Zoom in amidst the stunning scenery of Brecon Beacons National Park, and you’ll discover Christ College Brecon. Here, pupils live in a home away from home in a glorious boarding environment. In this supportive community, they thrive; their wellbeing cared for to the smallest detail.
This support for pupils’ physical, emotional, cultural, moral, social and spiritual needs starts even before they step foot on campus. Before they start the term, each student gets an induction pack that contains lesson times, map of site, amenities in town, etc. This relieves worry about routines and getting lost in the first week.
“Each new student is given an older buddy, someone they can go to if a tutor or teacher is unavailable,” says houseparent of Senior Boys House houseparent Dyfed. “I can imagine making new friends being quite daunting for them which is why getting the whole house involved is key. We have a game called 40/40 where three students are chosen to defend a rugby post and all the others have to touch the post before being tagged. Touch rugby is another favourite … and of course, house competitions such as house music involves the whole house.”
Feeling welcomed matters. Christ College Brecon understands this well, which is why a houseparent will not only conduct a daily check-in during the first week, they will connect new pupils to key members of staff such as their personal tutor, the welfare centre team and the house prefects too. Parents are always kept in the loop. “I take a photo of the girls on their ‘first day’ in their uniform and send it to parents so they can see their child on their first day,” shares Senior Girls House houseparent Danni. “There are rarely any wellbeing issues but if there are, there are plenty of people for the new pupils to talk to and reassure them that they will be just fine!”
At Christ College Brecon, pupils not only strive for good grades but to build character and confidence too. The goal is to provide each pupil with holistic success while ensuring they feel safe, supported and happy — and in this, the whole community is involved.
On the academic front, staff design weekly timetables that allow pupils to balance their academic studies and explore their passions outside the classroom. While pupils focus on their academic lessons during the weekdays, Saturdays are used for a “second curriculum,” a time where pupils can focus on exploring their interests and passions.
“The structure of the week really helps to balance their commitments,” shares Simon Hill, Deputy Head (Pastoral) at Christ College Brecon. “Saturday really has a different feel, one of adventure and exploration – allowing pupils and staff to spend longer on their personal interest.”
Whichever day it is, pupils have support every step of the way — sometimes even before pupils know they are facing problems. As the college takes a proactive approach to wellbeing, this means they tackle issues before they arise using its comprehensive tutor programme and PSE curriculum. Guest lectures build on this with their talks on a wide range of topics, from mental health in sport to goal setting and healthy lifestyles. Each year group gets to meet with the Schools Community Police Office to cover both education and the legal aspects of adolescent decision-making too.
During weekly chapel services, led by pupils, the community comes together to solve topical concerns and to let everyone know they are not alone in their struggles. Pastoral staff meet weekly to address pupil concerns. In short, the whole school is committed to its culture of support, open-ness and honesty that provides reassurance to all at this challenging time.
Should issues arise, there are several layers of support on hand. Pupils can approach their houseparent, tutor, nurses, counsellors and teachers. At every time of need, they have several people to turn to.
As sixth form student Hannah says, “You feel part of a close-knit community in your house and the school as a whole.”
Fellow student Nia agrees on the feeling of family within the house and that there’s a “sense of a family away from home.” “As the school isn’t very big. it makes it easier to get to know everyone and make new friendships … it’s as though I have 30-odd sisters.”
To learn more about how your child can be part of this small, caring and compassionate community, click here.