Who are the key figures in a boarding school?

Choosing your child to an English boarding school is an exciting, yet daunting process. For many families, not only is it the first time that their child has been away from home, but in a different country by themselves. For this reason, parents need to be assured that their children will be looked after and made to feel at home in their boarding school. This blog will explain to you the different roles created within boarding schools designed to look after your children and help create a ‘home away from home’.

So, who are the reference figures in a boarding school?


The Houseparent (housemother or housefather) is a reference point for both students and parents alike. When your child goes to boarding school, they will be allocated a house. In some schools, this is where you child will sleep and eat, in others ‘houses’ are used for weekly meetings and school competitions, such as sport, music and dance. The House Parent is the Head of House is in charge of the overall wellbeing of the students. They provide the children with support and assistance in all aspects of school life, whether it concerns academic, extra-curriculars, friendships, home life or general issues. In most circumstances, they help students with organization and time management, as well as organizing weekend activities and trips and travel logistics for holidays.

Parents can always get in contact with the House Parent if they have any doubt, worry or question and will be provided with the necessary support. House Parent’s will also inform the parents of any issues or problems to do with their child so as to keep them involved in every-day life. Essentially, a house parent is your child’s term-time parent.


The tutor helps students primarily academically, providing them with both support and advice. Usually, students are split up into small ‘tutor groups’, between 8 and 12 students. Each group will have a weekly meeting with their tutor to discuss their academic life, aims and objectives, as well as anything that may be worrying them. Despite being mainly concerned with academia, tutors will also help to make sure students are happy and healthy throughout the school year, and will be informed of any issues the student is facing.

Head of Year 

In each year group there is a person responsible for academic matters, called the Head of Year. This person communicates frequently with the tutors and teachers of each subject in order to find out how the students are progressing in their studies and if any of them have any problems that need to be solved. The Head of Year serves as a support figure especially in Year 9 and Year 11 where students have to choose GCSE, IB or A-level subjects and take external examinations. Students can go to both the Head of Year and their tutors if they have any questions or concerns about their studies.


Matrons are motherly figures present within each boarding house. They help with all things domestic, including laundry, cleaning, minor medical care and much more. Often, they will help put students to bed and wake them up in the morning. Matrons are available all throughout the day, meaning students know them very well.

Head of Pastoral Care 

Every school will have a head of pastoral care. While you may not need them, it is important to know who they are and what they do. The head of pastoral care is in charge of the wellbeing of all students, particularly boarders, and will help resolve any issues or problems affecting the mental health of children throughout the year. If an issue arises, the head of house will speak to the head of pastoral care regarding the next steps and how to proceed.


​All boarding schools have an ‘infirmary’ or ‘sick bay’, a place where students can go if they feel unwell. There will always be a fully qualified nurse working full-time at school, meaning that students can receive medical attention whenever they need it. If your child takes a daily medication or has any allergies, you must let the school know so the nurse can administer the correct treatment.

Buddy o Mentor

It is normal that students feel a little bit anxious or worried before they start boarding school, particularly international students. Being away from home for the first time, in a different country and speaking a different language, can be daunting, however UK boarding schools try and make the transition as easy as possible. Many schools assign new students a ‘buddy’. Buddy’s are students in the same year group or from an older year who already know the school. They help integrate new students into the school and year group and make making friends much easier.

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