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Social life and support services: what is a modern boarding experience like?

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Social activities

While all students in a boarding school live on the same site, they are usually divided into several ‘houses’ based on gender, year groups, etc. Socialising is organised around boarding houses to a large extent. Every week, an exciting schedule of extra-curricular activities is arranged. From sporting to cultural activities like theatre and film appreciation, there is something to suit every taste. On weekends, there could be outing opportunities, whether to visit a famous tourist attraction or to do collective volunteering and help those in need.

Typically, a room is shared between two or three students. This presents a once-in-a-life-time chance to develop friendship and mutual trust, as roommates learn to live harmoniously and support each other. Apart from private and study spaces, many buildings also contain common spaces or even a café in which students relax and mingle.

Pastoral care

Each house is supervised by a Master who is an experienced, professional member of staff. The House Master is responsible for bringing all boarders together to create a wholesome living environment, and to give counsel on issues pertinent to living on campus.

Sometimes, though, students may wish to discuss issues in a less formal setting, or just to have a chat. This is where peer support comes in. A team of trained Mentors, for example students from senior years or university, are ready to give friendly advice on diverse topics including homesickness, revision strategies and stress management.

Those worried about tough house rules can be reassured that in reality, these are designed to be reasonable, perhaps not so different from rules at home. They are in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all students, rather than to force them to behave in certain ways.