What a Difference a Three Decades Make

A Day in the Life of a Boarder

‘A day in the life of a Bramcote boarder begins and ends in bed,’ according to the Evening News article of 21 May 1992.  Ask any of the boarding pupils at Scarborough College now and they will tell you that nothing has changed in that regard.  Ask their houseparents and they will tell you they hope this is still the case.  But is this where the similarities end?  What has changed in the lives of our boarders?  Has anything remained the same?

We have asked our Heads of House, Lucia and Riley to help us understand a day in the life of a boarder nowadays and compare it to an article about boarding written more than three decades ago.  Julian Summerfield and Richard Williamson, both twelve in 1992, boarded at Bramcote Prep School.  Today’s boarders, Lucia and Riley, are both Heads of House.  Lucia is from a small town near Barcelona while Riley would probably call Scarborough his home.  Starting boarding in Year 6, Riley is now finishing Upper Sixth.  Just over a year ago, Lucia started boarding in Willersley.  Riley moved from Crews, the Junior Boys House, and both now live in Weaponness.  With a decade’s worth of experience between them, they know boarding like the back of their hand.  The perfect couple to ask about today’s average day in a boarder’s life.

A Day in the Life of a Boarder at Scarborough College

Early Morning Starts and Off Grub

Ask either Lu or Riley and they won’t know what a waker-upper is.  Back in the 90’s, the waker-upper was the boy assigned to do wake-up duties at seven.  We’ve been informed that boarders now do this themselves. Boarder today would argue this is one of the reasons they really must keep their phones in their rooms.  For the alarm clock.  However, every good houseparent knows that wake-up duty is still of crucial importance.  That is, if you actually want all the children to be present at breakfast.  Breakfast in 1992 was distinctly English with porridge once a week.  Nowadays, porridge is a staple item and pancakes are the welcome exception.  There is no waker-upper anymore and the Masters do not have their own table anymore.  Gone are the days of the Master having the better bacon.

Whereas boarders today have tutor time to start with, 1992’s Bramcotians started with prayers and notices.  ‘Punishment for wrong-doers can include detention, copying work and running round the school fields.’  In those days, the worst punishment of all was either ‘off film’ or ‘off grub’.  Each boy had 35p to spend in the grub cupboard on a Sunday evening but if you were ‘off grub’, you got nothing.  ‘Off film’ meant you couldn’t watch the Saturday evening video.  Today’s boarders might wish to have the word ‘video’ explained.  Even the DVD’s, so lovingly kept safe by the houseparents, are ignored.  Save for the odd Harry Potter-a-thon, they collect dust and it’s Disney and Netflix instead.

Crews house

Lunch and ADP

At lunch, the 1990’s waker-upper has one more job.  Saying grace, in Latin, before and after the meal.  One master sits at each table, while the prefects, as well as any guests, join the Head at the head table.  The masters serve lunch, which we’re sure all of today’s pupils would be in favour of making a comeback.  ‘The  boys say that everyone complains about food but it is in fact better than they have tasted in many other schools.’  Although seating arrangements of Masters and pupils may have changed since then, attitudes towards food have largely remained the same.  It’s difficult to please well over 500 people, though we fail to see how livers would have pleased anybody.  Even in the 90’s! Fish and chip Friday anyone?

At Bramcote, lunch would be followed by ADP – After Dinner Prep.  The boys would do their prep in so-called blinkers.   Partitioned work areas where the books were kept.  Much like at Scarborough College, Games are an important part of the afternoon.  Bramcote played rugby, football and cricket.  Scarborough College added hockey for the boys.

Girls boarding

Evenings, Toads and Seniors

In the 90’s the boys did prep until approximately 7.15pm.  Today’s boarders will eat a little later and spend more time on Prep, though it’s worth bearing in mind that Bramcote was a Prep School.  Curfews definitely put that in perspective.  The youngest boarders at Scarborough College go to bed at 9.30pm.  The youngest of the boys, called Toads, had to be in their dorms for 7pm.  Lights out half an hour later.  A shower or bath is compulsory once a week.  We’re not sure how our current boarders feel about showering only once every seven days.

The Seniors at Bramcote had to be in their dorms at 8.50.  There was special dispensation for the boys who wanted to watch the 9 O’clock News but it was lights out at 9.30pm.  A Master would go around and tell boys to ‘Shut up!’ about half an hour later.  Lucia and Riley’s lights out is 11pm.  A little later and a whole lot different than thirty years ago.  Or is it?

Around 11.15pm, you may still find the odd Master or Mistress telling the children to be quiet.  A little more politely and a little less brusque, perhaps.  But with similar urgency, for sure.



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