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.