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Now ye're talking - to a boarding school teacher

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  • Registered Users Posts: 8,636 ✭✭✭feargale


    Correct me if I'm wrong, but since your school is private I would assume that it was founded subject to some denominational ethos, maybe RC or C of E. If that is so has this been quietly dropped or does it continue, and if so how does it impact on the school?


  • Company Representative Posts: 29 Verified rep I'm a boarding school teacher, AMA


    feargale wrote: »
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but since your school is private I would assume that it was founded subject to some denominational ethos, maybe RC or C of E. If that is so has this been quietly dropped or does it continue, and if so how does it impact on the school?

    Most private schools do indeed have a religious ethos. Some will just follow a "Christian ethos," whereas some will cater to specific religious. My current school is a Church of England school, and there are regular services during the week that students are expected to attend. Obviously some students will buy into this more than others.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,429 ✭✭✭CheerLouth


    What does a typical day for a student look like? How much class time do they have, how much free time? Is there much emphasis on evening study?


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,361 ✭✭✭Gloomtastic!


    I spent seven years in an Irish boarding school and apart from the first couple of weeks, loved it! Used to dread going home as that meant having to work! :rolleyes:

    As you live-in, how does that affect you tax-wise? Do you have to pay benefit in kind? Do you get paid extra for live-in duties?

    As it's a single sex school, do you have to keep a close eye on any sexual contact? Is it strictly no go, or is there discretion allowed?

    When you're on night supervision, do you work alone or in pairs? How does the school deal with the occasions where you may find yourself alone with a pupil?

    What's the food like?

    In the future, would you send your kids to a boarding school?


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,324 ✭✭✭JustAThought


    I was watching documentaries recently on british boarding schools (quiet week!) And what really struck was the self sufficiency of the kids and the hugely long hours - some had an hour of study before breakfast at 7am or they had to attend service before breakfast,anf many had study periods wrll into the evening. Is yhis the case in your school?And how do they boys (?) balance only having childrens minds and childrens influences with no adult to balance things out - like eg you would have at home with a parent if you were telling how the day went or your incidental problems or the adult voice at dinner / etc

    ?
    Sounds fascinating.

    Plus. What if you get total messers or a few kids from the year that you really dont like. How do you deal with this?

    Do.you ever have kids that have appalling personal hygine or wont brush their teeth /wash/change their clothes/socks?Whose role is it to deal with this? And who organises the collection of laundry/clothes washing?

    What about the child protection policy?Do these kids ever get a hug or kiss goodnight or read a story?

    Are they shrewd enouhh to cry wolf if you put a hand on them eg in sport playing (showing how to hold a raquet) or look crooked at them like you'd get here - full of their rights and clasroom terrorists at heart?

    Do they have to share bedrooms or can they pay extra not to and how many share in a house or in a dorm? And what is the teacher/supervisor ratio!


    What is the wifi policy and social media policy in your school?

    Thanks a million!


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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,803 ✭✭✭sunbeam


    Are there any special provisions in your school for students with specific learning disabilities such as dyslexia or dyspraxia? What about students with ADHD or ASD? Do you simply try to screen out those students before they are admitted?

    Do you have any students with physical disabilities?

    What about students who are especially gifted academically-is there any programme of enrichment activities for them?

    Have you encountered any students with serious behavioural issues? How does the school address this?

    Is there a scholarship programme for students of limited means and if so are these students treated any differently by their peers or the staff?


  • Company Representative Posts: 29 Verified rep I'm a boarding school teacher, AMA


    CheerLouth wrote: »
    What does a typical day for a student look like? How much class time do they have, how much free time? Is there much emphasis on evening study?

    The day will start at around 0715, with breakfast available until just after 0800. Depending on the day, there might be assemblies or morning prayers.

    From 0830 until 1700 the students will have a mixture of lessons, sports and free time. Some days, they may only have 5 lessons and then games, other days they will have 8 lessons. This time will include about two hours of free time, where they can do music, drama, academic matters, as well as break and lunch.

    1700 to 1900 is free time, although there are some clubs and sessions that take place, as well as dinner. 1900 to 2100 is evening study. Then the boys have free time until bedtime, which starts to happen around 2215 for younger boys.

