Hogwarts effect stronger overseas than at home, boarding-school leader says
8th May 2019
The Hogwarts effect, which saw a rise in the numbers of pupils wanting to come to boarding school in order to emulate Harry Potter, has dropped off among British pupils, according to the Boarding Schools' Association.
But the Hogwarts effect is still strong among overseas pupils, he added.
Speaking of the Hogwarts effect, Robin Fletcher, the association's chief executive, said: “Certainly, there was a bit of a rise when the books first came out. Probably inevitably, that’s slackened off a little bit.
“But I think it’s still a factor for overseas children.”
Mr Fletcher was speaking to Tes at the Boarding Schools’ Association’s annual conference, held in London this week. He said that a range of influences now inform a British child’s decision to go to boarding school.
“I think UK families will have all sorts of sources of information about boarding schools,” Mr Fletcher said. “They might live near one. They might know people who’ve been to one. Harry Potter is only one of the influences they’re considering.”
By contrast, he said: “Overseas, Harry Potter might have a slightly disproportionate effect. If you live in China, you might just see Hogwarts and think, I want to go to a boarding school like that.”
But Mr Fletcher argues that, while Hogwarts is a fictional school, and boarding-school pupils do not, in fact play Quidditch, the Hogwarts effect highlights many qualities of real-life boarding schools.
“While Harry Potter is a completely mythical place, it does show young people living together in community, trying new things, bonding with each other,” he said. “Becoming independent characters in a historic environment. That is representative of boarding.”
Widespread support for Gordonstoun’s methods among its former pupils
The Scottish boarding school is renowned around the world for the out-of-classroom experiences it offers, including camping and training as coastguards and in mountain rescue.
A report commissioned by the school, and published yesterday at the Boarding Schools Association annual conference in London found its extracurricular activities had a positive influence on personal growth and development, according to 94 per cent of 1,183 Old Gordonstounians (OGs) who responded to a survey.
Respondents said the experiences had set them up for real life situations and helped them to learn a lot about themselves, or given them a chance to shine outside the classroom.
Most felt the experiences were a positive influence on their career, enabling them to “think outside the box”, and have the attitude that they would “give anything a go”.
However 43 per cent of respondents said the activities had not enhanced their academic studies or had even detracted from them.
The report, by Edinburgh University, said: “This was the most contested issue to emerge from the survey findings and revealed very contrasting viewpoints.
“When broken down by age and gender, the older OGs (all male) felt that out-of-classroom experiences enhanced their academics, while male respondents in the 20- to 29-year-old bracket were more ambivalent about this connection.”