Caring across boarders

Thursday 28 April, 2016


Did you know that when Pymble opened its doors on February 8, 1916, one-third of the 60 students were boarders – and the girls’ beds were situated on the open balconies, all year round?

That ratio (not to mention the sleeping arrangements) may have changed – Pymble’s 120 boarders are now around 6 per cent of the student body and enjoy modern, comfortable rooms – but our much-loved boarders remain at the heart of Pymble life.

Australia-wide, there are 21,144 students – mostly from regional and remote areas – who board at single sex and co-ed schools, according to Boarding Schools Australia.

Pymble boarding remains intentionally small to maximise both personal attention and its sense of community. Girls live in age-specific houses – Lang House for Year 12, Goodlet House for Years 10 and 11 and Marden House for Years 7, 8 and 9 – designed to nurture and support their needs as they grow from dependence to independence.

What also distinguishes Pymble is its purpose: fostering the development of girls at their different stages of physical, emotional, social and spiritual growth.

For the past seven years, under the Scholarship of Learning of program, Pymble boarding staff have undertaken intense training in coaching girls to understand themselves as a learner, a person and a contributing member of a global community. It’s really a relationship-building exercise: guided conversation time with each girl to really know her and to help her to articulate and realise her goals and her dreams.

This intentional coaching is how we deliver our philosophy of personalised education: we regularly hold these learning conversations so we can know, guide and challenge each girl to reach her potential.

The quality of the staff is also so important. Part of their responsibility is to help each student feel like she’s coming home after school each day. While we understand there is no place like her real home we take great care to provide a caring, warm and loving house, with nurturing staff waiting for them at the end of each day. So every afternoon, after school, you’ll see the same thing: the house supervisor at the door greeting her girls. It’s the little as well as big touches that create a sense of home.

Another distinguishing feature of Pymble boarding is its strong and welcoming community. The girls know they are an integral part of College culture. They have their own badge, their own spaces and their own traditions. They know the College values off by heart – care, courage, respect, responsibility and integrity – because they live these values together every day.

The older girls are big sisters to the younger ones, and invite them to their houses and take them to Chapel. Boarders’ families are also an essential part of our community, and we welcome families to stay on-site with their daughters at Avonmore – our onsite home – whenever they wish.

Every boarder is different, yet one thing unites them: their love of the Pymble grounds. The girls tell us that being able to live among the trees and gardens and have space to move helps them feel like they can ‘breathe’. When asked why they chose Pymble over another boarding school, they’ll refer to the space, the feel, driving down the beautiful long driveway, and the green fields and trees their boarding houses look onto. Our wide, open spaces really make Pymble feel like home.