The Horris Hill Family
Rob Stewart - 27th October 2023
One of our core principles as a school is that we are a family, and we find ways to recognise and celebrate that across the school. A small school like Horris Hill provides a different experience to that of a larger community. All our pupils know each other by name and barriers between year groups naturally break down because of that knowledge, but also through the opportunities to do activities together. I see children in Year 3 joining in games with children in Year 8 and neither feeling particularly concerned or conscious of the age gap. Our Year 8 monitors visit Reception to read to the children in the mornings.
All schools have a culture and an atmosphere and one of the hardest things for a child joining a new community is to settle quickly, and not find the busyness of the school, or the noise of the classes, overwhelming. If we think back to our earliest school experiences, we can remember that anxiety as we cross the threshold into the school environment. At Horris Hill we are a small school in a big setting and this helps create an inclusive, calm and reassuring feel to school life. Many children and families notice this when they start with us.
Family life is about nurture and support; our small classes allow every teacher to get to know the children well and to work out what they each individually need to prosper and thrive. Children at Horris Hill are known and supported by staff across the different year groups. Tutors support class teachers in providing daily advice and support to the children. The benefits of a small setting are felt equally from Nursery, where key workers support the children, to Year 8 where tutors help support the transition to senior school. Children enjoy prep school life in Year 7 and 8 because they can maintain their innocence in an environment that provides care and support at a difficult time in their development.
All boarding schools aim to provide a family ethos and to become a home away from home; it is crucial today to both support the children emotionally, but also to reassure parents who are often a long way away. Our houseparents are experienced in providing a high level of care and attention, but also in setting up the house so children can learn a range of social skills alongside the broader skills they are learning in school life. It is still the case that children who foster these emotional and social skills of self-regulation and empathy thrive, not just in their senior schools, but in life generally.
A family school also approaches relationship issues in a different manner. Children are learning about others and about differences between themselves on a daily basis; something that is particularly significant in a boarding school, where children live alongside each other all week. It can be tempting to reach for quick solutions when a child is unkind or thoughtless in their actions towards others. Instead, we adopt a restorative approach. This means finding time for the children affected to sit down together and explore the cause and nature of the problem. This approach almost always results in a repaired relationship but than a resentful one and it also helps develop the emotional literacy of the children involved.
Children who spend many years at our school, move on from us feeling confident, happy and with a great level of self-awareness to place alongside an outstanding academic education and an interest and enjoyment of a broad range of sports and co-curricular activities. In that sense we are truly a family school, providing for all our children.