• Sixth Form

Joyce, Year 12, has written about her experience of boarding during the pandemic. Her piece has been published in the Chinese newspaper "People's Daily Overseas Edition", a translation of which can be found below.

The Boarding Experience during the Pandemic

Three years ago, I decided to go to an English boarding school as I wanted to achieve the best grades possible. Looking back now as a Year 12 student, I have not only achieved what I hoped to but have also gained unforgettable experiences out of the boarding aspect of the school.

Before joining the School, I spoke to a few girls about their impression of English boarding schools. They were all about “homesick”, “strict routines”, and “discipline”, just like what everyone expects from the TV show Malory Towers! With the fear of getting used to the new environment, my boarding school life began. When I first came, I was sharing a room with three other girls, who come from Spain, England and Kenya. Being friends with girls from different countries has allowed me to understand different cultures and different language.

The boarding community is where I call home and feel a sense of belonging, it is an environment where I feel safe and secure. Whenever we are feeling down, there is always someone to give us hugs and to cheer us up, be that the Housemistresses, Boarding Grad teacher or the girls. What’s worth mentioning is that no one ever feels left out on our birthdays as there are always birthday surprises going on in the boarding house!

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world. In the Summer Term, we entered a national lockdown, and all schools were closed. I was the only international student who stayed in School, with 14 other key worker children. Everything was new to me as most of the girls were from the Prep Department and I barely knew anyone. However, with the encouragement of teachers to join fun activities (which everybody enjoyed), I quickly became friends with the girls.

We had a fantastic time in the lockdown boarding house and it soon became an unforgettable experience. During the day, we attended online lessons and played games like Twister, tug of war and lacrosse in the garden to made the most of the good weather! The evenings were when all the fun activities began. We made “s’mores”, played disco bingo, and did quiz nights. Also, we participated in “clap for carers” every Thursday at 8 p.m. to show that we appreciated their dedication and hard work during the pandemic.

These fun activities have allowed me to integrate into this crazy lockdown family. One of the most memorable parts was spending time with the girls in Year 5 to 9. They were always full of energy and brought lots of positivity to the house. As an only child, I am very fortunate to experience the joy and delight of being an older sibling! I also understand how challenging it is to be a housemistress to look after young girls!

I am very lucky to have made friends with some girls that I would have never talked to if lockdown never happened! We always went on adventures after online lessons. Some of the most memorable adventures were having breakfast in wheelbarrows, doing haircuts for each other, although these adventures often brought lots of trouble for our Housemistresses!

As the pandemic situation in the UK is improving, we are now going back to face-to-face learning. Boarding houses are returned to normal, and we are split into different social bubbles according to our Year group. I really miss having girls from different Year groups in the boarding house and I look forward to a reunion with them when lockdown restrictions are lifted.

Malvern St James Girls' School Boarding