A BIG boarding weekend for Year 6

The children in Year 6 have just experienced their ‘Big Weekend’.  Big Weekends provide an opportunity for an entire year group to experience boarding for a weekend.  For this one, our pupils made catapults, learnt how to tie knots, and got thoroughly involved in a raft of bush-craft tricks.  Their day of activities was appropriately rounded off with marshmallows and hot chocolate by the campfire in the camping field.

Next up on Sunday morning was laser tag in Park.  The shrieks of whoops reverberated around the woods as Year 6 enjoyed a game of ‘Predator and Prey’.

A much calmer period of art with Mrs. Sycklemore was relished in the afternoon. Then it was back to the freneticism of water balloons, croquet, table tennis and a spot of kayaking on the lake.

After their spellings and General Knowledge practice for the week ahead, the lights were turned out and everyone promptly fell asleep.

What’s boarding life like at Elstree?

Boarding life at Elstree is jam-packed full of fun and can start from Year 4. There’s never a dull moment. There is always a host of exciting and on occasions unusual activities to enjoy, which can be anything from fencing, film-making and Hama Beads, to art and crafts, chess and Scalextric.

At Elstree, the sense of ‘family’ and ‘community’ pulses through every facet of school life, particularly in the boarding house. Our flexible boarding model enables children to learn to live as part of a community and to build up their self-confidence, independence and organisational skills.  The Houseparents live in the heart of the house, supported by a strong team of Housemasters/mistresses, matrons and nurse; we see the children under our care as an extension of our own families.  At least once a week a dorm is invited into the Houseparent’s flat for a ‘Brew’ to share hot chocolate and home-made cakes in this cosy home-from-home atmosphere.

Our flexible approach means that children can board anything from one to seven nights a week. They can build up the number of nights that they board gradually, and families are able to find the right balance between school and home life.  Boarding at Elstree also prepares children for boarding at their Senior Schools and beyond.

After a family service supper, there is a wide range of boarders’ clubs to enjoy: torchlight games in the woods, kayaking on the lake, board-games, table tennis, cricket nets, swimming, golf or mountain biking – all within the 150 acres of school grounds. This boarding community is enhanced by our termly events for boarders AND their families, such as our legendary Murder Mystery evening and family quiz.

Our full-boarders look out for our younger boarders

As part of this community, our older full-boarders are encouraged to look out for and after the younger boarders.  At the weekends there are trips to the cinema, bowling, mountain biking and local water parks, but we also try to replicate what our day boys will be experiencing. The children have a lie-in on Sunday morning followed by a leisurely breakfast . The Boarding staff may then take the children on a walk before everyone sits down together for a big roast lunch.  The children always relish the opportunity to have some free-time in the afternoon, whether it’s to call home, watch a film, kick a ball or play on the zip wire.  After supper, the Academic tutor will always run a session to catch up on prep or homework and get organised for the week ahead.

Boarding has evolved yet the skills and qualities boarding fosters remain as relevant as ever. Resilience, self-reliance and the ability to get on with others has never been more important  and our children leave Elstree having developed  a strong set of values, friendships and good manners which they not only take to their senior schools, but also into adult life.

Can girls board at Elstree too?

Yes, absolutely. In fact, since Elstree became fully co-educational in September, a variety of areas within the school have been redeveloped and refurbished to accommodate the girls. This includes a new girls’ dormitory for boarding, affectionately named ‘Finlay’, after a much-loved former School Nurse.

Independent Schools of the Year Finalist for Boarding 

Elstree School is a finalist in two categories for the Independent Schools of the Year 2020: – Independent Pre-Prep School and Independent Boarding School of the Year. The winners of each category will be announced during the Independent Schools of the Year Virtual Event to be held on Thursday 8th October at 3pm.