The best way for your child to experience the benefits of boarding is to try it first hand.

Can you really elect a boarding school decision without truly waking up in a dormitory and sampling the morning porridge?

In rural Cumbria, just inside the Yorkshire Dales National Park, surrounded by the spectacular Howgill Fells, the traditional boarding school of Sedbergh offers taster boarding to potential pupils. This taster boarding system allows your child to peal away from home life and trial two nights in a school dormitory and fully grasp the feel of boarding school life.

Sedbergh is one of the few longstanding full boarding schools in the UK that continues to manage the time-honoured boarding house procedure. It warrants the classic traditional experience that has been cherished by many former pupils and provides superior pastoral care seven days a week. Because of the full boarding culture, there is no mass exodus at weekends – life is as busy as during the week with 007 socials, sport, rifle shooting, house balls, expeditions, debate dinners, impromptu music in ‘The Boathouse’, and even Master Chef competitions.

Andrew Morrow, a former School House pupil of Sedbergh School, recounts his experience of his taster weekend at Sedbergh and how it aided in his final schooling decision: “When my parents and I decided that I would be venturing off we had a few potential schools in mind. Whilst a few invited me to ‘experience’ the school on a contrived open day that offered only selective viewing under the governing of a prefect or tour guide, Sedbergh entreated a two-night taster in School House. Through the engagement of house activities including rugby and swimming, social barriers between myself and the other students were swiftly broken, allowing me to experience an untainted day in the life of Sedbergh. The experience provided me with confidence and I couldn’t wait to be part of the school”.

Chris Hattam, Housemaster of School House, Sedbergh School confirms: “Tasters are entirely tailored to the individual pupil. It can take place during the week or over a weekend but is usually one or two nights. Sometimes more than one pupil is on a taster at the same time, so that if they decide to join us, they potentially have a face they know in their year group. Our visiting taster pupils also have a mentor who looks after them in lessons and on the sports field or in the activities they join in with, and they are always welcome to come back for another taster if they wish to spend more time with us. Deciding where to spend your formative years requires the time, space and personal contact with those you may eventually live, eat, sleep and study with – and the pastoral system, which underpins life in the six boys’ houses and three girls’ houses at Sedbergh, begins with that first experience during a Taster. As a further personal touch parents are usually invited to lunch on collection day to really add to the experience”.

Weekends and evenings are an integral part of the school life pattern and the residential taster course allows your child to immerse themselves in the atmosphere and gain the most out of your chosen school. Allow your child to truly experience a genuine ‘day in the life’ and ensure that it really is the school culture, rather than the facilities, that helps make the final decision.

For further information on taster boarding at Sedbergh School please contact:
Sedbergh School, Cumbra (www.sedberghschool.org; 015396 205 35)

Need to know: Taster boarding
Abingdon School, Oxfordshire (www.abingdon.org.uk; 01235 521563)
“Our programme starts with a range of sports, followed by a barbecue and outdoor activities with current boarders. The evening concludes with hot chocolate and snacks back in house before lights-out”
Edward Swanwick, Housemaster

Farleigh School, Hampshire (www.farleighschool.com; 01264 710766)
“Becoming a boarder is an exciting time and an experience which we want children to embrace”
Keith Bradbury, Housemaster

Port Regis, Dorset (www.portregis.com; 01747 857800)
“Our taster boarding is highly flexible, inclusive and welcoming – this weekend we are organising a potion and wand making session for our current boarders. ”
Sarah Chave, Head of Boarding

Oakham School, Rutland (www.oakham.rutland.sch.uk; 01572 758500)
“Students will spend time with other pupils who they can really relate to and have fun with to ensure they get a real flavour of boarding life”
Louise Hitchen, Press Officer

Millfield School, Somerset (www.millfieldschool.com; 01458 442291)
“Nowadays boarding is about having fun with a group of friends within a safe structured family environment”
Adam Stubbs, Director of Boarding

* Read Country Life’s Autumn Schools supplement 

* Read the Country Life Schools Directory