Thinking ahead: Summer ideas

Thinking ahead: Summer ideas


Here are a few ideas for your children – big or small – this summer


Boarding school 7-17 3 June – end June/beg July £850+ = 1 week
Family + day school, Ireland 9-13 June : 2-4 weeks 1,500€ = 2 weeks
Film school, London 18+ 4 June : 1 month £2,095 = 4 weeks (+ accommodation)
Art or fashion, London 16+ June 1,780 = 4 weeks (+ accommodation)



Intensive English in an international boarding school 7-17 18 June : 5 weeks £5,750 = 5 weeks
High-tech team project 16-19 18 June : 2 weeks £2,200 = 2 weeks
Sailing school, Ireland 14-17 17 June : 2 weeks 1,850€ = 2 weeks
Summer school + family 10-17 10 June : 2 weeks or more £2,000 = 2 weeks
Academic summer school in Oxford 15-17 17 June onwards £1,750 = 2 weeks
Privately run summer school, countryside 7-13 16 June: 1-4 weeks £665 = 1 week + transfer



Summer school near the sea + large choice of sports 7-17 9 June : 2 weeks+ £1,200-£1,600 = 2 weeks
English tuition with another international student 14-17 24 June : 2 weeks+ £1,640 = 2 weeks + transfer
Summer school near the sea in Ireland 12-17 24 June : 1 week+ 680€ = 1 week + transfers
Family-run summer school, Ireland 11-17 2 July: 2-4 weeks 1,500€ = 2 weeks
Privately-run language school, countryside 13-17 2 July: 2 weeks+ £1,400 = 2 weeks + transfer
Summer school in Oxford 10-17 1 July: 1 week+ £690 = 1 week + transfer



Privately-run summer camp in Scotland 8-16 24 June : 2 weeks+ £1,730 = 2 weeks
Privately-run summer camp beside a national park 9-15 1 July : 2 weeks+ £1,780 = 2 weeks + transfer
Privately-run all-girl summer camp 8-14


29 June : 2 weeks £1,980 = 2 weeks
Summer school run by a number of top Prep schools 6+ 1 July : 1 week+ £1,075 = 1 week
Traditional summer camp with British children 7-16 21 July: 1 week+ £650 = 1 week + transfer
Summer school run by a boarding school, south of England 8-17 1 July: 1 week+ £875 = 1 week + transfer



A taste of boarding school, East England 9-17 8 July : 1 week+ £1,200 = 1 week
Mixed activities, North England 7-16 8 July : 2-3 weeks £1,900 = 2 weeks
Scottish countryside: choice of sports 10-15 1 July : 1 week+ £1,120 = 1 week
Prestigious school near London 9-17 7 July : 2 weeks+ £2,850 = 2 weeks
All-girl boarding school 8-17 14 July : 2 weeks+ £2,200 = 2 weeks
Small boarding school in Scotland 8-17 24 June: 1-4 weeks £850 = 1 week
Outstanding summer school, Scotland 8-16 6 July or 13 July: 3 weeks £5,400
American summer school near London 10-17 25 June: 3 weeks+ £3,960 = 3 weeks
Summer school near London with some British children 11-17 8 July: 2 weeks+ £2,600 = 2 weeks
Summer school with accent on sports 8-16 11 July: 2 weeks+ £2,300 = 2 weeks
Summer school specialising in water sports 11-17 2 July: 2 weeks+ £2,100 = 2 weeks
Traditional summer school 10-16 6 July: 2 weeks+ £2,400 = 2 weeks
Academic 8-17 4 July: 2 weeks+ £2,690 = 2 weeks



Riding – north England

Riding – south England



24 June : 2 weeks+

15 July : 2 weeks+

£2,100 = 2 weeks + transfer

£1,700 = 2 weeks

Rugby – Scotland 8-14 1 July : 2 weeks £1,950 = 2 weeks + transfer
Golf – Scotland 10-17 8 July : 2 weeks £1,795 = 2 weeks
Tennis 15-21 1 July : 2-4 weeks £1,830 = 2 weeks + transfer
Sailing 14-17 17 June : 2 weeks 1,850€ = 2 weeks
Athletics 12-17 8 July : 2 weeks+ £2,645 = 2 weeks + transfer
Fencing 12-17 8 July : 2 weeks+ £2,805 = 2 weeks + transfer
Martial Arts 12-17 8 July : 2 weeks+ £2,805 = 2 weeks + transfer
Dance 12-17 8 july : 1 week+ £1,425 = 1 week



Film/drama with British children 14-17 23 July : 2 weeks £2,500 = 2 weeks + transfer
Design, Fashion 13-16


1 July : 2 weeks


£3,175 = 2 weeks + transfer
Music 8-18 29 July : 1 week+ £895 = 1 week + transfer



