Pupil's Success Story

The Joys of Boarding School (on a Scholarship and Bursary)




The beginning

“Where to begin? I suppose the beginning sounds like a good idea. I was completely new to boarding when I started at 13 and was a bit scared of staying away from home for an extended period of time with a group of people whom I had only met once before. I remember that the first night was the hardest because I was finding it hard to get to sleep in a different bed in a different place with different people around me. However being in the largest dorm (of seven people) I felt really helped with the challenge of getting to know the other people in my house and I say challenge because some of them had known each other before and were already forming their own groups and so for me to barge in there and try to be included was rather difficult. However, knowing that I would be with group of people for the next five years, made me know it was important to persevere.


Getting to know the other pupils

There were many other opportunities to get to know other people in my year, one of which was the large garden attached to the boarding house where we would frequently enjoy a game of football. However, not being the most athletic boy, at first I tended to stay indoors and immerse myself in a series of books – the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolin. My absence from the barbarity of that mud pool which they call the garden was duly noted and in hindsight this may not have been the wisest thing to do as in the first few weeks the most important thing is to get to know those around you.


Coming from quite a small school, comparatively, I found it quite difficult to adjust to the hordes of people I was told were in my year (120) and was unable initially to distinguish many individuals from this great mass. Lessons really helped with getting to know people from outside my house as with each lesson there was a different set of pupils. I was also able to find like-minded people through both sporting and musical activities and soon found myself being included in all sorts of exciting activities.


Living far away from school

For the majority of the people in my school, home is up to an hour away and so for me living, about three hours drive away, weekend visits from my parents came infrequently, if at all. Their faces were also absent from the majority of sports matches. Not being used to my parents not being there for special occasions and being surrounded by people meeting their parents regularly, made me a little jealous and slightly more lonely but every three weeks there was an exeat which allowed for a short get together with my family at home.


My boarding house

Being in a boarding house has enabled me to start to gain the beginnings of independence and allowed me to build up my self confidence. After three years of living in a boarding house, I now consider it my home and the people around me, both in my year, and others, nearly as familiar as my own siblings. It is important when choosing a boarding house to consider where it is. Would you like to be right in the centre of the school which has the advantage of being near to everything? Sometimes it is nicer to be further away from the centre of the school so you can get some distance from lessons. Another thing is whether or not it has a garden and how big it is. A garden can often be a place to relax and play with friends while also offering a quiet place to revise in the summer for exams. Another consideration is the housemaster himself. This is the person who you will go to for all your problems and will find help from for the next five years so it is important that you like and interact well with him. You also need to check if he is likely to leave before you do.


Many of the inter house activities which take place help to create a greater friendship between the different year groups within a house. Competing against rival houses is a great way to come together and work co-operatively. Competitive inter-house activities include debating, swimming galas, football, cricket, rugby, squash, water polo and hockey matches etc. House activities include a concert, play, charity fundraising etc.

Being in a boarding school allows for a vast variety of different activities such as involvement in academic, sporting and musical societies


Helping hands

Many different people at my school are available throughout the week to provide help, both academic and pastoral ways. On the academic side, each pupil is assigned a tutor who they will meet up with every two weeks (more frequently to begin with) to discuss grades and how to improve them. They also help with pastoral issues. There are also academic support sessions during the week during which you can seek help on particular preps and also in class work.


On the pastoral side, there are a multitude of different people to go to for help. These include your housemaster, house tutors, prefects, matrons, chaplain, a school counsellor and your friends. It is best not to try to turn to your parents as they are not immersed in boarding school life and cannot really do much to help.



No-one ever talks about bursaries – who is on one and how much they receive. That is completely private and confidential. There are a variety of different levels of wealth at my school but this is not apparent in everyday school life and so it not an issue for me that I come from a family with less wealth than most at the school.



Scholarships are discussed and they are something to be proud of. In my school there are a high number of scholars in all disciplines and there are usually special privileges afforded to scholars.


Free time

Free time is limited as our schedules are busy. Different people have different ways of spending their leisure time. Some choose to spend it playing computer games, others like to read a book, watch a film, listen to music, play a game of football in the garden or play another sport in the sports hall. One of the advantages of my school is that it is located in a town which we can visit in our free time. At weekends there are social events arranged by the school with the neighbouring girls’ schools. If there is no social for your particular year, then our housemaster will make us pizza or hot dogs and we will be given the chance to have free rein over the TV room.


Finally – the end

Boarding school is a great place, full of many opportunities to broaden your interests and expand your learning. It is also a place where you will make lasting friends and create memories which you will treasure for the rest of your life.


Personally I feel that going to boarding school was an experience which has changed me as a person and made me into a far more confident and caring human being.”