FAQs and boarding school terms for students

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FAQs and boarding school terms for students

We understand that moving to a new school in a new country can make you feel nervous.  We also appreciate that English may not be your mother tongue. Even if it is, boarding schools tend to have their own words so we’ve created a guide to boarding school terms for students to help you understand the common ‘boarding school’ lingo you may come across:

Boarding House

This is where you are going to be sleeping!  You will either be sharing a room or may have your own room if you are an older student.  It is rare to have en-suite facilities and you will more than likely be sharing facilities with a group of fellow students. A large shared bedroom may be called a Dormitory.  The boarding house may be a separate building from the school and will also have a lounge and sometimes a dining area, otherwise you will take your meals in the main dining room of the school.  Your House Parent will also live in the boarding house.

Exeat or Leave Weekend

This is when there is a holiday at the weekend, and means there is no school on Saturday for you! These weekends sometimes extend over to the Monday. Some schools make it compulsory for you to leave the school premises over an exeat weekend, and so this is one of the times you will stay with your host family.


A short holiday halfway through the school term when you will normally return home to see your friends and family. There are three throughout the year usually in the months of October, February, and May. The October half-term is the longest half-term and can be up to two weeks long. During these holidays Academic Families organise fun-filled trips which you may like to join.

Houseparent or Housemaster

This is the adult or married couple who are in charge of your boarding house. They live in the house or in a section at the side of the boarding house with their own family. Many House Parents have a pet, such as a friendly dog, which you will most likely fall in love with!

Kitty or House Bank

Your parents can give your Housemaster money which he will keep for you and you can ask him for it when you need to buy anything such as  ‘tuck’ or when you want to go to the shops.


This person will be responsible for your health and well-being when you are at school. They ensure the smooth running of the domestic side of your boarding school house, such as making sure you actually get your clothes to the laundry on the correct day!

Pastoral Care

Pastoral care refers to your wellbeing and ensuring that you feel happy, safe, involved and able to perform to your best. If you feel lonely or worried about anything always talk to your Houseparent, Tutor or the person in charge of Pastoral.


This is the time in the day that is set aside for you to do your homework. It usually takes place after dinner. Everyone will be doing Prep at the same time but the older students may finish later.


This is the medical centre so if you are not feeling very well you will be sent to see the nurse in the sick-bay.


Sweets or Candy…. Tuck is a boarding school term which refers to food treats such as sweets which you can bring from home. They can also buy tuck once a week at school, usually from the ‘tuck shop’ run by the housemaster, so it is controlled.


You will be allocated a ‘Tutor’. This person will support you with your academic studies and provide pastoral care. They will discuss any problems you are having with your studies and help to resolve them. When you are older, this is the person that will help and guide you with your university choices and applications.

This article appears in the following categories  Boarding School Life, FAQs & Resources, Students

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