Confidence, life skills and community: The benefits of boarding
Here at ECS we feel lucky and grateful to have something that no other prep schools in Exeter have: A Boarding House.
Our boarding house can be considered quite small and quirky, but it can accommodate as many as 40 children along with a team of boarding staff.
Some people might ask themselves, why board? What are the benefits of boarding?
Before I give you my answer to this question, let us hear it from some of the wonderful children that compose our boarding community at ECS.
“I love boarding because everyone is supportive and, if you have an issue, you can talk to anyone and everyone always helps. There is always an activity, and it is always fun. You always feel welcome, even if you are new.”
“Everyone is like a family and we all look after each other! The housemaster is funny, and the house matron looks after us really well. Also, the gaps are fun and caring! All the girls and boys have fun playing lots of games together and having quality time.”
“It’s like a second family, we are all so joyful, so kind to each other and so loving. The housemaster couldn’t be better, and the gaps are just like brothers and sisters. I feel like I could tell anything to anyone in the Boarding House.”
“It’s a great experience to play games and look after each other. It feels like an extra family. My favourite part about boarding is to come back into the Boarding House because you get such a nice welcome back.”
“It is not only a good experience to be with each other but, we spend so much time together we start to care for each other. Boarding is like a second home, sometimes a better home.”
As you can see, boarding can have a great variety of benefits for children.
As someone who has lived most of his life in France where boarding is not very common or popular, I discovered boarding in one of my previous schools in Shropshire. It was a much bigger school compared to ECS. It was an international college with six boarding houses going from the prep school all the way up to the sixth form college.
I soon became intrigued and interested by the boarding life and got involved in the prep school boarding house by doing a few duties at the weekend every now and then. After a couple of years, a boarding master’s assistant position in that same boarding house became available and that is when my involvement in boarding started to take a more important place in my everyday job and life. I moved on-site and enjoyed spending time with the boarders, making sure they were happy and safe, that they felt supported, that they were always busy, and most importantly, that they felt at home away from home.
I then decided to take it even further and moved to ECS to become Head of Boarding. That is when boarding took a significant place, not only in my job as a foreign languages teacher but in my life as a whole. Being a boarding housemaster is not only a job, it is a lifestyle. I do feel privileged that parents and guardians trust my team and me to look after their children whilst they are in our care. Each and every boarding team member works hard every day to provide boarders with everything that they need, and one of the most important things that we do provide our boarders is a sense of belonging, a community whose members look after each other, support each other and have a lot of fun with each other.
We, as a boarding team, provide the sort of environment that promotes good mental health, life skills, resourcefulness, building resilience and social confidence. We make sure that every boarder, even if they only board occasionally, is engaged, active and interested.
From an outside perspective, boarding can be a very handy and practical option for parents and guardians who have long commutes, who travel for work or cannot simply be at home sometime. It can also save a long journey to and from school for our choristers who often finish their school day late after evensong. Boarding gives them an opportunity to have more time to complete their schoolwork, have a nice meal and enjoy some fun activities with their friends.
If you look at it from the inside, however, boarding offers things that simply cannot be measured. As a community, we bring a family feel and family values to school education.
Mr Cédric Baurance
Head of Boarding
Want to find out more about boarding, either occasionally or regularly? Get in touch with the team at Boarding@exetercs.org.