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A boarder’s view of boarding

What is it like to be a boarder?
This is what Megan had to say when asked about what it is like to board at Pocklington School.

How old were you when you started boarding?
I have been a boarder at Pocklington School since I was 9 (I am now 17). I came to Pocklington as a bright eyed full time boarder and although home sickness hit me hard at first, I have had a wonderful time being part of this school which I can gladly say is my home.

 Why did you want to go to boarding school?
My parents made the decision to send me to boarding school because like many other boarders throughout the country I come from a military background, and boarding school ensured a stable education for me.

 How did you find settling in at the school?
On arrival I knew no one and my parents lived 6 hours away in the south of England. I was very excited, nervous, and obviously upset about leaving my friends in my previous school. I started Lyndhurst in year 5 (Lyndhurst School, Pocklington’s junior school takes boarders from the age of 8) and admittedly did find it hard to settle in, but I was 9, living far away from my parents with new rules, a new routine and new people around me so it was to be expected. It is perfectly normal to struggle a bit. However plenty of staff and older pupils made me feel welcome. Also being so young I hadn’t yet developed a lot of confident social skills which was to my disadvantage.

 What is boarding life like?
The first few weeks were exciting and an adventure, although as soon as I stopped being busy homesickness hit me and I just wanted to be at home. The staff helped me to stay positive and kept me busy doing plenty of fun activities like swimming, drama and art, so that holidays came quickly and I soon started to learn to miss my parents and brother without being distressed.

I am 17 years old now, and so a senior boarder, living in the senior girl’s boarding house. We have two common rooms (if you are not sure what that is, it’s a lounge), one for girls between the ages 14-16, and another for girls between the ages of 16-18. The common room is a place to; watch television or a film; to chat; to read books or magazines; a place where non boarders or male boarder guests can hang out. I am lucky as I currently have my own single bedroom. Some of the younger senior girls share in threes. This is a good experience, which helps you learn to share and respect other people’s space and belongings, as well as having fun. Meals are prepared in the dining hall which is on the main school site. Breakfast, lunch and tea are eaten here and the puddings are brilliant!

All the staff, male and female, are fantastic at Pocklington and have really good relationships with the pupils, especially in the boarding houses. Faircote house (the name of our senior girls’ boarding house) is run by a couple; Mr and Mrs Alexander-Hymers. We all think this is great: we are lucky to have both a male role model as well as a female one in the house. Mr and Mrs Alexander-Hymers help and support us academically as well as emotionally and socially when needed.

Which lessons do you enjoy the most and why?
I’m currently doing my A levels. I am studying Biology, Religious and Ethical Studies, Psychology and English Language. When I was younger, I really enjoyed art as it allowed me to be creative and express myself and gave be a break from maths and essays. English was something I always struggled with and disliked because my spelling and grammar was appalling. However my English has slowly improved since starting the senior school at the age of 11 and by the time I reached my GCSE’s (age 16), it was my favourite subject.  I am now studying A level English and look forward to my English lessons. This is down to the fantastic supportive teachers that we are privileged to have at Pocklington School.  They are passionate about their subjects and are able to get the students excited about learning them even if the subject is not their forte.

What do the boarders do at weekends?
For the junior boarders there are compulsory actives and a trip on a Sunday. This keeps them busy, and allows them to have fun away from school, for example, skiing in an indoor ski centre or visiting a theme park or an aquarium. At Pocklington we are lucky to have these opportunities.  I for one know that if I lived at home I would not have a weekly day out with my friends as home life can be busy. Senior boarders are also offered trips, including to the cinema but they are not compulsory as we tend to have a lot work to do and need the weekends to chill or sleep.

What is the best thing about being a boarder?  Would you recommend it to others?
I believe boarding school helps you develop many skills including managing and budgeting money. Okay £3 or £5 a week is not exactly life changing but it helps young people think how they may spend it whether it’s on sweets or a magazine instead of buying the first thing they see. Boarding school also helps one to respect other people’s needs, space, feelings and belongings which will take you far, in future environments for example at University or in a job. The most important thing boarding schools create are life-long friendships and amazing happy memories which will never ever be forgotten.