An Introduction to the Advantages of Boarding – by Jeremy Tomlinson, retired Registrar, Lancing College

11 May 2012


 Lancing College offers an exciting modern boarding experience for boys and girls, in a safe and beautiful place.  It is a richly varied community, welcoming pupils from all over the world. Many nationalities, religions and cultures are represented and learn to live together in harmony.  However, like most traditional boarding schools, Lancing is ‘local’ for most of its families, attracting pupils from a wide area of south east England, including London.

The majority of our boarders live within about fifty miles, some only a few minutes from school.  As well as half terms and exeats, they have the flexibility to go home most weekends and spend time with their families and friends.  Their parents can attend Chapel, matches and other events at the College and get to know each other and their children’s friends and the Lancing staff. Those who live further away or overseas enjoy the different atmosphere and opportunities of weekends at school.  Local boarders often choose to stay in as well and for all our pupils Lancing quickly becomes a home from home.

Sixty per cent of our pupils board.  Day pupils also benefit from being part of a boarding community and can sometimes sleep over at school.  Some convert to boarding as they move up the school.  Day pupils come from up to 20 miles away.  They find it an advantage that the school never closes.  Many often stay late to work or join in with activities.

With about 550 boys and girls, Lancing is an ideal size: big enough for diversity and choice; small enough for everybody to be known and appreciated. Currently, 30% of our junior pupils are girls, in the Sixth Form the balance of boys and girls is almost equal.  About 22% of our pupils come from overseas.

Lancing has separate houses for boys and girls. Boarders choose their houses and stay in the same house throughout their time at school.  Most houses have an intake of 12-14 per year. This is an ideal size of social and pastoral group.  In their junior years, boarders live in shared rooms within their houses.  After that they move on to single study-bedrooms.  There is always an adult presence in the house and working times are supervised.  Housemasters, housemistresses, matrons and tutors live within the House.  Every pupil has plenty of personal space and the opportunity for privacy.  The house is a safe, secure base from which pupils go out to the wider community and facilities of the school.  These are exceptionally close and accessible.   The buildings of the central campus are all linked together with a central Dining Hall, and set within 500 acres of sports fields, farm and open downland, near to the sea.

Pupils settle in very quickly and get to know each other well.  Housemasters, housemistresses and their teams of staff can give very close attention to each child and to the dynamics of the group.  Other adults including a school counsellor are available at all stages to give help and encouragement.  There is also a peer support system.  Pupils have the opportunity to serve others and to take responsibility.  Lancing is a Christian community, with a caring balance of tolerance and discipline.  The emphasis is on individual development and the highest possible standards of attainment.

Boarding is not a Harry Potter fantasy.  It has been totally transformed in recent years.  Schools like Lancing have responded imaginatively to legislation, public opinion and the changing needs of family life.  Boys and girls themselves have been involved in improving attitudes and structures.  But through all this, the essential advantages and pleasures of boarding remain as strong as ever.

The most significant factor of life at Lancing is that its pupils are busy and active.  They enjoy the shared experience and sense of fun.  It is essential that they achieve the best exam results they can, but they also need to exercise, develop physically and discover talents and interests that will enrich their lives.  Many different team and individual sports are available, all within a few minutes walk from the houses.  There are great opportunities for music, drama, art, design and technology outside the classroom.  Debating, writing, computing, library work, farming, conservation, community service, D of E, the CCF and support for charities are all part of the educational experience. 

Boarding offers a total immersion in school life.  It is a complete ‘holistic’ educational experience, where each individual can develop personally and learn to live in society.  It helps young people to discover themselves and their potential and face the challenging choices of their teenage years.  It eases the pressure on parents and families, giving support, understanding and advice.  Most of all it allows children to enjoy their education in a happy, secure environment and to make friends for life.  Boarding at Lancing is fun with a sense of purpose.

This is what some of our pupils have to say:

“It’s more a way of life than a school.”

“Boarding is a great laugh and helps you get the most out of school.”

“I wasn’t sent away to school, I chose to board.”

“I learnt to love it like my home.”


The most important advantages of a co-educational boarding education:


Jeremy Tomlinson, who has recently retired, worked at Lancing College for 41 years as a teacher of English, Head of Drama, Housemaster, Senior Master and Registrar.

Lancing College, West Sussex