“Good accommodation, homely rather than hotel, atmospheric and friendly, ensures boarding is a bigger hit than ever.” Good Schools Guide
Boarding at Bishop's Stortford College is about fun, friendship and feeling at home, or so our boarders tell us! Parents, on the other hand, often tell us how much they appreciate the caring, family atmosphere and seeing their children grow in independence and maturity, learning to think of others and taking responsibility.
The College community is a blend of full, weekly and part time boarders (those who board up to 3 nights a week), and day pupils. Boarding options are available from the age of 7 and we aim to be as flexible as possible within our available capacity.
The aim of our boarding houses is simply to be the best “home away from home”, a place pupils enjoy returning to, a place of fun and companionship, to share all the good things in their lives as well as finding support, advice and guidance when needed. Living and working together in a spirit of co-operation, respect and enthusiasm helps to build a strong yet diverse community in which individuals can thrive, irrespective of background, interests or nationality. For a flavour of life as a boarder, please see this film, made in 2012.
You may also be interested in reading this guide to boarding, How to Thrive at Boarding School, published by the Boarding Schools' Association.
“The boarding experience contributes positively to the pupils’ personal development and their growing independence and self-esteem.” ISI Inspection Report 2011
Boarding has radically changed over the past twenty years, as have families. Some of our parents choose boarding knowing that their child will benefit from an all-round education and grow in independence and maturity. For families with one child, boarding provides an extended family of brothers and sisters and a safe environment for individuals to enjoy the company of other young people and learn to think of others.
For others who want to encourage and enable their children to make the most of the opportunities available, yet feel stretched to the limit trying to juggle home, family and work commitments, boarding has provided a happy solution.
In some cases it is the pupils themselves who have opted to board, often prompted by preparation for public examinations. Boarding during the week means they can take advantage of the structured study environment and access to resources.
At Bishop's Stortford College, we aim to be as flexible as possible within our available capacity.
7 to 13 Year Olds
"The provision for boarding is outstanding and adds to the pupils’ personal development and their educational experience. [Pupils] are highly satisfied with their boarding experience and enthusiastic in recommending it to others.” ISI Inspection 2011, Junior School (now known as Prep School)
The friendly, well-ordered, family atmosphere of Grimwade House, the Prep School Boarding House, means that it does not take long for new boarders to settle in and feel that they belong. With a good mix of full, weekly and flexi boarders, all new pupils are paired up with fellow pupils who help to look after them when they first come into the House.
Grimwade House has been extensively modernised and extended over the years. As is the case with most of our buildings, its name is connected with a member of the Bishop’s Stortford College community who gave great service to the College, in this instance, Mr Edward Grimwade, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the school in 1868.
Grimwade has five leisure rooms in which the pupils can relax whilst downstairs (including computer, television, snooker, table tennis and music); additionally, the outdoor and indoor sporting facilities are regularly put to good use. The fantastic swimming pool and sports facilities are used regularly and boarders make good use of the beautiful outdoor space when the weather permits. It has comfortable dormitory accommodation for around 50 pupils. The two largest dormitories (10 and 15 pupils) are partitioned into areas for two or three pupils, each area feeling like a room in its own right.
Caring for our boarders
The House is under the care of the Houseparents, Adrian and Mandy Hathaway, who live in Grimwade, as do a Matron and two House tutors. A visiting matron and three visiting tutors provide additional support to ensure that there is always a member of staff on hand.
The Grimwade staff know the boarders very well and this close relationship with our youngest boarders is an important factor in building confidence whilst encouraging independence.
The Matrons take care of all laundry and provide a comforting first port of call if a child becomes ill. When boarders feel unwell, our aim is to help them to feel as comfortable and at home as possible. The College also has a central Medical Centre that is professionally staffed 24 hours a day.
Birthdays are always a special time in Grimwade House. Augustus, who is a full boarder in Grimwade, celebrated his 13th Birthday at the start of the new term in January. Having given out some cakes to his class during the day he was presented with a special birthday cake made by Mrs Hathaway. Not only was there enough cake for his friends, it managed to feed the whole House! For Augustus, who joined the College in 2014, this was his sixth birthday cake in Grimwade - very few have achieved this record!
The weekday evening routines include supervised prep and activities, such as sports, swimming, craft and film nights.
In addition, boarders enjoy playing indoor board games and using the interactive games on the Wii and Xbox. They can also use the computers in the House or just choose a good book to read.
Belonging to the larger boarding community
The shared activities and social events with Senior School boarders adds to the very strong family atmosphere that exists across the College boarding community.
A Day in the Life of a Grimwade Boarder
Prep School pupil Angus recently created a poster summing up a typical day in his life as a boarder:
13 to 18 Year Olds
“Boarders possess a strong belief in their sense of belonging. The boarding houses offer a homely atmosphere that contributes towards the pupils’ well being and happiness. Relationships within the boarding community are excellent.” ISI Inspection 2011
There are four single-sex boarding Houses in the Senior School, two for boys' (Rowe House and Robert Pearce House) and two for girls' (Trotman House and Young House). Each House has cooking facilities and a common room with a television and a pool table and/or piano. The friendly, welcoming, homely atmosphere in all our Boarding Houses means that new boarders quickly settle in and feel they belong. Our boarders show a real sense of pride, ownership and responsibility in the happy running of their Houses and a genuine care for each other.
