how it works out in practice, from those on the receiving end
Sophie, Year 4 pupil at Port Regis
Port Regis is my first experience of boarding school and I love it! I have been here for two years now and made lots of friends. My older brothers, Angus and Ben, are also here at Port Regis which is really nice and it also means Mummy and Daddy only have one school to visit to come and see us. The things I like most about the school are my teachers and playing with my friends. The other children at Port Regis are very kind. The other day I was upset as my Daddy was away but my friends really helped me and cheered me up. There are lots of interesting and fun things to do. I play the clarinet, love swimming and also dancing and making things. I have a lovely dorm which I share with my friends and it has just been redecorated and we have a nice new, cosy sitting room. I miss home but Port Regis feels like the next best thing and I am really happy here.
Phoebe, Year 6 pupil at Hanford School
I have just started Year 6 at Hanford. My two sisters Ella and Mary came here too so I have known Hanford for a long time. This is my third school and it’s definitely my favourite. I have made a lot of friends and am having great fun. We are lucky as we have really nice teachers who make learning interesting. I have already learnt lots of new things. My top five favourite things to do at Hanford are nature, riding, science, rollerblading and rounders. We have lots of ponies that we help look after. I have been riding Fudge and a real treat in the summer term is an early morning ride. I also love playing in Chestnut which is where we pretend to be ponies and make a jump course. We have also been doing lots of handstands and cartwheels on the grass and going to gardening club and art club. At the weekends, we can ride, climb the cedar tree, play outside, have camp outs, and have barbecues. There is always something to do and someone to play with. I know I am really lucky to be at Hanford and I do miss home but I have made lots of new friends and we all look after each other. I know I’m in a safe place. Being at Hanford means I can stay at one school while my family move around and that makes me happy. Hanford feels like my second home and I love it!
Keira, Year 6 pupil at Rookwood School
I really like being at the boarding house because I have lots of fun and get to play with my friends. I love going on trips, like den building and rambles in the forest and I enjoy playing outside in the garden at the boarding house. I have been here for two years now, and I have a nice dorm room with bunk beds and big windows that look out into the garden. I really enjoy film night as well, we get to relax in the lounge and watch movies. I only board Monday to Friday, but I come back early sometimes for trips on a Sunday; last week we went to the wildlife park and had an amazing day.
Louis, Year 8 pupil at Dauntsey’s
We looked at several different boarding schools and chose Dauntsey’s because everyone was so friendly and welcoming. We really liked the set-up at The Manor which is just for the lower school boarders. Due to my Dad being in the Army, I had changed schools every two years which was really difficult. Just as I got settled with friends, I was moving on again. It’s a really nice feeling to be settled at Dauntsey’s. The Manor is such a great place to be – there’s always something going on. I love the weekends there. On Saturdays, we can do our own thing and then on Sundays there is usually a trip somewhere or some kind of activity to get involved in. We recently had a brilliant ice skating trip which was a lot of fun. When I started here I found the first couple of weeks were fine, it was only in weeks three and four that I started to feel homesick. But I was OK thanks to having friends who were in the same boat as me and staff I could talk to who were very understanding and supportive. I would really recommend Dauntsey’s to anyone and would say to other boys or girls who are new to boarding to keep calm and don’t get too stressed because it does get better and you will be fine!
Leona, Year 8 pupil at Barnard Castle School
I was in Year 4 when my older sister became a boarder at Barnard Castle School. Until then I hadn’t gave much thought to boarding school but because my sister liked it I decided to give it a go and join prep school in Year 6. I was welcomed with smiles and many friendly people. I felt straight at home and I thoroughly enjoyed all the new experiences, especially Sunday outings. I am now in senior school where lots of things are done differently. I am meeting new people and overcoming lots of different challenges. One of the special things to me is making friends who I will live with for many years as in the past I have had to move away after a short time. Although I enjoy my lessons and the independent learning opportunities, my favourite time is activity time. This term I have signed up for hockey, football and netball. Once every week I have also represented my House in junior house competitions such as singing, cake decorating, hockey and chess. The boarding house runs smoothly because of our head of house and other seniors who come to have supper with us. I am so glad I made the decision to come to Barney and I am grateful for all of the opportunities that Barney has given me so far.