Accent on Maths & Science, Ireland 9-17 24 June : 1 week+ 850€ = 1 week + transfer
Technology camp with British children 9-17 8 July : 2 weeks £2,700 = 2 weeks + transfer
Coding 13-16 3 July : 2 weeks £2,500 = 2 weeks



English summer school in France 11-15 2 July : 2 weeks 2,000€ = 2 weeks
University preparation in Cambridge 16-18 3 July : 2 weeks £3,300 = 2 weeks
Academic subjects 7-18 30 June : 1 week+ £1,380 = 1 week
IELTS 10-17 9 July : 3 weeks £3,300 = 3 weeks



Summer camp multi-activity 7-16 21 July : 1 week+ £650 = 1 week + transfer
Summer school near Oxford 8-14 15 July : 1 week+ £1,085 = 1 week
3 week outside activities in 3 different locations 15-19 25 June : 3 weeks £1,999 = 3 weeks
Classic summer camp 6-17 8 July : 1 week+ £800 = 1 week + transfer



Family + summer school, Ireland 11-17 2 July : 2-4 weeks 1,550€ = 2 weeks
Summer camp multi-activity 7-16 21 July : 1 week+ £650 = 1 week + transfer
Summer school near the sea + large choice of sports 7-17 9 June : 2 weeks+ £1,200-£1,600 = 2 weeks
Summer school near the sea in Ireland 12-17 24 June : 1 week+ 680€ = 1 week + transfers
Privately run summer school, countryside 7-13 16 June: 1-4 weeks £665 = 1 week + transfer
Family-run language school, countryside 13-17 2 July: 2 weeks+ £1,400 = 2 weeks + transfer



15h English classes + 15h work experience per week




All year – 2 weeks minimum


£1,400 = 2 weeks


 20h English classes + 20h work experience per week – Ireland 18+


All year – 4 weeks minimum 500€ = 1 week + 500€ work placement


2 weeks English classes + 2 weeks work experience




All year – 4 weeks minimum


£1,050 = 4 weeks




2-4 week programme near London 10-18 8 July £3,700 = 3 weeks
3 week programme 13-18 1 July £4,200 = 3 weeks



Summer camp run by private boarding school 8-15 23 June : 3 weeks


$5,735 = 3 weeks + transfers + outings
Summer school based at top university 13-18 15 July : 3 weeks $6,600 = 3 weeks
Summer camp with top-level, professional sports coaching 8-16


24 June : 1 week+ $1,500 = 1 week + transfers + outings
Family for 2 weeks + summer camp for 2 weeks 12-17 15 June : 4 weeks $3,540 = 4 weeks
Camp intensif de foot 8-16 30 June : 2-4 weeks $3,180 = 2 weeks














The Blues

The Blues

“Oh, London is a man’s town, there’s power in the air;
And Paris is a woman’s town, with flowers in her hair;
And it’s sweet to dream in Venice, and it’s great to study Rome;
But when it comes to living there is no place like home.”*

Depressed Bear

My brother remembers a boy at his Prep school in the 70s, when he was about 8 years old, who, the moment his
parents had dropped him back at school, would race down the drive in a bid to escape.  In those days, conditions at
boarding schools were generally pretty tough and it was more or less standard to be permanently miserable,
constantly homesick.  Since it was rare to find any support from within the school, pupils had the choice between
keeping a stiff upper lip (ie. supressing their feelings) or running away.

Happily, much progress has been made since then. Homesickness has not been eradicated, of course: the next few
weeks will no doubt see boarding schools throughout Britain coping with numbers of tearful children.  On the whole,
however, after the first few days of no doubt feeling rather lost, pupils will be so busy – in and out of the classroom
– and making friends that they will hardly have time to be feel blue.  Getting involved in all that is on offer is a key
element in feeling part of the school and, in some small way, ‘at home’.

And what an enormous variety is on offer these days to keep pupils occupied throughout the week and the week
ends.  A transformation from my own boarding school days, from which I can remember two extra-curricular events:
1) watching the film “To Kill a Mocking Bird” on a big screen in the school hall and 2) stopping off for chips after
going to a play in a local town (I can’t remember what play; the chips were much more memorable).  I can
remember because they were about the only extra-curricular things that happened over 4 years of boarding school. Most week-ends were spent eating sweets, which might help overcome the Blues in the short term but make them
very much worse in the long run.

Of course – I say from my own experience – it is not uncommon for the parents to suffer the blues as well, feeling
the hole left by their absent child.  And so arises the question: how often should parents make contact?  Perhaps a
little more than a closely-monitored call once every half term on the House phone (harking back once more to my
own schooldays) but perhaps a little less than a long Skype home every evening. A family whose 10 year old son
has just started at a Prep school in England have been advised by the Headmaster not to call for the first week:  a
gentle way of saying ‘let us do our job and give him time to settle in without distractions from home.’

