Author: Ben Evans (Director of Teaching and Learning).
Schools are institutions functioning not as static monoliths, but as organic, living, breathing, developing bodies. All Schools rely on strong communities existing within their walls, and these communities are interconnected – through academic subjects, musical ensembles, sports teams, drama troupes, clubs, societies and friendships. Every boy should feel the benefit of being part of several communities. They find their place somewhere; they are a single point in a complex Venn diagram, and in this way, they make their own unique mark.
One of the most important communities, and one linked to all others, is the School’s Boarding Community. Most of my teaching career has been spent in Schools that are predominantly Boarding, and the ethos of these Schools places boarding at the very heart of the community. Boarding is more than just a part of one’s life; for 38 weeks of the year, it is one’s life, and the natural overlap between the life of the boy and the life of the School is one to be cherished. There is no ‘end’ to the School day, there is simply the rhythm of the day, with its ups and downs, its pressure points and down-time. Life does not exist in seven hour blocks of time and neither should it; the day’s flow for a boarding pupil displays a far more relaxed amplitude.
The key advantage for the boarding pupil is time: there is so much of it. Access to teachers, technology, equipment, the library and other like-minded pupils means that individual learning and personal development can occur at any time during a 24-hour period. The ‘official’ teaching time is common to all, but the extra opportunities for those in the boarding community are palpable – all one needs to do is avail oneself of those opportunities and the educational experience is much richer for it.
Many of the truest friendships I know have been developed through time spent together as boarding pupils during one’s formative years, and as we change, we rarely remain on ‘parallel lines’ with those around us. Some people we naturally gravitate towards, and the positive influence of strong friendships on academic achievement should never be overlooked. True friends will generally spur you on to greater things, and will delight in your success. True friendships are developed and nurtured over time, and when one spends up to 24 hours in another’s company, we have all the time in the world.