"Boarders feel safe and valued." - ISI Inspection
Abingdon offers weekly and full boarding from the age of 13.
Welcome to boarding at Abingdon. We hope that you will find the following information about our lives in the boarding community interesting and exciting. The boarders have an active and enjoyable life, with an enhanced activities programme which complements well the academic expectation of the School. As a boarder you will play an important part in your house and across the community and yet, above all, will be valued as an individual. Your talents, skills and character will be nurtured and appreciated. Please contact us if you wish to find out more about the life of boarders. We look forward to meeting you – you will be very welcome!
Head of Boarding
Abingdon comprises both day houses and three boarding houses with day boys as an integral part of them. Boys join at 13 and remain attached to the house, and their tutors, throughout their time at the School.
"The behaviour in the boarding house is excellent and boarders thrive in an atmosphere of mutual respect and tolerance." - ISI Inspection
The boarding houses comprise of a housemaster and his family, a matron and a team of tutors, including at least one resident. All tutors live close by and get to know the boys socially through evening and weekend duties as well as having an academic role for a specific year group. Tutors are the first point of contact for parents, although, of course, the housemasters are available too.
"The leadership and management of boarding are excellent and this is reflected in the positive atmosphere in the houses." - ISI Inspection
"Boarders leave the school very well prepared for the next stage of their lives, with strong moral values, excellent inter-personal skills and the ambition to contribute positively to society." - ISI Inspection
Abingdon School is a member of the British Association of Independent Schools with International Students.
"The overwhelming majority of parents responding said that their children enjoy boarding and that this experience supports their progress and development." - ISI Inspection
Boarding houses offer a unique way of life to over 140 boys here at Abingdon. The boys have the opportunity to learn to be more independent than they might be at home; for instance deciding how to look after their clothes and possessions, when to send things to the laundry, to ensure they eat regularly and in matters of personal hygiene. While there are set ‘prep’ times to ensure that there are periods of quiet, many boys will work beyond these hours and, again, the self-discipline and organisational skills learned, prepare the boys well for university and life.
"The boarders say that they learn to co-operate with each other, develop the resilience to cope with setbacks and acquire the habit of hard work." ISI Inspection
The community life amongst boarders is particularly strong and important. All boys are encouraged to take an active part in the numerous trips, events and activities arranged specifically for them in the evenings and at weekends. In the houses, there are communal rooms with table-tennis, table football, pool, computers and a TV and the integration of both boarders and day boys is at its most effective here. The boys interact well and enjoy the friendships that develop in such surroundings and in the house kitchen, where they can prepare food, have snacks or simply sit and talk.
"Houses are warm, homely, brightly lit and well maintained." - ISI Inspection
Boys in Years 3-5 generally share in rooms of three or four beds, while sixth formers are in twin or single rooms, with occasional triple rooms. Facilities in the houses are very good and constantly being improved, with a rolling refurbishment programme in place over five years. The houses are equipped with wireless internet which provides the boys with the same IT facilities as at home. We expect boys to be responsible users and an ongoing programme of internet education is a feature of our boarders pastoral and welfare sessions.
The catering is managed by Sodexo and boarders have an impressive choice of food at all meal times, including a substantial full English breakfast option every day and a varied and substantial brunch on Sundays. Boys are expected to attend all meals.
"Communication between home and school is excellent. Boarders can contact their parents and carers as often as they wish." - ISI Inspection
Abingdon is widely acknowledged to have a remarkable ‘Other Half’ programme of sports, culture and numerous other activities which run alongside the academic timetable.
"The boarders enjoy a wide range of cultural, creative and sporting activities." - ISI Inspection
The boarding programme is regarded very much as an extension of this and boys are encouraged to take full advantage of the diverse range of events, trips and activities available to them. Boys in Year 3 are expected to take part in all trips and activities provided for them. Boys in Years 4 and 5 participate in a specific number of such activities each term and sign up accordingly. Sixth form students are encouraged to remain involved too.
The programme for this year has included paintballing, sailing, trips to London, Oxford and theme parks, socials with girls’ schools, punting, bowling, ice-skating and much more. Within the boarding community we also have joint and individual ‘in-house’ activities and socials, ranging from inter-house sports to summer barbecues, cooking and movie nights.
