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The Pupils


– how it works out in practice, from those on the receiving end

We have again included a ‘Pupils and Parents’ section, which we believe provides some of the most compelling reading in the guide. For those with reservations about boarding, it is a marvellously positive advert for one of the real beacons of British education and a great credit to the whole of the boarding sector. 

Here is a small cross-section of the many contributions we have received from those currently boarding in the UK. We thank all those who contributed and we believe they are a great credit, not only to their schools, but to boarding in all schools. 


Phoebe Potts, Year 5 pupil at Hanford School

I have just started Year 5 at Hanford. My two sisters Ella and Mary came here too so I have known Hanford for a long time. This is my third school and it’s definitely my favourite. I have made a lot of friends and am having great fun. We are lucky as we have really nice teachers who make learning interesting. I have already learnt lots of new things. My top five favourite things to do at Hanford are nature, riding, science, rollerblading and rounders.

We have lots of ponies that we help look after. I have been riding Fudge and a real treat in the summer term is an early morning ride. I also love playing in Chestnut which is where we pretend to be ponies and make a jump course. We have also been doing lots of handstands and cartwheels on the grass and going to gardening club and art club. At the weekends, we can ride, climb the cedar tree, play outside, have camp outs, and have barbecues. There is always something to do and someone to play with.

I know I am really lucky to be at Hanford and I do miss home but I have made lots of new friends and we all look after each other. I know I’m in a safe place. Being at Hanford means I can stay at one school while my family move around and that makes me happy. Hanford already feels like my second home and I love it!

Katie, Georgie, are pupils at Knighton House School
Katie: ‘I joined Knighton House when I was seven. I really love being a pupil at Knighton as there is always something to do. I love riding and playing in the school grounds – the uniform is red dungarees which is very useful when we are climbing trees. The animals are a big part of Knighton – we have chickens, bees, goats, ponies, guinea pigs and dogs. My little sister Georgie is also at Knighton and she too loved it from the minute she got here.’

Georgie: ‘This is my second year at Knighton House and I love it. My first day at Knighton House was amazing. We unpacked my stuff and met the other boarders in my year group and we all went off and played for the rest of the day. Next we had supper and then we said bye to our parents. As this was the first time I had left them I felt sad but I chatted to Miss Barnes and felt better. My teacher is very nice and I love listening and learning with her. I am very happy here and we have a lot of fun at Knighton House. My favourite is playing outside with my friends.’

Leona Baxter, Year 7 pupil at Barnard Castle School

I was in Year 4 when my older sister became a boarder at Barnard Castle School. Until then I hadn’t gave much thought to boarding school but because my sister liked it I decided to give it a go and join prep school in Year 6. I was welcomed with smiles and many friendly people. I felt straight at home and I thoroughly enjoyed all the new experiences, especially Sunday outings. I am now in senior school where lots of things are done differently. I am meeting new people and overcoming lots of different challenges. One of the special things to me is making friends who I will live with for many years as in the past I have had to move away after a short time. Although I enjoy my lessons and the independent learning opportunities, my favourite time is activity time. This term I have signed up for hockey, football and netball. Once every week I have also represented my House in junior house competitions such as singing, cake decorating, hockey and chess. The boarding house runs smoothly because of our head of house and other seniors who come to have supper with us. I am so glad I made the decision to come to Barney and I am grateful for all of the opportunities that Barney has given me so far.

Edward Mortimer, Year 8 pupil at Ludgrove

I joined Ludgrove in Year 4 and immediately had the opportunities of sport, DT and drama which I never got in my army school. All the lessons are extremely interesting and you always feel like you have taken something in and really cracked what you are learning. The school is a friendly happy place and it is so nice when the teachers bring in their dogs making it feel homely. The matrons and houseparents are great and when there is a problem it is always solved immediately – homesickness is never a worry either with such nice people to make you feel better. I have made some really good friends and so always have someone to do things with in my spare time. There is an astro for football and tennis and on Sundays sometimes the school brings in an activity such as laser tag or a climbing wall. In the art and DT department you can virtually make anything you like, I have turned a wooden bowl in DT and lots of other useful things. There is so much sport; squash, fives, football, cricket, rugby and we also have a massive indoor swimming pool. I love the 9-hole golf course as well but cricket is my favourite sport. The newest feature of the school is the theatre which has made a big difference and I am performing in ‘We Will Rock You’ this term which should be amazing. I would sum up Ludgrove as a happy, friendly and fantastic school where I’ve made great friends and memories. 

