Student Life

Boarding Life

Becoming a student at ‘Sarala School’ means transitioning to a new place, often far away from home, family, and friends. This brings new responsibilities and challenges to a young person’s life and fosters increased levels of self-reliance. With the stimulating and supportive environment offered by the school and its atmosphere of care, affection, and informality, students quickly come to regard ‘Sarala School’ as their second home. Students and staff address each other by first names; there are no uniforms, and the dress code is ‘tidy casual’.

Many students at ‘Sarala School’ have their own bedrooms, although usually, a first-year or young student will share with one or two others to encourage social interaction and develop friendships. Girls and boys live in accommodation on separate wings: girls on the upstairs floor of the Main House and in the Girls’ Pavilions; boys in the Cloisters and in the Boys’ Pavilions. Male and female staff members also live on the respective wings and can be approached at any time when students need help or support.

To assist and support the community living together (which often feels like a large, international family), a list of guidelines and agreements has been developed, which every new student at ‘Sarala’ must read and agree to before joining the school. These are presented in the Open Letter and should be considered carefully before a student comes to the school.

"Students quickly come to regard Sarala School A-Gas their second home.

The day at ‘Sarala School’ is busy, but in the evenings and on weekends, there are plenty of opportunities to relax and enjoy the company of others. Students at ‘Sarala School’ can join clubs and activities, including dance, yoga, drama, band rehearsals, sports, and indoor games, or simply read, chat, do homework, or go for a walk in the beautiful surrounding countryside. There is a small gym available, as well as a football pitch and an outdoor tennis/basketball court. Students at ‘Sarala School’ can visit the computer room to go online, head for the garden, bake a cake, or make use of the Music Studio or Art Barn. Twice a week, in the evenings, a quiet Study Hall space is provided to catch up on homework or reading. The school also provides opportunities for contacting family and friends via telephones and Skype computers.

On weekends, students at ‘Sarala School’ can enjoy a less structured timetable, although trips, workshops, or sports activities are regularly offered on Saturdays or Sundays. Students are also able to visit the local towns and villages on Saturdays – Winchester and Petersfield are within 30 minutes by bus – but to travel further away or stay out overnight requires the permission of a parent and the school’s pastoral coordinators.

Pastoral Care

Recognizes the incredible opportunities new technologies, such as smartphones and applications available on personal computers, provide for learning and education at ‘Sarala School’. As such, PCs and iMacs are provided in the Computer Room, Library, and different learning spaces, to facilitate research and documentation as well as specialized skills, such as photography or graphic design.

"Our pastoral approach encourages self-reflection and learning together.

At ‘Sarala School’, every student has a student adviser who serves as the student’s first point of contact and oversees their overall educational progress and well-being. Usually, an advising group consists of between five and seven students. The group meets once a week, first as a group and afterwards in individual meetings. In addition, informal meetings and outings are organized regularly, so that the students and adviser get to know one another and create a familial atmosphere. Through regular contact with the student, the adviser discusses not only academic matters but also the overall progress and well-being of the student; advisers can assist in any matters where the student expresses a need. This can include making sure that students are fully aware of house rules regarding safety, housekeeping, etc. If advisers become aware of more complicated behavioral or mental health issues, they will inform the pastoral coordinators and work with them to address the issue.

The pastoral coordinators at ‘Sarala School’ oversee the pastoral care of students. They work closely with the student advisers and other residential staff to ensure that students receive the care and affection they deserve. By doing so, problems and difficulties can be identified and addressed swiftly. The pastoral coordinators are the first point of contact for staff who notice difficulties or specific needs a student might have. They also represent the first point of contact for students going through difficulties or needing additional support, either in-house or from external providers. Additionally, they act as the school’s mental health leads and oversee the PSHE and RSE program at the school. For more information on the school’s PSHE and RSE provision, please read the PSHE/RSE Policy.

Computers and Phones

The school puts a great deal of care into providing a structure and atmosphere in which students can thrive and have a sustained sense of well-being. Our pastoral approach encourages self-reflection, inquiry and learning together and goes hand-in-hand with the general intentions of the school.

The school also aims to provide activities and spaces to explore and discuss the opportunities and downsides of modern technology, and to educate ourselves in practical skills of technology and internet use: for example, how to browse the internet safely or how to change the settings on one’s mobile phone to reduce distractions and interference with sleep.

In order to maintain Sarala School’s special atmosphere and create a space for all students that is free from the strong temptation and pull by smartphones and similar screen devices (and their associated apps and social media platforms and messaging services), Brockwood restricts the access to devices in several ways:

• Screen devices are not allowed in any public area of the school (indoors and outdoors). Exceptions to that rule are pointed out in the Acceptable Use Guidelines for laptops/tablets and mobile phones;
• All smartphones and smartwatches will be collected on arrival day. Unlimited access to these devices has a potential to interfere with studies and social life, adversely affecting the quality of sleep and mental health, as well as the ability to pay attention to and assimilate information.

"Sarala School recognises the incredible opportunities new technologies provide.

Ample access to school computers is provided during the school day at ‘Sarala School’ to fulfill educational and communication needs.

