to children who are nationals of the UK and are eligible to hold a full UK passport or those who are nationals of other European Union countries (due to end 31 December 2020), or those who have the right of residence in the UK. 

Update: 11/12/2020

Immigration changes

The DfE has now confirmed the guidance for BSA state boarding members (SBF schools) and BN(O) applications:

BN(O) families

The dependants of HK BN(O)s living in the UK have the same rights as EEA (e.g., EU plus Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein) and Swiss children currently living in the UK: they can access a school on the same basis as anyone else resident here.

EU/EEA nationals must follow EUSS guidance if living in the UK before December 31, 2020 (e.g., apply to the EUSS before the end of June 2021 if they want to remain). If they come to the UK from January 1, 2021 they will be subject to immigration controls, and that includes a rule that they cannot study at state-funded schools unless they are the dependant children of a parent who is either permanently resident in the UK or who is in the UK on a work or study visa.  

HK BN(O)s are Hong Kongers who were granted a special status in 1985. Consequently, it is their dependant children who will be seeking a school place.

Only those BN(O) families who are either living in the UK before the end of the year and apply for the immigration route for HK BN(O)s and their families after the start of 2021 or those that move here after that date and apply are eligible, under immigration law, to access a state-funded school place.

Even before the start of the scheme, those BN(O) families living in the UK are eligible to apply for and be admitted to a state-funded school.

Those BN(O)s living overseas are not entitled to apply for a state-funded school for their children in the UK (they can obtain a study visa and enter to attend a sponsor independent school). Schools should not, therefore, recruit boarders from Hong Kong.

The ‘overseas pupils’ website has been updated to provide information on foreign national dependant children.

Short-term study visa: this is not open to SBF schools. 

The guidance states entrants cannot study at a ‘state-funded school’. View the guidance here