For many families boarding can be a good solution for the challenges of busy, working lives but with so many different types of boarding on offer which is the best one to suit you?
For many years ‘boarding’ meant sending your children off to school at the beginning of term and not seeing them again until the holidays but there are now full, weekly, flexi and occasional options.
Full boarding is closest to the traditional model where pupils spend seven nights a week in school and only return home for exeat weekends, half term and the end of term. At Leweston there are five exeat weekends in the academic year, each run from Friday night to Sunday evening or Monday morning. Boarders are able to spend these weekends at home but they are not compulsory and many of our boarders who live overseas remain with us.
Full boarding provides pupils with a strong community of friends, it builds confidence and self-reliance. It also allows boarders to access everything the school has to offer and this immersion into school life can have a positive affect on children both academically and socially.
There is a busy weekend activity programme which includes events on campus as well as trips across the South-West and beyond. Many of the weekend options are open to day pupils who can join their boarding friends.
Although these boarders spend the most time in school parents are still actively involved with life here, those who live close enough join us for matches, concerts and plays and technology enables us to keep in contact with those who live further afield.
“Being a full boarder at Leweston is great. We have lots of different activities planned for us every weekend, alongside the activities that we have each evening. This is good because the boarding staff keep us busy enough that we don’t get homesick, but that we have enough time to spend together and be happy with our friends, or to call our parents at home. We are also given enough time to complete the prep that we are set, which is really helpful for me now I am in Year 10.”
– Gigi, Year 10 – Full Boarder.
Weekly boarding is growing in popularity, particularly for pupils who live too far away to commute on a daily basis or whose parents work long hours and welcome the stability that boarding provides. As Leweston has no Saturday school weekly boarders can go home on Friday evenings and return to school on Sunday evenings or Monday mornings.
For many, this option offers the best of both worlds: pupils can enjoy school during the week, concentrate on their academic studies, access all of the extra-curricular provision and spend lots of time with their friends. They then get to relax at home with their parents on Saturdays and Sundays.
Many parents are keen on weekly boarding too. They like the fact that they don’t have to nag about homework or deal with busy morning routines and home time can become ‘quality time’. Many
weekly boarders still live within an hour’s drive of the school so they can attend matches, concerts and drama productions during the term.
“If I could sum up weekly boarding in one word, it would be ‘family’. Everybody is very nice and happy to help each other. It helps relieve school-related stress because everybody is already here on site to help. There are lots of opportunities to take part in activities, and boarding is making me more organised.”
– Orlando, Year 8 – Weekly Boarder.
Unlike full and weekly, flexi boarding can differ from school to school. At Leweston we offer a regular flexi package where pupils can stay on the same one, two or three nights every week. This termly commitment means that ‘flexis’ have their own personal space in the dormitory (or room for Years 11 upwards) and can leave personal possessions at school.
Flexi is a popular option and can often provide a good introduction to boarding with flexis becoming weekly or full boarders at a later stage. Many families choose flexi nights to coincide with
sport, music or drama commitments or to cup down on travel in the middle of the week. Flexi boarding is particularly popular with younger families with the greatest numbers amongst Years 4 to 8.
“Having the opportunity to flexi board is great for me, as it means that I can do early morning swim on a Tuesday and not have to get up too early. I find evenings in boarding really fun as we can all mess around together, do an activity or just chill and watch TV in the Common Room “.
– Jessica, Year 7 – Flexi Boarder.
Also known as B&B it is possible for pupils to stay in boarding on an ad hoc basis. This is often due to a need at home such as parents travelling for work. B&B is subject to availability and it is necessary to give the boarding team advance notice.
Whichever option they choose everyone who comes into the Houses is welcomed into the Leweston boarding family. They are helped to settle and feel at home, they will be given a guardian who will look after them until they feel confident about the routines and practices in the House. They will also be encouraged to keep in touch with home and can email, Skype and phone home in the evenings.
If you are interested in boarding at Leweston please contact Mrs Smith, our Registrar at [email protected]. She can arrange for you to meet the Houseparents and organise a boarding taster for your child.