Boarding Life At Shapwick School

The academic life of the school is complemented by a boarding environment that promotes the social and emotional development of pupils.

Boarding is new to many pupils when they first join Shapwick, but children quickly adapt and learn to love their adventures with fellow boarders, and make many lifelong friends. Ask any of our young people about boarding life here and they will recount tales of laughter, friendship and belonging.

Full boarders stay in school every night of the week including weekends, with the exception of roughly two exeat weekends per term when all students go home and school closes from Friday at 3.50 pm until Sunday afternoon, 4.00 pm -6.00 pm for Years 4-8 and 6.00 pm - 8.00 pm for Years 9-14. Full boarders may go home or visit friends any weekend providing the school is notified and parents liaise with Houseparents.

Weekly boarders stay in school from either Sunday evening or Monday morning, to Friday afternoon. Weekly boarders enjoy all of the benefits and privileges of boarders except at weekends.

Flexi-boarding is offered on a nightly basis and is available any night of the week, however places are limited and the school does not guarantee to meet all requests.

Houseparents and their team of Assistants are responsible for the boarders’ every pastoral need. They eat together in the mornings and evenings, enjoying home-cooked meals in the Dining Hall.

Here at Shapwick we support our young people at every turn, our watchwords being independence and self-esteem. The boarding team guide students in packing their kit, sorting laundry, changing their beds, phoning / Skyping / Facetiming home, tidying their rooms, reading, sorting out problems, baking cakes , riding a bike, finding clean uniform, brushing teeth, surfing the Net….the list is endless….

We watch the children …, learn, make friends, gain independence, laugh, run, skateboard, increase in confidence, fall out, make up, go to sleep, wake up…again, the list is endless…

Each House will end each day together in their lounge with a drink, a snack, perhaps a duvet and some peace. Bedtimes vary according to age, the youngest are tucked up by 9.00 pm, the very oldest 6th Formers are asked to put their lights out by 11.30 pm.

Full boarders relish the chance to explore, relax and have fun on the weekends.

Saturdays for Years 6-8, whilst Senior students are at school, involve a day trip out to a variety of places and activities. With a packed lunch and a rucksack they set off with their Houseparents on planned excursions and return home in time for a cooked meal. We love the opportunities the children have to see different places and to take part in high adrenaline, confidence boosting activities perhaps never experienced before. For Senior boarders, Saturday afternoons after lessons finish at 12.45 pm, are a chance to relax, go for a walk off the school site, or take advantage of an activity offered by staff on duty. Cinema, shopping and local sports fixtures remain popular.

Sundays involve a lie in and lots of time at the Houses. The day is there just to be at “home” with perhaps a bike ride, trip out or a walk around the village to get some air and exercise. Each term, all boarders take part in an outing somewhere new and exciting, perhaps mountain biking, the beach, a different town further afield…..

Special Occasions

We are proud of our “home from home” environment here at Shapwick, and do our very best to celebrate special occasions with our young people as one would do at home.

Birthdays are marked with a cake, card, candles and some singing. Often this is also a good excuse for some fun and games that evening, indoors or out.

Halloween, when it hits term time, is an excellent excuse for a party night of fancy dress, fairy lights, cobwebs, apple bobbing and ghoulish games.

Bonfire Night usually involves a trip to Burnham-on-Sea, where a fantastic fireworks display takes place on the sea front, or one of the Polden villages, A festive affair on a cold, Autumn evening followed by a hot drink and snack.

Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas comprise an important season of celebration. Trees are dressed, decorations are made, paper chains are hung and children have the opportunity to follow festive recipes.

Easter is an obvious excuse to hide chocolate eggs and organise a Treasure Hunt in our lovely grounds.

Summer is celebrated by a weekend BBQ for all boarders, and where possible a trip away for our Prep Department full boarders on their last weekend of the school year

The Houses

Set in acres, each House has a lot to offer students in terms of resources and space both during the week and at weekends. Boarding houses are run as family homes. Each has its own distinctive character and is run by experienced and caring Resident Houseparents, supported ably by teams of non-resident Assistant Houseparents.

The Manor

The Manor is home to boys in Years 10 – 6th Form. The boarding house occupies the first and second floors of the Manor on the main school campus, and the boys benefit from use of the school’s Sports Hall, Games Room, Playing Field and Tennis Courts during the evening, even during the winter months as the area is lit by floodlight. There are spacious, lofty bedrooms and a large, comfy lounge where the boys enjoy watching TV and practising for the next series of X Factor on the karaoke machine. The Manor has recently been refurbished and redecorated including new bathrooms. 

The Lakes

This Georgian House accommodates Years 6 – 9 boarding boys, and is situated in Meare, 5 miles from the school campus. The Lakes has undergone refurbishment and decoration, including new bathrooms. It also boasts a computer room, Games room, a gym, TV lounge, communal kitchen area and large grounds with the River Brue at the end of it. The boys experience a unique and extremely caring “family” environment, living closely with their peers and their Houseparents. Most of the boarders at The Lakes are there full time, with some weekly boarders and a few flexi ones. The Houseparents provide “in loco parentis” care for boarders every day and every night.


Greystone Cottage is situated directly opposite the Shapwick campus so the girls have only to cross the road to get to and from school. Greystone benefits from an impressive purpose built extension, renovation of the oldest quarter and new furniture. The House boasts a large lounge with oak beam ceilings and a new communal kitchen as well as extremely spacious bedrooms, three new shower rooms and a new bathroom. The old part of Greystone has lots of character with a very homely atmosphere with a newly fitted kitchen area set up for sixth form students. All female students from Years 9-14 live at Greystone, with Houseparents bringing up their young daughter alongside the girls.

Houseparents and boarding students are supported by Gareth Wright, Head of Care, who leads weekly Houseparent meetings and oversees boarding life.

What the children say…

“…it’s like one big sleepover here…” (Year 6 pupil).

“Snowboarding was awesome – can we go again?!” (Year 7 pupil).

“I love boarding –it’s like having all these brothers and sisters…” (Year 7 pupil).

“On the weekends we have the most fun” (Year 6 pupil).

“At my last school I found everything really difficult and I do still miss home but I love it here. We have fun in our dorm and outside.” (Year 7 pupil).

“It’s a comfy and a relaxing place. Everyone understands if you have a problem, everyone makes you feel at home” (Year 9 girl).

“I think boarding is such a fun and exciting experience for those have not boarded before. It’s fab” (Year 10 girl).

“I think the boarding house is a lovely place to live. It is my second family. I love boarding at Shapwick” (Year 9 girl).

“I had never boarded before I came to this school and was really worried. But it is such a loving and caring place. You feel safe and comfortable. It’s just like a second home. It’s absolutely great fun!” (Year 9 girl).

"Boarding is really fun and you get to make new friends really quickly. You also learn to take responsibility for yourself and there are always more things to do than at home" (Year 9 boy - new to boarding at the beginning of his 3rd week).

"Having had really good support in my lessons during the day and mixing with my friends, I can then continue to have fun with my friends in the boarding house. At the same time I get the support I need with my daily organisation to make me an independent person. Boarding life has rules, but they are usually clear and fair, and I know what is expected of me. I really adjusted quickly to boarding life and I have no problem at all being a boarding student" (Year 10 boy - in his 2nd term as a boarder at the school).

"Boarding is great, everybody is really friendly and there is always someone to go to if I am upset. Everybody seems to fit in well and get along with each other -it is just like a big family" (Year 11 boy - weekly boarder, who often chooses to stay at weekends).






Boarding House Shapwick School