Is boarding school the right decision? Naturally, there are many factors to consider when thinking about enrolling in boarding school. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about boarding school.
1. What are the advantages of boarding school over day school?
Families considering a boarding school education often pose this question when comparing schooling options. Whilst the experience of a day school and boarding school student will vary from peer to peer, we consistently observe several advantages of boarding for girls, both academic and personal.
At Melbourne Girls Grammar, boarders have the opportunity to immerse themselves in a close-knit community that is unique to the School. The strong bonds formed between boarders are undoubtedly one of the most invaluable benefits of attending boarding school. The Boarding House is an inviting family environment which encourages collaboration, allowing boarders to form lifelong connections with both girls their age and those in different year levels. Thinking of her friends as sisters, each girl has unparalleled support through being surrounded by peers who are experiencing similar challenges. Boarders have the freedom to organise their own social activities and events, which can be a great opportunity to relax in a casual environment and engage in unique experiences which may otherwise not have been possible in their home-town.
The friends you make in the Boarding House are different to most other friends because you share so much with them. – Rosie Yates, Year 10
In addition to the advantages of the powerful relationships between boarders, girls gain a high level of independence and accountability through living away from home. Being personally responsible for the management of their private studies and personal chores helps each girl learn to cope with the demands of everyday life, preparing them for the world that awaits after graduating from school. Particularly in the critical years of 7 – 12, learning the skills of self-discipline and cohabitation also helps lay a solid foundation for transition into adulthood.
Our focus at Melbourne Girls Grammar is on the development of the whole girl.This extends to our Boarding House, as through the extensive support networks offered, girls are encouraged to try new things and achieve their personal goals. Boarders have ample opportunity to participate in co-curricular activities in the areas of arts, music, sports, drama, and many more. Having access to such a large scope of programs, as well as the support of our dedicated staff, ensures each girl has the freedom to explore her passions and discover her true potential.
2. How will an all-girls boarding school be beneficial over a co-ed boarding school?
Aside from the strong bonds formed between the girls in boarding school, there are many other advantages of attending an all-girls boarding school over a co-ed boarding school.
It’s normal to enter a new living environment with feelings of nervousness but the all-girls environment of our Boarding School helps each boarder feel welcome and comfortable, softening the transition between home life to the boarding school.
At Melbourne Girls Grammar, each and every decision that we make is about girls, and what is best for them. These decisions encompass elements from the facilities that we have onsite, to nutrition, wellbeing, safety and general guidelines.
In all-girls environments, research from the Alliance of Girls Schools Australasia shows that where there are no expectations around fulfilling traditional gender stereotypes, such as career choices or areas of interest, girls thrive and are free to be who they want to be. Research from the National Coalition of Girls Schools found girls six times more likely to explore careers in STEM careers when compared to co-educational schools. At Melbourne Girls Grammar, each boarder is surrounded by females in an empowering and supportive environment, allowing each girl to focus on their learning and enjoy their personal boarding journey. Living with girls of diverse backgrounds enables each boarder to learn more about other cultures and lifestyles, allowing a greater understanding of the world that awaits.
On arrival each girl is allocated a buddy boarder to help them settle in, and the Boarding House routines are specifically tailored to suit adolescent girls. The community living environment allows each girl to feel supported while managing their own life and enjoying their independence.
The friendships that I have formed over the last four years boarding at MGGS are ones that I will undoubtedly carry and hold onto throughout my life. I believe it is friendships like these that only boarding can offer due to the diversity and uniqueness of every girl. – Charlotte Douglas, Year 12
Living in an all-girls boarding house allows the community to experience a closeness that can only be likened to sisterhood.
3. What impact will attending boarding school have on student’s wellbeing?
Given the immersive nature of the boarding school experience, each girl’s wellbeing is of utmost importance. Our approach to education focuses as much on ‘being well’ as ‘doing well’, and therefore each girl’s emotional and physical wellbeing holds equal weight to her academic achievements. While it can be tough with parents and family not always close by, the School is attentive in ensuring that each student has the support she needs.
Melbourne Girls Grammar works to cultivate an atmosphere of warmth and friendliness within the Boarding House, making it a home away from home. Though feelings of homesickness may sometimes be inevitable, each boarder is conscientiously supported by the staff as well as their peers. Students are guided by a Wellbeing Coach, who is part of their support network, to help with their schooling journey in a personalised, confidential and collaborative manner. A Wellbeing Coach can help hear any concerns and formulate strategies that can help boarders navigate through adolescent life.
