UK Boarding Schools Glossary


A list of terms used in the UK Boarding Schools. A usefull and growing list of terms for parents of foreign students.


Boarding house
A building or floor where pupils live. In large houses, boarders may be divided by age on different floors. In other schools, pupils live in separate houses, often of mixed age groups. Many schools have a separate house for sixth-formers, with more independence and privacy.


Boarding Schools’ Association (BSA)
The membership organisation for boarding schools in membership of the ISC, representing their interests to government and the public and providing the only established and recognised training for


Boarding staff
DormitoryA large bedroom shared by boarders (often called a ‘dorm’ or a bedroom). Younger pupils may share with up to six friends; older boarders are more likely to be in smaller rooms with two sharing or single study bedrooms.


A weekend when boarders leave school to go home or to guardians in the UK. The school is usually closed from after school on Friday until Sunday evening. Some schools make arrangements for international boarders to stay in school or do not have compulsory exeats.


Extra-curricular activities
Activities taking place outside the formal curriculum, which are designed to encourage wider interests and skills.


The person in charge of the school, often called the ‘Head’.


Houseparent (also known as housemaster/housemistress)
The person responsible for the care and supervision of boarders in a boarding house. They are usually assisted by other members of staff such as matrons or tutors. Many also teach during the day.


Independent Schools Council (ISC)
The unified organisation promoting the common interests of member schools in the political arena.


Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI)
ISI is responsible for inspecting the standards of education and boarding provision in ISC-member schools in England


Often a member of staff with pastoral or domestic responsibilities for boarders, not necessarily medically qualified. Anyone known as a school nurse must be qualified as such.


National Minimum Standards
The 20 standards of care for boarders against which schools are judged for their performance in boarding. Gradings go from 1 for outstanding to 4 for inadequate.


The Government department responsible for the inspection of education and boarding in state schools and independent schools not in membership of the ISC in England.


Sixth form
The final two years at school, in which pupils aged 16–18 study for AS- and A-levels or equivalent qualifications, such as the International Baccalaureate or Cambridge Pre-U.