Summer Term: Week 3 – The Benefits of a Boarding School Ethos
Friday 5 May 2017
Recently, I have turned my attention to the strengths and benefits of the boarding environment and all that it has to offer our pupils – day girls and boarders alike. Last week the Girls’ Schools Association hosted a fantastic Boarding school event at Bromswood Hall – an opportunity to meet prospective parents and girls interested in attending a girls’ boarding school such as Queenswood and to hear from other girls’ schools about the benefits that they see in a girls’ boarding school education.
We have recently uploaded our own #ILoveBoarding film to our website and the BSA website and this week I have been attending the Boarding Schools Association annual Heads Conference in York. This was a superb opportunity to network with other Boarding school heads as well as attending lectures and meetings on a number of topics such as “Supporting the transition from prep to senior boarding” and “Maximising student success in Boarding schools”. We also heard from keynote boarding alumni such as Professor Tanya Byron, England manager Gareth Southgate and Professor A C Grayling.
Having attended boarding school myself from the age of seven right through to 18 and, quite frankly, having loved every minute of it, the benefits of such an education and experience seem quite obvious to me. Where better to forge lifelong friendships on a global scale, gain invaluable independence and problem solving skills, take advantage of a vast array of co-curricular opportunities and facilities around the clock?
As I am sure you appreciate, for me, this experience was quite a long time ago. It is reassuring that like all things, boarding has developed and moved on in recent years. So, whilst I look back on my own boarding experiences with very fond and happy memories, I am delighted and excited by the improvements that have been made to ensure that the boarding experience is current, up to date and meeting the challenges of the 21st century.
Mrs Violaine Ludwick, Housemistress of Stamp, has written very entertainingly on the developments in boarding in the last 30 years.
The mix of day girls and boarders at Queenswood means that every girl reaps the benefits of the boarding school environment, whether or not she boards herself. It strikes me that there are so many benefits to modern boarding:
Boarding school means less ‘helicopter parenting’. Relationships with daughters improve as time at home is quality time; meanwhile girls learn to find their own solutions to problems.
Boarding schools have superb resources and networks. Many students particularly appreciate this as they enter the crucial exam years. Boarding means that they have access to the library and IT suites well into the evening, as well as being able to work together in small study groups, which helps the girls to develop vital skills for university and work beyond.
Boarding schools foster face-to-face communication, and as a consequence reduce teenagers’ screen time. Friends are together, and they will chat to each other over meals. There is always someone to work with, to talk to, to explore ideas with, to spend time with.
Boarding schools expand peer groups and trigger life-long friendships across the world. In a difficult global climate where cultural tolerance and acceptance is becoming more and more important, boarding schools are able to educate and embrace diversity and the teaching around this. The bonds formed in a boarding environment, with students from around the world, are inevitably stronger due to the unique shared experiences.
Boarding schools keep activities within reach. As every Queenswood parent knows, our co-curricular programme is extremely intensive, supporting all abilities and levels of achievement – the challenge for girls is to take advantage of everything on offer to them – rehearsals, concerts, sports training and matches can continue late into the evening thanks to our boarding provision. At weekends, the boarding staff at Queenswood organise a huge range of activities to ensure that there is never a dull moment. Recently, we have visited Chessington World of Adventures, cinemas, the indoor ski centre at Hemel Hempstead and organised countless shopping trips; there are new trips planned every week, with a careful balance of fun and challenge.
Boarding schools don’t have to be far away. Parents are encouraged to visit regularly, and keep in touch to attend matches, concerts, plays and parent meetings. A flexible approach to boarding means that here at Queenswood we can take care of your daughters on an ad hoc basis or for a regular arrangement each week. This can allow parents to travel for work and know that their daughter is in the best of hands.
Boarding school educators are experts at navigating the teenage years. Many will have experienced boarding themselves, and really understand the challenges. An outstanding level of pastoral care provided by all staff, whether academic or pastoral, underpins the sensitively structured environment of a boarding school. Staff are on hand for extra tuition, coaching, counselling – or simply to help girls regulate their own programme of independent study.
Here at Queenswood, every girl is motivated to achieve her potential, to go beyond what she believes herself to be capable of. And for our boarders, everything that is great about single sex girls’ education is multiplied and enhanced. Whether you choose the full Queenswood boarding experience, or prefer to opt for one of our flexible one-, two- or three-night packages, your daughter will benefit in so many ways. She will learn to be a truly courageous, resilient and self-sufficient young woman, ready to face the future.