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29 September 2020
by Ferdinand Steinbeis

British Boarding Schools in Times of Corona: Snapshot #3

Hello from sunny Oxfordshire,
The British boarding schools are all open again since the beginning of September, after five months.
So, is everything back to how it was before March?
We contacted some of our pupils to find out. We reached out to 15 pupils that have been at British boarding schools for at least one year now and asked them all the following question:
How exactly has your life at boarding school changed because of covid-19?
We got a lot of very interesting and insightful answers, which we've tried to sum up for you below.
A storage shelf in St Clare's Art Department
How lessons have changed:
The composition of lessons in class has mostly stayed the same - same pupils and same number of pupils. Since class sizes at most British boarding schools are small anyway, nothing much needed to be changed here. " Luckily, we have the same classes with all our friends and teachers!", Jan at King's Taunton School tells us.
The administration of lessons has been changed somewhat to minimise any infection risk. Lisa, pupil at St Clare's: " Wearing masks in all classes is mandatory here. Also lessons are a little shorter than usual. Moreover, we are using laptops and i-pads even more now to avoid the use of paper - for hygiene reasons!"
Katharina, pupil at Charterhouse has the following to report: " Classes are as they were before covid-19, yet social distancing is stricty adhered to. Also a computer with an open Zoom link is always on for pupils in quarantine at home following the lessons."
A model airplane at Walhampton School
How boarding school life has changed:
This area is most affected. Thanks to covid-19, pupils have less freedom of movement and more rules to follow. Also, pupils are all grouped into so-called 'social bubbles' around their year groups and boarding houses. As such they are not allowed to meet pupils from other social bubbles in most confined spaces outside classrooms.
Most boarding schools have changed to an in-house dining arrangement instead of the usual, central dining hall.
Emily, pupil at Haileybury, gives us her opinion: " I'd say that due to the many covid-safety measures our freedom is restricted quite considerably! The number of people we are allowed to see is limited, school events and 6th-form dinners are canceled and there's no chapel. Assemblies happen online only."
Fee, pupil at Sevenoaks School, concurs: "It is somewhat surreal to be back at school - especially in the boarding houses. There are a fair number of rules that absolutely everyone has to adhere to. Most pupils do! Since there are only two year groups at my boarding house, the GIH (Girls International House) it's easy for us to remain in our "year group bubble. And yet, I really miss us being able to do sports and sing in the choir with pupils from the other years!"
Ferdinand, pupil at Malvern College sees some positives, too: " All in all, life at Malvern isn't all that dissimilar to before! Many essential things like the pupils, teachers and spaces are all the same. Our school community, I feel, has become even stronger through all this!"
Pedro, pupil at Charterhouse told us about another added bonus: "Since we all eat in-house at the moment, we get to sleep a little longer in the mornings. Also the food has miraculously gotten better!" Enjoy, Pedro!
"I miss the dinners and movie-evenings with friends from other boarding houses the most", Amelie, pupil at Gordonstoun, told us; " on the plus-side, we are much more active within our houses and organise bake-offs and mystery murder games. All that is a lot of fun and has brought us all a lot closer."
A look from the outside into Malvern's art department
How the extracurricular program has changed.
Luckily, most extracurricular activities around sports, the arts, music and clubs seem to still be on at most schools - with certain understandable safety restrictions, of course!
Fabian, pupil at Oakham School writes: " Although matches against other schools are off for the moment, all Oakham sports teams play against each other! This works here, as there's always several teams to each major sports. It's amazing how competitve we all get!"
Laetitia, pupil at Wellington College told us: " It's awesome to know that most activities are still on despite covid! Of course there's neither trips away nor sports competitions against other schools. But the most important things are offerd!"
Katharina at Charterhouse is full of praise for her school: " I really hope that other schools have a similarly well thought through safety concept to ours here. I am super optimistic that we'll be able stay here at school, come what may! I am really impressed by how Charterhouse offers us a safe, relatively normal boarding life with most activities offered."
We hope that we could offer you a small glimpse into the life at British boarding schools at the moment. If you have any questions about this topic, or any other, please don't hesitate to get in touch!
Yours von Bülow Education Team

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