"Boarding allows you to work according to a routine, which is great for keeping organised with school life. We are woken up firstly by a bell, followed by a member of staff, and must be downstairs for breakfast in school uniform for 8am. There is a wide range of food available for us, ranging from toast and cereal to a full English breakfast, and we choose what we prefer. After breakfast we continue getting ready for school, and then start the school day.
At the end of the school day we return to the boarding house to register. There are usually freshly baked snacks for us, and drinks. From 4pm-6pm we are free to do what we like. Often we choose to unwind on the sofas and watch TV or put a film on, but sometimes we go into town for a coffee or to shop and in summer we can sit and talk on the field. Tea is at 6pm and lasts for half an hour. We all eat together and there are two options available each night.
After tea is our time to do prep. First-third form students are supervised in the prep room during this time but the rest of us work in our dorms. At 8pm the younger girls participate in a daily activity, but normally the older ones have to work for a bit longer. We all have different bedtimes depending on our age, which tends to work pretty well.
Boarding gives confidence and independence, and there is such a fantastic sense of belonging and community in the house. For me, deciding to board has been the best decision I’ve ever made, and is something that I would recommend to everyone." (QUOTE FROM A FEMALE BOARDING STUDENT)
"Every day in the boarding house we have millions of activities and games we can play, like after school clubs, playing outside with friends, meeting friends, Xbox games, watching TV… the list is literally endless. All of these games and activities are extremely enjoyable and we never get sick or tired of them.
Boarding is easy, welcoming and great fun! You’re 2 seconds away from school, so there is no stress. When we get up at 7:30am we mostly get showers and when the breakfast bell goes at 7:55 we go downstairs and get breakfast. The food is delicious as we have a selection of food to choose from, cereal, toast, cooked breakfast, yoghurt and more.
Then we get back into the boarding house to register at 3.55pm when we get a snack, from delicate patisserie to savoury rolls, it’s fantastic. Next part of boarding is 4pm-6pm. This period of time is called ‘free time’. We can do anything we want in this time, play outside sport, go into town, meet friends and the games room.
The bell for tea goes at 5:55pm. We finish at 6:30pm and after tea the juniors (first-third form) go straight to prep to do their homework, prep finishes at 8:00pm. After prep we have an activity for 1 hour, on Monday we have this with the girls,
Tuesdays is a social night with the girls, on Wednesday we do either dodgeball or football and many other sports, on Thursday we have water polo. After the activity we all chill out and then get ready for bed, we have supper straight after the activity.
This is just ONE week of boarding at Ripon Grammar School. Boarding at Ripon Grammar School is great, welcoming and a place of comfort." (QUOTE FROM A MALE BOARDING STUDENT)
"Each day starts with a bell at 7:30 followed by a house parent knocking on your door to ensure that you are awake. We then have 25 minutes to get ready before a second bell at 7.55am informs us that it’s time to go for breakfast. The whole boarding house then goes to the dining room where a selection of cooked breakfast and cereals has been prepared.
In the sixth form you are allowed to go back to your room as soon as you finish your breakfast, which gives plenty of time to get to form for 8:45.
After school at 4pm we go to the dining hall for a tasty snack baked that day and to register with the house parent on duty. From 4pm-6pm we have free time to use as we wish that provides an excellent opportunity to go into town and meet up with friends. Dinner is at 6 with a bell at 5 to so we don’t miss it. There is a rota for meals with suggestions from us playing a large role in what meals we are given.
At 6.30pm we have prep with the option to work in our rooms or in the school library if we require books for research or wish to speak with the duty staff about our homework.
From 8pm onwards we have free time, which we can spend around the house in the games or TV room we share with the juniors or in the sixth form common room. At 11 we return to our rooms with lights out at 11.30pm." (QUOTE FROM A MALE BOARDING STUDENT)
8am -A typical day starts with breakfast. Other than sixth formers, pupils do not return to the boarding house during the day, ensuring that school and ‘home’ are separate in the same way as they are for day pupils.
8.50am –Registration in the main school with form groups followed by lesson timetable including morning break and lunch spent with day pupils in the main school buildings.
3.55pm –Boarders register in their boarding house when lessons finish. They can choose from the snack counter, then have free time to watch TV or play computer games in the boarders’ lounges, go running or join one of the school’s many sporting clubs. There are telephones in the houses for boarders to keep in contact with their family and friends. Boarders can also use their personal mobile phones and their own email addresses.
6pm –Tea is served by each of the boarding houses’ dedicated catering teams, each led by a qualified chef. Menus are well planned in conjunction with pupils, with a number of choices available including a vegetarian option. Pupils help with cleaning up after tea on a rota basis.
6.45pm –Prep in the boarding house study rooms, library or in boarders’ own rooms.
8pm –Pupils are able to join in any of the numerous activities organised by the house parents such as ice skating, bowling, theatre, cinema and other trips out. Boarders also have exclusive use of the school swimming pool one night a week and can use the gym and other sports facilities.
See our Boarding Activities page for more information.
LIFE in the small, ancient cathedral city of Ripon, in rural North Yorkshire, might initially appear something of a culture shock for those students who have previously been educated or lived abroad, especially those who arrive here from large cities.
