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Pastoral and Boarding

Marta Alvarez, Lower Transits, talks about boarding at Wychwood #iloveboarding

Boarding at Wychwood

Wychwood is, and has been for over a hundred years, a day and boarding school for girls. We offer full, weekly and flexi boarding.

Wychwood provides boarders with a secure, safe and happy community where they can learn effectively and enjoy relaxed social times with their friends, feeling that they are cared for but allowed the personal freedom to grow, mature and develop as individuals. A natural part of the process of maturing is the learning from mistakes made in social areas and in response to rules and guidelines imposed by adults: our boarding community is a place where such mistakes can be safely made so that girls can grow in good judgement, tolerance, moral awareness and sensitivity towards others. Most importantly, when pupils board at Wychwood, they do not just join a school, they become part of an extended family. They have a sense of belonging and know that they are accepted as individuals; that triumphs will be celebrated and problems will be shared.


How we look after you

We have two Houses at Wychwood - The House, in which the majority of senior students are housed and 2&4 (so named after its postal address) in which the junior girls are housed in addition to some senior students. In each boarding house, there is a resident housemistress and one other resident teaching assistant housemistress in addition to at least one resident adult Gap student. There is always a resident member of staff on duty 24 hours 7 days a week in each house in addition to at least one Gap student.

In such a small boarding school good relationships at all levels and ages are of paramount importance. Equally important is regard for the safety of the girls, especially in a school in a city. We hope that our rules establish routines which ensure the girls' safety and the security of the buildings at all times, but are also flexible enough to allow the girls to take advantage of the benefits of living in Oxford. Thus, in the many areas involving the girls' increasing freedom as they grow older, we try to make decisions similar to those of a sensible parent with a daughter growing up in Oxford.

Every evening and at all weekends there is always an adult member of resident staff on duty overnight in each house. Girls meet to report to the staff on duty at bedtime, where there is an opportunity for all ages to chat informally at the end of the day.

Wychwood has always valued the inclusion of teaching staff in boarding times; the girls therefore have access to a wide range of their teachers informally and socially though, in practice, the housemistresses undertake many of the late evening duties and are on call overnight. At weekends the teaching staff share the routine cover duties during the daytime, thus allowing the groups of girls to be taken out of school on activities or trips.

Housemothers and housesisters have an important part to play in boarding, the older girls learning the skills of guiding, comforting and nurturing those who are younger, or new to the experience of living away from home.


How we arrange the bedrooms

Our system of mixed-age bedrooms is unusual but, on the whole, effective.

Girls change their companions and rooms every term, which allows for variety. Friendships develop during the term together and the girls learn tolerance, respect for others' individuality and an ability to form relationships with others outside their peer group, which may be very small in any given year.

Senior girls learn to care for, guide and advise younger boarders; younger girls have "older sisters" in the bedroom who can give comfort if homesickness strikes, support when prep is difficult and provide a different viewpoint when there have been squabbles with friends in the form during the school day.

The bedroom groups develop a considerable loyalty and bond, usually celebrated in a midnight feast at the end of term - a practice officially forbidden and therefore much more fun! All then move on to new groups the next term. In this way most boarders of all ages have easy and natural relationships with older and younger girls.

When voting for seniors to assume positions of responsibility such as becoming a Citizen or Councillor, a boarder will often comment appreciatively on a former Head of Bedroom. There are, of course, the usual ups and downs, sometimes with individual clashes of personality or more often with over-liveliness after lights out, but on the whole the system works well and instances of bullying or harassment are extremely rare because of the width of good relationships.


How we make sure there is no divide between day girls and boarders

In senior forms, common rooms and facilities are shared by boarders and daygirls alike and no distinctions are made during the school day except that daygirls are asked to respect the boarders' privacy by not going upstairs into the bedroom areas. Friendships between boarders and daygirls develop naturally and there is no social division within the forms. Many daygirls stay for prep during the week and may, indeed, come in for Saturday prep at their or their teachers' request especially at times of coursework.

Daygirls and weekly boarders are welcome at weekends, either to use the facilities in areas such as Art, Textiles and Photography rooms, or to spend time with their friends. They can join in weekend outings and activities or accompany their full boarder friends to town. In these situations, all girls follow the rules laid down for full boarders.


The advantages of boarding at Wychwood are many:

  • Learning how to utilise time effectively and manage commitments
  • Gaining clear academic advantages, establishing good working habits in a structured environment which increases the possibility of raising of academic achievement
  • Experiencing an array of extra-curricular activity which takes place outside of the school day
  • Undergoing an ideal preparation for university life in a multi-cultural environment
  • Supplying a safe training ground within which to develop critical life-skills such as the importance of communication, consideration and compromise, lessons which cannot be taught as effectively in the classroom.


When a new girl comes into the Remove (Year 7), a Housemother is chosen for her from the Shell girls (Year 11). If the new girl is a boarder,...

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The Senior Housemistress and the Junior Housemistress along with the help of GAP girls (19 year olds, mainly from the UK, Australia or New Zealand)...

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