Megan Riley McGilchrist has written an article about the tradition of British boarding schools in light of the Harry Potter phenom.
Britain is one of the few nations to send children away from home at an early age to be educated. In the days of the Empire, boarding schools were a kind of necessity, with children sent home away from unhealthy climates and in the belief that a true British education was better than anything available abroad.
Boarding school stories: Tom Brown's School Days, The Little Princess, Bloomability...
I know there are lots more.