I am very interested in the choir school but I have never intended that my son should board. Is it really worth that sacrifice?
This is one of the most common questions we are asked. There are very few of our existing families who would originally have considered a boarding school for their eight-year-old son, but they see this as an incredible life-changing opportunity and one which, far from being a sacrifice, opens up so many new doors. Boarding is very different from that of a generation or two ago. Why not pay us a visit and come and see for yourself? Alternatively, you might like to talk to one of our current parents.
Who will be looking after my son in the boarding house?
The simple answer is that we all will be. Since all the boys are boarders the Headmaster takes a hands-on approach and in fact he is much more like a housemaster. He is assisted by two matrons, one of whom is a qualified nurse, and four other resident staff all of whom play a vital role in caring for the boys. As a community we have our meals together and there are plenty of people on hand to keep a watchful eye.
Are parents welcome?
Yes, of course. There are lots of opportunities for you to see your son, though it is important to allow him to settle into a school routine as quickly as he can, and sometimes visiting too frequently can be unsettling, both for him and for the other boys. All boys are welcome to go out with parents on Saturday and Sunday afternoons after Evensong and many parents also like to come to weekday Evensong and see their sons briefly afterwards. Some boys like to telephone home regularly and there are landlines freely available for the boys’ use. Another excellent way to keep in touch is via email through the school’s secure platform. Parents are always very welcome to support sports fixtures.
What is the food like?
We pride ourselves on the food. Jacqueline Williamson, our resident chef manager, ensures that we all eat well and healthily. The kitchens are managed by Holroyd Howe Limited, a specialist educational catering company, and everything is cooked on the premises, with fresh ingredients. The kitchen has been awarded 5 stars for its excellent food hygiene. The boys get to know the kitchen staff very well, and Jacqueline is another important figure in looking after the boys. We all sit down to lunch together – boys and staff – and this is an important focus to the day. Breakfast and supper are more informal and a good time to mull over the events of the day.
How is prep (homework) managed?
After supper on four nights a week there is a period of prep. We think it important that boys develop the habit of good private study and although the sessions are deliberately short, they are very carefully supervised by the duty staff. Boys are encouraged to keep prep diaries and to learn gradually to manage their time effectively.
What are the sleeping arrangements in the boarding house?
The dormitories are divided into cubicles accommodating three or four boys. Each boy has his own wardrobe space, a locker and a large drawer for his casual clothes and belongings. The dormitories are arranged by age and we readjust the cubicle allocations every term. Boys are very much encouraged to decorate the space around their beds with posters and photographs and they bring their own duvet covers from home to personalise their space.
What are the bed times?
The boys lead incredibly busy lives and we are very careful to allow sufficient rest and sleep. The youngest boys start their bedtime routine at 7:30 pm and having got ready for bed there is always time for reading and/or listening to a story before lights out. The matrons keep a very close eye on the youngest boys in particular and they are on call throughout the night should anyone need them for any reason. The oldest boys start their routine at about 9:00 pm, and they have their lights out by 9:40 pm.
How do you keep the boys safe?
Looking after other people’s children is always a huge responsibility and it is one we take very seriously indeed. There is 24-hour security in the precincts and, being such an iconic site, the Abbey and the surrounding area is probably one of the most secure areas in London. The school itself is self-contained and boys are only allowed out of the building under staff supervision. Dean’s Yard feels a wonderfully safe place in which to live and work, as indeed it proves to be, but we remain vigilant and safeguarding in the broadest sense is a key part of staff training.
Can boys phone home when they wish?
Yes, they can phone home whenever they are free. There are two private phone booths available exclusively for the boys so there is no need to have mobile phones, and consequently these are not allowed in school. Another good way of keeping in touch is by email through the school's secure system.
Where can I find the latest inspection reports?
These are available here.