The physical health of our boarders is always of unreserved priority. The boarding staff are available around the clock; and are able to help with any concerns and provide attentive support. Public and private hospitals are within 10 minutes of the Boarding School, so parents can rest assured that their child has access to medical care in the unfortunate event that they should need it.
Girls are encouraged to explore their physical, cultural and social interests and participate in as many activities that they can. The students love to spend time at the Artemis Centre, which is available to them on on Saturdays and some nights after school, and includes a pool, multipurpose courts, gym and café. Trying new things is a fulfilling and enjoyable part of the boarding experience, and allows each boarder’s personality to shine. Making friends, learning new skills and trying different hobbies will help boarders enjoy a rich and rewarding experience in a positive and supportive environment.
4. What level of staff support is available in boarding school?
Boarders are cared for by the Director of Boarding, the Assistant Director of Boarding, and residential staff who are in the Boarding House full-time, converging a broad range of experience.
The residential staff support each girl wholly, and work to provide an environment where the students are all able to excel. The residential staff tutor girls in a range of subject areas, with additional external tutors also available for subjects such as maths, science and languages.
Supervised evening study for years 7 – 10 allows the boarders to support each other in peer-to-peer learning whilst also receiving guidance from boarding staff in a more informal capacity. In our Boarding House, we recognise that all students have unique learning styles. Our girls choose the way in which they study, whether it be collaboratively, independently or with specialist tutors or residential staff. This option helps our girls understand the way she learns best, and provides opportunities for her to experiment with new methods.
In further advocacy for the girls’ wellbeing, the Boarding House staff continuously maintain open communication with students’ parents and families, helping meet any need.
The staff are careful to allow each girl to live their independent lives whilst also offering them support when needed. Wellbeing support staff such as the wellbeing coaches, wellbeing coordinators and the school counsellor are also available for hands-on support.
5. What is the lifestyle and living environment like in boarding school?
The boarding experience at Melbourne Girls Grammar has been cultivated by the staff, the School and of course, the boarders themselves. The girls enjoy a level of self-sufficiency whilst simultaneously feeling taken care of by the staff and their peers.
The Boarding House, ideally set in the heart of Melbourne, allows ample opportunity for the girls to discover the lively city. With the residence located beside the Royal Botanic Gardens, boarders are able to enjoy a picturesque walk to Melbourne’s CBD, which is full of cultural destinations such as the National Gallery of Victoria, Federation Square and the State Library of Victoria.
With new and different events, markets, concerts, exhibitions and sporting matches happening each week, our students have so much to choose from and love using their free time to explore the city. The Boarding House’s own suburb, South Yarra, is aplenty with boutique cafés and shops, plus Melbourne’s iconic Chapel Street is only a short walk away. Weekly supermarket trips and in-house activities are also a great way to get to know everyone a little more. There is always a range of activities for the girls to get involved in.
Given all year levels reside in the same Boarding House at Melbourne Girls Grammar, the atmosphere is conducive to harmonious living and a relaxed, social atmosphere. Younger boarders are accommodated in rooms of four, whilst Year 11 students are allocated double rooms and Year 12 students each have their own room. The space itself reflects that of a home, with several common areas, laundries, kitchenettes, and break-out spaces featuring Wi-Fi, where the boarders can choose to spend their time within the dedicated schedule of the House routine.
A typical day in the life of a boarder would include waking up at 7:30am to get ready, then onto breakfast which is available from 7:00 – 8:10am. Some boarders attend sporting practice during this time, after which there is time to get ready for school, commencing at 8:30am. After the end of the school day at 3:20pm, boarders may either engage in a co-curricular activity, enjoy free time and head to the shops or study in the library or in their rooms. The boarders return to the Boarding House in time for dinner at 5:40pm, and then attend supervised study from 6:30pm – 8:30pm. On the weekends, after breakfast the girls are encouraged to enjoy a range of activities in-house as well as go out and discover the city. Lunch and dinner are optional on these days, and the girls often enjoy a post dinner outing, like the age-old tradition of walking down to Domain Road for a hot chocolate.
What I enjoy most about boarding at Melbourne Girls is the most incredible friendships I have made in such a short amount of time. – Sophie Hodge, Year 10
If you have any further questions about our Boarding Program or the enrolment process at Melbourne Girls Grammar, please contact us. Alternatively, we invite you to schedule a private tour of our Boarding House.