Boarding in a Pandemic

Jenny Dwyer discusses the success stories of boarding schools in their adapting to the ‘new normal’.

I think we can all agree that 2020 was an extraordinary year! At the time of writing pupils have returned to school for the Summer Term and there are glimmers of hope for a successful end to the academic year. As a parent, and even though the fear and uncertainty of the pandemic seem to be calming, it almost seems counter intuitive to consider not having your children with you. However, boarding schools have worked amazingly hard to ensure that their pupils have not just been safe, but have had the opportunities to thrive educationally, to continue with their sport and arts, and to enjoy their activities in the company of their friends. The adaptation of Boarding Schools to the new normal has been a real success story.

There are many different types of boarding schools and each has had to adapt in its own way to the challenges of safety. Supported by the Boarding Schools Association and its Covid charter, measures have been put in place to reduce the risk of outbreaks and to ensure the safety of pupils and staff.

Many schools have banned all but essential visitors and ensured that students do not move unnecessarily around the school. Even the systems for laundry have been adapted and of course hand sanitizer has been placed around the schools and houses. Meals have been staggered- some schools are lucky enough to have in-house dining whilst others have been taking photos to ensure they know who was sitting where if an outbreak occurred. A small number of schools have bought Covid testing machines for staff and pupils so they can keep on top of any issues. Health centres, staffed with qualified professionals have been able to deal with issues as they have arisen.

Bubbles have been developed in order to minimise isolations if anyone caught the virus and schools have adapted their boarding structures where necessary. A number of schools have temporarily moved from a vertical system (with pupils in a number of different year groups) to a horizontal system where whole year groups have stayed in one house. This has been fantastic for ensuring that pupils have the opportunity to socialise with their year as well as continuing to study with them.

I have always been a great believer in the place Boarding has in the development of friendships and boarding pupils have been lucky to spend so much time with their peers when other students were in lockdown. Boarding staff are experts in pastoral care and in creating a warm, welcoming and inclusive environments and the opportunity to share experiences has been really welcome by pupils. From what to expect in the next set of examinations to how to deal with the next set of lockdown rules, the opportunity to share concerns has been really beneficial. House staff have been backed up by other colleagues, school nurses and health professionals and senior team to ensure that pupils have been cared for and supported.

There has been greater communication with parents and schools have wanted to make sure that parents, staff and pupils have worked together for the benefit of the pupils’ well being.

Schools where pupils have stayed over the weekend have been very imaginative with activities. Despite the cancellation of interschool sports fixtures, schools have ensured that pupils have had the opportunity to stay fit and to improve their sporting skills through mini tournaments and participation in a wider range of activities. Prep school boarders, for example, have been engaged in craft activities, tree climbing competitions and sporting challenges.

Senior school pupils, missing the socialising of normal life have been able to have silent discos, masked balls and pamper nights within their bubble. Speakers have been arranged, either virtually or socially distanced and mock university interviews have taken place. Boarding pupils certainly have not been board!

And finally, boarding schools have supported parents and pupils in devising strategies for pupils to be able to return home for weekends, half terms or holidays. Despite the cancellation of a number of celebrations there are so many imaginative ways that schools have managed on line concerts, plays and carol services.

I have always been impressed by the dedication of boarding staff and the way they go over and above in the care for their pupils. Never has this been more apparent than in the way boarding schools have risen to the challenges of COVID and have put the safety and well being of their pupils at the heart of everything they have done. Parents can be reassured that their children will thrive in a culture of care, safety and innovation.

Latest

Social Mobility Day 2024

Concern Worldwide (UK) appoints new Executive Director

Richard Greenhalgh succeeded by Christian Brodie as Chair of United Learning’s Group Board

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew announces Susan Raikes as Director of Wakehurst

We have moved! Our new London location

Managing Risk in Professional Services: It’s not just about protecting the firm, but enabling it – Interview with Alastair Levy

Crystal Palace Park Trust welcomes Victoria Pinnington as new CEO

Nadia Fall appointed as new Artistic Director of The Young Vic Theatre

How lawyers are coming to terms with their own ‘Now and Then’

Nicola Dudley announced as new Head of Queen Margaret’s School for Girls

Gordon Seabright appointed new Chief Executive of the Horniman Museum and Gardens

The General Pharmaceutical Council appoints new Chief Strategy Officer

A healthy perspective on executive search

Foot Anstey LLP appoints Non-Executive Director

South By Southwest comes to London

Saxton Bampfylde in action with charity Smart Works

Sue Ryder announces new Chief Executive

What will healthcare look like over the coming decade? Interview with Gabrielle Mathews

