A prep school boarding experience

Posted on 13th Jun 2023 in School News, Prep Schools Guide, Boarding

Highfield and Brookham School consider how boarding at prep school can help prepare your child for their educational journey ahead.

While the decision to board is a very personal one, there are a wealth of positives for children that make it a truly life-enriching experience. From academic growth to personal development, boarding helps prepare students for a successful future. At Highfield and Brookham, we have a thriving boarding community of children in Years 4 to 8 and we see the results of these benefits each and every day; happy, caring, organised and independent pupils who are successful in and out of the classroom. 93 children currently board with us across our senior and junior boarding houses which are incredibly happy places in which to work, rest and play.

Gift of time and space

Boarding gifts children time to devote to their studies and offers around-the-clock opportunities to develop extra-curricular interests and hobbies. The extended day, breadth of things to get involved in and the on-tap facilities available mean that everyone has time and space to discover their passion and find something they truly enjoy. For city-based families, boarding at Highfield and Brookham provides children with 175 acres of countryside and fresh air and countless outdoor activities and, of course, for families based overseas or in the forces, boarding offers children stability and continuity of education. Every evening, after a healthy, home-cooked supper in the dining room and supervised prep, children enjoy a wide range of activities; from playing cricket in the nets, watching a film in the common room or mountain biking around the grounds to ball games in the sports hall or quiet reading in the dorm and spending time with friends. At the weekend, we offer a fun and varied programme or  excursions and activities. One thing is for sure, children who board are never bored!

Independence and Responsibility

A common theme among parents of boarders is that they discover that boarding empowers their children to achieve more, it takes away relentless homework battles, and allows family time to be just as it should be – quality time. Boarding teaches children independence as they learn to take responsibility for themselves. Developing this level of independence builds resilience, individuality, and positive mental health. Our boarding parents are still incredibly involved with school life, and we welcome them to spend time at Highfield and Brookham, perhaps supporting their children at a sporting fixture, concert, or chapel service.

Community and Friendship

Children who board form close relationships with their peers and teachers, and become part of a supportive, tight-knit community where they feel safe, valued, and nurtured. They develop social skills that enable them to have a good relationship with others far beyond their friendship groups. And we know from Old Highfieldians that friendships formed at boarding school can and do last a lifetime and provide a network of support throughout their life. Additionally, boarding develops a keen sense of belonging and helps children feel connected to their school community.


There is no right or wrong when it comes to when and if to board and for how many nights. At Highfield and Brookham we recognise that every family is unique, and we are here to share our wealth of experience and expertise with families. Children have the option to board with us from Year 4, when they join our Junior Boarding House. This is a cosy family home where children ease into boarding in a quieter environment before moving up to the Senior Boarding House in Year 6. To give children and their families a taste of our boarding experience, we offer a two- or three-night steps-to-boarding programme for children in Years 4 to 6. Once in Years 7 and 8 children at Highfield and Brookham will normally take up full boarding.

Future Preparation

There is no doubt that boarding at prep school helps build solid foundations for a successful life at senior school and beyond. Children will have built the skills to transition easily to senior school and can draw on their independence and individuality to drive them on their educational journey ahead. 

This article appears in the 2023 edition of John Catt's Preparatory Schools, which you can view here: