What is it like being a boarder in a school?

boarding school

This blog post will take you through the main aspects of living in a boarding school. Karen ( Director of Berkeley guardians) tells us about her experience as a boarder and a Housemistress in a large boarding school. If you want to find out more about boarding schools, what to expect and how days are structured, keep reading!

What to expect from boarding schools

Most boarders are based in physical houses within the boarding school campus and these are divided into boys and girls. However, some schools now have mixed houses with separate annexes for boys and girls to sleep. It is a very family based life with meals being eaten together. Kitchens within the boarding houses are used by boarders in the evenings and particularly at weekends.

Certainly, I used to have a cookery club who loved baking cakes at weekends and even tried bread making one weekend!

Evenings in boarding schools

There are plenty of opportunities for time out and time to study quietly with pre-determined prep time (often 7 – 9 p.m.) where everyone works quietly in the house. After this it is a chance to catch up with friends, prepare for bed or just zoom with the family.

Having been a Housemistress in a large co-ed boarding school in for many years and a boarder myself for some time, I have experienced wonderful times in my life which I would like to share. For those who have never lived in a school I thought you might like to know a little about what to expect.

Karen – Berkeley Guardians Director


In any boarding school, lessons will often finish later than a day school and will span into the weekends. Saturday morning is often used (although not in all boarding schools). There will be time allocated during the week to pop to local shops to pick up supplies. Depending on your age this will either be accompanied by an adult or sent off in twos independently.

At weekends, once the academic lessons are over and sport is played …. The time is your own generally. Some schools will offer regular trips on a Sunday to visit safari parks, cities or other areas of interest. Some will have a Chapel Service occasionally through the term on a Sunday morning. Saturday evenings for those old enough will be a time to meet friends and have some regulated time out. For those too young to go out there will be arrangements between houses for board games, quizzes etc.

boarding school

Boarders and day pupils as far as possible are treated the same, but the boarders have the school to themselves when the day pupils have gone home. This might mean that there is access to the swimming pool or the gym or there may be clubs on offer at weekends or drama options available. The boarders can choose how much they are involved in all the opportunities but think of boarding as a large family and you will certainly get the most out of all on offer.

Benefits of being a boarder

It is a chance to try independence safely and within boundaries before stepping into university and “going it alone”. You now have direct contact through social media with your family. Homesickness is about of course, but thanks to the more friendly approach that the schools have adopted over the last ten years boarding schools now feel more like a family.

If you are thinking about it – give it a go! Do some research and read our blogs about what to look for and what is on offer. If you need further advice – send us an email and we will do all we can to help.

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