A home away from home
While we try to make boarding life as home-like as possible, we know that we will never replace parents, pets and home. To this end, the boarding school allows unlimited access to parents and family at any time. Family members are welcome to join boarders for dinner and parents may take their daughters out if they happen to be in town. Our resident guide dog puppy brings a family atmosphere to the boarding community.
How do the girls contact home and vice versa?
Every boarder has access to house phones. She is given a PIN that enables her to ring home and the cost is charged to her account. Mobile phones may also be used. Girls in Years 7 to 10 are required to hand in their phones at bed time and can pick them up in the morning. Year 7 boarders do not take their phones to school but may pick them up when they arrive back at the boarding house in the afternoon. Parents and friends are asked not to ring during prep time or after lights out. Boarders also have an Abbotsleigh email account and can email home and friends by this means. Social networking sites such as Facebook are opened for a limited time on weekends.
What kind of access do parents have to their daughters?
Parents have unlimited access to their daughters, either by phone, email or in person. Parents are welcome to have dinner in the dining room if they are in Sydney and may take their daughters out for afternoon tea or dinner at any time. If parents are staying in Sydney for a few days, they may even have their daughters with them and send them to school as ‘day girls’ for that time. Friends and family are also welcome to have dinner anytime and to come to Chapel on Friday evenings during term time at 5.30 pm if they wish.
What if my daughter is homesick?
Nearly every boarder is homesick at one time or another, especially when they first commence. It is to be expected and often it is the parents who feel the worst. When new boarders arrive in Year 7, they are given a ‘big sister’, a Year 12 boarder who is the new boarder's special friend and mentor. The big sister may take her little sister down to the village for a milkshake or to get something needed for class, and often the senior girls visit their little sisters in their house for a game or a video. Any girl who joins the boarding house in later years is given a buddy from her year group to looks after her while she settles in. The School also has a City Family Scheme, where every Middle School boarder is matched with a local Abbotsleigh family who enjoys taking their boarder out on weekends, perhaps a birthday lunch or a family outing. Boarders often reciprocate the hospitality during school holidays, and lifetime friendships between the families may be forged.
What happens if my daughter doesn't get on with her room mates?
Once girls get to know each other, they are invited to request to room with a special friend. These requests are nearly always accommodated, and usually the girls get on well together. Years 11 and 12 boarders live in Wheeldon House, where girls enjoy single rooms with an ensuite bathroom shared between two. In Years 7-10, boarders are, as a rule, accommodated in rooms of two or four. If there is conflict in a room, the Boarding Coordinator puts in place strategies for conflict resolution and for each new term the boarding staff may change the room configurations according to the needs and requests of the girls.
What about leave?
Girls enjoy liberal leave. Apart from three or four compulsory weekend activities during the year, girls may usually go out on any weekend. We are, however, very strict about obtaining leave: both the parent AND host family must contact the student's Boarding Coordinator if anyone other than family members is taking the student out for the day or weekend. We take our duty of care very seriously.