A conversation with our new Head of Boarding

Interview by Dasha, Year 13.

Considering the beautiful countryside setting and the proximity to my family, joining West Buckland School as the Head of Boarding was an easy decision for me. The campus layout, with its excellent facilities on a compact space surrounded by idyllic open areas, resonated with my love for nature walks with my dog, Zombie. The community feel here also reminded me of a school I worked at in South Africa, creating an immediate connection.

Living and working in South Africa from 2015 until the end of 2019, I developed a deep appreciation for the importance of community life, which is reflected in my approach to boarding at WBS.

Upon arriving at West Buckland School, I was pleasantly surprised by the warm and friendly atmosphere. The students and staff displayed confidence without arrogance, creating a positive and engaging environment. It’s a vibe that persists, making it a joy to walk around the campus and interact with everyone.

As someone with a diverse background, having worked in five different schools, my journey into becoming a House Parent began as a Design and Technology teacher. The turning point was when I got involved with a team of boarders building theatre sets for drama productions, revealing to me the significance of creating engaging experiences for students away from home.

My experience taught me that boarding should never be a lonely place. It should be vibrant and inclusive, offering something for everyone. As the Head of Boarding at WBS, my primary focus is ensuring the safety and happiness of all boarders. If anyone leaves with a negative experience, I would consider it a personal failure.

Living in South Africa has given me valuable insights into the challenges of being away from home, emphasizing the importance of quickly integrating boarders into the community.

Looking ahead, I have exciting plans to enhance the boarding experience at WBS. I believe in involving boarders in shaping the diverse range of activities. It’s not just about my ideas; it’s about creating a collaborative effort where boarders have a say in their experience. I encourage discussions among boarders and collaboration with prefects, fostering a close-knit community that spans across all houses.

Reflecting on my past experiences, some of my fondest memories involve community-building events like joint house discos, firepit evenings, cheeseboard nights, tobogganing on snow days and connecting through musical evenings with talented boarders and sometimes with the help of Alexa.

For students looking to make the most of their time in the WBS boarding community and excel academically, my advice is simple: get involved, try new things, and don’t be afraid to seize opportunities. Don’t let peer opinions hold you back from something you genuinely enjoy.

What sets WBS’s boarding experience apart for me is the unique approach of having boarding staff who are pastoral specialists. This is a new experience for me, and I’m eager to foster a strong connection between the boarding and academic aspects of school life so our boarders can flourish as well as enhance their personal growth and development.

 

Mr Conlon (Houseparent)

Joining the team without complications - he fits right in!

Dasha

The new Head of Boarding seems to be very inclusive and open minded.

Franziska

I like the efforts Mr Boyle puts in trying to improve things for us.