10 Movies & TV Shows Set in Boarding Schools

Date Posted: 26th October

Categories: Boarding School

Boarding schools are typically fun, exciting and full of adventure, particularly in media. They have often been a major location in several movies and tv shows. As a boarding school, we often like to see how boarding schools are portrayed on the big and small screen, observing the similarities and differences with how they are represented. Here, we look at 10 movies and tv shows set in boarding schools.

Movies About Boarding Schools

Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters (X-Men, 2000)

Everyone loves superheroes, especially Professor Charles Xavier! After hearing of people with unusual powers, Xavier sends two of his ‘X-Men’ by the names of Cyclops and Storm to arrive and save them from an attack. They are then brought to the school in the fictional world of Westchester County, New York. Pupils at the school include several gifted youngsters that have the hopes themselves of becoming great superheroes one day after being correctly trained and joining together to fight.

Things take a dark turn when some of the members go rogue and begin using their powers maliciously with evil intent. Fortunately, the superheroes are there to save the day once again.

Parkwood Estate in Canada was used for the filming of the school’s exterior, whereas the interior was filmed at Casa Loma in Toronto, Ontario.

Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters – Fancy Pants Homes:

Hogwarts (Harry Potter, 2001)

Harry Potter is based on the series of seven books written by JK Rowling which follow the journey of Harry and his friends. He is a young boy attending his first year of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, in many ways similar to a UK boarding school. He meets his friends and fellow main characters Ron and Hermione who are the iconic trio of the series. The movie looks at the trio’s experience in the wonderful world of magic and the exciting activities they participate in including spell making and Quidditch.

The huge castle also serves as a boarding school, where fellow students are sorted into their houses; Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin. Alnwick Castle in England served as the filming location for the movie.

St. Trinian’s School (St. Trinian’s, 2007)

The comedy movie follows the journey of Annabelle, who has unwillingly been transferred to St Trinnian’s, a school for uncontrollable girls. However, she finds it hard to settle in to the new school environment as result of her not fitting in with the school’s cliques. Badly behaved students and pranks lead to conflict between the two sides.

Park Place in Berkshire was used at the filming location of the school.

Sheldon R. Weinberg Academy (Up the Academy, 1980)

In this movie, four young men, known for being troublemakers are submitted to Wienberg Military Academy as a form of punishment for their actions. Three of these students continue causing trouble, while one chooses to follow the straight and narrow, focusing their efforts on studying. The comedy movie looks at their bad behaviour, where one of the recruits’ girlfriends is located at a nearby camp, causing to them sneak out and get into all sorts of trouble.

The set for this boarding school is located in Salinsa, Kansas.

Welton Academy (Dead Poets Society, 1989)

Set in 1959, Todd Anderson starts his first year of high school at Welton Academy, an all-male conservative elite boarding school in Vermont. He makes friends at the school and the students are surprised by the unorthodox teachings of their new English teacher. The movie explores their introduction into poetry and follows the lives of these young students as they progress throughout their school years. It also explores a deeper perspective into life and how to make the most out of what we’ve got, using popular quotes such as “seize the day”.

The boarding school in the movie was filmed at St. Andrew’s School and the Everett Theatre in Wilmington, a town in Delaware, US.

Madison Preparatory School (Major Payne, 1995)

Major Payne is a comedy film, which focuses on Major Benson Winifred Payne and his new role as commander of students at Madison Preparatory School in Virginia. The Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) is full of disorderly kids and outcasts who have come last in Virginia Military Games for the last eight years. Trouble ensues as the kids attempt to sabotage Payne and get him out of the school. The movie looks at the relationship between the two sides in a light-hearted manner.

Illyria High School (She’s The Man, 2006)

She’s The Man follows Viola Hastings, a teen girl who disguises herself as her twin brother Sebastian who was supposed to enrol in the school. She joins the soccer team in hopes of becoming better at the sport and gains the attraction of a fellow player, but things get awkward when relationships don’t go their way. Viola keeps practising soccer participating in matches, where she continues to grow.

The boarding school used in this movie was filmed at Shadbolt Centre for The Arts in Vancouver.

Cobham Hall (Wild Child, 2008)

This movie follows the journey of a teenager from Malibu, Poppy Moore, adjusting to UK boarding school life. The school is a place she initially doesn’t get on well with, due to her attitude, and ends up finding herself in a lot of school drama. She eventually warms up to the school environment and makes new friends.

