– how it works out in practice, from those on the receiving end
We have again included a ‘Pupils and Parents’ section, which we believe provides some of the most compelling reading in the guide. For those with reservations about boarding, it is a marvellously positive advert for one of the real beacons of British education and a great credit to the whole of the boarding sector.
Here is a small cross-section of the many contributions we have received from those currently boarding in the UK. We thank all those who contributed and we believe they are a great credit, not only to their schools, but to boarding in all schools.
Phoebe Potts, Year 4 pupil at Hanford School
Phoebe’s father is a Colonel
I have just started Year 4 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 which we help look after. I have been riding Fudge and a real treat in the Summer term was 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 already feels like my second home and I love it!
Freddie Moore, Year 5 pupil at Horris Hill School
Freddie’s father is a Brigadier
I joined Horris Hill when I was seven as a junior boarder. It was easy to settle in quickly because everyone was so kind to me – now everyone at Horris Hill is like my second family. I also like being at Horris Hill because it means I don’t have to move around every time my daddy gets a posting. Boarding is great fun particularly the movie nights with popcorn but I also like other things like having my clothes put out on my bed for me like my mummy does at home, winning the dorm competition and getting post. There are so many activities to get involved with at Horris Hill. I love sports and enjoy rugby, cricket, cross-country, tennis, golf, football and swimming.
I love playing matches against other schools. We even had the rugby player Ben Foden come to talk to us and more recently a man who swam the channel. I love playing my guitar, going on school trips and helping Mrs Tollit in the kitchen garden where we grow fruit and vegetables. Food is great, especially the homemade biscuits. I also love fireworks night and birthday teas in the Headmaster’s house.
Evie Dalby-Welsh, Year 7 pupil at Bruton School for Girls
Evie’s mother is serving with the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps, and her father is a former Major in The Light Dragoons
I have been at BSG for four years and I love this school. This school helps you see the bright side of life even when your Mum or Dad are away. My Mum was away in Africa helping with Ebola. The school cheered me up when I was sad and they kept me busy which was good because it made me forget about my worries. At the boarding house we are like a big family and are all going through the same thing. So when I need help, the others help me and when they need help, then I can help them. I love the activities that we do. I ride, play sport and do lots of fun games and trips. The boarders have all the fun during weekends doing competitions and fun games like the Boarders’ challenge. On the last day of term we always go on a massive shopping trip to Cribbs Causeway to buy Christmas presents for our families and then all the boarders go ice-skating. BSG is amazing; it helps you when you need some advice or a cuddle and is just like your home.
April Hill, Year 7 pupil at Orwell Park School in Suffolk
April’s father is a Captain
I didn’t know what to expect when I started full boarding at Orwell Park, but it isn’t really how I imagined it – there is always so much to do. I thought it would be really quiet when the day children go home but it really isn’t. It is nice for the boarders to have the school to ourselves! We have activities to get involved in every day after school and the weekends are really good fun usually with an outing planned on Sundays. There are so many different opportunities to try something new. This term at the weekend we have been skiing, to the zoo and on a train trip to Norwich. We have been to Cambridge and the Christmas market in Bury St Edmunds and sightseeing in London. The teachers are always planning something for us to get involved in. I have made some really good friends at Orwell. I like sport a lot especially cross country and the grounds are amazing, we can see the river from the school. My grandparents live quite near so I can go to them at long weekends and half term. My brother is at RHS so he isn’t too far away. I think Orwell is a great school – everybody is really friendly and kind. The teachers and the matrons helped me when I first joined here and never let me feel lonely. It feels like I am part of a big family.
Enam Anku, Year 8 pupil at Orwell Park School in Suffolk
Enam’s father is in the Army, serving in Cyprus
I joined Orwell when I was in Year 3. I didn’t know what to expect when I first started boarding and I have been surprised at how much fun it is. There is so much more to do here than if I was at home at weekends. I share a dormitory with five other boys; it is like a normal bedroom just with more beds! It feels really homely in the boarding house. If I do get homesick my friends keep me really busy and then I feel better. I like playing dodge ball and rugby and we sometimes play manhunt. The facilities are amazing. There are so many activities to try; there is DT, Art, Music and lots of clubs to get involved in. The houseparents and teachers are always around so there is always someone to help if you need it. I can talk to my parents whenever I want to; we have Skype as well which is fun. I like being at Orwell Park, it is a good place to be. I do miss my family sometimes, but I know why I am boarding and this is a good school to be in.
