Does anyone work as a housemistress in a boarding school, could they share their experiences.

(16 Posts)
katycarr Fri 28-May-10 18:31:28

I am thinking of applying for a similar position, having been told by quite a few people that it is something they could imagine me doing.

I am a little worried about the hours, does it totally take over your life?

pruhen Fri 28-May-10 21:28:20

Katycarr, I don't know about the hours, but I had the impression (from the housemistresses I had) that it did take over your life a bit - children in that situation can be very emotionally needy (I know I was) and that must be hard to reconcile with having a life outside work.

katycarr Fri 28-May-10 21:36:33

Thanks, my job already takes over my life so it is hard to imagine how it could do so for even longer.

They need someone who can drive a minibus which I can't so it is immaterial now.

pruhen Fri 28-May-10 21:38:52

Sorry to hear it - hope you find something you love, tho!

Mum72 Fri 28-May-10 21:54:29

No experience myself but my DDs are boarders at a prep school and the house staff are amazing! I always am in awe of how much they get involved in.

I tend to think (myself) that it is more a vocation than a pretty full on job.

Maybe my girls have just been lucky but the house staff are amazing. I have my favourites - as do my girls. No one is "bad" at their job but it is obvious which ones love what they do by how much they do and their attention to detail.

At my DDs school, the girls go into the house mistresses flat on a Saturday evening for Over the Rainbow, X factor etc. The house mistress is always on hand for weekend outings, school events - eldest DDs HM is always making tea and coffee at events where parents are at the school. She also teaches PHSE. Other House mistresses specialise in something - anything from horseriding, wall climbing, cross stitch etc and tend to help out with such activities.

ALthough other house staff are on duty the actual head house mistress of the houses are pretty much on call most of the time. I also know that even on their day off, they muck muck in if needed, especially if one of the girls needs extra emotional/pastoral support for whatever reason.

Hope this helps.

I'm a Housemistress in a senior school. It is hard work and long hours, I have a daughter who I don't see a great deal of when I'm on duty (approx a 75 hour week). I have one day off a week so I have her at home with me and although I work weekends, I can have her with me when I'm working and she can come on most of the weekend trips too. It's a real balancing act but once you get used to it it's incredibly rewarding. If you've never done it before, or anything similar (I came from being a PA) then be prepared for a huge culture shock. During term time you will have next to no privacy and you will rarely switch off. Having said all that, the holidays make up for it and the relationship you have with the boarders is so great - it's worth it!

Hope I haven't waffled too much!

peteneras Thu 10-Mar-11 02:17:09

Not quite sure exactly what you mean by "housemistress" here. By definition, she is the female version of a housemaster.

If top senior boarding schools are anything to go by, a housemistress and a matron are two very different things altogether both in status and job specification. In short, the housemistress is the matron's boss.

toeragsnotriches Thu 10-Mar-11 19:35:32

Don't let the minibus thing put you off if you really want the job. If they really really want you they'll offer it anyway. Ime, there are always lots of people in schools who do drive a minibus. Do you have a clean licence? They could train you!

My mum was a housemistress in 6th form boarding. We lived on site. The girls never, ever came into our house except in very extreme circumstances (like if they'd suffered a loss in the family, or were having a break down etc.)

The hours were long but our house adjoined the main house so it was really convenient. We were older children at the time but her colleague had her two DCs when we lived there and it was wonderful for them to have all those doting teens around them. She was also never short of a babysitter wink .

toeragsnotriches Thu 10-Mar-11 19:37:06

Also, would you be the housemistress or your DP? I mean, if you have a DH would he be the housemaster and you the housemistress? Or a DW the other housemistress? Or is the job only yours as it was with my, single, mum. This makes a big difference.

Pollyannasglad Thu 11-Oct-12 12:59:24

I know this is an old thread but I hope my post will be useful to someone! I've been a Housemistress in a junior girls' boarding house for 6 years now and it's definitely vocational! The hours are horrendous and I don't think I could have done it when my own children were at school because if you are going to do it properly, your own family (including husband) will come second.