Abingdon prides itself on its remarkable and diverse boarding activities and events programme. We constantly strive to come up with new and unusual opportunities for the boys and the schedule for this year will undoubtedly be the most comprehensive and best we have yet offered.
"Excellent relationships between pupils and staff, and amongst pupils themselves, are central to the strong pastoral care." - ISI Inspection
House matrons are the single most important person to the boys on a day-to-day basis in the houses. They are very much the person to whom boys initially turn to in the event of problems, anxiety or even just a friendly chat. The house matrons also liaise closely with Health staff.
The Health Centre has a team of qualified nursing staff ensures that the boarding community has access to advice, care and support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Health Centre provides overnight medical supervision when necessary and boys have swift and easy access to a range of care and broader health-related advice. All boarders register with the school doctor who holds regular surgeries. All boarding staff are First Aid trained.
Counselling is available following a referral from the school doctor, health centre nurses or at the direct request of parents. The nature of counselling services is complex and is best discussed on an individual basis.
"Every pupil is known as an individual." - ISI Inspection
The Chaplaincy plays an important part in the life of the boarding community and the Chaplain and Assistant Chaplain (who is also the Head of Middle School) are keen to get to know boarders, both individually and through informal group gatherings and meals.
A monthly boarding chapel takes place in addition to the regular weekly year group services. There are opportunities for boarders to participate in these services and the highlight of the year is the boarders’ carol service and Christmas meal, attended by all boarders and those involved with the boarding community throughout the year.
From September 2013 the Chaplaincy team and others will also be offering opportunities for informal discussions, meetings and simply times of reflection. These will all be voluntary but we very much hope that those from differing faiths and those unsure or with none will still feel comfortable coming along if they wish.
"Relationships between staff and boarders, and amongst boarders themselves, are warm and friendly." ISI Inspection
Preparing for life after Boarding
A new initiative has been started here at Abingdon in the boarding community. The aim is to prepare the boys for “whatever life has to offer” beyond Abingdon boarding. Not quite as ambitious as it sounds, it concentrates on mastering everyday tasks; we go beyond the academic and Other Half life of the day boys, and delve into issues and lessons that are more often learnt in the home setting.
On Tuesday nights, when there is no chapel, boys from all years are now engaged in the boarding enrichment programme. This is run by the Assistant Boarding Housemasters, and sets out to give the boys the support and experience required to make that next step in life. The third year boys, new to boarding life, are encouraged to try new things, to appreciate the environment in which they live and learn to get on with one another. Over the course of the Lent term, Sodexo, our school catering company, ran first a healthy eating class before following this up with a blind taste test, where salmon was thought to be chicken and cauliflower and potato soup was thought to have leek in it! Clearly some way to go with acquiring culinary tastes! Over subsequent weeks boys were shown how to clean and iron by their matrons and supported through their first big set of exams by the counsellors and learning support team.
The 4th and 5th Years have, under the guidance of Mr Barnes, been exploring the new digital world. In many cases the boys are far more versed in gaming and social media than the staff, and we feel it is of utmost importance that the boys take responsibility for how they behave online. It is their world, and they must understand how to interact with it. Together with Mr Barnes the boys have created an Internet charter for the entire boarding community and will be going on to look at social media and gaming management as well as making the progression to A level within a boarding environment.
The 6th form is where the enrichment programme focuses on preparing boys for their ‘next step’. As most head towards university, boys must be able to take responsibility for their own personal administration as well as their academic and social lives. To this end, Ms Elmore has been addressing the complexities of UK taxes and applying for student loans as well as making sure boys are aware of UK laws and expectations outside of the safety net provided by Abingdon School. As well as the complicated and serious nature of laws and taxes there is also the home comforts that are so important to making that next step. By the end of the 6th form the boys will have created an Abingdon Boarding Cookbook, to be bound and handed to every leaver, full of some of the favourite recipes from each house that can easily be made in university accommodation.
The aim of the enrichment programme is to prepare the boys for life outside Abingdon and to smooth the transition to looking after themselves. We teach them the basics of organising their daily lives; simple tasks such as ironing a shirt, cooking supper, understanding your student loan – all of which can be taught at home but are often over-looked in a boarding environment. We want Abingdon boarders to flourish once they leave the School and our aim with the boarding enrichment programme is to facilitate the change.