Wilf Fitzgibbon, Year 8 pupil at Dauntsey’s School
Wilf’s father is in the Army and he is currently performing a diplomatic role in Belgrade. Wilf’s younger brother, Arthur, is in
I joined Dauntsey’s last year as a boarder. Prior to that I had been at international schools where my parents were living; firstly in Kazakhstan and then in Estonia. Like lots of other Forces children, it made sense for me to continue my education in one place, rather than moving school each time my father’s job moved him. I wasn’t sure how I would cope with boarding as I hadn’t spent much time away from my parents. I have to say I have never felt homesick here, even in the first few months of joining. I am based at The Manor, which is the lower school boarding house for 11 to 14 year olds. This building is separate to the main school where we have our lessons, so coming back here each day feels like going ‘home’. In fact, I would say living at The Manor is like having one big family, particularly as teachers, their children and pets live here too. I share a dorm with three other boys. Girls also board at The Manor and after lessons we often enjoy a game of tennis or football or just have a laugh together. Right now I am finishing end of term exams and will then be off on an activity weekend in Cornwall – my brother Arthur is also coming with his friends so it’s going to be a great way to end the year. I would say to anyone starting boarding here for the first time not to be worried – of course there are things you miss about home (I miss my dog and, of course, my parents!) but having all my friends here and access to all the sports facilities is just great. My mother comes over for most exeats and I go back to Belgrade for the holidays and half terms. Of course we can keep in touch easily via phone calls and e-mail too. I would recommend Dauntsey’s to anyone – both my brother and I are very happy here.
Lucy, Katie and Georgie Southwood are pupils at Knighton House School
Their father is a Lieutenant Colonel
Lucy: ‘I came to Knighton in Year 4 and I am now in Year 8 in my last few weeks. Knighton House has been the best school for me. When I first came, my family were in Germany and I settled in really quickly because of all of the staff and other girls, I couldn’t have been happier. Knighton has given me so many opportunities. I have always loved animals and at Knighton we have everything from guinea pigs to horses to dogs and alpacas. At 7.30 am the ‘pony bell’ goes, that is when the boarders head to the fields to bring in the ponies or feed the chickens and goats. We ride every week, either going on a hack or in the arena. Music at Knighton is incredible. In Year 5 I learnt to play the cello and I am about to take Grade 4. In Year 7 I was appointed Deputy Head Chorister. In January I took a music scholarship to Priors Field and received a music Exhibition. Boarding is a huge part of my life at Knighton House. The matrons are all so lovely and the weekend are always packed with fun. We go on great trips and regularly visit the beach. I love sport. Hockey is my favourite sport and last year I got into the Dorset hockey team. Recently Years 7 and 8 went to London to watch England versus Japan. I am also in the rounders, tennis and running teams and each week we play matches against different schools which is great fun. A few weeks ago I took my Common Entrance exams and I am really pleased with the results, the teachers have encouraged and supported me every step of the way. My time at Knighton is coming to an end – it has flown by because of all the fun and friends I have here. I know that I will come back and visit as my two younger sisters are here. I wouldn’t have achieved so much and had such a great time without the teachers, matrons, and my friends.’
Katie: ‘I am ten and I joined Knighton House when I was seven. I really love being a pupil at Knighton as there is always something to do. I love riding and playing in the school grounds – the uniform is red dungarees which is very useful when we are climbing trees. The animals are a big part of Knighton – we have chickens, bees, goats, ponies, guinea pigs and dogs. Recently my little sister Georgie, who is seven, started at Knighton and she too loved it from the minute she got here.’
Georgie: ‘This is my first year at Knighton House and I love it. My first day at Knighton House was amazing. We unpacked my stuff and met the other boarders in my year group and we all went off and played for the rest of the day. Next we had supper and then we said bye to our parents. As this was the first time I had left them I felt sad but I chatted to Miss Barnes and felt better. My teacher is very nice and I love listening and learning with her. I am very happy here and we have a lot of fun at Knighton House. My favourite is playing outside with my friends.’.
Tilly, Year 11, and her brother Sam, Year 9, are full boarders at King’s School Bruton
Their father is a Lieutenant Colonel, REME
The Houldsworths chose King’s for the continuity of education and to be near their grandparents. Their daughter Emma has just left the school.
Tilly: ‘I like the fact that all the staff know everyone’s names and that you can talk to pupils in other years very easily. I also love the sport; even if you are not in the A teams, you still get the same quality of coaching. At weekends, there is Saturday school in the morning, then sports fixtures in the afternoons. I really enjoy Saturday evenings as there is usually a social/theme night at the Junior Common Room. On Sundays, there are shopping or cinema trips organised so life is never boring. The social highlight for the junior part of the school is the Snow Ball in December. I enjoy horse riding and do this as an activity every week at a local riding school throughout the year, even in the snow. We wanted a school that took riding seriously – the Headmaster’s wife runs the activity and it is great fun. Everyone has a role in the house: we organise our own teams and this encourages ownership and responsibility – we are guided by the older pupils. Day pupils are integrated in the boarding houses and many stay on a Saturday night for the social events. I love CCF and putting on the cam cream and mud! I went on a French trip to the Dordogne: we had lessons in the morning, then in the afternoon we went on cultural trips to towns, markets and museums. Every year, the whole Third Form visit the First World War Battlefields in October and every year the Chaplain’s wellies go missing on the trip! We are lucky that King’s is a full boarding school – it’s all great fun.’
Sam: ‘I have to admit, when I first came, I thought there was going to be a massive hierarchy, with the third formers being at the bottom, especially the little ones, like me. Also the fact that everybody comes from different schools might make me feel even more isolated and alone. However, the reality was completely the opposite – everybody gets on really well with each other, and within the first week, all of the new pupils had mastered the routine and had made some great friends.
