Frequently asked questions about boarding
What happens at weekends?
Once school commitments are complete (including sports), students are able to return to the house to relax. From Monday morning to Friday lunchtime school meals are compulsory, but at the weekends there is an element of choice. Depending on their year group students can choose whether to eat in the Dining Hall, cook for themselves or go to a restaurant in town. Many students choose to visit other boarding houses.
On Saturday evenings, houses take it in turns to host cultural and social events, including each house’s biennial ball. On Sundays there is a programme of trips, designed to appeal to a wide variety of boarders. This includes visits to sporting events, outdoor pursuits, cultural trips to historic buildings and, occasionally, a purely recreational trip of their choice.
At Sevenoaks we believe in flexibility, so the only weekend when students have to stay in at the weekend is the very first one of the academic year. At other weekends, provided all the relevant permissions have been sought, students may go home or stay at friends’ houses, returning by 21:00 on Sunday evening.
Do most boarders go home at weekends?
No. Some who live locally do and the 13-18 houses contain more in this category, but many of our boarders are from overseas. They may go to stay with school friends locally or stay in the house. Trips are on offer every Sunday, but many prefer to go to the sports centre, visit town, catch up on work or just relax!
They are, of course, supervised during this time with a housemaster or assistant always present in the house.
What are exeat weekends?
There are five weekends a year where there is no Saturday school (two per term, except the Summer term where there is no exeat in the second half of term). Boarders go home to parents or guardians on the Friday night, to get a well-earned break.
Are boarders integrated into the school as well as day students?
Yes. They quickly integrate by mixing in all lessons and co-curricular activities, attending social occasions and socialising in common rooms and the Dining Hall as well as attending assemblies together. It is difficult to differentiate a boarder from a day student. New Lower Sixth students are allocated a ‘buddy’ of the same age who is not new to the school, and boarders new to GIH and IC have a ‘big brother’/’big sister’ in the year above who takes them to supper, shows them round the house and pops in to see them in their room.
How many students share a bedroom?
Each house has slightly different accommodation, but the aim is for every pupil to be happy in their room, and the vast majority never have a problem at all. Slightly larger numbers in rooms for younger pupils allows them to mix and settle more quickly. Older pupils need more privacy and quiet so in the Sixth Form they usually have single or double rooms. Once they know each other they can nominate who they would like to share with and can swap after one term.
What are Sevenoaks boarders like?
Our aim is to produce sociable, mature, courteous and active students who enjoy being part of the community. While there is no particular type of student that we are looking for, in fact variety of personality is one of the great strengths of the boarding experience. Boarders tend to be students who contribute a great deal to school life, and achieve a great deal.
Can students ride bicycles?
Yes, provided they have the relevant permissions.
What ICT access is provided, and how is it monitored?
Each of the houses has a computer room and a wireless network. Boarders can connect to the school network in order to access the internet from their rooms. Naturally the school blocks unsuitable websites, and restricts access to gaming and social websites during the school day and the allocated homework time in the evening. Each house has an IT representative, and the school is proactive in addressing the opinions of the students to see if their needs can be accommodated.
How is work supervised?
Each house has allocated evening prep time, where students work at their desks. Members of the teaching staff are on duty in the evening and visit each student, offering help with any difficulties and ensuring an appropriately studious atmosphere.
What pastoral support is provided in the house?
Boarding house staff provide very strong support. They know the pupils really well and form very good relationships with them and their parents. The matron is in the house before and during the school day and looks after any ill pupils, giving them medication or keeping an eye if they stay in to sleep. Matrons also help with travel arrangements, keep the house running smoothly and are always happy to chat with pupils. BHMs (Boarding Housemasters/Housemistresses) are always around before and after school and know every member of the house, although some pupils also have another member of staff as their personal tutor.
How do you allocate children to a house or tutor group?
At entry, we deliberately mix pupils from different backgrounds and with different interests, so our houses and tutor groups are not known for certain ‘types’ or cliques. All students will have a similar experience. We regularly check with new students to ensure they have settled in, and it becomes almost impossible to spot the new students from the ‘old’ after a few days!
Are boarding students required to have a guardian?
The Governors of Sevenoaks School insist that every pupil whose parents are resident abroad must have a suitable guardian living in this country. The guardian must be at least 25 years of age and live close enough to the school to carry out his/her responsibilities. The school writes to all guardians setting out their responsibilities, and asks them to confirm in writing that they accept the arrangements. For parents who are unable to appoint a guardian from their own family or acquaintances, we suggest that they refer to the AEGIS website (www.aegisuk.net) as a starting point. We do not, however, arrange for guardians to be appointed. Parents are therefore responsible for the welfare of their children while staying with the guardians concerned.