    Weekends are slightly different - Saturdays will have morning lessons, and then sports fixtures in the afternoon. Saturday night will see various different social programmes take place. Sunday is quite a chilled day where the students have a lot of free time, although they are expected to attend a church service. There are also usually trips and other events on as well that they can sign up to.


  • Company Representative Posts: 29 Verified rep I'm a boarding school teacher, AMA


    I spent seven years in an Irish boarding school and apart from the first couple of weeks, loved it! Used to dread going home as that meant having to work! :rolleyes:

    I had friends that boarded in Ireland, and they loved it as well. I attended a day school, but I think I would have enjoyed school more if I boarded.
    As you live-in, how does that affect you tax-wise? Do you have to pay benefit in kind? Do you get paid extra for live-in duties?

    As part of my role, it is required that I live on site, and as such HMRC do not tax things too much. There are some slight changes to my tax credits as a result. Different schools will do things differently in regards to pay. At this school, it will depend on the level of seniority that you take in the boarding house whether you get paid more or not.
    As it's a single sex school, do you have to keep a close eye on any sexual contact? Is it strictly no go, or is there discretion allowed?

    Sexual relations during term time are prohibited. Be that between students enrolled at the school, or students from other schools. Quite a strong stance is taken on it, and it would certainly cross a line if it was discovered.
    When you're on night supervision, do you work alone or in pairs? How does the school deal with the occasions where you may find yourself alone with a pupil?

    There are usually two members of staff available at all times. Be that residential staff, or staff that are in house to do their boarding duty. It may be a case that one person is actively on duty, and another person is on call in their own accommodation to step in, in case of an emergency.

    Being alone with a student is covered by the school's code of conduct, which in turn would be informed by DoE policy (Keeping Children Safe in Education). A common sense approach is usually the best bet. There are enough common areas in the boarding houses that conversations should not need to happen in a dorm one to one. If you need to check on a student in their dorm, a knock on the door and holding the door open would suffice.
    What's the food like?

    In my opinion it is generally very good, and a real benefit during term time as I can eat all my meals in school if I wanted. Sometimes it can be a bit hit and miss.
    In the future, would you send your kids to a boarding school?

    I think I would consider it more if I moved back home to Ireland. I would never be able to afford the fees over here :pac:

    Boarding is not right for every child, but some of them will thrive in the environment.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,092 ✭✭✭The Tetrarch


    Have you ever met a child who initiated the idea of going to boarding school?


  • Company Representative Posts: 29 Verified rep I'm a boarding school teacher, AMA


    I was watching documentaries recently on british boarding schools (quiet week!) And what really struck was the self sufficiency of the kids and the hugely long hours - some had an hour of study before breakfast at 7am or they had to attend service before breakfast,anf many had study periods wrll into the evening. Is yhis the case in your school?

    I can’t speak for all boarding schools, but there are no activities that take place before breakfast here. They will have other things after breakfast and before lessons though.
    And how do they boys (?) balance only having childrens minds and childrens influences with no adult to balance things out - like eg you would have at home with a parent if you were telling how the day went or your incidental problems or the adult voice at dinner / etc

    That is a good point, and one that I suspect many of us may take for granted. In general, if a student feels strongly enough about something to ask for extra input, they will. Usually it will be the house staff that hear about it first that evening in house. Each student is also assigned a teacher as their tutor, and it is up to that teacher to monitor the academic and personal development of that student. Parents are also gave very well informed by both the school and the students of any developments that arise via email/mobile phones.
    Plus. What if you get total messers or a few kids from the year that you really dont like. How do you deal with this?

    Oh, it certainly happens! At the end of the day, you have to remember that you are the adult and the professional in the situation, and that you need to be the one that is in control of the situation. I usually find withering sarcasm to be useful in these situations. As for students that are continually messing, there are systems in place that teachers can use to flag these issues.
    Do.you ever have kids that have appalling personal hygine or wont brush their teeth /wash/change their clothes/socks?Whose role is it to deal with this? And who organises the collection of laundry/clothes washing?