But, without exception, our five interviewees, who have all experienced schooling in foreign countries, have found Ripon to be a great place to live and be educated in.
Felicia Amao,who was born in Lagos State, Nigeria, and Wonu Logun-Leko, who attended secondary school in Nigeria, say they love the location.
Close to the World Heritage site of Fountains Abbey, the school is in a great position, they point out, just ten minutes’ walk from the market square and close to rural areas and rivers, with routes which are good to run on.
As termly boarders, they especially enjoy fortnightly trips out. In recent months they’ve gone trampolining, shopping in Leeds, out to restaurants and explored Yorkshire by foot. “And the direct bus service from Ripon to Leeds is great for shopping and eating out,” adds Felicia.
Brianna Dale, whose family live in Qatar, wasn’t used to living in the countryside when she arrived here in 2015: “But I have learned to appreciate it,” she says. “I especially enjoy running in the surrounding woods and cycling to the deer park.”
Dipraj Jimee, who was born in Nepal, adds: “Everything you need is nearby. Most of my mates are walking distance away and if you are sporty, the gym and local sports clubs are also very close.
“Yorkshire is a beautiful county and living near the countryside makes a refreshing change from the hecticness of living in a city.”
Ishwar Koppu, whose family lives in Dubai, agrees: “I love how easy it is to travel and get from place to place from here.”
Most of these boarders discovered Ripon Grammar School online, with some prompted by personal recommendations - but what was it that made them choose RGS from all the schools on offer?
Felicia, who moved to the UK when she started secondary school and whose family are now based in London, was looking for a grammar school with a good academic reputation for sixth form. She also wanted to board, in order to help develop her independence.
“I wanted a school environment that would get me out of my comfort zone, both socially and academically,” she explains.
The 18-year-old, who plans to study engineering at university, looked at a number of schools online: “I found Ripon Grammar School was the best option.”
Ishwar, who previously attended a private school in Dubai, says he and his family also turned to Google: “I wanted to be able to have fun and learn, a chance to play football, an environment which would make me want to work, but which would also give me a balanced lifestyle.
“We looked for strong academic boarding schools around the UK and Ripon Grammar was the best in the North,” he says.
For Dipraj, who wanted the stability of boarding school life combined with excellent teaching and exam results and a wide range of extra-curricular activities, RGS was initially recommended by family friends.
When the aspiring engineer did his own research online, it was the obvious choice: “It came up as quite high ranking in terms of results,” he says.
Wonu, who plans to study medicine, and Brianna, who is applying to study history and politics at university, were also looking for a boarding school with a good reputation, so were pleased to find out about RGS through word-of-mouth.
In many ways, choosing to board at Ripon Grammar School took a huge leap of faith, but, in hindsight, they are all confident they made the right decision.
The students all say they have developed close, lifelong friendships as boarders at RGS, with both peers and teachers providing the sort of motivational and supportive social and academic environment to help set them up for life.
Felicia and Wonu say the tight, welcoming boarding community at RGS made settling in easy, with their current year of girl boarders especially close and supportive.
Ishwar, who wants to work in marketing after university, says the boys in boarding are like one big family: “Everyone here is so kind and helpful. I love boarding, it’s very entertaining being part of it. I wouldn’t want to go to any other school as I’ve got everything I need in RGS.”
Dipraj agrees: “I’ve made friends I consider brothers, ones I won’t forget. Also, relationships with teachers, especially in boarding, builds mutual respect. You have 24/7 support from those around you.”
A keen rugby player, he particularly appreciates having access to the excellent sports activities on his doorstep: “I discovered rugby here. Before joining RGS I hadn’t known of the sport. I got myself involved when I joined RGS, and the rest is history."
He also enjoys the food: “In the UK, the food isn’t based around just one country. Kitchen staff offer lots of different cuisines, including Chinese, English and Indian. It’s nice to have so much variety.”
For Brianna, living in a supportive, close-knit community is important, while the academic and social environment RGS boarders enjoy has proved to be a huge benefit.
“I love boarding, it has been the highlight of my school life, providing me with incredible friendships and a sense of community. It’s what I will miss the most when I leave. Being a termly boarder has also allowed me to develop my independence and prepared me for university, while school has driven me to achieve the grades I need to get there.”
While RGS hasn’t proved to be as culturally diverse as previous schools Felicia and Wonu have attended, both enjoy close friendships with a wide range of students. Although the Nigerian community here is small, Wonu points out: “We have a strong relationship and support each other.” Felicia has even discovered that two third cousins who also attend the school and both have enjoyed home-cooked Nigerian food, made by the parent of a fellow-pupil.
Being a part of the Ripon Grammar School community has been an enlightening experience, says Wonu: “The school has given me a different type of exposure to the world, has encouraged me to develop tolerance and I now believe I’m more able to interact with a wider range of people.”
Felicia sums up her experience: “Ripon Grammar School has really helped me grow emotionally and academically, and I believe it’s prepared me well for the outside world. I’ve grown a lot whilst I’ve been here. It’s different, but we learn new things every day.”
Community spirit: pictured top (l-r) in the girls' boarding house Ishwar, Dipraj, Felicia, Brianna and Wonu