Evie Dalby-Welsh, Year 8 pupil at Bruton School for Girls

I have been at BSG for five years and I love this school. This school helps you see the bright side of life even when your Mum or Dad are away. My Mum was away in Africa helping with Ebola. The school cheered me up when I was sad and they kept me busy which was good because it made me forget about my worries. At the boarding house we are like a big family and are all going through the same thing. So when I need help, the others help me and when they need help, then I can help them. I love the activities that we do. I ride, play sport and do lots of fun games and trips. The boarders have all the fun during weekends doing competitions and fun games like the Boarders’ challenge. On the last day of term we always go on a massive shopping trip to Cribbs Causeway to buy Christmas presents for our families and then all the boarders go ice-skating. BSG is amazing; it helps you when you need some advice or a cuddle and is just like your home.

 April Hill, Year 8 pupil at Orwell Park School in Suffolk

I didn’t know what to expect when I started full boarding at Orwell Park, but it isn’t really how I imagined it – there is always so much to do. I thought it would be really quiet when the day children go home but it really isn’t. It is nice for the boarders to have the school to ourselves! We have activities to get involved in every day after school and the weekends are really good fun usually with an outing planned on Sundays. There are so many different opportunities to try something new. This term at the weekend we have been skiing, to the zoo and on a train trip to Norwich. We have been to Cambridge and the Christmas market in Bury St Edmunds and sightseeing in London. The teachers are always planning something for us to get involved in. I have made some really good friends at Orwell. I like sport a lot especially cross country and the grounds are amazing, we can see the river from the school. My grandparents live quite near so I can go to them at long weekends and half term. My brother is at Royal Hospital School so he isn’t too far away. I think Orwell is a great school – everybody is really friendly and kind. The teachers and the matrons helped me when I first joined here and never let me feel lonely. It feels like I am part of a big family.

Enam Anku, Year 9 pupil at Orwell Park School in Suffolk

I joined Orwell when I was in Year 3. I didn’t know what to expect when I first started boarding and I have been surprised at how much fun it is. There is so much more to do here than if I was at home at weekends. I share a dormitory with five other boys; it is like a normal bedroom just with more beds! It feels really homely in the boarding house. If I do get homesick my friends keep me really busy and then I feel better. I like playing dodge ball and rugby and we sometimes play manhunt. The facilities are amazing. There are so many activities to try; there is DT, Art, Music and lots of clubs to get involved in. The houseparents and teachers are always around so there is always someone to help if you need it. I can talk to my parents whenever I want to; we have Skype as well which is fun. I like being at Orwell Park, it is a good place to be. I do miss my family sometimes, but I know why I am boarding and this is a good school to be in.


 Wilf Fitzgibbon, Year 10 pupil at Dauntsey’s School

I joined Dauntsey’s in 2014 as a boarder. Prior to that I had been at international schools where my parents were living; firstly in Kazakhstan and then in Estonia. Like lots of other Forces children, it made sense for me to continue my education in one place, rather than moving school each time my father’s job moved him. I wasn’t sure how I would cope with boarding as I hadn’t spent much time away from my parents. I have to say I have never felt homesick here, even in the first few months of joining. I am based at The Manor, which is the lower school boarding house for 11 to 14 year olds. This building is separate to the main school where we have our lessons, so coming back here each day feels like going ‘home’. In fact, I would say living at The Manor is like having one big family, particularly as teachers, their children and pets live here too. I share a dorm with three other boys. Girls also board at The Manor and after lessons we often enjoy a game of tennis or football or just have a laugh together. I would say to anyone starting boarding here for the first time not to be worried – of course there are things you miss about home (I miss my dog and, of course, my parents!) but having all my friends here and access to all the sports facilities is just great. My mother comes over for most exeats and I go back to Belgrade for the holidays and half terms. Of course we can keep in touch easily via phone calls and e-mail too. I would recommend Dauntsey’s to anyone – both my brother and I are very happy here.

Sophie Baker, Year 11 pupil at Abbotsholme School

I have been at Abbotsholme School now for over four years and I love this school. Abbotsholme for me is sometimes an easier place to be when dad is away because there is so much to do and keep your mind occupied with. I love horse riding and play a lot of sports especially hockey which is great now we have the new synthetic pitch. Being at Abbotsholme is also easier because there is a lot of support from the teachers, boarding parents and of course my friends, who are like a second family. Of course it is never going to be the same as having dad home all the time, but school and the activities and horses keep me going. Just being with the horses and riding makes me feel better if I feel sad. Animals have a great way of making me feel calm, and at Abbotsholme with the horses and the farm, they are everywhere and part of the family which is amazing Doing GCSEs has also made it easier because I have got to focus on my work, and if I think about dad being away too much and worry too much, I could get really down and maybe fall behind with work, so I just keep going. Military life is hard, and I miss home sometimes, but Abbotsholme and the family I have here keeps me going. It was my choice to come to boarding school – and Abbotsholme is the perfect school for me with the outdoor education and the horses, and the warm, friendly, family environment here.

