Every girl, day as well as boarder, belongs to either a day house, or a boarding house. These junior houses provide a secure place for the youngest girls to make the necessary adjustments to senior school life during their early weeks and months, in the company of their peers. U4 boarders live in Le Roy house.
Four boarding houses (Earlsdown, High House, Hillcroft and Hyde Abbey) and four day houses (Caer Gwent, Davies, Venta and Mowbray) accommodate girls from the beginning of U4 (U4 boarders stay in Le Roy) through to the end of L6. The senior houses provide girls with continuity of care and association through the five years of their school careers, and this continuity fosters both loyalty and a sense of belonging and identity within these communities. Finlay is the only joint boarding and day house, containing all the U6.
Belonging to a house is an important feature of school life for all the girls, although the nature of boarding and day house communities differs. The boarding houses care for the girls day and night throughout the week, and in some cases, the term, creating a strong sense of belonging and mutual support in place of day to day life within a family framework. By contrast, the day houses operate in the knowledge that each girl returns to her home and the support of her family every day. These day houses have a complementary, if different, kind of supporting role within our pastoral care.
House allegiance is an important dynamic within the school, and contributes to many co-curricular activities: lacrosse, swimming, public speaking, drama and music competitions are organised between the houses regardless of day or boarding status. Both types of house experience enrich the life of the school.
The headmistress and senior housemistress allocate girls to the senior houses before they come to St Swithun’s using a variety of criteria. Parents’ wishes are taken into consideration but cannot always be the deciding factor, eg if one house is over-subscribed. Siblings are always placed in the same house, unless parents request differently. Full boarders are usually allocated to Hyde Abbey or High House when possible.