Our Fourth Form are in shared study bedrooms of up to four. Lower and Upper Fifth pupils are in twin rooms. Lower Sixth (Year 12) and Upper Sixth (Year 13) students have single study bedrooms. The majority of our study bedrooms have en suite facilities.
“Good accommodation, homely rather than hotel, atmospheric and friendly, ensures boarding a bigger hit than ever.” Good Schools Guide
Caring for our boarders
We believe it is important for all pupils to feel that they have various people to approach if needed. This can be House staff, Tutors, Monitors, Year Representatives, or any other staff members or appointed pupils. As many avenues as possible are created for pupils to follow for help, guidance and advice. Pupils are encouraged to use these routes without hesitation.
If boarders feel unwell, our aim is to help them to feel as comfortable and at home as possible; we know that a warm drink, a comforting hot water bottle or a duvet to curl up with on the sofa can make all the difference. The College also has a central Medical Centre that is professionally staffed 24 hours a day.
There is a time of supervised study until 8.45pm, after which boarders enjoy relaxing and socialising. IT facilities and the library are open until 9.30pm.
Seven nights a week during term time.
Four or more nights a week (Monday-Friday)
Between two and three nights a week.
This option fulfils the twin aims of helping parents to juggle the various demands of family life and allowing children to experience the benefits of boarding for part of the week. We aim to be as flexible as possible within our available capacity. Part time boarders are treated as full boarders on their chosen boarding days; however, we cannot guarantee they will always be in the same room/bed.
The Boarding Community at Weekends
"Boarders enjoy a wide range of activities, including sport, music, drama and outdoor pursuits. (They) enjoy a spacious campus where they can associate with friends or choose to be alone." ISI Boarding Inspection Report 2013
Saturday school at Bishop's Stortford College finishes at around 3pm, or at such time as sports fixtures finish.
Our full boarders who stay throughout the weekend are well cared for and enjoy being part of a smaller group of friends with time to relax, use the school facilities and join in the organised activities and trips out, such as Thorpe Park theme park, cinema, ice-skating, ten-pin bowling and visits to London or Cambridge. Some boarders also enjoy the opportunity of playing for a local sports club.
The International Committee (a pupil committee which meets weekly with the Head of Boarding) also organises optional activities for Saturday evenings, including Film Nights (with pizza and refreshments), Games Nights (mah jong is always a favourite), summer barbeques, inter-house cookery competitions and international festivals such as Oktober Fest and the Chinese New Year party. Sometimes a House will host other boarders for a special event, always accompanied by snacks and liquid refreshments.
Bishop’s Stortford town centre is a short walk from the College campus and boarders often take the opportunity to go shopping or to the cinema. (Cinema trips are reimbursed by boarders' House parents). Many boarders also enjoy going to the Sports Hall (open to them between 7 and 8pm each Saturday) where they may use the gym or join in with games of basketball, football or badminton.
Social events such as the Snow Ball and the Spring Fling are also highlights for all Sixth Formers, both day and boarding.
Many boarders take the opportunity to enjoy a well deserved ‘lie-in’ on a Sunday, with breakfast served throughout the morning in the Boarding Houses to give a relaxed start to the day. In the Senior School, some pupils prefer to have a quiet Sunday catching up on work and reading, while others take advantage of our swimming pool, which is open exclusively to the College Community from 10.30 until 12 noon, or choose to play hockey, rugby or cricket with local clubs.
Sunday brunch is on offer in the Dining Hall from noon until 1pm, after which pupils may choose to join an organised trip or activity. These trips often cater for both Prep and Senior School boarders and may include visits to Thorpe Park or Centre Parcs, shopping in Cambridge or London, ice skating, paint balling, Jump Giants trampolining centre or Lazer Quest, as well as Sunday afternoon Badminton Club.
A traditional Sunday roast dinner is served at 6pm and is always a great favourite with boarders. Following dinner, the whole boarding community comes together for Evening Chapel, providing a time for reflection, refreshment and preparation for the coming week for all full boarders, which is widely regarded as a very special part of life here. Many boarders will then enjoy a bit of ‘down time’, relaxing in front of the TV, reading or playing games in the House Common Rooms or using the House kitchen to cook up snacks or sometimes more substantial meals.
We offer flexibility to our full boarders, who may choose on non-leave weekends to go home on Saturday afternoon once lessons and any sporting commitments have finished, returning on Sunday evening for Chapel.
Full boarders also enjoy being able, with the permission of parents or guardians, to accept invitations to visit the families of flexi-boarders or day pupils at weekends.
There are two Leave (Exeat) Weekends a term, when school finishes on Friday afternoon at 5pm rather than Saturday afternoon. Boarders are expected to spend the Leave Weekend at home or with guardians.
However, if this is not possible, there is provision made at the College (Senior School only) for these pupils to be accommodated, with appropriate supervision. There is an additional charge for this service which is not available on the first Exeat of the Autumn term.
Half Term and End of Term Holidays
We are unable to provide temporary accommodation during school holidays. Therefore, parents and guardians must make provision for pupils who are not able to return to the family home.