What people think about boarding school – and why they’re wrong

We’re not all lesbians who speak Latin


When you tell people you went to boarding school, you instantly get the dismissive “boarding school kid” stigma attached to you. It’s the (incorrect) presumption that none of us have worked a day in our lives, our daddies pay for everything and we holiday in Monaco with Grey Goose bottles every other month (make that Verbier in winter though). But what was it really like to go to boarding school?

Firstly, there were actually mixed sex boarding schools

Yes, we had contact with the opposite sex before university, would you believe it. And even if your boarding school wasn’t mixed, you had your brother school nearby down the road, and you were the best of buds.

We were sneaky as fuck

Ordering a dominos to your dorm window at 12 because matron said you weren’t allowed any that night, standard. Sneaking out of the laundry room door for a cigarette because you did what you wanted and didn’t think twice about it. Rules are there to be broken, right?

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We got grounded, too

Detention, sin-bins, being gated, suspension, expulsion. Boarding school punishments were the toughest of them all, but somehow we managed to avoid them most of the time.

We’re not all snobs

I mean, you’d catch me on a night out drinking my Glens vodka with Tesco sparkling water, dancing the night through before then eating a £2.50 pizza on the way home. Same goes for the lot of us, we don’t party with our Belvedere and Grey Goose, waving at the ones unfortunate enough to not make the VIP booths. We’re probably one of those people, instead:

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Not everyone studied Latin

While I did, and still do, Latin, it wasn’t the compulsory curriculum for everyone – at least past year 9 anyway. OK, so maybe we had to do it in Year 7 and 8, but we all loved it deep down. Caecilius is bae, and I think he’s still in the horto.

The food was a little presumptuous to say the least…

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Boarding school was the time to get experimental

There were always the kids that got kicked out for doing weed the night before the ‘random drug test’, or the couple that got caught behind the chapel, the kid who thought he could handle his booze that Saturday night when really he couldn’t. Breaking the rules was something everyone loved to do, there were too many to keep, anyway.

Sleep took priority over makeup

For the first week of lower sixth we staggered into the dining hall at 7.30am for breakfast in our new heels that didn’t fit right. Come week 2 and the flats were on, the hair was tied back and there certainly hadn’t been enough time to contour that morning. Sleep > makeup.

We’re all unbelievably competitive

House rivalry meant that everyone was ridiculously competitive in everything we did. From sports day to house singing competitions, there was always that house that won every year; the theatre hall would become the Hunger Games round two every time they went up onto stage.

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winning best model house every year, ofc x

You had to sign out every time you went anywhere, ever

It was like being monitored 24/7. You want to go get milk from the Texaco garage? Sign out first, please, and you have approximately 7 minutes to do it in. Think you’re going out Saturday night? Think again; make sure you’ve had your leave out form signed at least 5 days before the weekend and that does require a parent’s signature, by the way.

We were best mates with the teachers

Boarding school is quite a small, close community when you think about it, so, for us, hanging out at the headmaster’s house for a few glasses of wine as part of a “tutor meeting” was the norm.

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wine tasting with the big dog, standard

It was super, super bitchy

No one liked the new kid; the new kid was a threat. We didn’t particularly like other houses behind their backs either, but we all got along behind the rivalry. We also had nightly group meetings with a hot chocolate over an episode of Ex on The Beach, so bitchiness was bound to happen, I guess.

You had to go to chapel four times a week and yes, you had to go on Sundays

Fancy a lie in on Sunday? Think again, you’ve got 9am chapel! Oh and when the weekend ‘starts’ on Friday after lessons, you have to endure a 2 hour service then, too. So hold that thought.

Commem day was a massive calendar event

You got to dress up nicely, enjoy the sun, cry about how you’ll never win a single prize, ever, and drink with your teachers, rents and best buds. What else could you want?

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We had to wait ages to shower after games

The sprint back from games was the most important race you would run all week. First back meant first shower, and boy oh boy was it a long wait otherwise.

Oh, and we did have to go to school on Saturdays

It was shit, but we did it. It was fun in like year 7 when you got to do gardening or arts and crafts all morning. Latin 9am on a Saturday wasn’t quite as fun.

We don’t all own second homes in the country

I don’t even have an AGA. Would you believe it?!

Daddy didn’t buy us that Land Rover for our 18ths

I bought a Ford KA with my money I earned in my job. I saved for two years. I’m still waiting on that Land Rover, funnily enough.

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We didn’t get our grades handed to us on a silver platter

Majority of us actually worked our asses off throughout the whole of sixth form to get into the university we wanted to go to. I went from a predicted D to the well deserved B I knew I could get in Latin, from studying day in and day out until it clicked. It’s no breezy ride, put it that way.

Sick days were always the best days

Begging the school nurse to put you off games and being granted the day in the sick bay was the best reward there could be, but not when they took your phone off you to make sure you weren’t just bullshitting.

We do actually have jobs

Babe, I’ve been working since the day I turned 16 and had six different jobs over the past four years, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. A six day school week with a long shift on Sundays, I worked my ass off throughout the whole of sixth form to afford my car, my girls’ holiday and have a fund for uni – so don’t tell me I don’t understand the “working world” because of my deluded “private school bubble”.

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We didn’t abuse our contacts to easily get jobs

The moment I turned 16, I was parading up and down my local high street, CVs in hand, going to anywhere and everywhere that would accept me. I didn’t call daddy and ask him to sort me out with some expensive business internship. Instead I stacked tampons and nappies for four years of my life, and I still do.

Our boarding pals (and house mistress!) were our sisters (or brothers) and we’d have it no other way

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