As the latest academic year draws to a close, pupils – and staff – share their secrets on successfully settling in their new surroundings. Here, Leah (12) and Issy (12), from Haberdashers’ Monmouth School for Girls, and Sam (11) and Ben (14), of Monmouth School, tell us how they have been getting on…

Issy and Leah, of Haberdashers’ Monmouth School for Girls

How have you found your first year at the school?
Leah: “I’ve found it enjoyable and definitely a good, new experience. I like all the activities we do and the equipment the school provides. I’ve got lots of good friends and they make boarding a really homely environment.”

Issy: “I have really enjoyed it. There are lots of clubs and we have so many opportunities to try new things. I like netball and swimming and all the lessons. I’d never done home economics before coming here.”

Sam: “The staff always help with work, take your mind off homesickness and are all really kind. I think Monmouth is suitable for boarders because of its location and peaceful nature.”

Ben:Because you’re all together 24/7 it feels like you’re part of a big family. When you get back from school at the end of the day the atmosphere is really nice. Boarding has helped me gain a lot of confidence – it will stand me well in the future. When I go off to uni I feel like I’ll be a lot more independent than I would have been otherwise.”

Monmouth School student Ben

What have you enjoyed the most?
Leah: “I’ve enjoyed swimming the most. The boarders swim on Tuesday evenings and on Saturday. I like that they allow us to do anything we like – there are lots of floats and pool toys.”

Issy: “My favourite thing is living in boarding with all of my friends, they are so nice and funny.”

Sam: “My favourite thing about boarding is being with boys your age the whole time. In the evenings we play cricket outside quite often and on Thursday nights we do sport with the girls.”

Ben:My boarding highlights include going paintballing for the first time, messing about in the garden with the gap year boarding assistants and making friends for life.”

What new skills or hobbies have you picked up?
Leah: “I’ve picked up playing netball – I’d never played that before. I have also picked up art in boarding; I usually draw sketches of things around me.”

Issy: “I started playing lacrosse which I really like. I love sport and it’s a very interesting game – a lot goes on in it.”

Monmouth School pupil Sam

What did you find was the biggest challenge?
Leah: “I found the biggest challenge was getting homesick and getting to know my way around the building. But School House is a very homely environment and I’ve settled in really well now so I don’t get homesick very often anymore.”

Issy: “At first I really missed my family and I used to talk to them a lot. The boarding staff are so nice and helpful, and I have such good friends – they always take my mind off being homesick.”

Sam: “The welcome was good and helped me a lot with home sickness as it was quite different at first. There’s always something going on and I really enjoy it. It’s like a home from home.”

What advice would you give to someone starting at the school in the next academic year?
Leah: “I’d tell them to be excited about coming here because it’s like one giant family and it’s really nice, so there’s no need to worry.”

Issy: “They shouldn’t be afraid to try something new – it’s fun to do different things and they might really enjoy it if they try it. We would both choose to come here again if we had the choice – it’s really like one big family.”

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