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Return to bo
Eight hundred-year-old Hereford Cathedral School will open a new international boarding house this autumn where overseas students will enjoy the benefits of an outstanding education and the friendly culture of a traditional British school. Here, headmaster Paul Smith explains the school’s decision to return to boarding
 Glorious Herefordshire. A beautiful region to bring up young families and where the gentle pace of life allows children to enjoy their childhood. When I ask our younger pupils what they do in their spare time they tell me about feeding their chickens, walking their dogs, cycling
along country lanes or building dens in the woods. There is less pressure to grow up in idyllic Herefordshire, become au fait with the latest app or develop a
precocious awareness of a rapidly approaching adult world.
But part of our role is to prepare pupils for the wider, more globalised, world beyond the school gates. Our students, by the age of 25, are as likely to
be working alongside colleagues from Mumbai or Brisbane as they are Worcester or Gloucester.
Going global
Herefordshire is not particularly a multicultural county and at
Hereford Cathedral School we have been proactive in developing an international ethos to prepare students for university and the workplace.
In 2012 we announced
our decision to develop an international sixth form. Initially, students were restricted to Chinese nationals who resided on a homestay basis with local families. This was mediated by a third party that recruited for the school.
The introduction of Chinese students proved highly successful but at times there were difficulties in arranging homestay placements, primarily because Herefordshire is England’s most sparsely populated county. It meant that broadening the intake of international students from more countries would be limited unless the school developed its own boarding facilities.
Boarding reintroduced Following a feasibility study, involving visits to independent
day schools which had a small proportion of international boarding, the governors and I concluded that Hereford Cathedral School could successfully reintroduce boarding. For most
of our 800-year history, boarding had been provided – it was only in relatively recent times that we became a day school.
We sought to develop accommodation for around
20 international sixth formers initially. However, interest from younger pupils arose, as well as from pupils already in the UK, and the final model is to provide coeducational boarding for pupils aged 13+. The first intake of additional international students will arrive this autumn and the school will consider applications from UK-based pupils.
Challenges and opportunities Identifying a suitable site for
a boarding house was not without its difficulties. Hereford Cathedral School is privileged
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