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Welcoming boarding mistress for Ming House

01 Jul 2022

Katy Piper

Boarding Mistress for Ming House


My name is Katy Piper, and I am incredibly excited to take on the role of Boarding Mistress for Ming House, Huili School Hangzhou. Before moving to China, I was a primary school teacher for 18 years in Cheshire, UK, after completing a four year BEd (Hons) at Chester College, a college of The University of Liverpool. Since moving to China in 2019, I have taught exclusively at Huili School Hangzhou across the primary grades and subjects. Alongside my teaching role, I have also been a boarding mentor of Ming House, working with all the students from grade 1 to grade 10.



Authentic English boarding:

a home from home


Having been fortunate enough to have worked in the same school for many years, I have not only watched individual children make progress over a single year but, in some cases, whole families over many years. These valuable experiences have helped me appreciate the positive impact school and family links can have in an educational setting. In my new role, I will continue to ensure that the communication channels between school and home are open and effective. However, I hope to enhance these by providing that the students under my care see Ming house as their family away from home during their time with us. 



We must seek to bring together the best boarding practices to create an environment where our pupils thrive. Boarding at Huili School Hangzhou stands apart from traditional Chinese boarding schools as it embraces the school's bilingual and global nature and values under one roof. The boarding house is built very much on the values of the UK boarding experience, ensuring the highest standards of pastoral care. The provision of our boarding model operating from Sunday to Friday during term time only allows our students a unique opportunity to experience the best of both worlds. Boarding will allow them time during the week to form lasting bonds and friendships with their peers, make the most of the many activities and opportunities available, and gain valuable experiences that will prepare them to continue their studies abroad in the future if so desired as well as enabling them to face 21st-century life as global citizens. In addition, they can still spend valuable weekends and holidays together with their families at home. 



Wellington College Hangzhou holds a deep tradition for boarding, and the boarding experience is designed to support the development of the Wellington identity: pupils who are inspired, intellectual, independent, individual and inclusive. However, we recognise that with the wide range of ages and boarding experience in the house, we will need to be flexible in our approach whilst maintaining high expectations and aspirations for all. There are already many excellent opportunities available to the boarders both socially and academically. However, next year I would like to build on these tailoring them to the needs of specific groups of pupils. I have already started talking to current borders about ways to improve their boarding experience in the future and would very much like to work with the students themselves as well as the families to explore how for example, the independence that we encourage from our students should look for our very youngest borders right up to our pre A level students. 



New initiative: 

boarding prefects



A new initiative that I would like to trial next year is the introduction of boarding prefects. Some of the students will be about to embark on their 5th year living at Ming House, and as such, they have a wealth of experience and knowledge to share with their fellow students. Establishing a team of willing prefects, who are interested in developing their leadership skills and taking on small responsibilities in Ming house, would provide the students with an excellent opportunity for personal growth and provide valuable assistance in the house. They will be guided by the lead mentors and myself in their roles, allowing them to start slowly and build up their levels of responsibility when they are ready. To begin with, I would envisage them offering a variety of support to their peers ranging from a listening ear when needed, offering advice, drawing on their previous experiences, and even helping to run some of the activities or coaching evening sports. 



health, safety and wellbeing



Supporting boarding students' health, safety, and wellbeing is always the top priority for Ming house staff. There are many posters and signposts around school guiding pupils to lists of people or organisations they can talk to about wellbeing concerns. By choosing to board, students will have additional contact time with a range of staff who choose to work as boarding mentors. The relationships formed between boarding mentors and boarders are unique to boarding and quite different to the relationships between tutors and students in day school. Boarding mentors are privileged to get to know the boarders in a more informal setting which creates a sense of mutual trust and respect between them. This, in turn, makes it much easier for our students to find ways to tell us if things are not going well for them. Regular communication between the lead boarding mentors and grade leaders in school is key to ensuring we can personalise and support each student's academic and pastoral journey.


Finally, I would like to finish by saying that when young people feel secure, safe and supported, they are most likely to succeed and be happy, which is why we take such great care to ensure that your child feels truly at home here. So whether your child is returning to Ming House or about to start their boarding journey, they will receive a warm welcome from the whole team, ready and waiting to help them settle in.