UK boarding schools: educating the leaders of tomorrow – by Caroline Nixon, Chairman, BAISIS.

09 Jul 2015

One in seven countries has a leader who studied in the UK.

Taunton School International

Caroline Nixon at Taunton School International

A recent British Council report states that one in seven of the world’s countries has a current head of state who went to school or university in the UK.  The UK is a pretty small country – the population is 64 million and no part of the country is more than 74 miles from the sea.

So it’s pretty astonishing to think that the country’s schools educated the present leaders of Australia, Iran, Belize, Canada, Ireland, Singapore, Malaysia, Finland, Colombia and the Kings of Norway, Tonga, Belgium, Qatar, Swaziland, Jordan and Monaco.

What is it that enables the UK to punch so far above its weight?

The UK is home to some of the world’s most trusted educational brands. Universities like Oxford, Cambridge, LSE.  Schools like Eton, Harrow, Roedean.  The networking opportunities are huge too – being part of a truly global old boys and girls network is an invaluable resource.

Because today’s British boarding schools really are the melting pot of tomorrow’s world leaders.   For example in Taunton School, where I used to be the Principal of the International School and then the International Recruitment Director, we had in my final year 44 different nationalities, even though the majority of our students (70%) were British.

The term “melting pot” was coined in the United States and is still used primarily to describe the assimilation of immigrants into the United States.  There has been so much publicity recently about assimilation of different nationalities, cultures and religions into Western countries and how successful integration can lead to peace.  So I like to think we are doing our little bit for world peace right here in the boarding schools of England – welcoming, inclusive and respectful of all but also clear what we are here for.  And that is to help all our children reach the very highest academic achievement of which they are capable, but also help them to become well-rounded adults.  Yes, we are famous for sport – but also music, drama, debating design technology, art.  All these are encouraged at all levels and also to the highest level.

Boarding schools have been the choice of British parents for centuries.  They became particularly popular during the days of the British Empire when British children from all over the world were sent back to the UK for their schooling, but even now far more British than American children attend boarding schools.  The reason remains broadly the same – a belief that a boarding school education can enable children to develop wider horizons than their family life alone can provide.  As well as learning from teachers who are passionate about their subjects and living in fabulous surroundings, children have access every day, evening and weekend to amazing facilities – from world class swimming pools and hockey pitches to wonderful theatres for drama and debating and amazing art rooms and design technology suites. The huge variety of activities offered in British boarding schools means that your child is never pigeonholed.

In essence, at schools around this tiny island, we are equipping our students to be global leaders of the future, in whatever country, and whatever field of endeavour, that they themselves choose.


Caroline Nixon

Chairman, BAISIS.


Caroline Nixon was Principal of Taunton School International from 2003 – 2014 and is now a self-employed consultant specialising in marketing, recruitment and the setting up of new international schools.  She has been Chairman of BAISIS since 2009 and has delivered talks and seminars on international education, including advising international students on how to choose a suitable school, at exhibitions and conferences all over the world.