Boarding at St John’s
Boarding at a Prep School should be a memorable and special experience, and this is certainly the case at St John’s and the boarders are an important part of life at St John’s. They are looked after by our Head of Boarding, two dormitory masters, two dormitory assistants, two academic boarding tutors and a team of matrons and assistant teachers.
Many of our boarders live either in the immediate local area or within 25 miles of St John’s although we also have a number of boys from overseas. Over half of our boarders are full boarders. Parental contact during the term is strongly encouraged, either by phone or by email. For those boys who are staying in over the weekend there are trips every Sunday and a wide variety of activities arranged every Saturday that are fitted in between sporting and other commitments.
The weekly after school routine is also very busy with activities arranged after supper in the evenings (as well as academic study sessions for senior boys), although most boys also like spending quality time with their friends. The boarders also enjoy taking advantage of the facilities at St John’s such as the sports complex, the swimming pool, music department, tennis courts, art studio and fields.
Boys choose to board because they enjoy it. They get to spend time with their friends doing things that they enjoy. At the same time boys learn to become independent and to look after their own and other people’s possessions. It is also a chance to learn to live alongside other people and to develop self-confidence and independence. During ‘exeat’ weekends, there is a tradition at St John’s that full boarding pupils stay with their ‘day boy’ friends and their families.
Who makes a good boarder?
- A boy from a supportive family background, where parents & son are all committed to the boarding life-style.
- A boy who likes spending lots of time with his friends.
- Above all, a boy who is mature enough to understand the benefits and reasons for boarding, and wants to do it.
What effect does boarding have on a boy and his family?
Boarding boys will invariably grow in confidence, as they take greater responsibility for their day-to-day lives. They become more independent as they move up through the school and become more organized, learning to get to the right place at the right time with the right kit. Living in a community encourages them also to understand that their actions impinge on others, and therefore they learn to think of others more and respect their different opinions and needs.
Boys comment that they have a good social life as boarders, their location enabling them to have more free time, more time to spend with friends, better access to a wide range of activities and an ability to use the facilities available on the school site.
Inevitably there will be moments when things are not going so well and they miss home. But they also understand that life has its ups and downs and that that this is quite normal and something with which they can cope.
Likewise parents too become more a part of the school community and holidays and exeats are more “special”. Hard-working parents find “quality time” when their boarding boys are at home. However, we also know that boarding is not the right thing for many boys. We will not encourage families to board their sons unless we feel it is the right thing. Happy boarders do well and gain a great deal from the experience. Unhappy boarders do not.
Will boarding have an adverse affect on my son’s work? Certainly not – quite the contrary. Over the past six years two thirds of St John’s academic scholarships have been won by boarders. The Common Entrance results for boarders have also been outstanding. This is because from the start the boys’ achievements are the result of greater independence and the impact this has on a boy should not be under-estimated. For a boy to achieve independently and to set his own targets is always more meaningful and ultimately more motivating.
Obviously it is impossible for a boy to get the same level of attention that a parent can give at home. However, there are plenty of opportunities for boys to work in the evenings either on their own or in pairs. Academic studies (homework) for Year 8 Rudiments boys is completed under the supervision of the Dormitory Master and Head of Boarding and in the run up to exams there are organised evening revision sessions and boys learn to be more self-disciplined as well as spurring each other on.
What sort of boarding does St John’s offer?
St John’s offers full and weekly boarding.
How much contact do boys have with their parents in term time?
Boys can purchase phone cards to call home in the evenings and there are regular opportunities to email. We are always delighted to welcome parents to the school to see their sons take part in musical and dramatic productions and sporting matches. Boys can go home after their final school commitment on Saturday and return in time for chapel on the Sunday evening. Parents are always welcome to stay for Chapel and to sit with their sons.
Overseas boarders are very well cared for both in terms of their pastoral care and in their practical arrangements.
The School operates a very successful system where full boarders are generally invited to spend’ Guestrooms’ (exeats) with their fellow day pupils. This allows the boys to enjoy a more natural weekend with a friend’s family and engage in a different cultural experience. At the beginning and end of term the school makes arrangements for transporting the boarders to Heathrow airport (15 minutes away) with registered adults to Heathrow to ensure a smooth transition to their homeward flight.
All full boarders write home at least once every week and have access to ‘Skype’ and telephones during their free time. Parents of overseas boarders can enjoy following their sons’ boarding activities and trips through our Boarding Twitter.