    Yes this does happen unfortunately. It will usually be noticed by house staff, and they will have the awkward conversation in the first instance. It can be a delicate one to have as there may be other issues at play as well.
    Every boarding house will have a domestic team that help to clean the house and do laundry. It is up to the students to get their clothes to the correct laundry bins, change their beds etc.
    What about the child protection policy?Do these kids ever get a hug or kiss goodnight or read a story?

    I made reference to Keeping Children Safe in Education in a previous post, and that is what the school will base their policy on. I can only speak from working with older students, but generally there will be little to no physical comforting. Now don’t get me wrong, if a student it distraught at just having received traumatic news, of course there will be some compassion shown. With younger students in prep schools, it will be more of an issue as they will be upset more frequently, but again, common sense should take precedence.
    Are they shrewd enouhh to cry wolf if you put a hand on them eg in sport playing (showing how to hold a raquet) or look crooked at them like you'd get here - full of their rights and clasroom terrorists at heart?

    Physical contact during coaching will invariably happen, but again context is important. On a sports pitch with lots of people about and for a correct and legitimate reason, as well as verbal discussion – no problem. From my experience, I have had no major discipline issues, but if given the chance to, they are not afraid to speak out in front of a crowd. A quiet word explaining what they have done wrong will usually do the trick.
    Do they have to share bedrooms or can they pay extra not to and how many share in a house or in a dorm? And what is the teacher/supervisor ratio!

    The layout of dorms will generally depend on how the boarding house was configured. It is not unusual for younger boarders to share dorms, and for older boarders to be in one man dorms. I know that some schools will try to have one person dorms for everyone. The capacity of the houses here range from 60 to 80, give or take.

    Teacher/student ratio will depend on what type of activity it is.
    What is the wifi policy and social media policy in your school?
    There are school computer suites, and some computers provided in house libraries. There is also a BYOD WiFi policy. Devices connected to school WiFi are subjected to vetting and a firewall, it will also be switched over overnight. Apps like Snapchat and Instagram may be blocked at certain times, as are certain websites. I suspect that nearly all students are using VPNs to get by this, as well as their own data packages.


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  • Company Representative Posts: 29 Verified rep I'm a boarding school teacher, AMA


    sunbeam wrote: »
    Are there any special provisions in your school for students with specific learning disabilities such as dyslexia or dyspraxia? What about students with ADHD or ASD? Do you simply try to screen out those students before they are admitted?

    The school is academically selective, but not to the extreme that some other UK private schools are, and it will not screen via SEN. There is a SEN department that will provide support for students that need it, and all teachers are made aware of how to best support students with specific learning needs.
    sunbeam wrote: »
    Do you have any students with physical disabilities?

    Not that I am aware of.
    sunbeam wrote: »
    What about students who are especially gifted academically-is there any programme of enrichment activities for them?

    Yes, academic high achievers will be identified by subject, and a programme put in place for them. This involves certain co-curricular clubs, entry to national competitions, and advanced material and reading in and out of lessons.
    sunbeam wrote: »
    Have you encountered any students with serious behavioural issues? How does the school address this?

    Yes, and there are various supports available. Meetings with key members of staff, the student, and their family and a strategy on what support they feel they need. The school also has its own health centre with various medical professionals.

    The approach taken will depend on the underlying reasons for the behavioural issues.
    sunbeam wrote: »
    Is there a scholarship programme for students of limited means and if so are these students treated any differently by their peers or the staff?

    There are scholarships available for academic and co-curricular (sport, music, drama) high flyers. Who gets them would be common knowledge as they are awarded on merit.

    There are means tested bursaries and support available for families that may be struggling or have a sudden change of circumstance. This would not be widespread information.


  • Company Representative Posts: 29 Verified rep I'm a boarding school teacher, AMA


    Have you ever met a child who initiated the idea of going to boarding school?

    Good question.

    Most of the boarders starting here will have already been boarding for a few years, and as such it is just what they do. I doubt that too many eight year olds initially come up with the idea themselves.

    Older boarders (particularly those joining for A-Levels), usually join for a reason. Some overseas boarders join to make applying to Oxbridge easier, or for sporting reasons.


