Meet your boarding school family: Housemistress and teacher
At a UK boarding school, the Housemistress looks after boarding students at one of the boarding houses (most schools are made up of several ‘houses’, where students sleep and spend time when they’re not in class. At co-educational schools, there are usually separate houses for boys and girls).
Angela Mathews is Housemistress of Sutton House, the girls-only boarding house at Sutton Valence School, which is home to around 40 pupils aged 13 to 18. She is also Head of Dance at the school. Sutton Valence is a co-educational school in southeast England with around 500 pupils in total.
‘Being a Houseparent is an enormous responsibility. I have been Housemistress of Sutton House for three years now, and I always encourage my students to respect each other and conduct themselves in a friendly and honest manner.
‘Boarding can be one of the most fulfilling and enjoyable experiences that life has to offer and I hope that those in my care feel they are supported, included and above all, that they are safe in the school environment. Part of my role as Housemistress is to ensure that each and every student makes full use of the vast array of opportunities and facilities available to them.
‘My additional role as Head of Dance gives me the opportunity to share my passion for performing arts and inspire students to get involved. Our students have a very active role in arranging activities and events that are of interest to young people from all cultures, not least through the boarding council made up of boys and girls from all four of our boarding houses. Ever popular is our annual Boarders Got Talent event (inspired by the UK television show Britain’s Got Talent!), when students prepare and perform a showcase of their talents to the entire boarding community – from music to dance to stand-up comedy.
Making friends over food: Students in the school cafeteria, left, and in the kitchen at one of the boarding houses (Photos ©Sutton Valence School)
‘Weekly fitness sessions, trips to the theatre, spa evenings at the local department store – these are just some of the activities that both staff and students take part in that allow them to enjoy each other’s company in a more relaxed environment. The girls from Sutton House always do me proud by conducting themselves responsibly on school outings and they are always a pleasure to accompany.
‘The boarding environment provides students with the potential to form some of the strongest friendships they will ever make and encourages them to be members of a positive and caring community. I find it immensely rewarding to be able to support and encourage each student in my house as they transform from childhood to early adulthood.
‘I myself am a mother, with children of my own; I can only hope that they grow up with the confidence and self-assurance that my current Sixth Form students have.’