St Peter's 13-18
For many parents, the idea of their children boarding together gives rise to a whole host of concerns: will they only be friends with one another? Will the younger sibling feel overshadowed by the elder? Will the elder sibling feel responsible for the younger?
For Max, twins Harry and Jack, and their family, such issues have never materialised. All three have arrived at St Olave’s boarding house, Wentworth, in the past five years, and with Fifth Former Max leading the way, all plan to see out their education in the boarding houses of St Peter’s.
Harry, in J3 (Year 6) at St Olave’s, insists that neither he nor his parents needed any persuasion about the merits of boarding: “Max didn’t really have to persuade me – he never really explained what boarding was like. I could just see that he enjoyed it, so I wanted to do the same. It was our parents’ suggestion at first, but we all wanted to do it.”
What was it that made their parents so sure of boarding?
“We all had to get up really early before,” Jack explains, “so it stops them having to do two hours of driving every day.”
“And they don’t have to get up on a Saturday morning!” Harry is quick to point out.
As valuable as a lie-in may be, the boys are all keenly aware of how boarding continues to benefit them, in ways that defied their expectations.
“I expected boarding to be like one big sleepover”, says Harry, appropriately dressed in a reindeer onesie.
“I thought they’d be a lot of time messing around,” Jack agrees, “but you actually get lots of prep done.”
Max, surely had expectations about what life would be like when his younger brothers joined his school. However, he’s confident that if anything, boarding makes him feel less responsible for looking after his family, knowing that they have their own family at Wentworth.
“I don’t really feel any pressure to look after them because they’re on the other side of campus,” Max smiles, knowing that his brothers are well cared for by Wentworth house parents Reverend Graham Wright and St Peter’s Deputy Head, Joanna Wright.
The livewire twins clearly look up to their reasonable older brother, but are more amused than intimidated by the idea of following in his footsteps. In fact, Jack seems delighted by the fact that “when I move to Peter’s, Max will be gone!”
Max, too, declares himself “very pleased about that.”
A wry sense of humour underpins the evident camaraderie between the brothers, but other than that, it’s clear that each has been happy and able to forge their own identity. Max is a more relaxed character than the enthusiastic Harry, whilst a grinning Jack constantly fires off jokes.
It is little wonder, then, that the three don’t feel that boarding with their actual family holds them back from making the most of their wider school family.
“Everyone here can have time and space to themselves,” Harry explains “and we actually spend more time with our own friends than we do with each other.”
“Probably for the best” says Max, who repeatedly emphasises the freedom boarding affords him: “You can do pretty much anything on an evening – go see your friends in other houses, go down to Sainsbury’s for some food and watch a film, whatever you want.”
Jack is particularly excited by the extra access to the activities and facilities on offer: “Every Tuesday we go swimming and on other days we can mess around in the sports hall. We don’t board on weekends, but everyone always tells us about the fun stuff they do on weekends.”
Though the brothers might not take advantage of weekend trips to the coast, theme parks or the city, they attach far more value to the opportunity to relax with their family and take their dog for a walk.
“We’ll go out together on the weekends” says Harry, “and mum usually makes a really nice Sunday lunch.”
“She’s always really excited to see us,” Jack adds, “When she picks us up she’s always looking over the bridge (that connects the main campus with Max’s boarding house, The Manor) and asking ‘Where’s Max? Where’s Max?’”
An extra appreciation of family life is not rooted in any sense of homesickness, however – it is clear that they all relish boarding life. When asked what their favourite thing about boarding is, each brother answers in a typically characterful manner.
“The freedom to go to town and just do what you want to do” says Max.
“Playing in the sports hall with my friends” says Harry.
“Rev. Wright” says Jack, as he directs a cheeky smile toward his house parent.