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Thoughts of a year 9 parent

03/08/18

"When the opportunity first arose for my son to attend boarding school, I was ecstatic at the prospect of him being able to have this life-changing opportunity. It was also something that he had always wanted to do, having read many books which included such storylines.  Even
though I was happy, no, overjoyed, that he was achieving this and recognised that this would open up many doors to him, I had concerns about how he would fit into this elitist institution and if he would be alright in this new environment and if he would be happy.
 
My experience as a parent was that the admission process was well planned and organised. The parents interested in their children being considered for boarding school were invited to information seminars. These seminars included speakers from the partner which had put my son forward, SpringBoard [now Royal SpringBoard], current boarding school students previously put forward by the partner, and parents whose children were at boarding school.  These sessions provided insight into what boarding school had to offer my son and what he would bring to boarding school life. After the decision that he wanted to go to boarding school had been made, the next step was matching him to an appropriate school. 
 
There were originally two schools identified that would be ideal for my son. Each school had individual aspects that would help him achieve his absolute best, but in the end a choice was made based on not only the school’s exceptionally good references, but also because of the outstanding facilities and its speciality in the sciences and design and technology, which my son was especially interested in.
 
During the initial admission process, my son had to attend compulsory master classes to bring him up to the level needed for those schools. These classes not only gave him academic help through vigorous testing, but they built him up as a character and provided him with the confidence he needed to survive and surpass others in his new home. He learnt how to conduct himself when having an interview, what to say, what to do and so on. During the process, he had to take tests at the partner’s premises and have a couple of interviews so that he could build the confidence and skill to pass in a real interview. He passed these mock interviews with flying colours and was well on his way to being a boarder. The tests at the partner were only mild stepping stones, as he had to have an interview with the headmaster and the two admission staff. After all of this hard work, he still had to take school tests to secure himself a place.  It was an anxious time for both of us, for as we both began to learn more about boarding school life, the more we both wanted it to become a reality.
 
I was anxious as my son was attending somewhere new:  it wasn't uncommon for me to feel a bit worried. Thanks to the information from other parents whose children had gone to boarding school and the pupils themselves, my worries were allayed, as many of them were settled.
 
The first few weeks of my son living away from home I felt lost. I was so used to having him around all the time and doing things for him.  The house felt unusually quiet.  He was also my last child and I experienced the empty nest syndrome that many parents speak about when children leave home. You could not help but feel slightly anxious, even though you were pretty certain all was well. It didn't help that I wasn't being called constantly by him, as
I thought he might be a bit homesick, but he seemed to click straight into place. The only thing that calmed my nerves was the odd text message at half nine saying, 'love you' or 'see you soon'.
 
When my son came home after the first few weeks, I was happy to see him to say the least. He was very tired from the rigorous regime that his school went through day after day. However, he was reluctant to talk about his life at his new school the first few days back when I bombarded him with questions, as he was shattered. You will notice that the first few times they come back they will be tired as its unlikely they would previously have been used to studying as hard as they have. I did eventually manage to pry some information from him about his school, but it wasn't until day four that I really found out anything. That's one thing you have to remember; it’s to be patient with them as they won't be at their best for a few days.
 
When I first went to this school, it was grand to say the least. The school was spread across most of the town, taking up a large amount of it. The pupils and the town were as one and lived in harmony. You may think that there would be complaints from the residents, but it seems both have respect for each other. Some of the buildings the school used were around 10 years old, others 200, but the thing that impressed me most was the state of the art facilities which were on a par with some of the most prestigious universities.
 
I was met by two academic admission staff who took us to lunch; they gave us in depth information about the school and were very helpful answering any questios my son and I had. My impression of the school and community being elitist were diminished, from the outset everyone was welcoming and there were many friendly staff. The pupils, parents and I are good friends as everyone wants the best for their child.
 
My advice to new parents going through the same experience is that it may initially all seem quite daunting, but in the end, everything comes together. The best thing about my child attending boarding school is seeing how he has grown and developed into an independent, confident, intelligent and well-rounded young man in such a short period of time.  He is thriving academically and socially and is thoroughly enjoying this life-changing experience."

A day in the life

A day in the life

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