Running a Boarding House



We strongly recommend you check the BSA website regularly. The BBP (Boarding Briefing Papers) as well as their publications and training are invaluable. #iloveboarding


National Minimum Standards


The absolute bedrock of boarding. But consider that these are minimum standards. 


Duty of Care / Welfare


How do you care for the number of students in your house and their individual needs? Do you know them? How do you do this? 

Resources to Assist



KCSIE, your school's child protection policy. But also how do you manage: visitors (parents) to the House, contractors, locking-up, alarms? Do your students have staff in the house, in school and externally they can turn to? Do your students know who the DSL is? Do your house staff?


Leading your Team


If you run a boarding house you will usually be responsible for a team. Perhaps consisting of matrons, tutors, domestic staff etc. What sort of leader are you? How do you lead your team effectively? 

Recommend following @Andy_Buck

Leadership Advice #honk!

Health & Safety


You need to be aware of your responsibilities. 

H&S Advice for Schools


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DAY in the LIFE of...

Ever wondered what a Housemistress, Housemaster, Matron or Tutor do? 

Click below to gain an insight into the roles of various House staff in different schools.

Click Here to Find Out

National Minimum Standards - some reflective questions....



This should be a straight forward one to evidence. Do make sure the same copy exists in your evidence file, website and on 1 or 2 strategic noticeboards in your house. Like all evidence, ensure it is the most up-to-date version. Then consider how you demonstrate this in action...



Induction is not just for September. How do you induct the occasional boarder? The one who arrives in February? Do you have a picture poster of who's who? Do you have a buddy/peer/family group system? Do you have the childline posters up? Children's Commissioner contact details? Do students know who is on duty when? How do you get to know your students quickly? Do all your house staff know each student? Do you have a house handbook? How often is this updated?

Children's Commissioner


Do you have a 24/7 health centre? A sick bay? What paperwork do you use for logging meds & observations? How do you look after sick boarders overnight - how many times do you check on them? How is this recorded? Do you allow mental health days off? Have you read your school policies on medications? What do you do with overseas pupils home remedies/medicines with labels you cannot read? How do boarders get to their medical appointments? Which students/if any are allowed to keep their own medication? What are their rules? Is all this backed-up with paperwork?How do you assess their ability to take their own meds? Do you know of nay student who is not considered Gillick competent? If you are concerned about their competency do you know how to get this assessed? How do you communicate with home? Process for transfer of meds at holiday times etc?

Gillick Competent Help



We provide a pay phone and credit - although this is probably antiquated to our students. They also know how to use the House phone (dial 9 first). Do you allow international calls from House phones? Do you make allowances for time differences and times of phone/skype calls? Control of devices is necessary to promote well-being and positive behaviour.  Do you know when the WIFI switches off in your house? Do you take in all screens at bedtime - for which ages? What are your rules and sanctions? Is each house doing the same thing? How do you check for 'fake' phones? Don't forget to re-check after Christmas! How do you monitor contact with parents - over/under contact? Do you prompt baorders to make contact?



What is meant by suitable is subjective but there are obvious needs. A comfortable bed, a lockable space, wardrobe etc... Do you have reasonable communal space? Do you have spaces big enough for socializing and quieter social spaces? Do you have a designated quiet space in the House.  Do your toilets and showers all have locks? If you have a multiple shower room can one student chose to lock the room and shower 


Are all your risk assessments up-to-date for the difference spaces in the House? 

What do you do if the boiler breaks down? How do you/stuents put in maintenance requests? How are these logged and actioned?

With window locks can students adequately ventilate their rooms? How clean is your house? Are the less obvious areas clean like door handles, light pulls etc?

Do you have students with mobility needs? 

Do you have enough sanitary bins and are they emptied regularly enough? How do you adjust things for a student who has broken their leg or is using a wheelchair etc?


5 Cont.

There is no specifically prescribed square footage per boarder. However, all boarders need obvious routes in and out of their rooms and the ability to walk to and from beds/desks with ease. This is where your judgment is required. Do you have a sixth form area in your house? Do different age groups have different facilities in their rooms? Do boarders bring their own bedding? Do you have plenty of spare for occasional boarders or for mid-winter? 

Do you encourage students to decorate? Wrapping paper is a quick and cheap way of covering boards. Print out a selection of pictures and frame them. Ask students to decorate their doors with an appropriate photo.

