St Peter's School
Not many people, perhaps, would take on the role of cleaner, laundrywoman, confidante and message-taker for 40 teenage boys.
But The Manor Matron Colette is adamant: “I’ve been here thirty years and I love it.”
It’s a responsible job, keeping kit, uniform and clothing clean, snacks readily available, and co-ordinating a cleaning team of three as well as the maintenance of a building the size of a hotel.
Matrons have a less formal relationship with the boys, and are on first-name terms with the pupils in the house.
“I prefer it in a boys’ house," Colette says. "They talk to you more. They tell you things. Of course anything important, they would talk to the house parents, but sometimes it’s silly things, or things they think are silly but are bothering them. So we’re another person who’s looking out for them.”
Colette has three children, all grown up, so has experienced the pressures and pleasures of teenage life with her own family. Life at the Manor has a family feel to it too.
Colette, explains, “The big ones are so nice with the little ones, and they know that they are role models. I think that means a lot to them. At St Peter’s, being a monitor, or being Head of House, is a big deal to the kids, so they live up to that. They’re more grown up than other children might be. ”
The relationships the boys have with each other is what makes the atmosphere at the Manor so special. It’s getting to know people from a range of places and backgrounds that gives boarders the confidence and self-assurance to work with people from all walks of life.
Colette witnesses friendships being formed as well as the camaraderie of whole-house gathering. “They are affectionate with each other," she sayd, "I went in the other night and they were all piled on top of each other on the sofas watching something on the television. You can see how much they enjoy spending time together.”
"They learn to show support for each other, they learn when someone needs to be left alone. Living together helps them to know how to handle different people."
The job of Matron is a demanding combination of maintaining order and routine for boys still learning the importance of such things, whilst anticipating the unexpected. A faulty television or games console will need fixing quickly. Running out of biscuits may cause angst.
It is clear that after all this time working at The Manor, Colette knows what matters to the boys and how she can best help them make the most of these important years.
“We clear up after them, we look after their laundry, though they can do their own if they want," Colette adds: "Not many do! They do have some little chores to do, but they are all so busy, so it’s easier to have someone keeping everything ship-shape here.”
Worst bit of the job? Colette does not hesitate. “Monday morning, the dirty rugby kit. It stinks!” Still, she admits, “I wouldn’t do anything else.”