Georgina, Year 12 pupil at Dean Close School
I have been a boarder most of my life. I started at Cottesmore Prep School as both my Mum and Dad were in the Army, so we have moved around a lot. I joined Dean Close School at the beginning of Year 9 and formed close, strong and lifelong friendships. Boarding has given me the opportunity to explore many new activities and at Dean Close I have been pushed outside my comfort zone to do things that I never thought I would such as walking 40 km as part of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme, representing the school at British Shooting Target Sprint National Finals and entertaining my family and friends during our House soirees. The inter-House competitions are main events and although we may not win, everyone has great fun being part of a team and takes pride in representing their House. As for boarding, being in a house full of girls of all ages with some big characters can seem very daunting when you first arrive, but it is quite the opposite. The Houses are very strong, tight communities which are more like large extended families. Having other new girls in the same situation helped me to quickly settle in and feel at home. I soon realised I could talk to others and they would understand, and I know that if I need to I can still talk to them now. The older girls in my House look out not just for the new girls but for all the younger pupils and constantly make sure we are all OK. As I move up into the sixth form I am looking forward to being able to help and support the new girls joining my house, just as I have been helped. I always thought I would be homesick but life at Dean Close is so very busy with just the right balance of academic, sports and extracurricular activities. I have thoroughly enjoyed discovering how I can fly ‘with [my] own wings’. I love every minute of life at Dean Close and I am so glad I chose to board.
Sophie, Year 12 pupil at Abbotsholme School
I have been at Abbotsholme School now for over four years and I love this school. Abbotsholme for me is sometimes an easier place to be when dad is away because there is so much to do and keep your mind occupied with. I love horse riding and play a lot of sports especially hockey which is great now we have the new synthetic pitch. Being at Abbotsholme is also easier because there is a lot of support from the teachers, boarding parents and of course my friends, who are like a second family. Of course it is never going to be the same as having dad home all the time, but school and the activities and horses keep me going. Just being with the horses and riding makes me feel better if I feel sad. Animals have a great way of making me feel calm, and at Abbotsholme with the horses and the farm, they are everywhere and part of the family which is amazing. Doing my GCSEs was also made easier because I had to focus on my work. If I think about dad being away too much and worry too much, I could get really down and maybe fall behind with work, so I just keep going. Military life is hard, and I miss home sometimes, but Abbotsholme and the family I have here keeps me going. It was my choice to come to boarding school – and Abbotsholme is the perfect school for me with the outdoor education and the horses, and the warm, friendly, family environment here.
Calum, Year 13 pupil and Boarding Head Boy at St George’s School
Dropped at the gates. Aged 11. A boy. Narrow-minded and wrapped in cotton wool. Nonetheless, and in time, I became a part of boarding and boarding became a part of me. My name written among many before and others still to come, an honour and a role to which I serve valiantly. Dealt a path harder than some in life having grown without a father, instead a brotherhood between friends was born and lifelong it will remain. Year after year, the ideals of discipline, independence and hard work became more predominant, eventually becoming my attitudes to schoolwork and life. The abundance of social events, which I now organise as part of my responsibilities, has undoubtedly equipped me with the ability to perform the art of public speaking, engage formally with confidence, whilst upholding respect, courtesy and politeness, in all social situations, shaping me into a gentleman of the highest accord. To me the boarding house is neither a building nor a house to sleep, or simply a place for hours of just fun and enjoyment. Instead it is a foundation where men and women are created from boys and girls with great passion and ardour.
Freddie, Year 13 pupil at Dean Close School
I joined Dean Close in Year 6 and am now starting to come out the other side a changed but far happier person. I arrived at Dean Close after going to various SCE schools around Europe for the first 10 years of my life. On arrival it was very easy to become integrated with the other children. When you are living cheek-by-jowl with 20- to 40-plus other boys you learn very quickly the necessary skills to form friendships with pretty much anyone regardless of creed, nationality, ethnicity or background. Originally, like all children, the boarding was a little tough. Homesickness, loneliness and inability to sleep well are all symptoms of the first few weeks as a boarder. But then you realise that almost everyone else is in the same boat, and those who are not have already done it. The staff have been absolutely amazing at helping me through tough times, especially my house staff who are always ready to lend a helping hand, hug, or kind word. They have helped me through extremely strenuous times, including a couple of deployments with the utmost readiness to be flexible and appreciative of a Service child’s needs and lifestyle. Since joining Dean Close I have formed lasting friendships with people I would never have met otherwise. In the dining hall and corridors you can discuss current events, international policy or what happened in the latest episode of Doctor Who. In the SCE system I do not think I would have developed the wider understanding of cultures and nationalities that I have garnered here. If I were to summarise my time at Dean Close in a few words it would be that we are a family and as such we stick to together and stick up for each other. And that to me is the most important thing of all.