Why board at St Catherine’s?

St Catherine’s has been both a boarding and day school ever since the School's foundation in 1885. We believe that the successful blending of these two aspects of school life into one happily integrated community is part of what makes St Catherine's special. Everyone, boarder or day girl, feels part of the whole.

Consequently, boarding has always been an intrinsic and popular part of the School and fundamental to the St Catherine's ethos. We firmly believe that boarding fosters respect and concern for others and gives the girls the confidence to develop their independence and their own sense of style. I am always amazed by the wide variety of activities that St Catherine’s boarders manage to fit into their days and they are noisily present in every aspect of school life here.

One advantage of living on site is that you have access to all the wonderful facilities from early in the morning to well into the evening. There is no commute but instead, one seamless day in a home from home.

There are almost as many reasons to board as there are girls and their families. It could be that a girl already has a very full and active life after school and boarding makes it easier to manage her commitments, be they dramatic, musical, sporting or artistic. Sometimes deciding to board is based on what best suits the whole family; a number of our parents live abroad and so for them, full boarding is the obvious choice.  We are proud to welcome highly intelligent young women from all over the world who, in the process of gaining an outstanding education in English, enrich the lives and experiences of those who live locally.  We are increasingly popular, too, as a full boarding school for girls who are travelling to us from across the UK.

Weekly boarding, with the week spent in school and the weekend at home, has become increasingly popular, especially for families where both parents work or where a parent wants to restart his/her own career after some time spent raising younger children. Our weekly boarding catchment area extends to central/West London – with a quick journey up the A3 or by train to Waterloo – or down into Hampshire or Sussex.    

For all our boarders, weekends contain all the usual school activities such as sports fixtures, play rehearsals, Duke of Edinburgh's Expeditions etc., but also include a busy, varied and exciting programme of trips and activities specifically for them.  Weekly boarders are always welcome to stay and join in the fun and often do.  A schedule of these can be found here along with the girls' reports on their experiences. 

We do not have regular compulsory exeats, which makes our full boarding option a good choice for parents living further afield or internationally, as their daughters will always be cared for by familiar faces in the very welcoming team of boarding staff all year round.  There is only one exception to this which is the early May Bank Holiday where we do ask girls to go to their guardians as the support staff in school have that national holiday.  

This is only a brief introduction to boarding at St. Catherine's.  To get a proper feel of what we can offer your daughter and your family, come and visit us at a prospective parents morning (dates for these can be found here) or organise a bespoke visit via our Registrar.  We will be delighted to show you boarding in action and you can meet some boarders.  They are always ready to talk about their school. 

Alice Phillips
Acting Head of Boarding

The Year in Boarding slideshow was assembled for the annual Dinner for Boarders’ Parents, hosted by Resident Staff and U6 Boarders, which takes place each October.

Steps to Joining

  • Contact Registrar Mrs Clare Woodgates for an invitation to a Prospective Parents’ Morning which will include an introductory tour of boarding facilities and a chance to meet boarding staff.
  • Register your daughter as early as possible before the Autumn Term of the year prior to entry.  This will enable you to receive invitations to a number of events.
  • Invitation for your daughter to come to a Taster Sleepover: attend lessons, join after-school activities and stay overnight with one or two other prospective boarders.
  • Invitations will be sent to you and your daughter to attend school events and explaining examination arrangements.
  • Entrance Examinations are held in November for Upper 4 (Year 9 13+) and Lower 6 (Year 12) entry, and in January for Upper 3 (Year 7 11+) entry in the following September.
  • Offer letters are sent out in December for Upper 4 and Lower 6 places and acceptance is generally expected a fortnight later.  Places in Upper 3 are offered in late January and must be accepted no later than the first Monday in March.
  • There is a Bonding Weekend in June for Upper 3 and Upper 4 Boarders joining us in September.

Boarding Costs

The value of boarding?

The transition from prep./primary education to secondary is an interesting time for families; your 11 year old would certainly like to consider herself becoming more independent and it may also coincide with a time when a parent who has taken a spell at home with younger children may feel it’s time either to return to work full-time or to re-train. This where you might wish to consider weekly boarding. It also makes financial sense.  A quick look at typical live-in or live-out nanny/manny salaries, costs of a car for nanny/manny, costs of activities outside school etc. quickly add up and outstrip the annual boarding fee at St Catherine's which also includes the academic education.

For the latest boarding fees, please see our fees page.

Don't forget to factor in the 'added value' of boarding which makes it an even more attractive prospect:

  • A huge raft of extra-curricular activitie on-site plus most weekend trips, all inclusive
  • Expert pastoral care and attention
  • The opportunity to experience greater independence in a secure environment
  • Fully supervised prep. with easy access to resources and support
  • Less time spent commuting for all the family and reduced fuel costs
  • Friday evening drop-off bus to SW London and return bus on Sunday evening.