Our weekly boarders say that they enjoy being with their friends, having time to take part in lots of activities, being part of a community and being able to roll out of bed into school via breakfast.
The benefits of weekly boarding
Weekly boarding is perfect for busy families. The girls take part in a wide range of activities and do most of their homework at school during the week whilst being able to spend the weekend socialising and relaxing with their families.
Weekly boarders may go home on a Friday evening and return to school on a Sunday evening, or choose to stay in school on Friday night if they have an activity on a Saturday morning such as a sports match or Duke of Edinburgh expedition training.
Without the stresses and time drain of a daily commute to and from school, students are able to use their time efficiently. They have a more relaxed start to the day and after school they can be doing one of up to 15 activities available each evening instead of sitting in traffic. A home-cooked supper and designated homework time ensure that the girls have time to fit in some socialising and relaxing before a good night’s sleep.
Weekly boarding offers students the best of both worlds. At school they have a comfortable bedroom, access to school facilities and tutors while they are doing homework and plenty of opportunity to take part in activities or just hang out with their friends.
Situated only 50 minutes away by train, St Swithun’s enables London-based families the flexibility of a country-based school within easy reach of home. The school is on the edge of the South Downs National Park but is within easy walking distance of Winchester city centre and the train station.
A London bus service from St Swithun’s to London leaves on a Friday evening and returns on Sunday evening. The bus departs school at approximately 1630hrs on Friday and travels to Richmond, The Old Deer Park and Sainsbury’s, Cromwell Road. The Sunday evening bus leaves from Sainsbury’s car park on Cromwell Road at approximately 1830hrs and from Richmond Park car park at 1900hrs.
The health, happiness and well-being of students is central to the role that we play, alongside providing academic challenge, opportunities for personal enrichment and character development. A buddy system operates throughout a girl’s time at St Swithun’s from induction and mentoring in the boarding houses through to a whole-school family scheme which provides students with one or two ‘siblings’ and ‘parents’ from each year group in school from whom they can ask advice and support.
Weekly boarders are in the joint care of their housemistress and their form tutor, supported by heads of year and the deputy head, pastoral. Our school counsellor, the school chaplain and our on-site health centre nursing team provide a pastoral support framework which is finely attuned to the needs of boarders. Innovative programmes to help girls manage their friendships and to unlock the power of positive relationships and emotions are part of the whole-school PSHE approach.
Friendships with girls from other year groups are a significant feature of boarding at St Swithun’s and the support of older and younger girls can mirror some of the dynamics of family life. Girls are involved in several "cluster" events each term, where boarders from all years meet in small groups for meals which they plan, cook and eat together. We ensure that girls work together to create a happy and inclusive school environment and that they take every opportunity to forge supportive relationships with other girls of all ages throughout the school.
Whilst in the boarding community, all boarders have the opportunity to develop their leadership skills. Each house has year group reps to help organise rotas and attend the termly house forums; the information from which is fed back through the pupil-led boarding forum. There are numerous opportunities for girls to lead their housemates and the house staff are keen to encourage and facilitate this wherever possible.
What Do Our Boarders Think?
‘I have made friends and memories that I will never forget. I would recommend the boarding experience at St Swithun’s to anyone.’
‘You settle in really quickly here because there is a great support system and always someone to talk to.’
‘Coming to board at St Swithun’s is the best decision you can make. There are so many opportunities to embrace and amazing people to meet.’
‘Boarding at St Swithun’s has taught me to accept and understand alternative perspectives. The school community is so accepting and supportive of everyone.’
‘There is always someone to talk to. Whether it’s the person you sit next to in orchestra or the girl in house who helps you with your homework.’