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The Junior Boarding at "Hettie House"




It’s home time when I arrive in the Junior Boarding area, affectionately named “Hettie” after Lady Henrietta Augusta Mostyn who, as well as being a Mostyn family resident of Gloddaeth Hall, was largely responsible for the creation and construction of Llandudno town. The boys are in the sitting room with Emily and Seb (pictured), their House Parents, chatting about their day. The scene is wonderfully civilised as the excitable boys chat away to their House Parents.

For Emily (Miss Fielden), life at St David’s started in 2018 when she became our KS2 teacher, working with Anna George in the Junior School with Years 5 and 6. Mrs. George and Miss Fielden are an incredible team. I can say this with confidence as my daughter has just completed two wonderful years in their classes. Seb recalls being drafted in to decorate the classroom, making it the most welcoming environment for our youngest pupils:

“We carried all the huge logs into the classroom for the woodland reading area and painted the walls. Emily wanted it to be just right in there.”

Emily’s classroom is the most perfect place. A tree trunk table and little stump stools with their own cushions create the reading area. The Magic Faraway Tree was the apt book of choice on the table when I last visited. Twinkly lights and lamps adorn the windowsills while the walls and storage drawers are painted in light, gentle colours. She spent a long time researching classroom environments and the positive benefits of certain desk placement, quiet areas, and the use of lighting.

“I wanted to have the triangular tables that you can move around because you can have them in different groups and different shapes that are best for various classroom activities. It just makes it like a home from home. Some of the children who come here in Year 5 have had a negative experience in their previous schools so when they arrive, I don’t want them to be only in a sterile classroom where they just sit and look at the board all of the time.”

At the end of the week, the class have hot chocolates on a Friday while Emily gives out the weekly kindness awards. There are other class activities that encourage community and kindness such as Appreciation Wednesday where one child will have their picture on the board and then all the class will place a sticker next to it and write what they appreciate about that person. Then Emily laminates the picture and stickers so that they can take it home.

“It’s their first experience of being a St David’s pupil in my class, so I want to instil the caring ethos of the school that is so special. It is important that pupils know that we care about them and that they will always have the support they will need at St David’s.”

After a year of teaching, Emily felt that she wanted to become part of the St David’s residential team, so when the Junior Boarding Parents position became available, they jumped at the chance:

“It didn’t take any persuading really,” Seb explains. “I know how much Emily loves the school and I just said to her – let’s go for it!”

St David’s is certainly lucky that they made that decision, Hettie is such a happy environment. Emily’s philosophy is that this relaxed and happy environment is made possible by a structured routine:

Emily: (to Seb) “It’s quite structured isn’t it?”

Seb: (jokingly) “Miss Fielden loves structure!”

Emily: “It has to be because there are eight boys so without structure, it can get a bit wild! For our weekday routine, they come in and I make them a cup of tea. We all sit in the lounge and talk about our day. Then they go and get their showers and go to tea. Straight after tea, we sit and complete homework. They help each other, it’s so nice. They're in classes together, so they remind one another about work and what they have learned. After homework, they call home. And then the night is theirs, so they are free to go out and play because they’re organised for the next day. If it’s raining, we’ll play games in the sitting room or watch TV.”

Seb: “When it’s nice weather they love to go outside. They have their bikes and skateboards and we try to encourage them to be outside as much as possible. They go into the woods and build dens or find puddles to cycle through and get soaking wet!”

Emily: “It creates much more washing for us but it’s great to see them so happy and doing things that kids should be doing. It’s just as much fun for us to supervise them as they play. What I love about these boys is that they are like brothers. Occasionally they bicker but two seconds later they are out playing happily together.”

Seb: “That’s true. They enjoy one another’s company whether it’s relaxing, playing, chatting, or working together.”

Emily: “I have got CD players in their rooms and they listen to audiobooks while they go to sleep. We choose Tom Gates and Roald Dahl books and they love listening to them.”

Emily and Seb spend weekends with the junior boarders. This is more of a relaxed routine to weekdays and they enjoy chilling in the house, cooking, pottery painting and little trips out to places like the Crocky Trail and the Zoo. Beach walks or cycles and collecting shells are also favourite weekend haunts.

Seb: “It’s great that they just love being outside and that they are not glued to phones and games consoles.”

Seb is also Snowdon House Residential Assistant so as well as looking after the younger boys, he also cares for the Snowdon House boys from Years 8 to 13.

“It’s been great getting to know the boys in Snowdon and to see how they mature as they go through the senior years,” he explains. He is already fully immersed in the house system and can be heard on the touchlines of house matches cheering for Snowdon:

“I think the staff are just as competitive as the pupils,” he laughs.

Seb is the Rugby Development Officer at Rhyl High so the pupils always love his evening activities. There’s always something fun happening. He is planning to do the Couch to 5k Challenge with some of the boarders after half term. Even before he took on his additional role in Snowdon, Seb had already become popular with the pupils and he has helped to bring back that wonderful outdoors evening atmosphere amongst the boarding community that Old Davideans will fondly remember.

“Last week we played hide and seek! That was fun as it started to get dark! We do all kinds of activities like rugby and other ball games as well as quieter wet weather activities like baking and watching films in the Snowdon Com. It feels like we have been here for much longer than a year. It’s been great really with so many opportunities. The kids are lovely, we can’t fault them.”

Emily also explains that sense of pride she feels when the boys arrive home from school and want to tell her all about their day:

“They were just telling me about a Science experiment,” she explains. “And one of the boys isn’t in the same class so was really keen to hear about it. It’s so lovely how they interact with one another.”

She also takes great pleasure in teasing the two boys she teaches:

“They are with me all day long but when they arrive here, I pretend I’m a completely different person,” she laughs. “I ask them: “How was your day boys?” They look at me like I’m mad! They say: “Miss, we’ve been with you all day!” and I say: “No, no, I’m a different person now! Tell me about your day.” And they do! One of the boys is really good at impressions and one night while we were watching Britain’s Got Talent, he did an impression of Seb. He went into the doorway, popped his head into the room and said in his best South Walian accent: “Alright boys, how’s it goin’?” We were all in fits of laughter!”

When I comment that any junior boarder would love to be a part of a boarding house like Hettie, Seb modestly replies:

“We just want to make sure that they get the best out of boarding here that they can.”

Emily adds: “We feel so privileged to be given the chance to look after the children. From the staff and the parents, it's so lovely to be trusted with such an honour as to being part of bringing up somebody's children, and to know people think highly enough of us to give us that privilege is amazing!”

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St David's College

- Est. 1965 -

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