Rest assured: on hand today are a friendly team, well-qualified to listen to a child’s needs outside the classroom as
well as in.  These include a Housemaster or Housemistress and their deputy, a Tutor, Matron, nurses in the
infirmary, generally a chaplain and several other members of staff who a child can turn to for pastoral care.  There is
no longer any need to bottle up the blues, sharing them only with the pillow and teddy at night-time.

*Henry Van Dyke, 1909

Country Life

Country Life

“Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”  Samuel Johnson*

There is no disputing that London is an exciting, vibrant city – currently The Place to

Be.  However, whilst I cannot deny that, if I found a pot of gold, I wouldn’t say no to a

house in Chelsea, I can assure you that there is a great deal more to England (and

indeed Britain) than London and I urge you to take the time to explore it.   Britain may

not have France’s glamorous ski stations or sunny beach resorts (why do you think

we Brits flock to them?) but, it does not lack variety, colour – and, above all, LIFE – lots of it.







In Britain, it is perfectly normal to live in the countryside full time; in fact, according to

official statistics, the rural population of England is growing steadily. Even in the

smallest village there is a pleasant feel of bustle and activity and a strong sense of

community and family life; the countryside is generally agreed to be the best place to

bring up children.

Of course, country life would not be complete without a local pub or two.  Gone are

the days of my childhood when my sister, brother and I were banished to the pub car

park with a bag of crisps whilst my parents enjoyed their weekend shandy:

nowadays, with licensing rules relaxed, pubs heave with families and offer all kinds of

food, from ‘home grown’ fish and chips to the rather more exotic Thai curry.

And then there are the countryside-based schools, both private and state, day and

boarding.  There is no lack of them: in fact, the choice can be bewildering.  I have a

list of 405 boarding schools (all based outside London) and am on a mission to visit

them all: roughly 200 to go.







Accompanied by BBC radio, I have motored thousands of miles up and down the

country over the past three years, driving from Ashby-de-la-Zouch to Barton-in-the

Beans via Upton Snodsbury, Westley Waterless and Great Snoring, taking in

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwll-llantysiliogogogoch on the way.  I have

encountered goats clinging on to Welsh cliffs, New Forest ponies roaming across the

Hampshire roads, found myself stuck behind sheep in a Wiltshire lane and been held

up by a couple of cows wandering along a Surrey High Street on a Monday morning.

Thanks to these unhurried creatures and the extra mile-long drive many schools

possess, I have often arrived frazzled, dishevelled – and late – at my destination.







And yet, however frazzled, dishevelled and horribly late I am, the welcome I receive

at each and every school is always warm and welcoming; quite literally at those

which have blissful, roaring fires in their main hall.  Within minutes I am ensconced in

a comfortable sofa, offered a cup of coffee and made to feel at home. This sense of

welcome and well-being continues as I am taken throughout the school: from

Chemistry lab to Dining Hall, from squash court to school theâtre, energetic children

dashing past from classroom to sports field, from saxophone practise to art studio.

On occasion, I have been accompanied by the Headmaster’s dog carrying a boys’

slipper in its mouth, have stopped to say hello to the Hunt as it rode through school

land or been introduced to the school pigs; on another I ended my tour by walking my

own dogs through the school fields with the registrar. There has hardly been a visit

when I don’t think ‘I wish I had been to school here’.






My own boarding school was a former Tudor Palace, once owned by Henry VIII and

accessed by a vast tree-lined drive.  The surrounding area has now become fairly

built up but in my time the weekly highlight was a long traipse over country fields to

get to the local sweet shop.  Most of my memories of the school are of being outside:

cross-country running in the winter, playing tennis until late in summer evenings, or

simply the smell of freshly cut grass as I gazed out of the window during an afternoon

of maths. The rural environment was certainly of no detriment to fellow pupils such as

designer Anya Hindmarch and CNN’s Christina Amanpour who, along with other ‘Old

Girls’ turned successful business women, have gone on to cope rather well with the

pace of city life.







Although my job is to recommend boarding schools, I sometimes feel like a traveI

agent or member of the local tourist board, at times resorting to preparing

photographs of local towns for parents to reassure them that their child is not being

packed off to outer Siberia.  Just as I explain to people that sending my own children

to boarding school in England was a present, not a punishment, I try to explain to

families that venturing into the depths of the British countryside is a positive thing, not

a banishment.







