Do you sacrifice a bedroom for an extra bathroom? How much garden space do you need? Want to be nearer the park or the train station? If you thought buying a house was difficult, how do you know what is the right boarding house to choose for your child?
Here is a checklist to help you get started:
Housemaster – Before the age of the internet, it was common for a housemaster to commit to working at a house for several years. As the speed of communication has changed so has the revolving door of housemasters moving on. Therefore don’t put all your chips on the housemaster staying for the full duration. However, do consider carefully if their personality is right for your child. The first couple of years in the house are the most formative.
Location – Hoping that living in a house near the classrooms will improve performance is similar to believing you will be able to learn your Latin vocab in your sleep by putting the book under your pillow. That said, where the house is positioned is important. Consider the school day: will they have chapel every morning? If the school has a central dining room they will need to make three trips a day there. If a house is nearer the Sports Hall or Art Department will this encourage your child to participate more in these activities?
House – Most parents are drawn in by a house with its state-of-the-art facilities but these are quickly overlooked when pupils arrive. While many of the modern boarding houses have power showers and en-suite rooms, we would encourage you to look past this and view the house as a whole. Does the layout encourage older pupils to mix with younger years? Do pupils get their own room as soon as they arrive or will they share a dorm with the entire year group? Some will argue living by yourself encourages independent study and causes less distraction, others believe that learning to live with others is a fundamental life skill.
Fashion – Even at the schools I attended I am acutely aware that what was once fashionable might not be so on trend anymore. Current pupils will have their own view of what is the most popular house so don’t be afraid to speak with pupils on your school visit.
Culture – This is difficult as the culture is often dictated by the housemaster and the pupils they select but historically some houses have a record of being more musical, academic or sporty. Look at the trophy cabinet, it might help to see if they are as good as say they are.
If you’re still in need of a surveyor, our team of advisors at Bonas MacFarlane are on hand to help. Words by Harry Cobb, Director