For Form 5 (Year 11) pupil Ella, boarding had always been something she’d wanted to do. Having joined Oakham two years ago as a seasoned flexi-boarder, she was excited to get stuck in to the busy and welcoming community of the School and hasn’t looked back since.
In the latest instalment of The Boarding Bios series, Ella shares her experience of why boarding works for her and how she’s got on since joining.
Ella’s family live in Suffolk but she believes she couldn’t have found a better home away from home at Oakham.
“Moving to Oakham was quite a big jump at first, being two hours away from home, but my House is the friendliest place I could possibly be.”
“It’s genuinely become a home away from home for me and I have made such good friendships that I know will last a lifetime.”
Being an experienced boarder meant that Ella settled into Oakham really quickly.
“I did transitional boarding at my old School so by the time I came here I was quite used to being away from home. My previous school was only half an hour away though so I always knew my parents could come and pick me up, whereas now I’m two hours away it’s not as easy.”
“I really like being a full boarder now and I’m definitely more used to being away from home. It just makes it even more special when I do get to go and see my family because we really make the most of our time together.”
She chose Oakham due to its welcoming and friendly atmosphere.
“I wanted to move to Oakham because I really liked the idea of being at a co-educational boarding school and a few of my friends have come here so it was nice to join with people I knew already.”
“I’ve always been at a co-ed school and I really didn’t want to go to an all-girls school. There’s no real reason behind it but I just prefer being around both boys and girls and it’s what I’ve always been used to.”
“Everyone at Oakham was so friendly and welcoming from day one that it makes it hard not to fall in love with the place.”
“Even when I had my tour just looking around the School I thought it was really nice that it was the pupils who showed me around rather than just the staff.”
Ella is particularly passionate about English and Art.
“I really like the Art Department. I think the facilities are amazing and I spend quite a lot of time in there.”
“English is also great and I think the teachers are just amazing. I think all of the teachers are to be fair – I haven’t really had any teachers that I honestly haven’t liked. They’re all so dedicated, especially with things like supported studies and helping you with your work.”
Ella had always wanted to board.
“I think it was something that I’d always wanted to do, and my older siblings had all boarded in some form so I’d heard a lot about it before I started.”
“When I looked at Oakham, one thing that stood out to me was the emphasis on pastoral care so I knew it would be a good place to be a boarder.”
“As I’d tried boarding in the past and had a good experience with it, I knew it would be a good option for me as I got older as it has allowed me to focus my time on my studies whilst making really close friendships in my House.”
Tutoring in House is also a big benefit for Ella.
“Our Tutors in House are also really helpful because they all teach different subjects so you can go to them if you’re struggling with something in particular and you always feel like there is someone to support you.”
“It’s really helpful having structured prep time in House because if I was a day pupil, I don’t think I would be able to stick to this routine as easily. However, when you’re a boarder and all of your friends are in the same boat it makes it a lot easier.”
As part of her Activity time, Ella takes part in the School’s Voluntary Action programme.
“I really enjoy Voluntary Action because we get to do lots of amazing things for the community and it’s really important work which you get a lot out of yourself.”
“It’s really fulfilling work and so nice to know that you are genuinely helping people so it’s great that we can do this during the School day.”
Ella has shared some wise words of advice for anyone who is looking at becoming a boarder.
“I think the best thing a new boarding pupil can do is talk to their Housemistress or Housemaster before joining the School so they can recommend you fellow pupils who you can make friends with that have similar interests to you.”
“I think once you’re settled in it’s really easy to find your ‘people’ and find your friendship group and that’s a really important part of what makes boarding so special.”
“Another good thing about the size of Oakham is that once you make friends with one person, you can then make friends in their friendship group and so on, so you all end up forming large friendship groups with people from all Houses and of all interests.”
Find out more about Boarding at Oakham School.