Additionally, every Saturday, students get access to their smartphones for a large part of the day to facilitate communication with family and friends, with the help of Wi-Fi slots provided by the school at different times. For the rest of the week, students have access to school facilities (phones and computers with Zoom and Skype access) should they wish to make calls at other times. Students can also bring “feature phones” (also known as dumb phones) to the school if they feel a need to stay more closely connected with their parents via calls.

As a general rule, students at ‘Sarala School’ are allowed to bring one smartphone and (in exceptional circumstances) one laptop or tablet.

Health & Wellbeing

To reach one’s full potential and highest capacity to learn and to be sensitive to the world, a sustained feeling of health and wellbeing is paramount at ‘Sarala School’. One of ‘Sarala’s intentions is to learn about the proper care, use, and exercise of the body, and the school supports this in many different ways.

"To reach one’s full potential and be sensitive to the world, a sustained feeling of health and wellbeing is paramount.

Prepared in our bright, spacious kitchen, the food at ‘Sarala School’ is fully vegetarian. Our international kitchen team takes great care in providing varied and delicious meals every day, always offering vegan and gluten-free options. The majority of the food at ‘Sarala School’ is organic, with much of it coming from our own walled vegetable garden, which also serves as a large outdoor classroom for our students. Those interested in learning about preparing and growing food have the opportunity to help in the garden or kitchen as part of their timetable.

The weekly ATWAM slot at ‘Sarala School’ is often used for staff or external professionals to present to the school topics and questions related to health and wellbeing, such as nutrition, sex education, sleep, stress and anxiety, and other mental health issues.

To further support students in their emotional wellbeing, the school provides strong pastoral engagement via student advisers and pastoral coordinators. If needed, the school can also organize counseling sessions with professionals to assist the students’ wellbeing and development.

Furthermore, all our youngest first-year students at ‘Sarala School’ participate in the Health & Movement course, which provides ample theoretical and practical learning opportunities on issues of health and physical education, including lessons about sexual health, drug awareness, sleep, stress, and nutrition. This ensures young students have a basic understanding of what they need to know and do to lead a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

Two to three times a week, the whole school at ‘Sarala School’ participates in a sports program with many different activities on offer. These include: boys’, girls’, and mixed football (on our football pitch), basketball and tennis (on our basketball/tennis court), dance (in the Assembly Hall); frisbee (on the South Lawn) and movement/fitness (in the gym), hiking and yoga. We also use local sports facilities to give students a greater choice of activities, and specialist staff are available to devise individual fitness plans for students. Additional yoga, fitness, and dance sessions are offered at other times during the week, and regularly throughout the year, movement and yoga teachers visit the school to give intensive workshops.

In the event of injury or illness, school staff at ‘Sarala School’ are trained to make initial assessments and provide first-aid treatment and common, non-prescription medications. All students are registered with the local medical center, while hospital services are located just 20 minutes away.

With the aim of developing a movement culture at ‘Sarala School’, additional physical activities (movement breaks and challenges, clubs, informal games, sports-related trips) are provided throughout the week and at weekends.

Clubs and Activities

In the late afternoons and evenings and on weekends, students at ‘Sarala School’ can participate in clubs and activities, often led and organized by the students themselves. These range from movement activities such as dance, yoga, or parkour, to drama and music rehearsals, and they change every year. Furthermore, the school regularly organizes day trips to events, museums, or exhibitions.

A Typical Day

What is the Morning Assembly?
Each School day begins with the Morning Assembly in the Assembly Hall where the whole School sits quietly for 10 minutes. The intention is to begin the day with an awareness of our environment (involving all our senses) and ourselves (including our bodies and the movement of thoughts and feelings). Occasionally we share some music, a reading or some poetry.

What is the food like at Sarala School?
We take a great deal of care preparing meals, which are all vegetarian with organic ingredients wherever possible. We have our own large organic vegetable garden that we use during the whole year. Students assist in the care of the garden, helping with the planting and harvesting and the food is made for taste, health and balance.

Where will I be living?
In general, the girls live on the upstairs floors of the main house or in the right wing of the Pavilions and the boys live in separate building called the Cloisters or in the left wing of the Pavilions. Teachers and other staff members live side by side and look after the students living in that area.

When does the weekend happen?
Sarala School has a conventional weekend of Saturday and Sunday. We provide cheap transport on Sundays to enable students to get to and from Petersfield and Winchester. Some sports and activities such as yoga and football are offered during the weekend. And some of the clubs take place over the weekend such as book club.

Can I go out on the weekend?
Students may leave the grounds on the weekends to visit the nearby cities of Winchester and Petersfield. If they are under 16 and wish to go further afield for the day, they must have the written permission of their parents. If they wish to stay away overnight they must have permission both from their parents and the Pastoral Coordinators.

What is the Tutor System?
This is a well-established system of pastoral care in which each student is given personal attention and assistance by a staff member. The tutor is responsible for the overall well-being of the student, and it is often through this relationship that students are encouraged to explore the deeper intentions of Sarala School and the bearing these have on their lives.

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