Being a Houseparent is one of the most rewarding jobs in education. The nature of the role allows us to be heavily involved in the upbringing and maturing of boarding school pupils. So what is it like being in the this position? It is such a privilege and honour to witness at close hand young people develop. It places a huge weight of pressure on to the Houseparent and their team as small actions or decisions can have lasting effect. I love this pressure and using my experience of being a Housemaster in two schools and a Houseparent in another create what I feel is the best environment for today’s boarding pupils to thrive.
So where do you start? Schools designate the title ‘House’ to their places of boarding yet, all of us want to create a home. There should be a clear distinction between the normal school day and the boarding day. This ensures that boarders have the ability to switch off, relax and feel confident and comfortable. Watching boarders return from a full day of school and seeing the weight of the day lift off their shoulders is lovely. Helping them further by having positive and happy staff allows a greater feeling of home. Equally that interaction is important if things aren’t going well. Offering reassurance and consistency of message can alleviate even the biggest problems. As a leader within sporting environments, playing and schools, has given me the experience and confidence to show staff how to differentiate between the classroom and the boarding environment. I will never forget being a boarder and getting a better understanding of teachers if they performed duties and how they were able to relax and enjoy themselves.
Boarding school life is always varied. Whilst the routine of the day is important, it is equally important to add variety. There are daily routines that help to shape their academic work and allow time for socialising but these are only as good as the House is at adhering to them. It is great to see the boarders working quietly in their rooms and then piling downstairs for some toast, a game of table tennis or head out for some exercise. Boarding school life offers this with several friends to aid with the experience. It is the journey and the experiences along the way that makes boarding such a brilliant option, not just for overseas pupils but for all.
Head of Boarding
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