Case studies Posted November 6, 2016. Name: Tilly Age: 17 Nationality: British School: King’s College, Taunton Course: GCSEs – English Literature, English Language, Maths, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, History, Geography, Spanish, Art A-levels (in progress) – English Literature, Maths (AS only), History and Geography When I first went to look at King’s College Taunton I was immediately struck by the ethos of inclusivity and involvement; this encouragement, to be part of everything, is just one of the things I love about King’s. I’ve have had just as much fun playing in the hockey 1st XI as I have playing in the netball 3rds, and though not a talented actor, I’ve participated in every school production since third form by helping backstage with the make-up. Participation has made it even easier to meet and become great friends with people outside of my year and house, and I believe this can be credited to the sense of community that King’s creates around the school as well as within the houses. At the moment, I have my own study-bedroom as I’m in the sixth form. However, when I first joined, I shared with three others, and this really helps you settle in as you often become very close with your ‘roomies’. There was a great support network when I was feeling homesick, not only from the older years, but also from my housemistress who gave me numerous hugs and hot chocolates in my first week! In the evenings during the week, everyone has prep, and you are never short of academic support if you are struggling, whether by asking your friends or the teachers. The academic staff are on hand, doing their duties in the houses or hosting societies. When you get to sixth form, many of your subjects have these societies, taking the form of discussions or presentations; something which can develop your public speaking and debating skills. It can trigger an interest which may well inspire you to carry on the subject to university – something that happened in my case with English. Wi-Fi in all the boarding houses means it is easier than ever to contact home, whether that be a call, text, Facetime or Skype (which is especially popular with my friends whose parents live abroad). As a full boarder, I tend to go home one weekend either side of half term. However this can vary depending on sports timetables. Matches against other schools often fill my Saturday afternoons and then catching up with friends, homework and chilling can fill my Sunday. From the twice-a-term discos (with themes varying from ‘Everything British’ where I went as a post-box to ‘Superheroes’ where I went as the Incredible Hulk) to the various pupil-run house events, to the more formal balls, weekends are often pretty busy! On the more relaxed weekends we’ll usually watch a movie or sometimes go out for a meal and in summer, if the weather allows it, we’ll have a house BBQ. In my opinion, a great part of being in a house is the sense of pride you feel in ‘belonging’ to that house. It is often demonstrated at various competitions, especially at the annual tug-of-war competition, sports days and the summer and Christmas celebrations. Name: Helen Age: 13 Nationality: Chinese School: Bishopstrow College Course: Mathematics, History, Geography, Science, English (KS4) How did you find settling in at the school? The first I arrived at school, I felt homesick, because it was the first time that I went to study abroad alone. I told the boarding staff how I felt and talked to my friends. After that, I felt better with my new life. I have studied here for about 3 months so far and now feel that it is very easy to live here. What is boarding life like? I live in a room called ‘Hazel’, which has 6 students. We are all about the same age, so we always find it easy to communicate. My school has a big boarding team. If I feel bored, I can chat with them and they’re always very kind. I spend 50% of my free time in the common room, where you can play table tennis, board games. It is really fun when I’m playing with my friends. I don’t have as many friends as others do, but I have many good friends; we’re always together. The food at Bishopstrow is nice – we can have vegetables every day. What’s a typical day like? We are normally woken up about 7.15, but I always get up earlier, because I’m very slow. Breakfast starts about 7.30 and we always have milk, bread and vegetables and we have a different main meal everyday. After that, we can have about 40 minutes free time, or we will have morning clubs, like singing club and sports club. We will have lessons at about 9.00am. From Monday to Wednesday, we have English lessons and on Thursday and Friday, we have subject lessons. There is a morning break after the first lesson. You can have something to eat and can relax. About 12.00pm, we can have lunch. The lunch is great and we have a variety of food to eat. At about 1.20pm, we have 2 lessons. Finally, we can do sports. We can play basketball, football, rounders and much more. Then we may go to prep or clubs. After clubs, we take a shower, then go to dinner and have activities with the boarding staff. We go to bed at about 9.15pm. What do you do at the weekend? At the weekend, we always have different activities. On Saturday, we have a weekly test – I don’t like this at all. After that, we will play rounders in a mixed team. It is really fun and I’m proud of myself if I have hit the ball really far and get a rounder. In the afternoon, we can go to the town – Warminster. On Sunday, we are able to go on a school trip. We may go to London, Bath or somewhere else. What’s the best thing about being a boarder? The best thing about being a boarder is that I have become more independent and organised. I have learnt to be tidy, to solve problems and I do everything by myself, to know what I should do and what I should not do. Also, I have more friends than before. Name: Kusum Age: 18 Nationality: Malaysian School: Cardiff Sixth Form College Course: WJEC, AS – Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics, Economics A2 – Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics How old were you when you started boarding? I was 17 years old when I started boarding. I felt that it was a suitable age to be so far away from home. Why did you want to go to boarding school? Firstly, I wanted to learn and enhance valuable life skills, a few to list are being more responsible and independent. Secondly, I knew that being in boarding school would give me the opportunity to make lifelong friends from across the globe. It is an eye-opening experience to meet people of different cultures and learn from them. Lastly, I like the British curriculum as it involves a good balance of theory as well as application. In addition to that, I had studied the British curriculum during secondary school so it made sense for me to continue with A-levels. How did you find settling in at the school? As an international student, settling in was much easier than expected. The information given to us was overwhelming, but the admin staff and teachers helped at every stage. The support and help given by Cardiff Sixth Form College is second to none. Everyone there is so dedicated towards helping us students adjust to an absolutely new environment. I received a lot of support and advice regarding work experience and volunteering. Throughout my years of being in school, I have never seen a more committed team. What is boarding life like? Boarding school was not like what I pictured before coming to this college. The wardens are always friendly and always willing to lend a helping hand whenever you need help or if you’re sick. The common room is a great place to socialise, organise movie nights and have birthday celebrations. The rooms are urban and spacious. We have been spoilt with such luxurious accommodation! Food served at the canteen without doubt is the best that I have had. The canteen staff always work hard to provide us with a range of cuisines to cater to the many nationalities present in college. My favourite menu is the breakfast menu. The best thing about boarding is that I am always surrounded by my friends. In what ways do you think you have developed since coming to boarding school? I have become more responsible in terms of managing my finances and time. Time management for me was something that I worked on a lot, as we went through the syllabus so quickly in the midst of submitting our UCAS forms and attending university interviews. Despite my hectic work schedule, I made sure that I had some time to unwind and relax occupying myself with my hobbies. Boarding school has helped improved my communication skills as I have met friends of different personalities. Name: Muna Age: 14 Nationality: American/Nigerian School: Strathallan School Course: English, Maths, French, History, Geography, Art, DT, Chemistry, Biology, Physics, PE, RE, Computing, German When did you start boarding? I started boarding in 2nd form when I was 12 so I have been at Strathallan for two years. I came to Strathallan from Nigeria and it was different from anything I had experienced before. I wanted to come because I knew that I would have a lot of opportunities here. What is boarding life like? Boarding is really fun and our house feels like a second home. I settled in really quickly because the staff and the older pupils were really welcoming. I share a room with three other boys and we all get on really well although next year I get my own room. We have a kitchen where we can make toast and hot drinks and we all use the common room to chat and watch TV. All the years mix together and there is a really warm atmosphere. I am never bored because there are always lots of activities that we can do in the evenings and I get to play a lot of sport. Our houseparents and upper 6th organise events like a Christmas party and film nights and we have socials with the rest of our year some Saturday nights. I have also tried Scottish dancing for the first time at a couple of ceilidhs for the third and fourth forms! I have tried so many things here for the first time and made loads of friends at the same time. Which lessons do you enjoy the most? I really enjoy art and maths. Our maths teacher entered us in the UK Maths Challenge and we made it to the final which was a really fun experience. I want to be an animator when I am older so I like learning lots of different techniques in art. I have also improved a lot in English since I have been here and so I am starting to enjoy that lesson as well How often do you go home? Because I live in Nigeria I only go home in the school holidays but lots of people stay at school over the weekend and there is always something to do for example there are socials, ceilidhs and film nights on Saturday evenings and trips to Edinburgh or Perth during the day on Sunday. How do you keep in contact with your family? I always find half an hour to talk to my parents by Skype or just send an email to them. In what ways do you think you have developed since coming to boarding school? I have really improved academically and I recently achieved the highest grade in my year for English and Maths which is a really big achievement for me. I have also gained a lot of social skills because I have met people from lots of different cultures and backgrounds and I have lots of time that I can spend with my friends. I am more confident now, particularly as my teachers have encouraged me to pursue activities like photography and sprinting. I have been pushed a lot more here than at my old school in Nigeria and now I feel like I can achieve more. Name: Roman Age: 19 Nationality: Russian Federation School: Cardiff Sixth Form College Course: A-levels: Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry Why did you want to go to boarding school? I was previously studying in a school with British curriculum in Almaty, Kazakhstan so I wanted to continue my education in the United Kingdom. How did you