b'Sex, drugs and homesicknessGiven that the majority of boarding school pupils are aged from 13 upwards, some parents might think school fees a small price to pay for letting trained professionals steer their hormonal offspring over the turbulent waters of adolescence. Even so, we all know that risk-taking, underage drinking, drugs, sex, cyber-bullying, self-harm, anorexia and the other ills that teenage esh is heir to, can occur right under parents noses. What then should you expect boarding schools to do to keep young people safe? Pastoral care and well-being are now up there with academic results as key measures of any schools success and as closely monitored as exam performance. In addition to the normal school inspection visits (Ofsted for state schools, ISI for independent schools), government inspectors visit all boarding schools to check every aspect of provision from re escapes to mattresses, and they also talk to staff, pupils and parents. All schools should have a link to the latest boarding inspection report (and their response to any issues raised) on their website. But knowing the number of locks on a dormitory window wont tell you if someone will notice your child staring miserably out of it. Googling a school may lead you to press reports about historic sexual abuse, expulsions for drug use and other stories guaranteed to make a parents blood run cold. The measure of a school is not so much that these things happened (they do, though thankfully very infrequently), but how such serious and unfortunate incidents are handled. If a school declares, for instance, that possession of drugs will lead to immediate expulsion but fails to expel those who break this rule, you should make your own judgement. (Some schools will allow pupils to return to sit public exams.) Remember, too, that although occurrences like this are surprisingly rare, just because a school has a squeaky-clean record is no guarantee that something wont happen in the 58'