Everyone is familiar with the concept of a boarding school, but misconceptions about what life is like for boarding pupils are common. With many people forming opinions on boarding from outdated accounts and children’s fiction books, the wide-ranging benefits involved in the boarding experience risk being over-looked.
So what is 21st century boarding really like? We spoke to Heather Shaw, Housemistress of Bates House at Trent College, to explore the reality of contemporary boarding.
✅ FACT: BOARDING PROMOTES INDEPENDENCE AND A WIDER WORLD PERSPECTIVE
The essential life skills that pupils acquire whilst living in the boarding environment enable them to go further in both life and education. Independence, resourcefulness and self-esteem are just some of the qualities nurtured in every boarding house. Mrs Shaw says, “Living in a community away from home helps you to grow in confidence and become more independent. Boarding is a brilliant stepping stone for university life and adulthood.”
As part of a thriving international boarding community, boarders at Trent are introduced to a mixture of cultures and backgrounds. Annual celebrations like Chinese New Year help international pupils feel at home and encourage UK boarders to develop an understanding and appreciation for different ways of life.
The ages of Trent boarders span from 11 to 18. Boarding is a unique opportunity for pupils to make friends with individuals in different year groups or from outside their usual friendship circle.
✅ FACT: FLEXI AND WEEKLY BOARDING BALANCES SCHOOL TIME WITH FAMILY LIFE
Weekly and flexi boarders spend time at home every week, whilst full boarders head home for the holidays and can be visited by their families at school. Mrs Shaw says, “Boarding at Trent is more than a one size fits all approach. Flexi and weekly boarding options are there to work with the needs of busy families. If parents think their child could benefit from extra support and structure, boarding is an excellent avenue to explore.”
In today’s digital world, all boarders can stay in daily contact with their families. Thanks to the internet and smartphones, loved ones are always a tap or click away through a video email, email or instant message. The physical space that boarding creates can actually bring families closer together.
✅ FACT: BOARDING PUPILS BENEFIT FROM SET HOMEWORK TIME AND ADDITIONAL SUPPORT
Daily, supervised Prep sessions are mandatory for all boarders and provide allocated time for pupils to complete homework and study. The duration of Prep varies according to age. Mrs Shaw says, “After supper, boarders attend Prep. The routine and structure helps students to focus and be more productive. A number of subject teachers are also available during this time for pupils to seek extra support if needed.”
As pupils enter Main School and Sixth Form, they are allowed to complete their Prep in other areas of the school, allowing them to take full advantage of the school facilities across our 45-acre campus out of hours.
✅ FACT: BOARDERS ENJOY REGULAR TIME TO RELAX AND SOCIALISE
Boarders don’t have to factor travelling to and from school into their daily routines, which means more time to unwind. Mrs Shaw says, “As soon as the school day finishes, boarders can relax or take part in extra-curricular clubs before Prep begins. After Prep, boarders have time to socialise with friends in their houses and the wider boarding community.”
At weekends, full boarders also benefit from a vibrant activity programme. Activities on and off campus, ranging from themed nights to theme park trips, offer fun and variety for everyone and help boarders make the most of their time outside the classroom.
✅ FACT: FRIENDSHIPS MADE WHILST BOARDING CAN LAST A LIFETIME
Within every boarding house is a family. When a new pupil joins the boarding community, they instantly gain a solid support system in the form of experienced staff and other boarders.
Mrs Shaw says, “Every boarding house has a team of dedicated staff and prefects that look after new boarders and support them as they settle into boarding life. Our welcoming, family-like environment and the social time our boarders spend together every evening helps boarders to bond with each other and feel at home; in our boarding community, friendships and memories are made that can last a lifetime.”
It is clear that the stereotypes and misconceptions of boarding have no place in the nurturing environments contemporary boarding schools provide. Modern day boarding is about providing pupils of all ages with a home from home where they can flourish and achieve their educational goals. At its heart is a commitment between school and family to work together to get the best out of every child.
To find out about joining the thriving boarding community at Trent College, contact our Admissions team on 0115 849 4949 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You can read more about the benefits of boarding on our Boarding page.