find settling in at the school? At first, it was hard because it was unusual to see so many hardworking and determined people. CSFC was my fifth school and I always was among the top three students in my year, however here I was not exceptional compared to my peers and it was hard to get used to. After some time, I started meeting other students and they appeared very friendly to me, so we began to spend more time together and have fun outside the college; that is when settling in became much easier. What is boarding life like? My boarding house is a modern building with very good facilities. Every single room is en-suite and the level of privacy and comfort was acceptable. You could either live in a studio room with your own kitchen or in a cluster room, where the kitchen will be shared with 7 of your neighbours. Dormitories are very comfortable, with plenty of space to put your textbooks and clothes. The bed was spacious and of acceptable quality. The common room is very large with a pool table and a TV. Recently, Head Students got a PlayStation 4 with a couple of games, so being in the common room now is even more enjoyable. Boarding stuff were very friendly and understanding of whatever happened. They would also check-up on you if you did not sign-in during the evening, to find out whether you are in your room. Food was acceptable; there was an Asian option, a British option and a vegetarian option. What’s a typical day like? My typical day would start with breakfast at 7.30am, after a very short walk from accommodation to the teaching block. We had traditional English breakfast every single day, which was rather pleasant. Then, I would have 5 lessons of 1 hour each until lunch, from 1-2 pm. Then I could have up to 4 lessons until dinner, which is served from 5-7 pm. Finally, I would go to my room and study until about 9pm and then watch movies or play games until 11pm. What sort of activities do you take part in? I was a member of the school football team and we had some matches with other schools as well. In addition, I would go to gym every now and then to swim or exercise. Finally, in A2 year I was the president of Chess Club and I even selected the team for a competition in Cardiff. Name: Beth Easterbrook Age: 15 Nationality: British School: Malvern St James Course: GCSEs in Biology, Chemistry, English, French, Geography, ICT, Mathematics, Physical Education, Physics and Religious Studies How old were you when you started boarding? I started boarding when I was in year 6, which is when I was 10 years old, at Hatherop Castle School. Are you a full or weekly boarder? I am a full boarder and I love it. Why did you want to go to boarding school? I wanted to go to boarding school because I wanted to become more independent and build up my confidence. Have other members of your family been to boarding school? All my siblings were full boarders, but all at different schools. Is your school close to your home? My house is about an hour and fifteen minutes away. I usually catch the train as the train goes from Malvern straight to where I live, which is very useful. How did you find settling in at the school? I found settling into Hatfield (my House) very easy because there were a lot of new people coming into my year. The housemistresses make you so welcome and you feel at home. If you ever have any problems or feel homesick when you first arrive, they are very caring and make you feel very comfortable around them. What is boarding life like? Our Boarding House is quite modern on the inside because it has all been done up. The dorms have two halves with two beds in each side; I like the layout of the dorms because it means you can mix with different people, but also means you do have your own personal space. Also we have our own bathrooms. We have two TV rooms, but one is where we usually have birthday parties etc. Our housemistresses are lovely and really helpful if we have problems or are upset about anything; also they try and sort out the problems straight away. We have lovely gardens which is where we play badminton in the summer term, but we also use them to have barbecues with the different Houses. What’s a typical day like? We wake up at 7am and we walk down to school at about 7.30–7.45am for breakfast. Then we have assembly at 8.25am, and lessons start at 8.50am. Break time is at 10am until 10.30am and then lunch at 12.35–1.30pm. Tea time is at 4pm and then prep is from then onwards but you can also do activities in that time such as sport, music and drama. We have supper at 6.30pm and then we walk up to House at 7pm altogether. Which lessons do you enjoy the most, and why? I enjoy Religious Studies and games, because I think they are independent subjects, but also quite relaxing. I love sport the most though because I enjoy playing sports and getting outside. I also enjoy French, because I love learning new languages. What happens after school? And in the evenings? When we are in the house we can do anything we want, such as play outside, watch TV/films or we can stay in our rooms and do prep; but also we can just go and have a chat with the staff. What do you do at the weekend? Every weekend the School organises trips such as going to the cinema, theme parks, shopping or we can go uptown with our friends after lunch on Saturday. On Sundays we can go uptown at any time, but we need to be back at 4pm. Some people have matches on Saturday afternoon. Every Sunday we have either a church service or house prayers in the evening. What sort of activities do you take part in? I take part in sporting activities such as tennis, rounders, hockey, netball and lacrosse. Have you been out on many trips? I have been on quite a few trips, but my favourite trip is the theme park. How often are you in touch with your family? I always phone my parents about twice a week. How do you keep in contact with them? I keep in contact with my family by phoning them on my mobile, which I do have to hand in at 10pm. I