Tonight I will say goodbye to 8 boarders, some who have been with me for two years, others 7 years. Together we have had a fare few ups and downs, but tonight I will feel a mixture of sadness and proudness. The only thing I can compare it to is how Mums and Dads feel when their children go off to University but obviously for 8 students and throw in the fact that I won’t see them for Christmas. Some overseas students I won’t ever see again and I can’t see what they are up to on Facebook ( as with most schools, teachers sign an e-safety policy which means that teachers cannot have contact via social media until the student is 21).
These are students who I have helped through boyfriend breakups, bad test results, passing their driving test or not and have seen me in my ( very respectable ) PJs when they are sick in the middle of the night. Students who I have watched Harry Potter with a hundred times. Taken to see Busted, even though I only know 4 Busted songs. Introduced to English pantomime ( Hong Kong students think we are mad by the way). Learnt how to put on make up so it doesn’t actually look like make up so you can wear it to school. And eaten tray upon tray of doughnuts. Obviously boarding isn’t all perfect and there have been moments when I have had to accuse students of lying to me, borrowing ( or stealing depending on your definition) CocoPops, not answering their mobile when they knew they would be late. But then these are in the minority and I can only look back over the year with a smile on my face. Boarding gets such bad press. In fact recently there was an article about how boarding breeds poor leader because they act like spoilt unloved little boys. To these people I suggest that they actually go and visit a few boarding houses. Most parents that I have contact with, don’t send their children to boarding school because they don’t love their child, its because they do. And boarding staff aren’t cold heartless staff who are only doing it for the money (!), they are doing it because they love boarding. Believe me, you have to love boarding to do the job. Alright there are the exceptions, but isn’t this the case with every walk of life? I have been a boarding Housemistess for 12 years now and can honestly say its the best part of my job. I love boarding. I am well aware that I am not their mother, I don’t expect Mothers day cards from them. But I expect the same standards or morals from boarders that I teach my children. Right and wrong, community feel, independence, resilience along with many other topics that you would find in most school PSHE scheme of work. The only difference is that we can cover topics in the evening or at weekends as well as during the day. My girl boarders will often have a debate about consent, woman’s rights or e safety, with no scheme of work or objective. Just good old fashion talking and listening. This is what boarding is about. Being yourself with a group of people from various walks of life, expressing your point of view but listening to others and respecting and learning. We have students on scholarships, parents who are in the forces ( and have been in war situations), students from Hong Kong, Germany, France, Dubi and even Moldova. Single parent family or family’s that Grandparents are having to take the lead role in the child’s upbringing. Families with Mental health problems or Domestic abuse issues. Just because you went to a boarding school doesn’t mean that home life is a bed of roses.
Back to my leavers who today at leavers assembly will be clapped out by their peers and many of the younger boarders. I will shed a tear and miss them, but I know that they will be ok and next year will bring another cohort of characters to keep me busy.