With September coming up fast, some of you will have children heading off to boarding school for the very first time. It’ll be a strange and daunting experience to wave goodbye and have your children away from the family but do not fret: there is a network of teachers and friends ahead of them who will become just like their school family. Here is a breakdown of the people who will be taking great care of your child in their new boarding school:
Most boarding schools are made up of several houses where students sleep and spend time when they’re out of class. Each of these houses is looked after by a Housemaster or Housemistress (also known as a Houseparent) who works with the Matron to ensure all the pupils in their house are happy, healthy and enjoying their time in the school. They are your child’s first point of contact and will ease them into their new lifestyle with gentle guidance and reassurance. Houseparents ensure the rules are followed and homework is done at the right time, but they are also there to encourage respect, friendship and a lot of fun. A boarding house can feel like an exclusive club for the students there – and the Housemaster is the club leader.
- Head of Boarding
The Head of Boarding is your port of call for general guidance, should you or your child need support for something not covered by their Housemaster or Housemistress. Providing advice on settling in and encouraging adaptability and open-mindedness, whether your child is from the UK or Overseas, the Head of Boarding oversees student welfare and the staff to ensure the school provides the best boarding environment possible.
The Matron is in charge of the wellbeing of the students in their boarding house. They are there to look after your child if they feel ill, and often Matrons are trained nurses. However, their role extends much further than this – one day they may be helping with homework, providing snacks and choosing movies, and the next providing a shoulder to lean on and a kind ear for students who just need to talk. They are there to ensure the boarding house is a safe and friendly space, and to nurture your child during their transition into a young adult.
Your child’s Tutor is like a personal teacher, responsible for overseeing their academic progress during their time in the school. They may have a small group of students they work with, but there will also be opportunity for one-on-one meetings where they can set goals and overcome learning concerns. If you have any questions about your children’s studies, they will be your first contact so it is important for you to establish a good relationship with them too.
- Head of House
The Head Boy or Head Girl of your child’s boarding house will be a senior student who is chosen to support their fellow students throughout their time in boarding school. They are a link between students and teachers, a mentor, and they are on hand to help with academic, social or personal problems students might face.
- House Captain
If your child’s boarding school has a separate House Captain, this boy or girl will represent and organize their boarding house for school events. They take an active role in social activities, so they are on hand to help your child get involved in boarding school life.
Prefects are students elected from as early as their first year in school to help their peers settle in and uphold the rules. They are often also in charge for organising student events like film nights and fundraising days, and might have a group of new students they look after. Being a prefect is a big honour and big responsibility – listening to other students’ worries and teaching them the values of friendship and hard work.
- Student Council
The Student Council is the go-between for your child and the school community. They work directly with staff to address issues in the school community and can have a real impact on the way the school is run. If students have an issue, they can take it to the Student Council, who will discuss it and take the issue to the Head and Deputy Head until a mutual solution is decided. They also arrange school-wide events like dances and parties, and will also pass any department messages on to the students. The Student Council is your child’s voice in the school, and your child can go to them with any issues they might have.
- Guardian Family
If your child is boarding in the UK from Overseas, your child will need a UK-based guardian, appointed by you, as an in-country emergency contact. Their guardian will care for them on exeat weekends and half-term holidays if they are not returning home and attend parents’ evenings and events on your behalf. A guardian family is a home-from-home, providing a welcome break from the hectic routine of school life and caring for your child’s wellbeing locally when you can’t be there. English guardian families like those at the Guardian Family Network (www.guardianfamily.co.uk) are typically professional people with experience in education and children often build long-lasting trusting relationships with their ‘UK family’.
For more information on preparing your child for boarding school, look out for our Boarding School Preparation resources, coming soon to www.independenteducationconsultants.co.uk! These e-books, packed full of advice from our expert consultants, are designed to help you and your child through the transition as easily and comfortably as possible.
This post by Lauren Bowman.