5 Key Features of Personal Growth from Boarding

At Sotogrande International School’s Boarding House, we focus on preparing our students for future challenges whilst encouraging them to enjoy and embrace every opportunity that is thrown their way.  Boarding truly is a wonderful opportunity to experience a unique and energising student-centered environment. 

Boarding matters because it moves the individual from thinking about the ‘me’ to the ‘we’.  Boarders develop a sense of individual and collective responsibility and become resilient learners and respectful citizens of the world.  Within an international context, boarders live side by side with an array of cultures from around the world which provides a holistic understanding of world issues on a specific and ‘big picture’ basis. It provides each with unrivalled opportunities for life long friendships and international values.

At the Boarding House, lessons extend beyond the classroom. While an international boarding environment is a hub of academic stimulation, pastoral growth and cultural awareness; there are personal responsibilities which come from being away from home. 

Here are 5 things which the boarders at SIS have gained:

1. Independence and personal responsibility

As a boarder, a certain amount of supported organisational independence is key.  Mr Debenham refers to this as a boarder’s ‘individual responsibility’ and this makes up one of the the 4 Rs which are regularly referred to by the Boarding Team:

A boarder has more responsibilities than their contemporaries from organising their school work to extracurricular activities to ensuring that their room is clean and tidy! This teaches the students valuable time management skills and the Boarding Team, through daily interactions and Tutor-Tutee meetings, support them with this. Students need to have transport booked for after school activities, permissions need to be prepared in advance and they have a duty to sign in and be on time for curfews and meal times. Taking on these responsibilities equips them with the essential skills for life and future successes.

2. A Second Family

There are lots of fun, communal spaces at the boarding house and these are shared between students from P6 through to D2, who come from many different cultural backgrounds. 

‘You learn to get on with everyone and work through issues. We are a family and families pull together to deal with things’ – Freya D1

The family atmosphere around the house encourages the students to look out for one another during classroom hours and creates a strong, long-lasting bond. They not only share rooms but a home, helping each other face everyday school life together. There are many friendships formed in the Boarding House and students find that their social circle is larger, more diverse and interesting as a result. 

“I always look for other boarders when I am at school. We share a lot together just like a family does” – Tess

“I like boarding because all your friends are here. You’ve always got things to do and people to see, with friends and teachers always about” – Vincent 

“We live with our whole family under one ceiling”- Max

 3.  Cultural Knowledge

A wonderful aspect of being part of an international school is learning about different cultures and traditions from one another. There are over 100 students living at the boarding house and there is a mix of 35 different nationalities. As students share cultural insights and values, they learn to see beyond categories of difference, embracing their own nuances and celebrating their cultures together!

4. Confidence

Confidence is an important aspect when growing up. The SIS Boarding House is an environment where the students’ boundaries of achievement are consistently tested. The confidence of each student grows as they learn to adapt to their new environment, create new friends and attend memory-making experiences every Saturday. 

An incredibly large proportion of boarders ‘do’. They get involved in school activities, events, sports and music performances possibly more than any other sector of SIS.  This is a testament to the courage, independence and fierce ‘can do’ attitude that boarding instils.

‘Boarding is a place where you learn and grow, not only as a student but as a person as well.’ – Cheryl

‘I now have confidence in my ability to use washing machines!’ Tess

5. New opportunities

The weekend activities allow the students to explore and try out skills they would not normally get a chance to. Activities range from go-karting to cooking courses to land sailing. The trips are also an opportunity for students to explore cities in Spain such as Cadiz, Malaga, Marbella and Tarifa. 

The majority of boarders at SIS are involved in extracurricular activities as well as being part of the Kindred Project, the SIS band and choir. They are encouraged to take full advantage of a fully equipped music room and recording studio downstairs as well as the language school. All of which are available to the boarders on their doorstep!  

“The boarding house is a really big opportunity for people to meet new people and learn new values. It’s really well organized, the trips are always amazing, and you spend the best time living in another place and going to school”- Ilia

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