This school completely changed me and my life. I’m excited about the future
“I grew up never knowing my father, who left the family home when I was a year old. I found out many years later that my mother had been a successful barrister, who gave up her job to look after my brother and me. Life was very difficult for her, but I didn’t realize how difficult until recently – it’s only since I’ve been at boarding school that I’ve been able to make sense of how our family ‘worked’, or didn’t work, during the years that we were growing up.
“I didn’t get on with my brother at all – I know that sibling rivalry is a big problem for lots of people, but we had a very difficult relationship. He seemed to react to everything in a totally inappropriate way, and was always angry – breaking things and throwing tantrums. Only since I started at Kingham Hill have I found out that there was a name for his condition. He has severe Asberger’s syndrome, with big behavioural issues.
“My mother has also admitted that for much of the time we three were together, she off-loaded the stress of having to bring up my brother on to me. Family life reached such a crisis point that she decided she could no longer offer me the best chance of success under her roof. She wasn’t coping with life, and she approached charities to help send me to boarding school.
“Going to Kingham Hill has completely changed my life. When I joined a little over two years ago, I suddenly found myself in a community where there was order, and structure, and discipline. I found that houseparents and teachers believed in me, and pushed me to succeed and fulfil my potential. Away from the crazy environment of home, I was able to concentrate on my studies, and the amazing opportunities that I found outside the classroom as well.
“The houses at Kingham Hill are set up like families. My house is called Sheffield – there are 25 of us, from Year 9 to Upper Sixth, and the older boys are expected to take care of the younger ones and set an example. It’s like having 24 new brothers, and our Houseparents, Mr and Mrs Eyles, are fantastic.
“I was encouraged when I arrived by older boys to organize myself and use my time well, and now Mr Eyles expects me to teach the new boys about house rules, and why it’s so important that we beat Norwich and Bradford in house competitions! We stick together whether we win or lose, and when a Sheffield boy is in trouble we try and support them, and help them to learn how to get on in the school. Mr and Mrs Eyles also expect us to do babysitting duties – but they do pay better than some houseparents!
“Being able to focus on my work has really helped. I was always interested in science, but I hadn’t really been encouraged to aim high before I went to Kingham. The new Headmaster has introduced separate sciences at GCSE (he told me to say that!), and an academic society, and I’m very proud to be the vice-president. Last summer I achieved nine A*s and three As at GCSE. I was a bit disappointed with the As, but he told me I’d done OK. I’m thinking about a career in Medicine, Law, or the City, and the school arranged for me to have work experience in those areas over the summer holidays.
“Another thing that boarding school has taught me is the importance of playing as a team. There are lots of opportunities to get involved in sport, and as we’re a small school, even a Year 11 can have a chance of playing for a top school team. I’ve already played First XI Cricket, First XV Rugby, and I’m hoping to play for the First XI football team again, although not scoring as many own goals as I did last year.
“Life is good, and I’m excited about my future. I’m really grateful for the opportunities that I’ve had to better myself, and I hope I never take for granted the fact that I’ve been really lucky to be privileged in this way.
“Boarding school has given me so many things – structure, confidence, ambition, and a real desire to make the most of life. Perhaps the best thing it has given me, though, is more maturity where my own family is concerned. I get on with my brother much better than I ever did – it helps that we don’t live together anymore – and I understand much more now why he and my mother were the way they were. It’s given me a real appreciation of the difficulties my mother faced, and I’m really grateful now that she made a choice for the best for all of us.”