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Boarders at Lockers Park SchoolHertfordshire’s good travel links make boarding schools a popular option. More to choose from in the west of the county but well established names are also found in the east and over the border in Essex.

At Beechwood Park School, the weekly boarders nearly all live close by, but it’s become so popular that when we visited it was only open to year 6s upwards, instead of year 5. And   while Aldwickbury has no full boarders, local families see the flexi-boarding as good preparation for boys heading off to senior day schools. At Royal Masonic School for Girls Cadogan House, weekly, flexi and ad-hoc boarding are all on the up while full boarding is dwindling. But at Lockers Park School, full (and other) boarding takes place in cosy dorms for two to 12 boys. Further east, Heath Mount offers boarding or flexi-boarding from year 3, ‘a fundamental part of the school and so useful for secondary school preparation’, says the head. The boys’ dorms are high within the main building while the girls are in the smart — and very pink — River House, a short distance away. Bishop’s Stortford College Prep offers limited boarding, but the 10 or so full-time boarders (majority from overseas) plus around 15 flexi-boarders make for a strong sense of being in a real home.  Though relatively small numbers board at Felsted Prep (just over the border in Essex), it definitely has the special 'feel’ that boarding provides. Good sized, mostly four- or six-bedded rooms, all well decorated and with own duvet covers and other homely touches.

At senior level, Queenswood has far fewer full boarders since the school introduced flexi-boarding. Most full boarders are international, all continents represented. At Berkhamsted School (boys) and Berkhamsted School (girls) there’s flexi or weekly boarding available, although again, a strong international contingent, particularly in sixth form. Most of the boarders at Royal Masonic School for Girls are in years 10-12. Around 40 per cent are from overseas. Around 30 per cent board at Aldenham School (two-thirds boys) but it’s enough to lend it a ‘proper’ boarding ethos without any trace of ‘them and us’ between boarders and day pupils. Haileybury is possibly the best-known boarding school in the area. There’s an active inter-house social life and plenty of weekend activities for full-time boarders, with Saturday film nights and Sunday trips. Roman Catholic St Edmund’s College is, according to its head, a ‘day school with boarding attached’ - one house for boys and one for girls on the upper floors of the main college building (you can see as far as Canary Wharf on a clear day). Extremely flexible boarding (from year 7 upwards) at St Christopher School where house parents, resident tutors and gap students are involved in weekend activities. At Felsted School, around 80 per cent board, flexi or otherwise.

Two specialist schools offer boarding in Hertfordshire - at The Purcell School, all but 40-ish board - it’s strongly encouraged, not least due to the early starts and late finishes. At Tring Park School for the Performing Arts, full boarding (although in reality many sixth formers go home for weekends) is available and popular.

Very few state schools offer boarding, but Herts has two. St George’s School (Harpenden) takes between 10 and 30 boarders in each year with a strong international cohort. Hockerill Anglo-European College has both full and weekly options. ‘They make sure there’s a real sense of community among the boarders,’ said a parent.

Boarding schools near Hertfordshire

Popular options outside the county for prep boarding include Caldicott, in Berks, as well as likely candidates in neighbouring Buckinghamshire and Essex. For senior boarding, Bedford School, along with the likes of Wycombe Abbey and Harrow School, are all fairly short journeys away. Brentwood SchoolSevenoaks SchoolTonbridge SchoolBradfield CollegeRugby SchoolSt Edward’s School Oxford and Eton College also feature on the lists of Herts families, as well as many much further afield.

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