Boarding Review

As ever, at the mid-point of the long Michaelmas Term, it is worth reminding ourselves that 200 of our pupils were completely new to the College only six weeks ago, and that 200 pupils at the other end of their secondary careers are less than two terms from their A level examinations. The Shell pupils are already confident at the College, full of energy and enthusiasm, and throwing themselves into their House, team, class and year group activities as if they have been here for years; and the Upper Sixth are responding to the pressure of university applications with determination and maturity.

The stability and contentment that define the experience of more than 1000 full boarders at Marlborough are testament to the strength of the College’s pastoral care. The house teams, led by the Housemistresses and Housemasters, have provided exceptional support to pupils as they go about their busy but fulfilling College lives, fostering the resilience, independence and sense of personal responsibility that we know are crucial to our boarders’ success.

In addition, it has been excellent to see our many pupil leaders exerting such a positive influence in their boarding houses and across the school. Heads of Shell, Prefects, Heads of House and Wellbeing Ambassadors have all contributed to setting high standards of behaviour and enabling harmonious relationships between pupils in all year groups. A notable development this year has been the early arrival of the Shell, allowing a full induction day, during which our pupil leaders helped their new schoolmates familiarise themselves with the campus, its systems and each other to accelerate their settling in. The day concluded with house groups of Shell pupils engaged in discussion with allocated Wellbeing Ambassadors, in a ‘no-holds-barred’ Q & A session about life at Marlborough.

At the first exeat of each Michaelmas Term we run an online survey with the new Shell to gauge how well they have settled in, and it was gratifying to read in this term’s responses that all bar one (homesick) Shell felt happy at Marlborough. The wide range of highlights that pupils listed in the survey were also really pleasing: everything from fun in house, sports and making friends, to meals in Norwood, weekend activities and lessons.

Finally, it has been wonderful to see how much our pupils enjoy collaborating with and supporting one another in all they do. Whether it is at the many and various house activities on Sundays – water sports, ziplining, paintballing, pottery, bake offs, ice skating, go karting and bowling – or the Saturday evening events – socials, tag rugby, film nights and dances – Marlborough pupils seek to make the most of everything. This spirit of mutual support is clearest when pupils contribute to their house campaigns (in cross-country, football, netball, hockey, rugby, lacrosse, rounders, swimming and basketball) culminating in the outstanding teamwork of the House Harmony and House Shout contests just before the start of half-term. The performances were amazing but so was the spectators’ unqualified support for their peers, regardless of house, which embodied the shared joy and fellow feeling that make Marlborough such a wonderful school.

Ed Nightingale
Deputy Head, Pastoral