In the next few days our new starters will find out which Houses they will be joining in September. Mr Paget-Tomlinson, the Headmaster, explains more about how the House system works at Leweston and the important role it plays across in the school.
For generations of children the word ‘House’ means quidditch, striped scarves and a talking hat but school houses have a very real role to play and are an important part of school life.
At Leweston both the Senior and the Prep schools have their own Houses, four in each, and every pupil belongs to one of them. Unlike some schools our Houses are not physical buildings and they are not separated into ‘day’ or ‘boarding’. The members are drawn from across the school community and the links between the Senior and Prep Houses ensure that the oldest pupils in the school form relationships with the youngest.
Each House has its own identity and colour. Siblings will share Houses and the children of former pupils usually follow their parents into the same ones.
As our new starters will learn, this illustrates how pupils often develop a deep sense of connection to their House. Indeed, a major benefit of the House system is that it encourages a sense of belonging and provides the opportunity for pupils to work with, and get to know, those in other year groups. Houses and House activities can ensure pupils feel supported by their peers from the start. Breaking down the larger school community into smaller parts can make starting a new school feel less daunting.
One of the strengths of the House system is collaboration. The Houses support a wide range of school activities with pupils representing them in sport competitions, music, drama and fun days. Whilst some of these are held for specific year groups many involve the whole school.
The Houses also play a central role in our charity programme with each one planning fundraising events and awareness raising activities for charities of their own choice. These opportunities encourage pupils of all ages to work together and this vertical integration, where the youngest pupils learn from the oldest and the oldest support (and sometime learn from) the youngest is an important part of Leweston life. It teaches the vital skills of communication, cooperation and adaptability.
Each House is led by a member of the Sixth Form who is appointed to the role of House Captain. The Captains organise meetings and events giving them the opportunity to learn and develop leadership skills. They have to guide and organise other pupils as well as liaise with the Heads of House, all teaching staff, and other members of the school community. House Captains have the opportunity to learn practical skills such as chairing meetings, event management and delegation.
Of course, a major element of the House system is competition. You will never understand the true power of House spirit until you have watched a group of pupils stood on a touchline in freezing January rain cheering their fellow Housemates to victory, or defeat. Once again, however, this competition is in fact a vehicle for inclusion. It is at the inter-House activities where you can experience some of the most emotional moments – Houses running extra laps of the athletics track to get their last member home, giving their quietest pupil a standing ovation for saying a line in a play and or getting a nervous student to the end of their musical performance through sheer force of will.
This summer every House at Leweston is looking forward to welcoming its newest members and cannot wait to find out more about them.