Mikayla Gray, Year 11 pupil at Rookwood School

I have boarded for nearly all my time at Rookwood. It has really helped me become more outgoing and confident; I now feel that I could make friends with anyone and any age group. In my time at Rookwood, I have also been Head Boarder, which was a big responsibility, and living with younger children has taught me to be understanding and patient. It’s such a homely environment here, they are like my brothers and sisters. Being in boarding has created a stable environment for my younger brother and me, while my parents have more flexibility to concentrate on their work knowing that we are well taken care of here. The houseparents instil a sense of pride in us all as boarders, and we aspire to be organised and tidy. We work hard in the week and are given space to complete our studies and revision, but we also get involved in the fun activities with the younger children. I have really enjoyed my time as a Rookwood boarder, and it has given me the confidence and discipline to move on into the next stage of my life with ease.



Ilias Mohamedi, Year 12 pupil at St George’s School, Harpenden

I have been a boarder at St George’s School in Hertfordshire from the age of 10, with my home originally being in Morocco. When I first started as a little Year 7 I was afraid and inexperienced in this new world of boarding. I was terrified at the idea of making my own bed and general independence. It was difficult to adjust and adapt to my new home at first. I was having to ring my mother on a daily basis and return home as often as possible. However gradually it became undeniable that boarding was for me and I began loving everyday life at Crosthwaite which is the name of the boys’ boarding house at St George’s. When I’d eventually return home after substantial bribing from my parents, I would feel an overwhelming sense of emptiness. At home I miss the routine boarding offers, the friends who have become more like siblings and the general homely atmosphere. Boarding has played a key role in my life, helping me become the person I am today. What I will remember from school life will certainly be beyond the classroom walls, and will be the adventurous experiences of being a boarder. Life in Crosthwaite has been challenging yet incredibly fun.

Hattie Abbott, Year 13 pupil at Dean Close School

My Dad has been in the Army for as long as I can remember. We have lived in many exciting countries, but I have also moved around many different schools. While in some ways this was a good experience for me, I was very happy when I moved permanently to Dean Close School in Year 3. It was my first boarding school and at the age of seven, I was very happy to live away from home as the atmosphere at school was so welcoming and warm. I have been at Dean Close for more than ten years now and am loving every minute of it, especially being in the boarding house with my friends, many of whom are also from military families. It is easy living with people in a similar situation to my own as there is always someone nearby who understands what I am going through. Dean Close has the perfect balance of academia, arts, sport and just having fun, with many great facilities to enable this. Not having to change schools every year has helped me to feel more settled and make lifelong friendships, rather than those from the past that only lasted one year before I had to move on.


Rory Kavanagh, Year 12 pupil at Dean Close School
Ask any pupil, military background or not, what they remember of their anxiety when starting to board full time, and nine out of ten will undoubtedly tell you of some memory of homesickness, loneliness or just pure discontent for their new term time ‘home’. These feelings can be, and commonly are, horrible to many, and to those from the military, life away from home is even less appealing. Being away from parents that you don’t see on a regular basis anyway can seem a completely illogical response to the already existent stress in their life. Coming from abroad aged ten, I certainly had many of these sentiments. However, boarding at Dean Close actually made life smoother and more straightforward, the difficult transition into boarding being helped by the wealth of supportive staff. At Dean Close there is an abundance of teachers willing to give their time to pupils, so there is always somebody to talk or relate to, whether staff from a military or religious position; the bursar or chaplain who can guarantee complete discretion; a CCF or DofE leader with a plethora of similar experiences; or a houseparent or designated tutor. As a co-educational boarding school, Dean Close also aids siblings, nervous about being apart from their families, as they have each other to lean on for support and encouragement. The main area for me that makes Dean Close life particularly busy and rewarding, is the huge range of extra-curricular activities. Whether horse riding or learning Italian, these are fundamental in relieving stress and taking my mind off the worries of deployed family members. More directly connected to children of military parents is the CCF, which is open to Year 10 and above. It offers sixth formers the opportunity to lead as NCOs, a role which gives them not only responsibilities and authority, but also an insight into the qualities required of their parents. It is this ability to engage, support and bolster the Forces identity of its pupils that makes Dean Close such an excellent choice for military kids and why I am so happy here.



Pupils and parents
School Address Phone Type PR Weblink
Salisbury Cathedral School1, The Close, Salisbury, Wiltshire. SP1 2EQ01722 439260Bo, D, M, 3-13 
Worksop. S80 3AP01909 537155Bo, D, M, 3-18
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