In continuing to provide a behind-the-scenes look at boarding at Oakham School, Form 5 (Year 11) pupil Robbie has shared his story of being a flexi-boarder.
Joining the School in Form 1 (Year 7), Robbie has been a flexi-boarder since he first started at Oakham.
As Robbie’s family live in Oundle, the commute to School was too long for him to be a day pupil.
“My parents live too far away for me to wake up every morning and have to commute to school, so flexi-boarding really suits all of our lifestyles. I always knew I wanted to come to Oakham, so realised that boarding would be a good idea due to my home not being that close by.”
“Now I’m used to boarding I feel like I definitely enjoy it more and there would be things I’d feel like I’m missing out on if I didn’t get this extra time at School. There’s so much to do in House and with your mates that I feel like I don’t have time to go home and I don’t want to sometimes!”
“I like flexi-boarding because of the amount of time that I get to spend with my friends; you get to know people so well and it’s a really good atmosphere in House. Whilst being with friends is definitely the highlight of boarding for me, I like that there’s still a structure to our days and that we always feel supported by our Housemaster and teachers.”
When choosing Oakham as his preferred School, Robbie followed in the footsteps of his older sister, who is also a pupil here.
“I knew a lot about Oakham School before coming here because it’s where my sister goes. She and my parents were both really attracted to how friendly and welcoming the Oakham atmosphere is, so I knew from a young age where I wanted to come.”
“Whilst I feel like most people at the age of 10/11 might be nervous trying boarding for the first time, I knew that my sister had had a really good experience so I wasn’t scared at all. She made it sound really fun and I couldn’t wait to join!”
“I think when I was first starting out in the Lower School as a flexi-boarder there was this perception from people around me that it wouldn’t be very nice and that I would get teased by the older pupils in the School, but it’s definitely not like that at all.”
Despite the banter between House mates, Robbie knows his friends are always there if he needs to talk to anyone.
“You can have a real laugh with your friends in House and it’s really fun to joke around but I also find that if I ever need to talk to someone on a more serious level about an issue I’m concerned about or something I’m struggling with, there’s always someone there to listen.” “With my close friends, I know that I can say something to them that’s quite serious and they’ll actually talk about it in a sensitive way rather than just joking all of the time. That’s a really comforting part about boarding.”
“As a boarder you become really comfortable around everyone so you can always talk to them about things, but you can also tell them when you might need space and you learn to handle conflict a lot better.”
Robbie’s true passion lies within the Sports Department.
“I really enjoy Sport at Oakham School and it’s exciting that there’s always something to do. In the spring and summer when it’s lighter in the evenings we all go to the nets and play cricket there. I feel like if I was a day pupil and I lived as far away from the School as I do now, I probably wouldn’t always be able to stay and do that stuff so I’d be missing out.”
Whilst pupils are allowed to go into Oakham on Tuesdays and Thursdays for their dinner, Robbie also enjoys the days he eats at the School in the Barraclough Dining Hall.
“The food here is really good and it’s very varied on what you get each day so it’s nice to try new things and see old favourites reappear on the menu. The highlight for me has to be the chicken wraps because they come with a lot of different sauces and they’re really popular with all of the pupils.”
“The curries are also really good here and alongside all of the healthy options at breakfast time, the hash browns have to be a firm favourite for me. My sister’s a vegetarian and she always says how good the meat free options are at the School, so my parents are happy that we’re both very well catered for.”
In addition to going home at the weekends, Robbie also keeps in regular contact with his family throughout the week.
“I mainly text my parents in the week just because they want to check up on me and see what I’ve been doing at School. It’s nice having my sister on campus too as I can always go and talk to her if I need to or I can chat to her as and when I see her.”
“Whilst I used to get homesick when I was in the Lower School, I feel like as soon as I got into Middle School and into Form 3 I was quite used to being away and now it doesn’t really bother me at all.”
Robbie’s friendships run a lot deeper than just his time in his current House.
“I know that I’ve made friends for life at School and that even when we move into School House for our final year and after we leave Oakham and go to university, I know we’ll all remain really close. Boarding does bond you for life and even all of our parents are now friends with each other.”
Find out more about Boarding at Oakham School.