NEW JOINERS GET 'REPTON READY'
The first days of a new school year are a heady mixture of daunting and exciting, and for none more so than new joiners.
Even with 466 years of educational experience, Repton is always looking to improve and enhance the onboarding experience of its pupils, so at the end of the first full week of school it was a good time to speak to our new pupils and take stock. What we heard from them, whether it was about getting used to boarding, adapting to new rhythms and routines or the balance between academics, socialising and other activities, what was quickly apparent is that our new pupils are already well on the way to fulfilling our hopes for Reptonians; to be rounded, grounded and unbounded.
The first day saw warm welcomes in boarding Houses for parents and pupils, and likewise in the Headmaster's Garden for welcome drinks and nibbles, creating an appropriately celebratory atmosphere on this big day for new joiners. It also included the Admission of Scholars ceremony for the new B Block, wherein our academic, sporting and creative scholars are congratulated once again on what they have achieved, but also to look forward to the fine contribution they will doubtless make. C B Fry Scholars like Harneve and Anoushka have had a particularly busy first week, as their prestigious all-round scholarship throws them into top end academic, sporting and creative activities straight away. "Even if you have your free time taken up you are still spending time with lots of other people," Anoushka told us, "so it's nice to be busy!" Harneve, also a C B Fry Scholar, felt very much the same, and also noted that the boarding routine was of benefit to her as a day pupil: "I share a room with two boarders and I get in early each day and don't have to leave until 9pm, which is great because there is a LOT more hockey than I was expecting, so having that time helps me fit everything in." When asked if that was a challenge, she confidently replied "No, not really!"
Some of that confidence may well be to do with the integration in every boarding house of every year group, with 13-18 year olds sharing time and space together from the start. Peggy, another B Block joiner, and "the Sixth Formers in our house are SO nice - they just talk to us like they are our friends... actually all our House is really nice; O Block, A Block, Upper Sixth, Lower Sixth - I actually really enjoy having not just my year on the lunch tables. I have two swimmers on my lunch table and hearing them talk about their day being so different to mine is really interesting."
Speaking of Sixth Form, one of the real benefits of the way Repton is structured is that there are a large number of spaces created fresh for Sixth Form, so new joiners at this entry point do not have such a stark 'new kid' experience as they might joining other Sixth Forms. "To be honest, I thought it would be way worse than this, but everybody has been so nice!" This admirably open admissions from Jasmine rings true with a lot of Sixth Form joiners, especially if like her you have come here from quite some distance (Jasmine joined us from Singapore). "You think you're joining a new school with a bunch of teenagers, and schools can be really cliquey, but everyone is really inviting here." Boarding is, of course, a big adjustment for a young person, especially if it is your first time doing it, as new Lower Sixth Anna rightly confirmed: "I found it hard on the first couple of days, but you get used to it really quickly," to which Jasmine added "but you get more time to integrate and get to know people as a boarder, and I think it is getting us ready for university, too."
Joe and Oscar also felt that staff of all kinds had helped ensure they settled quickly: "People like the Matron and the Headmaster have really made me feel welcome" said Oscar, and Joe particularly valued the Heads of House panel at Sixth Form Induction, where they could ask the questions they needed to ask of people who really know the ropes and who take a lead role in ensuring new joiners make a great start. That often included advice about how to balance sporting commitments - very important to both Joe and Oscar as Sports Scholars - and study: "It actually all seems very feasible" was Oscar's view, "so definitely get involved in everything you can." Joe chipped in that "especially boarding life allowed you to do what you want to do, pick up an instrument, try an extra sport - you just have the time to do that."
It is certainly the case that time at Repton seems somewhat elastic. The first week and a half has included the new people induction and barbecue, the first three whole-school Chapel Services, a Saturday night Junior social, sports trials, House matches, House Tug of War (with a whole-school barbecue), B Block teas with the Headmaster in his garden, the first School Prefect meeting, B and A Block team building events, more than 200 Old Reptonian Hockey Players, Netballers, Fives Players and Footballers (and the inaugural Women’s OR Football match) and an extraordinary two National Championship titles in Girls’ Cricket. Making sure that our new pupils have no shortage of things to do, as well as ensuring that they get precious down-time to take stock and build friendships is what the opening weeks of the academic year are all about. We know that all our new Reptonians will get better and better at balancing all this wonderful opportunity with good, profitable work in the classroom, and we can’t wait to see how they all build on this brilliant start.