It was a privilege to hear from a number of wonderful student speakers at Assembly this morning. One of the addresses related to National Boarding Week. National Boarding Week is an initiative of the Australian Boarding Schools Association (ABSA), which aims for its member schools to hold a variety of activities designed to showcase the role that boarding plays in many independent schools.
This year the week included an address at the Senior School Assembly by Boarding Prefect Joseph Woods (12SG), who reflected on his time boarding at the school and how he developed from a very homesick Year 8 student to a confident Year 12 student who will now share lifelong friendships with his fellow boarders. The address also highlighted the importance and value that our boarders place on their families, and Joseph encouraged our day students to be thankful for the time they get to spend with their families each day. Other activities for the week include a sausage sizzle at the Boarding House to raise funds for the Royal Flying Doctor Service (our boarding charity), opportunities for day students to tour the boarding facilities during their lunch break, and an AFL 9’s game on the Chapel Close with a 1stBoarding Team playing a 1st Day Student Team.
Given that it is National Boarding Week, I thought I would share some insights into our boarding community, the role that boarding plays within the School, and why it has always been such a significant part of our School:
- Currently the School has 139 boarders from Years 7- 12, which means our boarding students make up around 20% of the total Senior School population. As well as being home to the boarding students, the boarding community also consists of nine families and six residents who live on site, creating a strong sense of community throughout our boarding precincts.
- There are two boarding halls. The Sir Francis Burt Senior Hall, which Houses students in Years 9-12, and the Graham Malcolm Junior Hall, which houses students in Year 7-9.
- In the Junior Hall, boys live in a mix of dormitory accommodation and shared double rooms. The boys rotate rooms each term, so that they experience living with a range of other students across their time in the hall. Each term, four Hall Seniors reside in the Junior Hall. These are Year 12 students who have been nominated or selected to play a role in mentoring younger students. This is seen as a leadership pathway within boarding. These students live in a single room, and are allocated a group of students to oversee.
- Year 9 and 10 students live in shared double rooms. The boys rotate rooms each term so that they can experience living with a range of other students during their time in the hall.
- Year 11 and 12 students have their own single room. Twenty-four students each term are able to reside in “The Majestic”. These rooms are fully-equipped single rooms that have an ensuite and a fridge, and are a separate wing of the Senior Hall.
- The boarders are particularly well cared for in terms of the support staff responsible for their duty of care. The respective Heads of Hall live in residences attached to the boarding houses, along with a number of duty staff who also live-in. Each boarding year group has an assigned Boarding Year Coordinator, who spends at least two nights a week with the students and who act as their ‘parent in Perth’ while the boys are in boarding.
- The most important people in the boarding halls are the House-mums, who are available each day after school in the halls, to assist the students with everything from sewing on buttons, preparing amazing afternoon tea and birthday cake, teaching cooking and ironing skills, and providing motherly advice when needed.
- In terms of the School’s history, it was not until 1976 that the number of day students finally overtook the number of boarders. In that year there were 335 boarders and 369 day students. The number of boarders at the School peaked in 1959 when there were 370 boarders (and only 170 day students). Boarding numbers remained well over 300 right up until the early 90s. These figures really highlight why boarding and the rural connections of the School are particularly significant.
Boarding is often described as an adventure. It is a wonderful experience, where students are able to learn to live alongside a diverse range of people. We aim to make boarding as much like a home as we can, so that each student feels appreciated and valued. We provide a safe, caring and happy environment where students find friendship in a range of work, sport and recreational activities. By providing this range of activities, we hope to provide with boys as many of these opportunities as possible—even if it means that they are always busy!
Mr Brad Evans
Head of Senior School