b'their mainstream peers but will follow a largely separate and slimmed-down academic programme, working towards a smaller number of GCSEs with a big emphasis on learning English. These are covered in more detail on page 74.Social life While the academic side of boarding is undoubtedly important, the social dimension is just as vital. Good Schools Guide reviewers regularly hear of enduring friendships that span religious or cultural divides, or of lessons enriched by pupils on opposite sides of wars, sanctions or economic policy.Things work less well if a school operates a monoculture policy. A large number of pupils from one nation in a single year group may help fend off homesickness, but can reduce the motivation for pupils to speak English socially or immerse themselves in their host countrys way of lifean opportunity lost rather than gained. Its okay to ask admissions staff for numbers if youre at all concerned. Similarly, a school where the number of overseas pupils is so small that they are swamped by the prevailing culture can also lead to a miserable experienceparticularly if they are the only full boarders in the Over the past few years, some of theplace at weekends while everyone else most famous names in educationgoes home. Its essential to nd out have opened offshoots overseas just how many pupils of your childs age are actually around over the weekend; many schools start off with a packed house for Saturday morning lessons or matches but empty out seconds after the nal whistle (or bell) sounds. Exporting educationbig names abroad Finally, for those happy to ditch some of the trimmings and all of the British weather, its increasingly possible to get the 65'