What is your visitors policy? Is it clear where visitors are allowed and not allowed to go? Parents are visitors - it applies to them. All visitors should be accompanied by a member of House staff. Do the students know not to open the door unknown visitors or share the door code etc?

If outside groups use your sports facilities for example what whole school policies are in-place to adhere to 5.7?

Do you have CCTV in or around the House? Do you know where it is and why it is there? 



H&S policy should be freely available. Have you read this and does it apply to your boarding house? Do consider when your house was built - different building regs apply. Do you do daily checks around your house  for H&S? Checking corridors are clear? No trip hazards etc? How do students report issues? What happens next? How often is the water checked? Have you seen a fire door inspection report? Maybe you need to ask your head of maintenance or similar. Do you update the RAs? Do they honestly apply to the various areas i your house? Do you use citation or similar software? Do all house staff know that H&S is everyone's responsibility? 



Have you read any part of the lengthy 2005 order? It's pretty lengthy but could be useful to cite if you need updates in your boarding house. Do you have enough storage space for suitcases etc? Who is deemed responsible for ensuring your house/school adheres to this legislation - it's worth asking the question.

RRO 2005


Do you know which students have special dietary needs? We have a list so that we provide the right food to the right student. If a student says they are now gluten free what happens next? If you have a house kitchen how is it kept clean and the cleanliness monitored?  If you have a fridge what is allowed to be stored in there? If you have central dining who has responsibility for this standard? If you have in-house dining who takes responsibility for this standard? Are the drinking water taps labelled as such or are they all suitable? How often are boarders allowed take-aways? If students say they don't like the food how do you monitor them trying to make their own meals? Disability can cover many things - broken arms, temporary bell's palsy, new brace/retainer. How do you ensure students feel comfortable? If a students has disordered eating / eating disorder how does the school support them & their peers?



Is laundry done in-house or externally? How do you ensure students get their clothing back? How is clothing labelled? Do you use laundry bags? Biological washing powered - any allergies? Do you have laundry boxes or pigeon holed? Can boarders do their own washing? Do they know how to use the machines? What if they have an accident - what do they do? Do you have a school shop for small items - do all students know it exist and the prices? Do you have a house bank? Are all debits double signed for (staff/student)? Do all boarders ave a lockable space?  You should have a copy to hand of the search policy for your school.  Do read it before you ever have to use it. Last resort but necessary to keep all boarders safe. Have a prefect and another member of staff with you. This is a policy you should be able to grab when/if needed.

Searching, screening & confiscation advice


What is your co-curricular provision? Can girls and boys do the same activities? Do you have sporty/creative/academic activities? When do your boarders get free time? Can be a tough one. If an inspector asked a range of your students when would they say their free-time is? Do sports/activity staff do RAs? Can you view these? If a student is off-games what is the procedure? Do you have a reasonable amount of communal space in your house? Do you have a house garden / school areas boarders can go? Do you have different rules for summer/winter time? When would boarders say they can be alone if they wish to be?  If you have students who are choral scholar, music, sports scholars etc or have big commitments outside of school how is their welfare protected? Can these students let someone know if they are feeling under strain? Do you have daily newspapers or periodicals delivered to the house? Do you allow students over 18 to go to the pub? How is this regulated? 



Another policy to have ready to grab when/if necessary. Do you have a safeguarding poster publicizing DSL/ Dep DSL etc. Do your prefects / peer support groups know the disclosure procedures? Do all your House staff know who the DSL is and how to contact them? Do all staff/people in the House known their responsibilities in terms of child protection? Do visitors sign a safeguarding statement or are they given a child protection card when they arrive? How do you safeguard friends or other students if one student has a high level of need?

Can you safeguard all students? Are they fit to board? What are your processes and procedures for deciding this? Do you allow students to stay in school if their is a child protection concern at home? How is this decided and managed?

Have you done Prevent raining? Do you know your responsibilities in regard to KCSIE, FGM, CSE etc?




I have the school's anti-bullying policy to hand. Make sure you know your school's definition. Do you have help/support for students in your House? How to respond to cyber bullying posters? What about computer screen savers - could that have an E-Safety message? If you have a House computer room do you have an acceptable use policy and posters stating expectations? Do boarders have access to the school rules? How are punishments given in-house? How are they logged? Are they fair, reasonable and timely? Are sanctions given to individuals - avoid group punishments. Do students know the rules, which rule they have broken and then the reasonable sanction? Your school should have a restraint policy - another one to have on-hand, just in case.How do you reward good behaviour? How are students who get it consistently right acknowledge and rewarded?

