An increasing number of parents are opting for children to board at King’s College, even though they live in the same city.
Headmaster Simon Lamb says there has been a steady growth in boarding enrolments from current day students deciding to board to maximise their time at the school.
Currently around 35 per cent of the school’s roll of 1100 pupils are boarders, living on site at the college either full- or part-time. There are four boys’ boarding houses and a separate house for girl boarders at year 11–13 level, as well as Te Pūtake Lodge for first-time year 9 boarders.
“I think one of the biggest advantages of boarding is that students get immediate access to everything the school has to offer, all the time, whether that’s sports training or band practice before or after school, or any other activities they might be involved in,” Lamb says.
“It makes that very easy and saves a lot of time,” Lamb says. “That’s why there is a significant number of day students becoming boarders.”
That trend has seen a rise in the number of boarders from within greater Auckland, rather than from further afield. Only about 100 of around 370 current boarders are from other regions of New Zealand or overseas; the rest are from Auckland.
“This is partly a reflection on Auckland traffic,” Lamb jokes, “but it also illustrates the advantages of boarding in terms of engaging with the school and being able to access its facilities at all times.”
Flexibility is one of those advantages; students no longer have to live on campus full time for the whole term.
“Many students come in for the week and go home for the weekends, so they can get the best of both worlds,” Lamb says. “They have the benefit of the structured life of school during the week, then they can leave on Friday afternoon or Saturday morning after sport.
“They get the benefit of being at home for the weekend and keeping that connection with Mum and Dad and their siblings, returning to school on Sunday night or Monday morning. It’s a bit of a double win.
“We want to encourage students to have the benefits they can while they’re here, as well as what they gain from going home for weekends.”
Lamb says having young people living on site is a huge responsibility for the school, which provides both learning support and pastoral care in the boarding-house environment. Each house is led by a house master, with a team of tutors and a house manager living on site, and teacher mentors assigned to each group. There is also a small medical centre at the school.
“We take the responsibility very seriously, as we are looking after the students’ health and wellbeing 24/7,” Lamb says.
As well as being able to access sporting and cultural facilities at school, such as the pool, weights gym, computer labs and music performance rooms, Lamb says students can also benefit academically from a boarding environment, with structured daily prep sessions and access to tutors giving an extra boost.
“Fundamentally, teenagers like structure and to know where the boundaries are. They feel comfortable living in a tightly structured environment, and become their own individual by living within that structure.”
Lamb says the house structure at King’s is the key to generating a sense of belonging and collegiality for both boarding and day students. Upon starting at the college, every student is assigned to a house, each of which has its own culture, traditions and support networks.
Older students are also given opportunities to take on responsibilities and roles within their house, helping to grow their confidence and develop leadership skills.
“When you talk to Old Collegians, the first thing they share is which house they were in, which indicates the position and the importance of the houses,” he says.
The loyalty to, and friendly rivalry between, houses is also seen at school-wide events such as sports days and the Big House Music performing arts event, held annually at Spark Arena, attended by around 4000 people.
“For our boarders, they are not only at school together but they are living together, too. There is a real sense of unity and comradeship that comes with living with their friends and their peers, and being part of a house community increases this sense of belonging.”