Last autumn term we introduced the Winter Festival week for all boarders. Events took place every evening throughout the week and included a viewing of the movie ‘Frozen’, a fire pit with hot chocolate and donuts, an evening of snow tubing & skiing, a winter poetry competition, a polar bear swim in the school pool, a masque dinner and disco. One of our boarding houses organised a Dragons’ Den competition and this year we are expanding the concept into a whole school house competition.
In the spring term 2017, we introduced year group activities nights. Twice a term each boarding house hosts one year group and puts on an evening activity. We are continuing this initiative this academic year.
Following on from the BSA 50th anniversary celebrations in 2016, last summer we held a summer festival, incorporating #celebratestswithuns & #iloveboarding. Activities included inflatables on the sports pitch, willow headdress making, wand and sword making, an outdoor band and an interactive story teller before camping out in the school grounds. Other activities also took place during the evenings the following week.
As part of our ever-evolving induction programme for new boarders, the first weekend of this autumn term we held ‘The Big Boarding Weekend In’ for all boarders, to welcome all new boarders to our boarding community. This involved laser tag, dodge ball, T-shirt painting, a spa, bin bag fashion show, rounders, giant games, inflatables, a movie night and a disco.
We are this year introducing a comprehensive house points system, to encourage house spirit and personal development.
New for this term are refurbished bathrooms in Finlay, our U6 boarding house. We have also upgraded our 11+ boarding house Le Roy to accommodate additional girls and enhance this modern, bright space whilst retaining the homely atmosphere for our youngest boarders.
We have responded in a fun and imaginative way to a discussion about rice; the carbohydrate staple of some of our international boarders. The school has invested in rice cookers and is experimenting with different types of rice to find the favourites. The catering department has taken up the suggestion of one of our parents to hold a fun blind testing session during the first few weeks of term.
The St Swithun’s admission team continues to supply a tailored response to each individual family who may be requiring guidance on tier four visa matters without charge. We greatly value the way our girls, from 17 different countries (16% of the total school) enrich the school community.
We offer familiarisation stays, arranged around a child’s schedule, for UK and overseas-based families. These familiarisation visits are essential in securing a stress-free transition for girls to their new school.
Our network of parent ambassadors offers mutual support and enable new parents to form a connection even before their daughter joins the school. The girls themselves are matched up with buddies and mentors to help them assimilate in the first weeks of a new school. They also become part of a cluster group within their boarding house and member of a St Swithun’s family which spans year groups ensuring all girls feel part of the broader St Swithun’s community and have someone to go to when they need to talk. These relationships endure throughout a girl’s time at the school.
With the chillier evenings heralding the arrival of autumn, our headmistress pops into different boarding houses on a Sunday evening to have a hot chocolate with the girls. One parent recently wrote to the headmistress that her daughter ‘told me you went to visit her in Hyde Abbey and had a kind chat with her. It was so warm of you to do that for a new student. I'm sure your kindness touches the hearts of all the students’.