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02 April 2020

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Boarding Residents Gain Independence

Boarding Residents Gain Independence

Boarding offers unique learning opportunities for young people, from encouraging open-mindedness to developing students’ sense of independence. In the first of a ten-part series, our Head of Boarding, Mr Ben Rogers, explains how independence can be cultivated through boarding. 

Written by Mr Ben Rogers, Head of Boarding at the Princess Boarding House  

“When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.” This quote is taken from Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. The book, written in 1952, follows the life of an American man as he struggles to achieve the ‘American Dream’. America celebrates independence, a feeling of freedom. In a microcosm, boarding life in central London can provide the same opportunity for students to live their own ‘American Dream’. Developing a sense of independence benefits every aspect of an individual’s life, improving their wellbeing; boosting self-confidence; and aiding decision making, no matter how big or small the problem is. 

This in turn reduces stress and improves an individual’s sense of self-worth, helping them to feel that they are valued as an individual within a community and giving them the confidence to be themselves, not the person society expects them to be. Independence is not something that is simply given and received. To benefit from its value, independence needs to be earned and experienced, and boarding provides the perfect framework within which students can safely find out what works for them. Too much independence, being ‘left to one’s own devices’, can be isolating, while too little can feel suffocating.   

Life in Princess Beatrice House, for example, has a clear routine, with students shaping their own habits around it. Our dedicated pastoral staff work with our students to help them manage their time and workload, and structure their days effectively. The common room is a great space for students to develop their sense of independence.  Having the confidence to meet people from all over the world and share in different perspectives and world views is crucial to developing a healthy, independent mindset. When it comes to academic study, the capacity to be independently driven is vital.  For some this drive is innate; for others, it is learnt.  Whichever side a student leans towards, boarding can either feed good habits or help to instil new ones.  Based in London, our older students can exercise their independence exploring the many opportunities the capital has to offer, but within the framework of a strong pastoral care system that carefully manages their freedoms and sets clear boundaries, ensuring they feel safe and supported. 

Becoming independent is a journey, not a destination, and boarding is the perfect place to start walking.

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