Boarding Schools Are Special Places

Boarding Schools Are Special Places | Kinross Wolaroi School

“Harry climbed the spiral stairs with no thought in his head except for how glad he was to be back. They reached their familiar, circular dormitory with its five four-poster beds and Harry, looking around, felt he was home at last.”
J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Boarding schools are special places. At their essence, they are about community and – whether you are a boarding or a day family -  the presence of boarding brings something extra and quite special to the school experience. As part of the Kinross Wolaroi community, our boarding students and their families are contributing to a thriving community with a common belief in the great value of a quality education.

Currently there are around 24,000 children boarding in Australia, and independent schools like ours are by far the largest provider, with some 148 schools providing boarding for over 15,800 students.[1] Boarding in Australia, unlike some countries, is less about prestige and more about opportunity. Decisions about boarding are often unavoidable for families who live too far from the nearest school, or for whom local schools cannot offer the type of educational opportunities they seek.

Today’s social profile of boarding school students may provide a surprise for some people. Boarders in independent schools represent a diverse group of students from a wide range of backgrounds, from home and abroad.  For example, boarding school plays an important role in the education of many Indigenous students, with over 2,240 Indigenous boarders attending 125 Independent schools across Australia. Proudly, Kinross Wolaroi is currently home to 20 Indigenous students from all over NSW.

Boarding is a decision that some parents worry over for years, yet there are distinct benefits to boarding, despite the fact that families are separated. Intuitively, you might think that boarders separated from their parents would be at a disadvantage, but research has found that boarders do at least as well as day students academically and they may even leave school better equipped for life, study and work.[2]

Studies have shown that boarding students recognise that their ‘second home’ in boarding offers benefits like ready access to tutoring, more activities and the chance to develop closer friendships and better self-care skills than if they had been a day student. Their parents often comment that their children have developed confidence, independence, social skills and self-motivation.

Our boarders are well represented in academic and extra-curricular achievement; they often take up leadership roles and, by the later years of senior school, they certainly tend to have a very positive and mature outlook on life. 

According to clinical psychologist, Jane Carmignani, “(boarders) become more cooperative learners, have more developed self-discipline and are generally better prepared for post-school study.” [3] The boarding environment has also been shown to give boarders an extra sense of belonging, which is protective against mental health issues, improves learning and produces happier, more adaptable people.

 At Kinross Wolaroi our focus is to help our boarders to feel connected, listened to, valued and supported. When our families are facing adversity, be it drought, fires, illness or any of the other problems that happen in life, our job as a school is to provide every student with a place that is safe and supportive. For boarders, this can be more complex. Research by UNICEF[4] uncovered that in response to the demands of the drought, our young people have often been forced to grow up prematurely. For some boarders, school provides a welcome release from the worries of home, while others may fret that they are not there to help their family. Boarding staff are alert and receptive to these worries and a strong, three way relationship between school, parents and the child is nurtured to manage these concerns.

To care for someone's child for a night is a significant responsibility; however, to be entrusted with the care of someone's child during their formative years is both an enormous responsibility, and a wonderful privilege. Sharing in the growth and development of the young people in my care over the years has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career.

Dr Andrew Parry
Principal - KWS

 


[1] https://isca.edu.au/about-independent-schools/about-independent-schools/boarding-schools/, 2019

[2] Martin, A.J., Papworth, B., Ginns, P., & Liem, G.A.D. (2014). Boarding school, academic motivation and engagement, and psychological well-being: A large-scale investigation. American Educational Research Journal, 51(5), 1107-1049.

[3] https://lindastade.com/benefits-of-boarding/, ‘What are the benefits of boarding school? Ask a psychologist’  (Interview with Jane Carmignani, Clinical Psychologist), 2017

[4] In their own words: the hidden impact of prolonged drought on children and young people, UNICEF, 2019