  • Registered Users Posts: 400 ✭✭mickmac76


    Do you have many students from outside the UK in the school. What would be the ratio of foreign students to UK students. Do foreign students sometimes struggle with the English language or other subjects and what supports do you have for them.
    Do students do work experience or internships while attending the school. Do past pupils help set them up with such things. And do former students visit and talk to the students about their careers after leaving school.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,636 ✭✭✭feargale


    What are the language options in your school?


  • Company Representative Posts: 29 Verified rep I'm a boarding school teacher, AMA


    mickmac76 wrote: »
    Do you have many students from outside the UK in the school. What would be the ratio of foreign students to UK students. Do foreign students sometimes struggle with the English language or other subjects and what supports do you have for them.

    There would be maybe 8-10% of the school cohort that are from overseas. They would be from various different parts of the world. The school will do this so that it does not result in an imbalance, and that students integrate. Some schools that are struggling for numbers will take in a larger percentage of oversea boarders.

    All oversea students are offered EAL lessons (English as an additional language) if needed. They will also work towards a qualification recognised by UK and US universities.
    mickmac76 wrote: »
    Do students do work experience or internships while attending the school. Do past pupils help set them up with such things. And do former students visit and talk to the students about their careers after leaving school.

    They will usually complete some work experience during the holidays, particularly the older students. There is a very extensive alumni network that will help with this. Former students will regularly return to the school to speak to students and current parents. There are also events held for alumni in the UK and around the world. Networking is a major advantage of attending a UK public school.


  • Company Representative Posts: 29 Verified rep I'm a boarding school teacher, AMA


    feargale wrote: »
    What are the language options in your school?

    English, French, German, Spanish and to a lesser extent Italian are taught to all age groups. Mandarin has been growing in popularity. Greek and Latin are also taught. Some oversea students may also sit an A-Level in their native language.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,636 ✭✭✭feargale


    English, French, German, Spanish and to a lesser extent Italian are taught to all age groups. Mandarin has been growing in popularity. Greek and Latin are also taught. Some oversea students may also sit an A-Level in their native language.

    Unlike in my time about half a dozen take Greek in the Leaving Cert exams these days. Latin attracts a few more. Have the classics taken a similar plunge in the UK?
    You say some overseas students take their native language. Do you teach it to them? I doubt that if mine were e.g. Tibetan that you would be able to accomodate me.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,176 ✭✭✭dee_mc


    I saw a headline recently claiming that class A drug use and availability is rife among UK boarding school students as young as 12 years of age - what's your experience/opinion of this?


  • Company Representative Posts: 29 Verified rep I'm a boarding school teacher, AMA


    feargale wrote: »
    Unlike in my time about half a dozen take Greek in the Leaving Cert exams these days. Latin attracts a few more. Have the classics taken a similar plunge in the UK?
    You say some overseas students take their native language. Do you teach it to them? I doubt that if mine were e.g. Tibetan that you would be able to accomodate me.

    Being able to facilitate it will depend on the language and the teachers available. If it is possible, then it will be.

    The Classics are certainly no longer as popular as they would have been in the past. There is usually still enough interest to make it viable, but definitely on the wane.


  • Company Representative Posts: 29 Verified rep I'm a boarding school teacher, AMA


    dee_mc wrote: »
    I saw a headline recently claiming that class A drug use and availability is rife among UK boarding school students as young as 12 years of age - what's your experience/opinion of this?

    I would be very sceptical about that to be honest, as least from my experience.

    I have no doubt that drug taking is popular among boarding school students, and that drugs will make their way into boarding houses. I suspect that the vast majority of the substances would be towards the lower end of the spectrum though.

    Now, what they do outside of school is a very different matter I suspect :o


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  • Registered Users Posts: 273 ✭✭rosiem


    How do you deal with sick kids at what point would they have to be sent home to be cared for or would the staff mind them in the school in most cases ?


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,597 ✭✭✭lassykk


    I'm a bit late to the party here but if you are still answering questions is there a zero tolerance for those who don't share the religious ethos of the school?

    Can you opt out of the religious aspects if they aren't for you?


