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Why board in a UK boarding school?

    24 May 2017

Life Changer

Why board in a UK boarding school? 

Nick Fisher

Head Master, Sherfield School

Boarding has changed so much in the past thirty years.  Safeguarding, child protection and wellbeing and happiness of pupils are top of the agenda for every Head Master and House Parent. 

The 21st Century has seen the evolution of co-educational boarding houses and the growth of schools which have en suite rooms for individual pupil privacy. Sherfield School, an international boarding school in the heart of Hampshire countryside, embraces this modern era of safe forward thinking boarding, whilst maintaining the traditional routines of an all-round twenty-four-seven school. Boarders benefit from the social interaction with international students, make good use of the extended school day for homework and play and still retain privacy when they sleep at night.

Skype and other forms of social media mean that communication home from school is frequent. The relationship between boarding house and home is reinforced by weekly contact between tutors and parents, providing the regular reassurance that mothers and fathers need. The growth of weekly boarding provides the best of both worlds – the intensity of work, rest and play at school Monday to Friday, with weekend sojourns home with the family and other animals.

During the week, boarding removes the stress of the school run and ensures no wasted travel time; parents can just focus on getting to work, reassured that their children are happily and safely productive at school.  It is estimated that if all UK pupils attended boarding school during the week, they would save, on average, one hour of travel time that could be devoted to study, leisure or sleep.

The rhythm of life in a boarding school is structured: early morning, with a healthy and sociable breakfast alongside friends, teachers and the Head Master; punctuality to school lessons with all the correct equipment for study, sport and after-school activities until 5.45pm; healthy eating at lunch and supper, disciplined prep homework time, more activities and then shower and bed.  Removing smartphones from bedrooms and switching off the house wi-fi guarantees uninterrupted healthy sleep.

The prefect system in boarding develops leadership skills and team-working, and the range of age groups helps foster mentoring and coaching. With overseas boarding providing a diverse cultural and ethnic mix from all parts of the world, the environment is set for developing tolerance and respect.  Boarding schools help build the life skills that produce future leaders capable of influencing the world for the better.

At Sherfield School in Hampshire, we have boarding staff that can provide a rich diet of co-curricular activities alongside academic support. Pupils can learn to cook in our well-equipped kitchens, camp and learn bush-craft in our 75 acres of fields and woodland, put on al fresco Summer music concerts in our grounds with our musician in residence, devise a piece of theatre with our professional theatre director, or paint still life with our artist in residence. Equestrian sport, Italian cooking, Eton Fives, go-kart racing and trips to the West End theatres all add to the fun and enrichment at weekends.  And Sherfield has the unique selling point that the Prep Head and the Head Master both live on site, accommodated in houses either side of the architectural beauty of Archers Lodge. The Head of Boarding and all other members of the Senior Leadership Team support staff and pupils with frequent visits throughout the week; our Director of Teaching & Learning has introduced 21st century life skills training for boarders and day pupil every Saturday morning.

Overall, boarding helps develop community and world citizenship, connects pupils with global career prospects and builds confidence and resilience.  But most of all, boarding enables parents to work hard during the week and live life to the full with their family at the weekend.

Nick Fisher is Head Master of Sherfield School

Sherfield on Loddon

Hook RG27 0HU

Tel: 01256 884800; sherfieldschool.co.uk

       

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