As I welcome parents into Honan on the first day of a new academic year I always remind them that their daughter’s health and happiness is my main concern, with the rest often falling into place once a child is truly flourishing i.e. in a state of optimal well-being. Flourishing is something that the Positive Education approach puts great emphasis on, as well as positive relationships, emotions, health, engagement, accomplishment and purpose. Achieving this state of self-actualisation in every child is no mean feat, but the values of Positive Education are embedded in a Marlborough education and putting pupil well-being at the centre of all we do at MCM is not a new philosophy. I thought it appropriate to reflect on how we foster a Positive Education in boarding at MCM and what a privilege it is to be a part of something so special.
Honan prides itself on the positive relationships that exist within our little kampung and beyond and never have I witnessed a more openly caring and considerate environment between the girls in a boarding House. Gone are the days of a hierarchy between year groups and this has been replaced by mutual respect between the girls, and a real embodiment of the three Cs: Compassion, Conversation and Companionship. All the Houses prioritise the celebration of pupil success during our weekly House assemblies, and each is unique in the qualities they value in its members. The overarching themes put an emphasis on integrity, first and foremost, but also resilience, when life does not quite go to plan or mistakes, are made. Our #onecollege ethos creates an environment where our Senior pupils are wonderful role models for the Prep School pupils and this can be illustrated by Taylor’s character strength panels which celebrate qualities such as leadership and teamwork by creating an environment where younger pupils can ask questions and discuss these strengths in detail.
Fostering House spirit is an important role of a housemaster of housemistress and it is no accident that the House Singing competitions fall within the first half of a new academic year. House Shout is a whole House event, which involves each and every pupil getting up on stage and singing together. Not only is singing together a wonderfully uplifting experience, but the competitive element breeds comradery, teamwork and collaboration. Many rehearsals later, the excitement and nerves are tangible as the boarding houses battle it out on stage – winning is first on the pupils’ agenda, but it is the feeling of belonging and purpose that is so vital to every pupil’s emotional well-being: each and every pupil has no choice but to engage, Disney smiles and all.
Health and well-being is a common theme to MCM and it is not only the outstanding sports programme on offer, or the well-researched and innovative Well-Being curriculum, but the boarding house routine is centred around enabling healthy habits to be embedded into the pupils’ days. The dame’s dorm checks ensure that the pupils’ day starts with the simple, yet important, task of making one’s bed. The pupil’s hand in their devices before bedtime, allowing them to learn the correlation between separating themselves from technology and a good night’s sleep. Bedtimes are staggered to ensure that pupils have the opportunity for enough sleep for their age and Honan’s ‘early to bed’ Wednesday night, where the house is quiet from 9:45 pm, has become something to look forward to for the girls and beaks. It happens to also be ‘bed sheet change’ night too – is there anything finer than fresh sheets and an early night? In Honan, we put an emphasis on gratitude being a precursor to happiness and we enjoy celebrating the simple pleasures in life. Our book of gratitude gets passed from girl to girl each week, filled with happy scribblings of the week’s highlights and those small things we value, or rather should remember to value. We talk openly about emotions and are honest about being fallible and human, and when emotions get the better of us there is always someone to talk to, whether a peer, a girl’s tutor, one of the resident team or Ms Cathy. When OMCMs visit and tell me about their university experiences, it is the people and the sense of belonging that they miss. The community at MCM is second to none and what a privilege it is to be a part of MCM’s family.
For me, I feel like the most important aspect about boarding which has enabled me to flourish is socialising with people. It has helped me in getting acquainted as well as having tolerance with those around me. Multiple experiences shared, like house competitions, make me understand people better with deep empathy and realise that we come from different up-bringings. This has shaped me into a person that appreciates life while having my self-confidence boosted.
– Remove Pupil
I think the most important aspect of boarding which has enabled me to flourish is social interaction and the opportunity to socialise with everyone and anyone in the House. There is always someone to help me solve problems and it’s not only about academics, but also simply about my well-being. The boarding activities that we take part in like House Shout have allowed me to gain more self-confidence. Also, with many activities being run in the boarding community, this has allowed me to experience many things that I normally wouldn’t indulge in.
– Upper Sixth Pupil
The most important aspect about boarding which has enabled me to flourish has to be the support of my peers, house tutors and HM. This is because being in 6th form can be overwhelming and being able to go back to House to speak to tutors and the HM about work or even just how your day went can make a really big difference in your mood and this can improve your personal wellbeing. The support of tutors and peers has allowed me to strive to be a better person myself and also flourish in my academics, sports, social life and so much more. Being far away from parents can be hard sometimes and the tutors and peers are always there to support and listen to you in the boarding community and for me, that is the best trait about being in a boarding community. The kind of love and care you receive in Honan house is something that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
– Lower Sixth Pupil
In my opinion, the most important aspect about boarding is the strong support system provided for pupils (especially new pupils) as well as the disciplined routine instilled in boarding houses. Boarding provides a strong support system for me to open up about my problems and seek advice either from my tutor, peer mentors, friends in the boarding house or the housemistress. Having a disciplined routine also helps me to become more efficient, productive and punctual in my day-to-day life. This helps me to develop essential life-skills and prepare me for the future.
– Upper 6th Pupil