Parent Sarah Myers shares her children’s experience of boarding at Highfield School and explains why it’s a good fit for other Forces Families…
Tell us a little bit about your family
Stuart and I have been married for 17 years this year, and are currently based in Bulford, Wiltshire. Our children both started boarding at Highfield in year four. When Eleanor – our eldest, now aged 14 – started, we had just moved from Wattisham in Suffolk down to Gosport. Ptolemy joined his sister two years later, by which point we were living in Yeovil in Somerset. Eleanor’s lasting comment she made once she’d done her trial board was “can I keep my friends for five years?”. It made us focus on how moving around was affecting her. She left Highfield (after her five years) in July 2017 and has gone on to a senior school in Taunton. Ptolemy is in his final year at Highfield and it is fair to say that we are all dreading his last day at school as it has become such a huge part of our lives over the last seven years.
Why did you choose Highfield?
We chose Highfield because of the family feeling we got when we came to visit. We loved the warm, nurturing atmosphere, especially in the junior boarding house. It is not easy leaving your eight-year-old for weeks on end and I certainly couldn’t have left either of them if I was not completely sure that they would be well cared for pastorally. The children that showed us around all those years ago were clearly happy, outgoing and independent children who loved their school and wanted to share this love with us.
Simply because we didn’t know where or when our next move would be. The children needed to have continuity and by boarding at Highfield they would have that.
What does Highfield boarding have to offer?
The grounds are spectacular! The woods where forest school, camping, outdoor cinema and capture the flag are played are wonderful, as are the trim trail and extensive playing fields. It was important for us that Highfield was a ‘full’ boarding school, not a day school that offered boarding. Highfield definitely fits into the ‘full’ boarding school category, with daily after-school clubs and many boarders who stay in at weekends – including quite a few military. The Sunday activities that are organised for them are fantastic.
What advice would you offer to other Forces families looking for the right school for their children?
I would say look for a school that is a ‘full’ boarding school where there is a strong boarding ethos and leadership team and I would make sure that a good number of boarders stay in at weekends. Location is also important – is the school easily accessible from motorways and airports? Is it close to family if you are overseas and need a guardian? Take advantage of trial boarding and make sure you ask your children what they think – so important as it will be their ‘home-from-home’ for several years.
What do your children have to say?
Eleanor told us: “There was a special bond between all the military children, we all got each other. Also, the community we lived in was the best thing about my time at Highfield,” while Ptolemy added: “I think the grounds are one of the best things. I get to enjoy playing with my friends all the time.”