For interior scenes, Cobham Hall in Kent was the place of filming, whereas Balls Park in Hertford was used for the school’s facade.

St. Vladimir’s Academy (Vampire Academy, 2014)

Vampire academy is based on the original book series and takes an exciting spin on a traditional boarding school. The characters return to the fictional boarding school they previously escaped, where they encounter undead vampires. They investigate disappearances and learn more of their power throughout their time at St. Vladimir’s Academy.

TV Shows Set in Boarding Schools

Not only have boarding schools been a popular setting for movies, they have also been featured in some great TV shows throughout the years. Here are some of our top picks.

Cackle’s Academy (The Worst Witch 1998 – 2001)

This fun series follows the main character’s Mildred and Ethel through their time at Cackle’s Academy, a unisex boarding school for witches and wizards. Similar to Hogwarts, students study various spells and potions, as well as broom riding. The duo are a great pair, where Mldred’s impulsiveness gets her into trouble, Ethel is much calmer and a straight A student.

The school was filmed at Castell Coch in Cardiff, Wales.

Pacific Coast Academy (Zoey 101, 2005 – 2008)

Zoey enrols at the Pacific Coast Academy in Southern California, a co-ed boarding school that previously only allowed boys to attend. The series follows Zoey and her new friends living their teenage years and developing their friendships

The is more modern than those seen in the movies, with brightly coloured lounge areas and rooms across the school. Pepperdine University was used as the initial filming location for the boarding school.

The Anubis (House of Anubis, 2011 – 2013)

This show takes place at an English boarding school, Anubis House, where nine characters are under the watch of the caretaker. Disappearances occur in the school and the boarding school students’ band together to try and solve the mysteries. It’s not long until they begin to uncover many secrets hidden within the same boarding school grounds.

The filming took place in Liverpool, with Ye Priory Court representing Anubis House and Croxteth Park representing the gardens.

Greenhouse Academy (Greenhouse Academy, 2017 – 2020)

Alex and Hayley enrol at a private boarding school for gifted future leaders, after losing their mother who was an astronaut. The students are split into opposing teams who compete throughout their time in the term. They must eventually join forces to prevent an evil plot threatening to cause great destruction.

Filming took place in Tel Aviv, Israel giving the show its vibrant setting.

The Umbrella Academy (The Umbrella Academy, 2019 – present)

The series follows the journey of several children born with superpowers who have now grown up. They have been warned of impending doom and must use their superpowers such as time manipulation to save the world however they can.

Filming took place in and around Toronto and Hamilton in Ontario, Canada.

Boarding School Life and Reality

Boarding school life is portrayed in many ways throughout these movies and shows, with a great focus on excitement, opportunities and exploration. However, some are presented in dark and mysterious ways too.

In reality, boarding schools are so much more! They don’t feature these negatives, and take pride in their outstanding facilities and support they offer students. There are a number of great benefits and features of boarding school life. Here are some you can expect to see.

Sense of Community and Identity

The sense of community at a boarding school is unlike any other. Classroom sizes are smaller and students are sorted into boarding houses, allowing them to build closer connections and relationships with each other, leading to lifelong friendships.

Pastoral Support

Boarding schools typically offer a range of great pastoral support for students, helping them tackle a range of issues. Looking after yourself as a student, particularly during times of stress, is especially important. House Parents, school counsellors and independent listeners are available to chat through any concerns you may have.

Availability To Try Many New Things

Students can choose from a wide range of subjects as they progress throughout their time here at a boarding school. Not only this, but we also provide students with many extracurricular activities to choose from. With availability in performing arts, outdoor activities, as well as other clubs and activities, there’s something for everyone.

Wycliffe year 9 students

Meeting People From Around The World

If you attend an international boarding school, your school might house students from many countries across the world. The benefit of this is that it can give students the ability to meet people they would otherwise not be able to. International students also bring with them a lot of their culture and traditions, which students would otherwise not get to experience during school.

About Wycliffe Boarding School

There are a great range of benefits of UK boarding schools, including all of those listed above and many more. Our boarding school is based in the Gloucestershire countryside, offering a robust education and vast extracurricular activities.

To see what boarding is like at Wycliffe, visit us or contact our Admissions team.

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