Managing Behaviour & Attendance


A lot in this standard so might struggle to fit it all in. Some are not the direct responsibility of the House/HSM etc but always worth asking the question - who does take responsibility for this in school?

How is boarding seen in your school? Integral? On the side? Somewhere in-between? Have all staff been in a boarding house? How do you promote what you do? Do academic teachers knows the homework/prep arrangements e.g. availability of computers? Access to Wifi etc? How do you report to the Head or governors? Are their mechanisms to allow you to voice concerns or celebrate successes? 

What is your level of training and experience and that of your House staff? Is this documented? How are new staff mentored/trained? Do all staff do the BSA/EduCare introduction to boarding and other courses? Do you have a house development plan and how does this fit with the school's development plan? 



A lot of this is the responsibility of HR or similar - but you can/should ask for takes responsibility for a particular standard so you know if asked by an inspector etc. 

Who visits you? Do you have a visitors policy? Do they need to sign in? What about overnight visitors? What access do your visitors potentially have to the boarding house? Do members of your household 16+ all have DBS checks - recommend the update/subscription service. If staff live on sit are they and their households DBS checked? This is usually a sensitive area for boarding staff - if you have a resident matron or tutor are you aware who is visiting them? Are they keeping to the visitors/overnight guests policy? Although this might be a tough conversation to start it is very important. If a parent / contractor etc visits the House who supervises them? Do you have signs in key places making students aware? Are doors pinned right open? 

Monitoring guardianship is a complex area - we do not appoint guardians this is done by the family. But what if you are aware of issues with a guardian - what would you do next? 



Do you have copies of all house staff jobs: matron/tutor/Assistant HM/HM etc? Do you have an induction process for all staff old and new? How is this documented? Do you offer formal/informal CPD? How is this documented? Do you use House meetings as an opportunity to discuss pertinent issues? Who sees these minutes? Clear policy should be in place for partners. What can they do?  Can they do anything in an emergency? Do you have volunteers in the House? Do academic tutors visit certain students? How is this monitored? How many adults are on-duty at any time? Who can they call on if required? Do you have an SLT duty rota? If a group go and play football one evening do they require supervising? Do all students know who is on duty at any and all times of the day? Do you know all the boarder mobile numbers? Can these be easily accessed? Another grab document. In your signing in/out book are students expected to say where they are? Have you done the test: ring the House and ask the tutor on duty where X is? Can they find them / know how to find them? What is your missing student policy (another grab document)? If a flexi boarder fails to sign out home what happens next?


15 Cont.

Do you have a missing pupil policy and perhaps an easy to use flow chart? Is this easily accessible to all staff?

Do the boarders know who is available overnight if they need someone? Can they find you / ring you. We have a house mobile number students have.

Do you have a visitors toilet? How are visitors directed to this facility? Facilities for staff/visitors should be completely separate from the boarders. What if their boiler break or they have no water - what provision is there for the staff? Are students allowed access to staff accommodation? How/where? Avoid dependency and favoritism. Do you have a house office for chats with students / parents? If you use part of your accommodation is it specially designated - do all students know exactly where the private side begins/ends? This should be very clear.



The Equality Act really important. The button below takes you to the table of contents so you can dip into the part you need. Do you know what protected characteristics are for example?

Do you make different provisions for SEND students in prep? Do you expect all students to speak English in the house? Do you have students who are gender questioning? How do you support them? Are academic/creative/sporty students treated with the same esteem? Would they feel that? 

Equality Act



Do you have a house council? Who is on it & how often do they meet? Are the minutes published to all students? Who chairs the meetings? How are requests dealt with and actioned? Can students see progress? Do you have a suggestions book or box?



Is the complaints procedure readily available in your house?  Complaints should be kept centrally - who does this in your setting? Are you aware of any complaints pertaining to boarding? Have changes been implemented?



Are all prefect trained? How is this documented? Do they all know who the DSL is and how to contact them? Are they explicitly aware of their duties and responsibilities? If they are allowed to give any sanctions how is this set-out and then recorded? Who checks that these punishments are suitable and reasonable? Are prefects absolutely clear what is expected of them when on duty? How is this set-out and who has access to this procedure?



I have never worked in a school where the school arranges lodging. 

All arrangements, if any, are private between the family and the guardian / lodgings company/person.