School Life > Boarding Principles & Practice

Boarding Principles

These are the aims and expectations of our school and they apply to all aspects of our boarding:

Milton Abbey works to be a community in which each individual is known, understood and respected and in which:
• kindness is central
• diversity and difference are celebrated
• all stand up for what they know to be right

We work to make school a healthy, safe and positive experience for all, prioritising:
• wellbeing
• joy in learning
• success, in and beyond the classroom

We remove barriers to learning:
• our focus is always on ‘personal best’
• challenge is high and pressure is moderate
• we build self-belief and ambition

We develop confidence by providing you with:
• the broadest possible choice of courses of study
• opportunities and experiences designed to build competence and confidence
• mentoring including personalized targets and goals

Your teachers and house team will provide the ideal balance of support and challenge; they will:
• know and care for you as an individual
• understand and respond to your learning needs
• expect, encourage and celebrate effort

We will teach you how to how to take control of your life and learning, ensuring you:
• understand and meet community expectations
• have the tools and strategies you need to regulate yourself and to access any help you need
• find enthusiasm, direction and purpose

Working in partnership with you and your family, Milton Abbey aims to send you into the world ready and able to make a difference:

• knowing and understanding yourself
• able to connect with others and make a positive contribution
• irresistibly employable and a pleasure to know

We will respect you. We expect you to respect yourself and others and to:
• make kindness your cornerstone
• contribute, participate, challenge yourself
• give of your best in all that you do PERSONAL BEST FOR ALL, IN ALL.

Statement of Boarding Practice

At Milton Abbey, we offer an outstanding range of traditional and vocational qualifications, chosen to inspire our students and prepare them for adult life. Our focus is on holistic development. We are not only interested in what a student needs to learn, but in developing the attitudes and habits for lifelong success. Boarding provides an ideal environment to develop communication skills, tolerance, independence, resilience and empathy in our young people.

We are small by choice – our houses range in size between 35-55 students - and our, strong pastoral care and great partnership with parents mean that we quickly gain exceptional knowledge of each child. Based on this, we work with each student to set ambitious and personalised targets.

We are proud of our track record of enabling young people to gain the self-belief necessary to achieve. Known and appreciated as individuals, they make the most of our glorious countryside setting, build lasting friendships and find out what they can achieve, with the right support, when they give it their all.

Our boarding is arranged in five houses (Damer and Hughie’s for girls, Athelstan, Hambro and Tregonwell for boys). Two houses (Damer and Tregonwell) are purpose-built, modern houses on the school’s Drive; the others are located in or attached to our Mansion house.

Prospective parents and pupils may express a preference for a House but all allocation is made by the Head, advised by the Admissions Team, to ensure balance. Houses usually include students from across the 13-18 age group, but may be restricted to Lower or Upper School dependent on whole school numbers.

90% of our students are boarders and all our boarding is Full Boarding. This means that weekends and evenings are busy and stimulating, with plenty to do and lots of friends around with whom to enjoy social events, make the most of the school’s facilities and engage with the varied school-wide activity programme. Boarders can enjoy social spaces including the Tuck Shop, State Rooms and Sixth Form social centre at specified times. Lower School (3rd-5th Form) boarders participate in at least three evening activities weekly, 6th Formers in at least two.

In our inclusive and neurodiverse community, boarders benefit from having staff at hand to support with their learning outside of lesson times. House teams understand the complex inter-relationship between the pastoral and the academic and actively foster a growth mindset. A weekly ‘flagging’ meeting ensures that information is shared between House teams and the wider teaching staff. ‘Clinics’ (drop-in support groups) are available in all subjects to support academic progress and supervised prep is available for those who need adult support for independent study time. Our Learning Development team work closely with House teams to ensure seamless provision for our boarders’ learning needs.

Throughout their time here, our students benefit from the support, inspiration, challenge and encouragement of an extraordinary team of staff, all dedicated to enabling each pupil to achieve ‘personal bests’, in and beyond the classroom and to providing exceptional pastoral care.

Each house is overseen by a resident Housemaster or Housemistress (known as a HSM), a Resident Assistant Housemaster/mistress (known as an AHM), a Resident Tutor (known as an RT) and a Day Matron. Each house is supported by non-resident tutors, who deepen their knowledge of their tutees through weekly House duties as well as through Tutor Meetings. Boarding is overseen by the Deputy Head (Boarding). Students also have access to a Chaplaincy Coordinator, School Counsellors, a 24/7 nurse-staffed Health Centre and an Independent Listener: they are regularly reminded of the many ways in which they can seek support or get advice.

Each house has a Common Room and a Kitchen for preparing light snacks, but all meals are taken in our central Dining Room (Abbot’s Hall). Students gather for Callover (registration) several times a day, when achievements, great and small, are shared and celebrated and notices are distributed. Each term begins and ends with a House Weekend, where the focus is on shared activities in-House or a weekend residential trip. Day students have a desk (and usually a dedicated bedspace) in House, may stay by arrangement (e.g. over a House Weekend or when a special event is planned) and are encouraged to involve themselves actively in House life.

Houses take on a Duty Week on a rota, including running Chapel service and choosing ‘Boarder’s Choice’ supper. We maintain a lively set of inter-house competitions, including sport tournaments, music and chess, with an emphasis on fun and inclusivity. Points are won towards termly cups through academic effort (Hodgkinson Trophy) and community service (Round Square Trophy). Each house supports its own charity, raising funds and holding awareness-raising events.

House teams place great importance on social and interpersonal skills and support students in developing strong and healthy relationships, based on respect. Behaviour expectations are clear with a focus on encouragement and recognition for good behaviour and sanctions consistently applied when community expectations are not met.

With 70% of our students UK-based and 30% international students, from in excess of 20 countries, Milton Abbey is a British school with a truly international dimension, giving our students a global perspective. Our boarders enjoy having friends from around the world and across the age groups.

As they progress through the school, students have opportunities to develop their leadership skills and to take on positions of responsibility within House and the wider school. Student voice is heard through direct interactions with staff and through the representative House Councils, which can propose motions to be discussed and voted on at our Round Table (our democratic School Council). We expect all our students to leave the boarding community better than they found it, making an active and positive contribution to house and school life. Our boarders leave us ready to take on the challenges and opportunities of 21st Century life, enriched by their Milton Abbey boarding experience.