Why You Need a Properly Designed Boarding House

Boarding Accommodation: Why You Need a Properly Designed Boarding House

After exhaustive discussions and weighing up the pros and cons of a variety of boarding schools, a set of parents have settled on sending their clever, unique and adorable child to your school. They’ve packed all their belongings, dutifully sewn name tapes in everything that doesn’t move and prepared their precious child in every single way they can think of before they leave. Now it’s over to you…

Ditch the Quick Spruce

For those schools who have thought about curating a true living experience for the students’ arrival, they are in for a magical time of learning about independence and making life-long friends in an environment in which they truly feel comfortable. For those who have repainted the same dorms in a ‘fun’ colour – we need to have a chat… it’s just not going to cut it anymore. That’s not to say you must embark on a hundreds of thousands of pounds refurbishment, but you do need to put some thought into how to really connect with your students through their school living experience.

Build on Your Strengths

We know that schools generally have the pastoral elements of the living experience down to a fine art with strategies to make students feel at home, bond with their peers and know what to do if they are struggling. However, in this age of Instagrammable moments and importance placed on the experiential, there needs to be thought given to the end to end holistic experience of all students. Because when all your competitors are giving the same message about a ‘home from home’ environment, you need to be able to evidence that yours is a superior product.

Some tips to help you fully form a living experience concept which will give you a competitive advantage:

Think of the Whole Picture

You need to engage your curriculum leads to understand what the learning proposition for the students is for the next 5 year period and then reflect that in your living experience. If your school has an outdoors focus, consider colour palettes and imagery which reflect the beautiful landscape of your grounds. Alternately if your school has a heavy technology focus, think about how the devices the students will be using can be connected in their living space and used for collaborative learning.

Students = Stuff

If you have children of your own then you know they come with a never ending amount school equipment and kit. Following on from thinking about the students’ end to end experience, the space needs to work practically too so that your beautiful design aesthetic doesn’t get ruined by lacrosse sticks, cellos and running spikes which have nowhere to live.

Design with a Capital D

For spaces which are going to be so heavily used, it really is best to engage with a company who can work with you to translate your vision into designs which will stand the test of time. Specialists will also know what works really well and not so well in these spaces and will be able to suggest things your team won’t have thought of.

Think Generic so Students can Personalise

Personalisation is huge for the current generation of students and it’s important to parents to make their child’s area of their dorm as cosy and home-like as possible. They will print lots of photos and provide their children with drawing pins and blu tack expecting every dorm to have pin boards and a way to make the space individual. It’s therefore important to create spaces which allow for personalisation- using classic clean design but showing personality in the finishing items like soft furnishings and pictures or maps. Letting students bring their own named bedding is also a nice touch and will help to make the space feel cosy.

Consider the Small Details

Think about the small things you can do which will delight students and parents alike in their new living space. Creating personalised tuck boxes for students which they can keep throughout their years with you is a relatively small outlay (averaging around £40) which shows you really have thought about the student as an individual. Similarly personalised hand painted name plaques for their section are a lovely touch.

Creating a space which will outshine your competitors and delight your students really doesn’t need to cost the earth, but it does demand that you spend time thinking about the living experience.