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No nonsense advice from parents (posted in the Middle East) who sent three children back home to board...two were "Enid Blyton" perfect fits (although one was a boy) but the third was a square peg and expected by the school to "stand up to the bullies"...

  • Don’t believe everything you read in the prospectus or at the interview. If it says Horse Riding, make sure they have horses and you don’t have to bring your own.
  • Try to speak to former pupils.
  • Try to speak to current pupils of YOUR choice, not the golden one sifted out by the school board.
  • Before buying brand new uniforms, check to see if they have a “Much Loved” section in the uniform shop; this could save you hundreds of $’s especially in the blazer department.
  • Get in touch with the Old Girls or Old Boys associations and try to speak to them and ask their views.
  • Don’t just choose a school for its trendy uniform; sometimes it’s character building to wear something absolutely retro.
  • Make sure your child is catered for if they are academically or athletically biased.
  • Make sure they have an agreed register of adults, approved by you, that your child is allowed to exit school with.
  • Try to attend a Boarders PTA at least once a year; it’s a good way of putting forward your views and getting feed back.
  • Look at the extra curricular activities offered: are they included or supplementary to fees? Then check the ones that are iincluded.
  • Be strong when it comes to putting them in for the first time. Take a HUGE box of tissues, but don’t bring the child home with you. If possible, restrict contact for the first week to e-mail not phone or visits.
  • You will get most contact when they are feeling low, so that is what you will hear about most, never the good bits.
  • If you hear of bullying going on - whether it is passive or aggressive - follow it up and be totally tenacious about it; believe me it does matter.
  • Get to know the boarding staff; they are looking after your child.
  • If you are over on a visit, try to take out another couple of boarders with your own; it reciprocates so then your child may get an unexpected outing some time.
  • Teach them to sew before they leave and provide them with an equipped sewing box. They need to know the basics -  buttons, hems and how to use iron-on Vilene for rips. That way, you know they will be turned out half way to decent as you can’t rely on the laundry to do this for them
  • Monitor their spending. Set an allowance and stick to it, otherwise it’s a bottomless pit and their term allowance goes in the first week.
  • If something is worrying your child, advise the House Parents; if they don’t know, they can’t do anything, and chances are your child will not have told them.

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