also keep in contact with them by email, but you can use the Hatfield phone if yours is not working or for any reason. How often do you go home for exeats? I usually go home every exeat; we have exeats twice a term, usually every three weeks. Do you know which school/college/university you want to go to after finishing at your school? I just know that I would like to be a physiotherapist or a midwife. If you’re going to another school, are you going to continue being a boarder? I do not know yet. What’s the best thing about being a boarder? I think the best thing about boarding is meeting new people and getting to know new people from different nationalities and different ages. I like the way we can just have a chat with everyone in all different age groups. Would you recommend it to others? Yes I would because it gives you more independence and also you are much more relaxed because you are at school. In what ways do you think you have developed since coming to boarding school? I have become more confident and I have learnt to deal with difficult situations socially. I have become more mature since becoming a boarder and I have learnt how to integrate with other nationalities and make them feel at home. I have improved in my academic work because I have pushed myself to become more hardworking in the House and I have been able to take on responsibilities in and outside of House. Name: Ciaran Age: 9 Nationality: British School: Millfield Prep School Why did you want to go to boarding school? We chose boarding as my parents are in the military and our family often moves around. We all felt that it would be good for me to settle at a good boarding school to provide stability. How did you find settling in at the school? I was excited to start at Millfield Prep as I was keen to get stuck into all the activities on offer. Settling in was easy for me as my houseparents, Mr and Mrs Coates, really helped me. They made Chestnut House feel like my home and kept me busy. What is boarding life like? Boarding life is a mixture of relaxing and fun. I really like my dorm and the way I can have my own things around me in a cosy place; like pictures of my family, letters, books and my favourite football team’s duvet set! What’s a typical day like? A typical day for me is to get up early and get myself ready in my uniform for school. Breakfast is in the dining room with my boarding friends. After that, I gather all my kit and things I need for the day and go for registration and group tutor time or assembly before lessons start. There is a break mid-morning followed by two more lessons. I always look forward to lunch as there is always a good variety of meals available. My favourite is fish and chips on a Friday! There are four more lessons in the afternoon with a break in between. After lessons there are lots of games and clubs for an hour before prep. On Wednesday and Saturday afternoons we have Multi-Activities and there are so many to choose from. I usually go for the sporting activities but you can also try rock climbing, pottery, scuba diving, caving, riding, shooting and so many more; I couldn’t name them all! There are also groups that go out to local nature reserves and help to clear the ground and keep things tidy. Supper is another highlight for me as I’m usually hungry after a busy day. Going back to the house in the evenings is nice because it’s a time to relax and watch children’s TV and play on the computers or in the games room with my friends (but not before I’ve cleaned my shoes and got my kit ready for the next day though!). Our matrons are friendly and helpful and they look after us at snack time every night. After that, we get ready for bed and read for a while before lights out. We are lucky at Chestnut because we have our own floodlit court to play on. Mr English, our liaison tutor, always plays wacky games with us and once a week Mr Duke, our assistant houseparent, takes us to the big sports hall for games too. Which lessons do you enjoy the most, and why? My favourite lessons are any type of sport because I love to be active and I am interested in all games. It feels good scoring goals in hockey and football but nothing beats making a tackle in rugby. My academic lessons are very important and I work hard to do my best. I like studying history and geography; it is interesting learning about the places I would love to visit when I am older. I’m also learning to play the guitar which I really enjoy. What do you do at the weekend? Weekends are always packed with interesting things to do and trips to go on. Some of my favourites have been the beach and theme parks in the summer and paintballing and go-karting. We had a go at Segway recently and we were all whizzing around the school grounds on them! At the end of the summer term, all the boarders really look forward to our house trips. Our houseparents always organise brilliant, fun-packed days for us. How often are you in touch with your family? With so much going on here, I don’t really get home-sick but I like to keep in touch with everyone at home as often as I can during the week. There aren’t any limits on this and I can use email, phone and Skype – it’s nice to see my little brother that way! How often do you go home for exeats? I go home during some of the exeat weekends but sometimes it isn’t possible. It makes the holiday times extra special to be home. Mr Coates takes lots of photos of my matches and sends them to mum and dad so they know that I’m ok and having fun. What’s the best thing about being a boarder? The best thing about being a boarder for me is Chestnut House – it feels like a mansion to me! I always feel safe and happy with great friends around me. I think it has helped me to be more self-reliant and independent as I have to be responsible for my things and be prepared for the school day. I feel more confident too. Would you recommend it to others? I would definitely recommend boarding and wish all my friends could do it.