Benenden School, one of the UK’s leading boarding schools, is introducing day boarders for the first time.
In an announcement described as “exciting” by the School’s Headmistress, from September 2021 Benenden will welcome a small number of day boarders – a standard industry term for a pupil who attends on a daily basis rather than boarding – in Years 9 and 12.
Benenden Headmistress Samantha Price said: “We know from families living locally that there is a strong demand for girls to join us as day boarders and we are delighted to be able to welcome some of these girls to Benenden for the first time next year.
“In many ways this is an historic moment for Benenden – and a very exciting one for the School. We have planned this approach very carefully indeed and are confident that our day boarders will integrate seamlessly into our wonderful, happy boarding community.”
The School stressed it would always remain a boarding school first and foremost but that this strategic move would enable it to widen access further.
Mrs Price, who has worked in a wide range of different types of independent schools, added: “Benenden has always been a boarding school – and it will continue to be a boarding school, just with a small number of day boarders in addition.
“We are confident that our new day boarders will have a positive impact, with even more girls here at weekends making the most of our beautiful 250-acre site and stunning facilities.”
The School, opened in 1923, is based in the village of Benenden just outside Cranbrook and educates 550 girls aged 11 to 18.
Anne Wakefield, the School’s Deputy Head – Boarding and Pastoral Care, said: “Demand for boarding at Benenden remains incredibly strong and we are in the fortunate position of being oversubscribed, with waiting lists in operation. At the same time, family life has evolved in recent decades and we are aware that boarding does not suit all families.
“Our intention is to help as many families as possible to benefit from the Complete Education that we offer.”
Benenden’s management has been exploring the introduction of day boarding for several years and stressed that the announcement is unrelated to the coronavirus crisis.
Mrs Price said: “We considered delaying the announcement due to the current situation but ultimately decided that it made good sense in the circumstances to continue with the launch as planned, to benefit those families who are so keen on this opportunity for their daughters.”
The School will be limiting the number of day boarders to a handful of girls joining in the Lower Fifth (Year 9) and Six One (Year 12) to ensure they can be smoothly integrated into Benenden.
Day boarders will play a very large part in Benenden life. They will be joining existing boarding houses and, along with their boarding peers, will be attending lessons and sports matches on Saturdays as well as major school events on some weekends. They will also be encouraged to participate in some of the 150 co-curricular activities available outside of lesson times, including in the evenings.
Benenden School offers an array of superb facilities, including a purpose-built Theatre, state-of-the-art Science Centre, swimming pool, all-weather sports pitch and a beautiful Eco-Classroom. It is currently constructing a new School Hall and Music School, a development which will create one of the South East’s foremost concert halls.
It offers innovative teaching and learning experiences, including the highly-regarded Benenden Diploma for Years 7 and 8 and its Professional Skills Programme teaching Sixth Formers professional and life skills. It also offers a first-class pastoral support programme and regularly welcomes high-profile speakers on a range of topics.