Back in November, Sharon Dale, a reporter from the Yorkshire Post, spent the day with us at Giggleswick to find out more about our multi-million pound investment in boarding. What started out as an idea for an interiors feature then developed into a three-page lead article in the Saturday magazine. Sharon found her visit to be ‘a revelation’ and explains how her negative preconceptions of boarding schools were well and truly challenged.
The full story is now available online here at the Yorkshire Post.
This is how the story begins…
“At the height of my long and happy Enid Blyton phase, I’d have given anything to be a pupil at St Clare’s or Malory Towers. I wanted to be Darrell Rivers. I longed for midnight feasts, adventures and independence.
No doubt young fans of Harry Potter feel the same way about Hogwarts but as a grown-up I had become opposed to the idea of sending a child to boarding school.
There were reasons. My sister won a place at a ballet school in the late 1970s and she boarded there. Quiet but determined, she refused to kowtow to the queen bee bully and became her prime target.
Then I had my own children and couldn’t conceive of sending them away to be looked after by strangers, of not being there when they were ill or upset, of not seeing them for weeks on end.
So spending the best part of a day at Giggleswick School, chatting to staff and pupils, checking out the facilities, people watching and getting a feel for the atmosphere, was a revelation. Boarding has changed and so have my negative views on it.
I was invited to see the first stage of a multi-million pound makeover for the school’s boarding houses, which include open-plan living spaces, a kitchen, social and study areas and newly revamped rooms.
Nowell House is the first to be refreshed. Also in the planning is a new-build upper sixth form house designed to provide facilities for more independent living and working so that students are prepared for university.
‘Boarding must adapt to modern demands’ says headteacher Mark Turnbull, who is in charge at the school founded in 1512.
It’s an enviable place to live, work and study thanks to a glorious position in the Dales village it was named after. The rural setting and the views are no doubt a selling point for parents, although the biggest incentives to pay boarding fees that range from £7,850 and £11,250 per term are the facilities and the small class sizes.
The 450 pupils – boys and girls – with a mix of 60 per cent boarders and 40 per cent day pupils, have a high rate of exam success. Another big draw is that Giggleswick has a staggeringly wide range of clubs and activities with a strong emphasis on the arts. There are 80 clubs and activities to choose from, ranging from kayaking and yoga to kit car building, astronomy and music lessons from rock groups.
Compared to a state school, the facilities are exceptional. There are huge sports fields, a swimming pool, mountain bike trail and not just an art room but a whole art building.”