Six benefits of boarding in a rural location

Ampleforth students take part in many fund-raising events for charities, including the annual Colour

Ampleforth students take part in many fund-raising events for charities, including the annual Colour Run. Picture: Ampleforth College - Credit: Archant

Set in over 2,200 acres of beautiful Ryedale countryside, on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, Ampleforth is a renowned Catholic boarding and day school.

The school's rural location allows students to enjoy an enormous range of co-curricular activities a

The school's rural location allows students to enjoy an enormous range of co-curricular activities and an unrivalled country sports programme. Picture: Ampleforth College - Credit: Archant

A co-educational establishment, for children aged 11 to 19 of all faiths, Ampleforth aims to nurture individual talent and help its pupils become independent thinkers, equipped with a compass for life.

Jon Mutton, Deputy Head of Pastoral and Wellbeing, suggests how boarding can help young people to flourish and outlines the benefits of being in a rural location:

Students form lasting friendships at Ampleforth. Picture: Ampleforth College

Students form lasting friendships at Ampleforth. Picture: Ampleforth College - Credit: Archant

1. Lasting friendships

80 per cent of our students are full boarders. Day students are fully integrated into boarding houses and the life of the school. We have nine purpose-built boarding houses, including a new co-ed house for our Year 7 and 8 pupils with a boys’ wing and a girls’ wing. Children in Years 7 and 8 can flexi-board. All other houses are for Years 9 to 13, single-sex, and offer full-boarding or day places. Students share dormitories in Year 9 and, as they get older, are likely to move to single rooms, which are generally en-suite. Each house has communal social areas and kitchens as well as gardens, music practice rooms and chapels.

Students at Ampleforth feel their house is their home away from home and their second family. Children in different year groups mix (when Covid permits) and form lasting friendships with each other and with staff. During full lockdown earlier this year, our students told us they missed everything about Ampleforth: the valley, activities, staff – even lessons in real classrooms – but what they missed most was their friends and the social side of life at school.

2. Togetherness

Each house has its own Housemistress or Housemaster, tutors, matron, chaplain and other support staff. Houses eat lunch together which helps engender a sense of family and allows staff and students to keep in touch throughout the day. Sixth formers play an important role in taking on leadership responsibilities within each house and acting as role models for the younger years. There are interhouse competitions and sports matches which foster a strong sense of house spirit and loyalty.

Learning to live in a community, not just with their great friends but with others who they might find harder to connect with, teaches boarders important lessons about diversity, respect, empathy, and about themselves. In our community, with 30 per cent of our students from Europe and other countries, there is a lot to learn about other cultures and customs too.

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3. Co-curricular activities

Boarding opens up so many more opportunities for learning and co-curricular activities that day schools simply cannot fit into their timetables. The days are varied and full at Ampleforth, with lessons and sports fixtures running from Monday to Saturday plus a busy programme of activities which continues over the weekends. Boarding allows students to completely immerse themselves in everything we have to offer and enjoy a much richer experience.

Whether taking part in a drama production, bivouacking on the moors in a Combined Cadet Force (CCF) exercise, recreating the Sistine Chapel for an art project, performing in a concert, restoring a Land Rover, playing the drums in our bag-pipe band on a tour of China, debating a controversial topic, or working with Autism Plus as part of community service, there is something extra-curricular for everyone at Ampleforth.

4. Expert support

Teenagers relish independence and want the opportunity to discover and do things for themselves. They also need support, guidance and structure. Boarding school provides both elements in a safe but fun and sociable environment, with lots of friends to share the experience.

The teenage years can sometimes be difficult, but boarders benefit from the support and expertise of trained academic and pastoral staff both during and outside of the school day.

5. Outdoor pursuits

Our rural location is a huge asset and there can be few better places for young people to grow up and experience the joys of the countryside. It is teenage heaven here, with a vast amount of protected, open space for students to enjoy an enormous range of activities. It provides huge scope for personal growth, challenge, excitement, study and reflection.

With such a large estate, we have an unrivalled country sports programme, which includes gamekeeping, a college shoot, well-stocked fishing lakes, and indoor and outdoor shooting ranges. There is an equestrian arena, cross-country courses, sports pitches stretching out across the valley, mountain biking, golf, as well as plenty of terrain suitable for CCF and Duke of Edinburgh Award exercises. Whatever their interests, students learn to respect and preserve this inspiring environment. Covid has reminded us just how lucky we are to have this wonderful space and freedom.

6. Shared experience

Our students absolutely love being here – it feels like a real home to them. This doesn’t change even long after they have left school. Old Amplefordians love to come back and visit the community in our beautiful valley.

Our boarders are all very passionate about their boarding houses, believing that theirs is the best. They greatly value the strong bonds they develop not only with their friends but also with the staff in their house, particularly their house parents, looking to them for guidance and support.

For more information visit ampleforth.org.uk or call 01439 766000.

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