St Peter's 13-18
Hope joined St Peter’s and Dronfield boarding house in Year 10, having previously attended a state school in her home town of Durham.
“It’s more relaxed at Peter’s,” Hope says, “Which might sound odd, but at my old school, because some pupils weren’t well behaved, the teachers had to be stricter with everyone. You’re trusted here to be responsible. Also, before I was at a huge, huge school, with 1,500 pupils in a single massive building. Here you know everyone.”
Evenings have been transformed for Hope, since starting boarding. “I go to the gym,” she says, “Some girls go swimming, although that’s not so much my thing. Or there’s always popping out to get some snacks from the Sainsbury’s at the end of the road and then watching a movie together. That’s always a good one. A year ago I’d have been sitting on my own with my phone. You’re much more engaged with people as a boarder. There’s always something to do, you’re always busy.”
With the majority of pupils joining at either Third Form or Sixth Form, Hope was trepidatious, as all those new to boarding are, about the ease with which she would make friends. “I felt nervous,” she explains, “but in the long-term I knew it was what I needed. Of course it was hard, it was heartbreaking leaving the girl I rowed pairs with. But I’m still friends with my old friends. Social media lets us keep in touch and I’ll go back to Durham at exeats as well as in half-term and longer holidays. I have three set of friends now: my home town, school and rugby. So there’s always someone I can speak to.”
Hockey and Rowing are passions that Hope has been able to pursue at St Peter’s, competing for the school at both sports and enjoying a standard of training and facilities and a level of competitive success that her old school were unable to offer this talented sportswoman.
It’s rugby, though, where Hope’s aspirations and talents find their home. She plays for Yorkshire and Sandal RUFC. “I’d love to play professionally.” Hope’s evident talent for rugby has been supported by the school, with arrangements made between the school and family to enable Hope to attend evening and weekend training and matches. Where boarding is seen by some as a sacrifice, for Hope it has been an enabler.
“The best part of my school experience so far is the boarding,” she says, “It’s definitely worth it. Speaking very practically, you always get your homework done, because you all do it at the same time, and in the younger years you’ll be sat together. Plus, you can’t ever forget anything you need.”
As she approaches the end of her first term, it’s clear Hope has made friends and is enjoying a packed schedule built around her skills and interests. Can she discern a St Peter’s spirit? When asked what characterises the school, Hope says, “There’s a vibe throughout the whole school, the whole atmosphere is about people mixing. It’s sociable and relaxed, so you feel happier.”