Having said that, it's the best job I have ever had and I thoroughly recommend it if you feel you have the stamina. My colleagues in the other boarding houses teach part-time but I'm the full time carer to my 'gels'. It's challenging, rewarding, stressful, exhausting but really, really fun !

By the way, your children shouldn't ever be going into the private accommodation of house staff and there are strict rules in most schools about using students for babysitting, car washing etc etc.

ATourchOfInsanity Thu 11-Oct-12 13:04:40

Our Housemistresses were all live in, with their families sometimes too. I think if you didn't it would be a complete nightmare. Girls would wake in the night and need comfort or perhaps feel homesick. You are generally, from what I remember, in with the Guides/Brownies/Weekend activities and I imagine that is all part of the driving the minibus thing.
Really most boarding schools run so many activities after school that there is a lot of extra work I imagine is involved.

Although on the plus side, we weren't allowed in our Houses in the day time (unless absolute emergency) so I imagine the day time hours would be pretty free while the kids are in school.

SheCharlie Fri 03-Jan-14 19:31:06

Hi, My daughter went through boarding school and I have to admit I wondered at the time what the job would be like.
A couple of years after she left an assistant position became available, I applied and got the job.

I cannot tell you, for me, how wonderful a job it was. Yes, the hours are unsociable; from 7 - 8 am getting the teen girls up and ready for school, free then until 5.50 when they were collected from school. The older girls had lights out at 10 pm. Sadly after a year the salary was not enough and I had to make a financial move to my current school.

The school I am in now is prep boys and although the boarding facilities are within the school it's my dream job. As every mum knows, a mother's work is never done! I have 48 hours off a week (reasonably rare for this job) from Friday 10 am till Sunday 10 am. The rest of the week I am contractually employed from 7 am till 10 am and then from 4 pm till 10 pm to include a sleep-in at the end of the dormitory in my own room. I also have a private room for when I am not at work, should I choose to stay on site. All meals and laundry cleaning is included and I have no medical care to do other than call the Matron should a child need care that's more than the PRN cough mixture or additional paracetamol. There are no utility bills, council tax or other to pay so my wages are all my own. Jobs can range in salary from 14,000 - 24,000.

The job...
To get 29 boys aged 9 - 13 washed, dressed and with all the kit they need for the day by 7.30.
From end of breakfast at 8 am there all the emails to parents, laundry requirements and tidiness of the boys area to check and report any repairs till 10 am. If everything is done earlier the time is my own.

5 pm. Boys return and it's then prayers, supper and bed prep till lights out at 8.30 or 9 pm depending on age.

Additionally, if it's within my hours of work or if I choose to help, there are the occasional dental/medical appointments that boys needs escorting to.

I can always find other things to keep me going all day - they are after all boys!

If you are in any doubt, take the chance of the job, it's fabulous and of course all the holidays. I'm not sure I could do a job with only 5 - 7 weeks off a year; I get that in the summer alone!

earkley Fri 30-May-14 11:49:05

anyone who was recently chatting about becoming a housemisstress / matron in a boarding school id be really interested in chatting with you

many thanks

earkley Fri 30-May-14 11:52:15

Boarding School Matron / House mistress
anyone have any experience of this work I would be VERY interested in chatting for info. Ive applied for a position which starts in September so would appreciate any clues as to highlights / lows to expect
many Thanks

happygardening Fri 30-May-14 12:43:07

As already said a school matron is a very different job from a house mistress (HM). HM's are usually resident senior teachers, many will have a teaching roles in the school, they are the ones in loco parentis and in charge of the house, the main person the parents will turn too, responsible for all the discipline, over see the children's education. Whereas a school matron is the HM's assistant she often administer medication, supports the children, overseas the washing, often supervises the cleaning staff ensure the house runs smoothly. They often don't have any specific qualifications although they can do one but it's certainly not essential. Not all are resident.
Just to add there are also school nurses, all large boarding schools have them they are usually registered nurses who are based in a separate centre they assess and treat minor children's illnesses and look after the children's mental health and often do health education. Most schools have beds in these centres for unwell children they also work with the schools GP.

I have worked as a housemistress in the past (although I'm not any more!). I loved it at the time; I'm not sure if I would do it now I have my own children.

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