Whilst I acknowledge the choice of a school should not be made on its physical

appearance or the acres of parkland surrounding it, I do believe that a beautiful

environment can only have a positive effect on pretty much anyone, children and

teachers alike: really worth going that extra mile. The airport may not be Heathrow or

the station St Pancras, but the jostling of people on arrival is likely to be lesser and

the traffic on the journey onwards – baring a few stray beasts – usually lighter.  It

does not mean, however, that the quality of a school will be inferior; simply, that the

choice will be greater.







So I urge you: take the time, branch out, get off the beaten track – and don’t miss out

on these countryside gems, fizzing with life seven days a week.



*Samuel Johnson wrote ‘A dictionary of the English Language’ in 1755.

what, where, who, when, why?

what, where, who, when, why?

WHAT     Family + day (state) school
WHERE  Ireland
WHO      8-13 years
WHEN    June
WHY       Total immersion in English, friendly families

WHAT     Sailing school
WHERE  Ireland
WHO      14-17 years
WHEN    June, July*, August
WHY      Off the beaten track, with anglophones


WHAT     Football camp
WHERE  East of England
WHO      10-18 years
WHEN    17-29 July
WHY       Professional training for football-mad teenagers

WHAT     Mutli-lingual camp
WHERE  Scotland
WHO      12-17 years
WHEN    23 July – 5 August
WHY      Opportunity to improve English, Spanish, German

WHAT      Intensive English course**
WHO       11-15 years
WHEN     5-17 July or 19-31 July
WHY       Rigorous revision in beautiful surroundings; no need for a passport


WHAT      American educational programme
WHERE   All over the world
WHO       14-18 years
WHEN     24 June – 7 August
WHY       Top-quality, educative programmes (National Geographic, New York Times)

WHAT      Family + summer school
WHERE   Ireland
WHO       11-17 years
WHEN     3-24 July
WHY       Fun, friendly, few French

WHAT      International Summer Programme
WHERE   England, Scotland, USA
WHO       11-17 years
WHEN     2 July – 16 August
WHY       High-level programme: creative enrichment


WHAT      Summer project: 3 or 4 weeks
WHERE   West of London
WHO       13-18 years
WHEN     9 July – 5 August
WHY       40 years of experience: children of previous participants now attend

WHAT      Walking, climbing, rafting
WHERE   England, Scotland, Wales
WHO       15-19 years
WHEN     26 June – 25 August
WHY       Learn ‘Life Skills'; be part of a team; with anglophones

HOW     contacter:

* full from 2-16 July
**also 20-27 Aug ‘Bac Preparation’ for 15-18 year olds: 1,250€


IDEAS     IDEAS       IDEAS      IDEAS      IDEAS       IDEAS      IDEAS      IDEAS      

GOLF                  TENNIS                      SURFING                FOOTBALL                    RIDING           BASKETBALL

BADMINTON               SQUASH                  HOCKEY              MARTIAL ARTS                FENCING

RUGBY                   TABLE TENNIS               SAILING                 RAFTING                     KAYAKING

CLIMBING          RUNNING              WALKING               BIKING             DANCING                     COOKING

PAINTING                           DRAWING                           FASHION                      CRAFTS

PHOTOGRAPHY               MUSIC                      SINGING                   FILM                     TELEVISION


LEADERSHIP                    DEBATE                        CHESS                                    IELTS


Prepare your stay by listening to:


Who read what?

Who read what?

University applications are in full swing in Great Britain. Thousands of Year 13 pupils are polishing off their Personal Statements which they will send off before 15th January* as part of their UCAS** application. (more…)

Mummy, the Cloche is Sonning

Mummy, the Cloche is Sonning

“If someone who speaks many languages is multilingual and someone who speaks two languages is bilingual, what do you call someone who speaks one language? Answer: an Englishman”. So goes the joke.* (more…)

British Boarding School

British Boarding School

April 2014

“One of the big findings of modern psychology is that wellbeing is a key ingredient for successful learning.” Peter Gumbel (more…)



Spending a complete academic year at a British boarding school allows for a wide choice of options; this is the minimum period many schools will accept.  It also gives a pupil the time to adapt to new surroundings, to make long-standing friends, to perfect his or her English – and to learn a variety of new skills (more…)

La Plume de ma tante

La Plume de ma tante

I would like to think I am well-placed to give advice on how to learn a foreign language: marry a foreigner. Yet, even this somewhat radical step does not necessarily bring instant fluency: despite also living in my husband’s country, 20 years on I am still grappling to get the words out. Although many kind people insist that my accent is “charmant” I am very grateful that I do not have to listen to it myself (more…)

The Summer Term

The Summer Term


I had a slightly worrying conversation with a French mother a few weeks ago. (more…)

Summer camps

Summer camps

May 2014

Every year, sometime after Christmas, I have a sense of déjà vu as I sit in front of my computer and set down to the task of trying to find a way for my children to (more…)

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