New Way of Boarding
There is something special about Boarding. Something very special. More than anything else, it is the special bonds of friendship that develop between pupils. Living alongside one another, pupils create friendships that last for life and make memories that stay with them far beyond their time at School. For pupils at Wycombe Abbey and their parents, the mixed aged dorms and the ‘House Mother’ and ‘House Daughter’ system has been at the heart of this experience for a long time. This is not common to many other Boarding Schools and is something about which pupils are very proud.
Horizontal Dorms a Success
It was a big decision for the School to create horizontal dorms. But these are extraordinary times, and our remarkable pupils and staff have adapted exceptionally well to this change. Within a few days, the logistics for changing dorms had been arranged, pupils had packed, moved, unpacked and had settled in with their new roommates. We were all immensely proud to see how quickly pupils adapted to this change and how considerate they were of the challenges facing us all at this time. These new arrangements, alongside School’s existing control measures and our ability to test pupils on-site for Covid-19, are all important steps in helping us to provide continuity of education in these uncertain times. What was equally pleasing to see, but no surprise to anyone who spends time with our pupils, was how eager they have been to make a success of these temporary changes.
The Continued Role of House Families
‘House Families’ continue to play an important part in the lives of pupils even though they are not sharing dorms. Socially distanced catch-ups, family channels on MS Teams and virtual family reunions are rapidly becoming pillars of House life. Events such as ‘Family tree scavenger hunts’ have enabled pupils to enjoy activities together and continue to build the memories that are such a hallmark of a Wycombe Abbey education. Older pupils are finding ways to check up on their younger Housemates and making sure that they are available to give a kindly word to their peers and check that they are OK. And although this is only a temporary change, the new horizontal dorms allow Housemistresses to run their ‘early bed’ pupil catch-ups with a whole dorm, and enable the year group to share their experiences with their close friends.
Amongst the many changes that we have seen this year, keeping Boarding Houses open during Short and Long Leaves has been one of the most significant. Boarding during the holidays is a different experience altogether. Without lessons and regular extra-curricular activities, pupils have had the opportunity for a well-deserved rest, but have kept themselves busy. This Autumn, during October Long Leave, our remaining boarders enjoyed activities such as cheerleading, photo competitions, Koala origami, quiz nights, Bollywood Dancing and board games. A Harry Potter movie marathon allowed pupils to put their feet up and relax whilst they drifted off to a very different boarding environment. A very different one indeed, but be it Hogwarts or Wycombe Abbey, Boarding really is a magical place to grow up!
Mr James Jones
Deputy Head (Pupils)