  • Registered Users Posts: 15,176 ✭✭✭✭ILoveYourVibes


    1. Do you feel these children grow up in a bit of a bubble away from the real world?

    2. What are these children's life aspirations in general? Do most want to go to university etc?

    3. Is there much social or ethnic diversity in your school?

    4. What are the general views of your children towards diversity?

    5. What is your school's policy on homosexuality?

    6. Is there bullying?

    7. What are the instances of mental illness and depression etc?

    8. Are the children happy?

    9. Do they feel their lives are overly regimented? Their time governed etc from minute to minute? Do they have time where they are free or totally unsupervised?


  • Company Representative Posts: 29 Verified rep I'm a boarding school teacher, AMA


    So, I sort of forgot about this thread for a little bit...sorry about that!

    I will post up answers to the last few posters later today.


  • Company Representative Posts: 29 Verified rep I'm a boarding school teacher, AMA


    lassykk wrote: »
    I'm a bit late to the party here but if you are still answering questions is there a zero tolerance for those who don't share the religious ethos of the school?

    Can you opt out of the religious aspects if they aren't for you?

    Generally, all students would be expected to attend religious services, regardless of their own religious background. It is sold mostly as an opportunity to gather as a community and reflect on things.


  • Company Representative Posts: 29 Verified rep I'm a boarding school teacher, AMA


    rosiem wrote: »
    How do you deal with sick kids at what point would they have to be sent home to be cared for or would the staff mind them in the school in most cases ?

    Every boarding house will have staff that are trained in first aid, and trained in providing prescription medicine.

    There is also a health centre on the school site that has trained nurses and doctors available. The school staff will follow the lead of the health centre in all cases, and there are beds available for students if needed.


  • Company Representative Posts: 29 Verified rep I'm a boarding school teacher, AMA


    1. Do you feel these children grow up in a bit of a bubble away from the real world?

    Yes, for lots of reasons, some of which will not be a result of school. Not regularly engaging with the wider range of society that they might do if in a state school will certainly blinker some things.
    2. What are these children's life aspirations in general? Do most want to go to university etc?

    Vast majority will want to go on to university and then work in law, medicine, engineering, finance etc.

    Some will look to join the armed forces.
    3. Is there much social or ethnic diversity in your school?

    There is a decent ethic diversity as there are overseas students from all around the world. In terms of social diversity, it will be from "middle class" and upwards.
    4. What are the general views of your children towards diversity?

    Narrow :o
    5. What is your school's policy on homosexuality?

    As with all schools, and as should be in the wider community, there are no issues with homosexuality.

    There will of course be homophobic bullying at times.

    Sexual relationships between students are not allowed.
    6. Is there bullying?

    Yes, as with all schools and people. Unfortunately.
    7. What are the instances of mental illness and depression etc?

    Similar to other schools and society in general.
    8. Are the children happy?

    For the most part yes, but there are some that may not enjoy boarding school, being bullied etc.
    9. Do they feel their lives are overly regimented? Their time governed etc from minute to minute? Do they have time where they are free or totally unsupervised?

    On average, they will enjoy up to three or four hours a day of free time, as well as times at the weekend. They have lots of time to entertain themselves, as well as events organised by the school.


  • Registered Users Posts: 217 ✭✭bono_v


    You say homophobic bullying and other bullying happens.
    How can a school that is charging tens of thousands allow that to happen?
    Is it harder to expell the bullies because they are paying tens of thousands per term?


  • Company Representative Posts: 29 Verified rep I'm a boarding school teacher, AMA


    bono_v wrote: »
    You say homophobic bullying and other bullying happens.
    How can a school that is charging tens of thousands allow that to happen?
    Is it harder to expell the bullies because they are paying tens of thousands per term?

    How can society as a whole let that happen? I am not trying to be flippant, but bullying happens in all aspects of society, workplaces and schools. Unfortunately, having money does not eliminate this behaviour, particularly when dealing with young people.

    There are structures and supports in place to intervene for when these situations arise, and a log of all incidents is made. The school takes a very strong stance on these issues, and when dealt with, it has been rare that I have seen or heard of a repeat (not saying it does not happen).

    I would argue that it may be easier to ask a student to leave if they have been the instigator in a number of bullying issues, particularly if the school is oversubscribed. Expulsion would be reserved for extreme incidents, but there are a range of sanctions that can be imposed, including suspension.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 15,176 ✭✭✭✭ILoveYourVibes


    Thanks for being so open :)


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