Meet your boarding school family: Matron
At a UK boarding school, the Matron is the person in charge of domestic affairs and the day-to-day health and wellbeing of students who live there. Often the Matron is a professionally trained nurse, and they are the first port of call if a student feels ill – but their role is about much more than that. Let’s find out more by meeting the matrons of two UK schools…
Emma Agu Benson with three students in Sutton House (Photo ©Sutton Valence School)
Emma Agu Benson is Matron of Sutton House, the girls-only boarding house at Sutton Valence School, a co-educational school in southeast England with around 500 pupils. She looks after the welfare of around 40 girls who live in the house.
‘Day in, day out, I am here to support the girls with any and every aspect of boarding life – whether that means helping with homework or providing healthy snacks to keep them going and treats to cheer them up.
'Sometimes I’ll be booking taxis for weekend shopping trips or to the airport for the holidays. At other times, I’m sewing on buttons, helping tidy rooms, or dealing with paperwork.
‘It’s also my role to provide necessary medication if the girls have any aches and pains and look after them when they feel under the weather; I’m trained in first aid and we have two professional nurses at the school for other medical needs.
‘My door is always open to anyone for a chat, for any reason – and if it is shut, the girls know where to find me by listening for the rattling of my many keys, because Matron is responsible for every bit of the boarding house!
‘Our girls are encouraged to work hard, but we also want them to know that the boarding house is their home and somewhere to relax.
Matron helps with everything from homework to paperwork (Photo ©Sutton Valence School)
'We have a strict homework routine after classes when the girls are expected to concentrate, but once the work is done, they are free to socialise with their friends and get involved with evening and weekend activities – from inter-house competitions to trips to London and celebratory meals.
'There is always something to do – and always a cosy sofa to curl up on with a blanket and a good book or the TV.
‘Dealing with 40 girls aged 13 to 18 can be unpredictable, nerve-wracking – and usually very noisy! But most of all it is an uplifting and heart-warming environment to work in.
A chance for a snack and a read of the paper (Photo ©Sutton Valence School)
‘By providing a safe and caring space, we try to ensure that every girl here is happy and healthy, that each individual is respected, and that they in turn respect others.
'It is our hope that, by the time they leave, each student will have discovered and nurtured their talents so they can move on as well-rounded, confident and caring young adults.’
Eunice Hoey is Matron at Campbell College, a grammar school for boys in Belfast, Northern Ireland, with around 133 boarding students.
‘Before I came to Campbell College, I was a nurse in a hospital. Now I have been a Matron at Campbell College for 12 years – a mark of how much I love the place!
‘I have found my time in the College hugely rewarding and enjoyable. I am responsible for the health and welfare of the boarding students, and although the main part of my role is managing the vast array of medical issues or incidents that may arise, I also have a significant role in pastoral care.
Matron Eunice Hoey with a student at Campbell College (Photo ©Donal McCann Photography)
'My door is always open and the boys can come in for a chat or a cup of tea whenever they need it.
‘I am so proud of the boys in my care, who I see excelling every year.
'One of the greatest rewards is getting feedback from our boys who have gone on to do very well after leaving Campbell, at university and further afield.’