Welcome to boarding at Abingdon.
Boarding has been at the very heart of Abingdon since our inception and today, full and weekly boarding is available to students from the third year at the age of 13.
Our boarders belong to a warm and caring community where they are valued as individuals and play an important role in both House and School life. Our enhanced activities programme ensures that the talents, skills and character of each of our boarders is nurtured and appreciated so that they are able to develop into confident and independent young people.
Now is a particularly exciting time to join Abingdon’s vibrant boarding community as work is underway on the renovation and extension of our boarding facilities. Opening in September 2023, the new boarding accommodation will provide cheerful and practical communal House areas including house rooms, extended study room facilities and kitchenettes. A significant change will see single bedrooms for all Sixth Formers, allowing students to really personalise their space and provide a true home from home experience. The development has been brought to life in the specially commissioned film below, which I invite you to watch.
Further information on boarding at Abingdon can be found below or you can contact us to find out more.
We hope to welcome you soon.
Matthew Kendry, Head of Boarding
To find out more about the boarding development project, click here.
Abingdon has both day houses and three boarding houses with dayboys as an integral part of them. Boys join at 13 and remain attached to the house, throughout their time at the School. The boarding houses comprise a housemaster and his family, an assistant housemaster, who is usually resident, a matron and a team of tutors. All boarding tutors live close by and get to know the boys socially through evening and weekend duties. Boys are members of a tutor group, overseen by one of the tutors attached to the house. These tutors are the first point of contact for parents, although, of course, the housemasters are available too.
Life in House
Boarding houses offer a unique way of life to almost 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 overwhelming majority of parents responding said that their children enjoy boarding and that this experience supports their progress and development.”
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 dayboys 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.”
Boys in the 3rd to 5th Years 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. The houses are equipped with wifi and 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.”
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.”
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 following information applies to a typical year for boarders at Abingdon. During the Covid-19 pandemic the boarding activities are restricted to those that can take place within the safety guidance.
The programme typically includes paintballing, clay pigeon shooting, trips to London, Oxford and West Midlands Safari Park, as well as theme park visits, socials with girls’ schools, bowling, cinema trips 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.
“Excellent relationships between pupils and staff, and amongst pupils themselves, are central to the strong pastoral care.”
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 and 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.”
The Chaplaincy plays an important part in the life of the boarding community and the Chaplain and Assistant Chaplain (who is also the Director of Wellbeing) 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 one of the highlights 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.
The Chaplaincy team offers opportunities for informal discussions, meetings and time for reflection. These are 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.”
The aim of the enrichment programme 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 engaged in the boarding enrichment programme. This is run by the Assistant Housemasters, and sets out to give the boys the support and experience required to make that next step in life. The 3rd 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. Sodexo, our school catering company, run healthy eating classes before following up with a blind taste test, where often salmon is confused with 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 are 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, explore the 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.
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, we address 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.
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.
Listen to three of our students discussing boarding life at Abingdon:
“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.”