One of the main differences between prep school and here, is the way everyone treats you a little more as adults, meaning that you have more freedom. You can go into town, within certain time slots of course, and you are trusted a lot more by the staff. There is a wide range of activities, ranging from swimming, to film club, and even horse riding, if you are interested. The sport here is a big jump from prep schools, with opponents becoming bigger, stronger and faster. However, there is no need to worry, due to the fantastic coaches who teach us everything we need to know and more. If you need to get in shape, or raise your fitness, then you can go to the gym most nights of the week, or go and play football in the sports hall, which is good fun no matter what year you are in as everyone is welcome.
The teaching here is also fantastic, every teacher goes through each topic carefully and at his or her pupil’s pace, making sure everybody thoroughly understands every aspect of what they are meant to learn. They seem to really care. Overall, I massively recommend King’s Bruton, for many reasons. The main one however is that in larger schools, you don’t get to know everyone, and sometimes that must make it more lonely and scary at times, however, King’s Bruton gives you a sense of family no other school can even think of achieving. I am definitely glad I chose to come here.’
Hattie Abbott, Year 12 pupil at Dean Close School
Hattie’s father served in the British Army, REME
My Dad has been in the Army for as long as I can remember. We have lived in many exciting countries, but I have also moved around many different schools. While in some ways this was a good experience for me, I was very happy when I moved permanently to Dean Close School in Year 3. It was my first boarding school and at the age of seven, I was very happy to live away from home as the atmosphere at school was so welcoming and warm. I have been at Dean Close for ten years now and am loving every minute of it, especially being in the boarding house with my friends, many of whom are also from military families. It is easy living with people in a similar situation to my own as there is always someone nearby who understands what I am going through. Dean Close has the perfect balance of academia, arts, sport and just having fun, with many great facilities to enable this. Not having to change schools every year has helped me to feel more settled and make lifelong friendships, rather than those from the past that only lasted one year before I had to move on.
Rory Kavanagh, Year 12 pupil at Dean Close School
Rory’s father is a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Army
Ask any pupil, military background or not, what they remember of their anxiety when starting to board full time, and nine out of ten will undoubtedly tell you of some memory of homesickness, loneliness or just pure discontent for their new term time ‘home’. These feelings can be, and commonly are, horrible to many, and to those from the military, life away from home is even less appealing. Being away from parents that you don’t see on a regular basis anyway can seem a completely illogical response to the already existent stress in their life.
Coming from abroad aged ten, I certainly had many of these sentiments. However, boarding at Dean Close actually made life smoother and more straightforward, the difficult transition into boarding being helped by the wealth of supportive staff. At Dean Close there is an abundance of teachers willing to give their time to pupils, so there is always somebody to talk or relate to, whether staff from a military or religious position; the bursar or chaplain who can guarantee complete discretion; a CCF or DofE leader with a plethora of similar experiences; or even just a houseparent or designated tutor. As a co-educational boarding school, Dean Close also aids siblings, nervous about being apart from their families, as they have each other to lean on for support and encouragement.
The main area for me that makes Dean Close life particularly busy and rewarding, is the huge range of extra-curricular activities. Whether horse riding or learning Italian, these are fundamental in relieving stress and taking my mind off the worries of deployed family members. More directly connected to children of military parents, is the CCF, which is open to Year 10 and above. It offers sixth formers the opportunity to lead as NCOs, a role which gives them not only responsibilities and authority, but also an insight into the qualities required of their parents. It is this ability to engage, support and bolster the forces identity of its pupils that makes Dean Close such an excellent choice for military kids and why I am so happy there.
Grace White, Year 13 pupil at St Mary's School, Shaftesbury
Grace’s father was a Lieutenant Colonel
When I came to St Mary’s, I was following in the footsteps of my older sisters, Sophie and Alice, but I found it particularly difficult as I missed my Daddy terribly as he always seemed to be serving abroad. I found this separation very traumatic and emotional. I could never imagine that boarding school would help me feel better but from the moment I arrived in the homely, fun environment, I became completely distracted and I began to feel safe and at home. St Mary’s is unique because all the year groups live together and you are never made to feel excluded or lonely. Life in the houses is like being in a family and everyone enjoys contributing to the house’s fun and success. When I was appointed House Captain, I found opportunities to spend time with younger girls and especially those from Army families.
I have had the most incredible opportunities to take part in so much from the Maths Challenge awards to drama and music productions, to playing keyboards in the Lower Sixth band. The school encourages outward bound and I am now in the final stages of the D of E Gold Award. I will always remember the expeditions and getting involved in the local community. St Mary’s has a wonderful sixth form house, which makes one feel grown up and I think it consolidates the friendships that have been forged over the years. We hold dinner parties and charity functions, the school invites speakers in to help us gain an insight into possible future careers, and in between, we have our schoolwork!
All those years when my father was away are now a distant memory due to the enormous care and love I have received at
St Mary’s. The school has provided me and other military children with the tools to cope with changes in life and I know I am a stronger person for it.