Staying at school five nights a week is an opportunity for girls and boys to develop important life skills and can really take the pressure off busy families, leaving the weekends free for quality time together.
Early mornings can be the most hectic time of the day in homes with children to get up, dressed, breakfasted and off to school on time, and evenings are often not much better, with after-school clubs and homework to fit in. For some families, weekdays are a real logistical challenge, so it’s no surprise that the number of children choosing to board at school during the week is on the rise.
Many schools now offer a variety of boarding arrangements to suit busy families, from staying just one night a week right up to full boarding during term-time. In the middle is weekly boarding – spending Monday to Friday at school, and the weekends at home – and this is a ‘best of both worlds’ solution that works well for children and their parents.
With no commute to school in the mornings, children have a more leisurely start to the day, can eat a good breakfast and catch up with their friends before lessons start. In the evenings, they can make the most of after-school clubs and activities – from sports practice and music or drama rehearsals, to spending time on artistic or creative projects.
‘Just hanging out with their friends in the boarding house is an opportunity for boarders to develop their social skills,’ says George Masters, Deputy Headmaster at Felsted, a day and boarding school for girls and boys aged four to 18 in north Essex. ‘One of the best aspects of boarding is that the pupils learn to live and work well with others, as well as developing their independence. Students from all over the world board at Felsted, so it’s a chance for young people to understand and respect cultures that are different from their own.’
Of course, there is still homework to be done, but boarders have access to plenty of support.
‘At Felsted, boarders are welcome to make use of all the school’s facilities in the evenings, so they can work in the library if they like and teachers are always on hand to give guidance,’ adds George. ‘Every boarder has a quiet place to study in the boarding house.’
There are eight boarding houses at Felsted, each one very homely and with communal areas furnished with comfortable sofas, beanbags and cushions with televisions and even games consoles, pool or table tennis tables and other fun equipment. Although main meals are served in the dining hall, each house has small kitchens where boarders whip up their own snacks and drinks if they find themselves peckish between meals.
Far from the cavernous dorms of children’s literature, bedrooms in today’s boarding houses often sleep just one or two, though younger boarders often enjoy rooms for four or six, and there are plenty of bathrooms and showers.
‘It’s important that the boarding houses are relaxing places to be – boarders’ wellbeing is the top priority,’ says George. ‘Every house has full-time houseparents, who live in the boarding house and are available for support at any time, as well as a matron who takes care of boarders’ day-to-day needs. Of course, Felsted also has a fully-staffed Medical facility and a Wellbeing Centre, so parents can be reassured that their children are extremely well looked after and can make the most of all the opportunities boarding has to offer.’
To find out more about boarding at Felsted, please visit felsted.org