Liz Truss was correct. Well, on one fundamental point

General Dental Council announces new Chief Executive and Registrar

Andrew Comben appointed new CEO of Britten Pears Arts

Dr Nicholas Cullinan OBE appointed as new Director of the British Museum

Saxton Bampfylde partners with Family Business UK

Professor Robert Mokaya appointed Provost and DVC at University of Sheffield

30 years on from the first Code: A personal account of the Corporate Governance Revolution

Celebrating International Women’s Day 2024

Steering the family business forward: Interview with Emma Fox, CEO of Berry Bros & Rudd

Leadership in the age of AI: CEO Breakfast with Doug Gurr, Director of the National History Museum

Sustainability Dinner with speaker James Cameron, Chair of Crown Agents

What will healthcare look like over the coming decade? Interview with Nigel Edwards

Middlesex University announces its new Vice-Chancellor

SafeLives appoints new CEO

Do the right thing: ESG in 2024 – Interview with Lisa Hart Shepherd, CEO of Lamp House Strategy

A Healthy Perspective Podcast – Helen Buckingham, Nuffield Trust

New GPhC Council members appointed for 2024 and 2025

RICS senior governance appointments

An Independent Mind: Sharpening the role of a law firm NED

CLCH appoints new Director of Strategy, Partnerships and Integration

Into Film appoints Fiona Evans as new CEO

An evening for current and aspiring non-executives with Kenny Imafidon

V&A announces Director of Collections and Chief Curator

RNLI appoints new leader to take charity into third century of lifesaving

Erika Lewis appointed CEO at Connected Places Catapult

Alex Frazer Announced as the New Head of Bancroft’s

Sue Baillie appointed as Woldingham’s new Head

Royal Hospital School appoints new Head

The University of Manchester appoints Professor Duncan Ivison as next President & Vice-Chancellor

Championing the Mission – Interview with Jonathan Morgan

Quadrant Chambers appoints Sarah Longden as new COO

New Oasis Community Learning Chief Executive Announced

Rachel Kent made Financial Regulators Complaints Commissioner

Steering the family business forward: Interview with Paul Drechsler CBE

Indhu Rubasingham appointed as Director of the National Theatre

Northumbria University, Newcastle appoints new members to Board of Governors

Professor Tom Crick joins DCMS as Chief Scientific Adviser

Norwich Theatre appoints Tom Sleigh as new Chair

MOSL announces Cliff Kamara as new Board member

Saxton Bampfylde welcomes Partner Hannah Scarisbrick back to the firm

Saxton Bampfylde ranked in Financial Times UK’s Leading Recruiters 2024

The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation and Association Welcomes Martin Houghton-Brown as Secretary General

Royal British Legion Announces New Director General

English Heritage announces New Blue Plaques Panel Members

Paul Ridd named Director of Edinburgh International Film Festival

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra announces Lord Tony Hall as new Chair

Team Consulting appoints new CEO

UK Civil Aviation Authority Appoints Rob Bishton as the new Chief Executive

The Box appoints Rebecca Bridgman as Head of Collections and Programme

English Heritage appoints Dr Nick Merriman as its new Chief Executive

Breadth and depth: leading across the regulatory landscape

Who’s Moving in Healthcare – August-September 2023

Wise counsel: bringing an external perspective to Higher Education

Looking through a different lens: a scientific scope from academia to government

Outside In: Leveraging External Perspectives in Higher Education

Samori Gambrah announced as Chair for New Art Exchange

Chris Auty appointed as new Director at London Film School

Cherian Mathews appointed as new Chief Executive of HelpAge International

Dr Dave Smith takes helm as UK’s National Technology Adviser

Now Teach appoints new CEO

A Healthy Perspective Podcast – David Hare MBE, CEO of Independent Healthcare Providers Network

Dr Paul Thompson appointed as British Council Chair

Appointment of new CEO for GLF Schools

Bas Javid appointed new Director General of Immigration Enforcement

New CEO appointed for the UK’s national synchrotron, Diamond Light Source

University of Nottingham appoints new Pro-Vice-Chancellor for its Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences

Béatrice Butsana-Sita appointed new CEO of the British Red Cross

Michael Plaut OBE announced as new Chair of Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama

Will Gompertz announced as the Soane’s new Director

Who’s Moving in Healthcare – June-July 2023

Dr Ghazwa Alwani-Starr appointed as new COO at University of Bath

PA Housing announces five new non-executive members to join board

Storyhouse appoints new CEO: Annabel Turpin

Claire Wood Hill announced as new CEO of The National Brain Appeal

OnBoard Programme broadens the horizon for board membership

James Williams announced as the next Director of the Royal College of Music

A Healthy Perspective Podcast – Sam Jones

#7 Road to Recovery: Integration, inclusion and innovation in the Healthcare sector

Who’s Moving in Healthcare – April-May 2023

SCIS appoints new Chief Executive

Talk with Sir Stephen Wall to celebrate Pride 2023

Celebrating Volunteers’ Week 2023