Does anyone have any experience of house parents in a boarding school?(7 Posts)
I am a primary school teacher and my husband is in a trade. We are considering the role of house parents and moving our boys to a school, in the next county, with us.
This would be a massive life change and having only worked in the state schools and my husband being a youth leader aside of having his own business, this would be a massive change!
I'm interested in any insight into boarding life, the role of house parents and the likely impact on our own children.
The teaching is teaching - longer days, good discipline, less admin.
Boarding duties should be on a rota. A lot depends on how many residential staff you have, especially the matron team.
Games/matches can be burdensome although also very enjoyable.
It's work hard/play hard - intense termtime but long holidays. You cannot have any notions of burgundy book. It's a complete lifestyle.
Did either of you attend a school similar? Are you looking at prep or secondary?
I worked very closely for five years with two housemasters and my DS fulll boarded. It seems to me approx. 33 weeks of the year you as the housemaster/mistress are totally married to the house and the pupils in it your own family comes second. If you're going to be any good at the job you will have to accept that the pupils in your house become your children, you are involved in every part of their lives, the relationship between you and then is significantly less formal than that you'd find in any day school and you will deal with everything from lost socks, academic success/failure, extra curricular activities and their personal lives which can be quite troubled at times 24/7. You are the person they look to for help, guidance and support. Parents email/ring you constantly, you will deal with issues from the absolute trivial; what day do we break up? through too I'm not happy with the math set Jonny is in, to bereavement and husbands running off with gym instructor, so you are often supporting families as well. To not collapse under the work load you need excellent supportive staff around you who like you leadership style and support and back you and to be happy and really enjoy the job your pupils and their parents must most of all respect you and ideally like you.
It's a big job and requires dedication and a very tolerant family.
I have worked as a (residential) assistant under house parents (but not as a house parent), I feel I have some insight into the role. It will depend majorly on the school, especially whether it's prep, secondary or all through, and it will also depend majorly on whether you are in a dual teaching/boarding house role or boarding only.
For examples of how much it varies between schools: sometimes you are the only two looking after the house, other time you're in a team of eight or more. Sometimes you work a full teaching timetable, sometimes you have 9-5 off. Sometimes you are looking after <20 kids, sometimes you have >80 in the house. Sometimes you have a laundry service, sometime you have the help of a day matron or a gap, sometimes you ARE the laundry service. Things that might look little can be big differences!
The job is very intense during term time, remember you will most likely work weekends. You really have to love the job (obviously it's hard to know when you haven't done anything like it before!). The holidays are fantastic though, even better than most state schools. And it's very rewarding. Personally I adored working in boarding.
If you are working in a boarding house with girls your DH may have major restrictions e.g. not being around during the shower/bedtime routine! I have worked in schools where men are barred entirely from the boarding houses but obviously if you are both being hired as houseparents you would not be in one of those schools (unless you are given separate jobs- e.g. you're given the girls boarding house and him the boys!) ( I'm kidding on that last bit). You might find some of the school rules or customs around staffing sexist or outdated but as sad as it is to say, in most cases there are reasons those rules have been implemented.
The impact on your own children will vary massively with how old they are and whether they attend the school as well. You need to look into that very carefully. Does the school take day pupils? Would your children be enrolled as day pupils or boarders? If they are boarders, would they be in your boarding house? If you're looking at a prep school, what happens when your kids get to secondary school age? Will they be day pupils at a nearby school or will they board further afield?
Many of my colleagues who had kids had them boarding at other schools. You might find that a bit strange but it's something worth thinking about especially if your kids are older. Some children find school to be a breathing space away from Mum and Dad- that's a challenge if their parents live and work at school! Another was a house parent who enrolled her kids as weekly boarders, so they were in the dormitories Mon-Thurs and in her accomodation Fri-Sun!
The other thing is, if you take the role I would encourage you to keep your house if you own it. That might sound like weird/obvious advice but some people do sell up and live year round in school accomodation and then if they're not good savers they get a nasty shock at retirement age/the end of that job.
I've written a bit of an essay but I hope it helps. Feel free to message me privately if you have any questions you don't want to ask on the thread.
How far have you got in your considerings?
And what's your motivation? (Assuming neither of you has any previous boarding school experience.)
If I were thinking of such a move I might treat it like any other school search - email up to a dozen relevant schools and ask to speak to their house parents. (Don't know if potential candidates actually do that.)
The main thing, as outlined above, is that you have to be completely dedicated to the job. And it may help if you have specific extra curricular skills to offer as well as your teaching (particularly at prep level).
Might be worth asking in the Staffroom topic too?
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