This week’s blog was written by our guest writer, 6th form boarding student Robbie. Robbie has studied in the UK for two years and will commence UK university in September.
Until the age of 16, I had been living as an expatriate in Dubai and attending a local school that followed the British curriculum. From this point onwards, however, I attended a boarding school in England where I completed my sixth form years. Overall, the two years I spent boarding were an overwhelmingly positive experience for me, so I have decided to use my personal insight to answer some common questions about being an international boarder at a school in the United Kingdom.
What is a normal day like?
When attending a boarding school most days follow a tight schedule where time is allocated between lessons, games, registration, free periods and so on. This allows for each day to be extremely productive if slightly rigid, however, students receive more and more freedom as they move up the school. Each morning started with breakfast followed by assembly. There would then be lessons until lunch each day, split up by a 20-minute break. Twice a week lessons would continue in the afternoon and the other afternoons would be occupied by your chosen sport or a teacher run activity. This allows for the opportunity to try as plethora of different sports and interests while simultaneously socialising with peers.
What happens on a weekend?
Weekends are often the least eventful times of a senior boarding school experiment which is a blessing in disguise. Following on from a hectic week, Saturdays and Sundays mostly consisted of relaxing with friends or visiting the local town. There was no structure to the time apart from set registrations, so it allowed for a lot of freedom in what to do. Boarders were also allowed to visit their homes on the weekends, but this wasn’t too common as staying at school was often more enjoyable.
What is an exeat?
These are weekends where it is compulsory for students to leave the boarding school to stay with their parents, guardians or a friend. While these may initially seem like a hassle, exeats provide a needed escape from the same location that you live at day in, day out. Most schools provide services to help finding a guardian if this is a problem and once you have become acquainted with the school, staying with friends is an even more fun alternative.
What are boarding houses like?
A boarding school is split into different boarding houses with their own house parent, matron and many other teacher representatives. Boarding house staff provide lots of support for students and build a good rapport that makes for a very friendly environment. The matron is even in the house before and after the school day to provide assistance with any medical needs or just a conversation if anything has gone wrong. Within the house students have a dorm room which becomes their home. Lower down the school this can be shared with a number of other members of the house and by the time sixth form is reached, most pupils will have their own room. Sharing is one of the most valuable parts of the boarding experience as it requires working with other people. This results in an unmatched sense of comradery and family between members of the same house and can make having your own room a lonely prospect.
What is boarding like academically?
Boarding at a school means you are never away from the action. As a result, teachers are constantly around to help with any work you might have been set throughout the week. The school also includes mandatory prep sessions within the timetable that make it extremely easy to stay on top of homework and never fall behind. Furthermore, an often unmentioned positive is living in the same place as all your classmates. As a result, students are constantly helping each other learn and revise in the best possible way whether it be in groups in the library or just doing work with a friend. Overall, the boarding experience creates an environment that encourages students to perform to the best of their abilities with guidance whenever it is needed.