Boarding Houses  |  Bronte  |  Symes  |  Keller  |  6th Form

Symes: a distinctly individual community for our Upper 4 (Year 9) girls

For this significant year of adolescent transition we have Symes Boarding House.  In our experience, Year 9 is often the year of greatest physical and emotional development for our girls, when the challenges of adolescence combine with an intensifying academic curriculum and important GCSE option decisions. 

Symes Boarding House is situated a short distance away from the main school block and offers the Year 9 girls the opportunity to blossom in their own unique environment.  The House has quick and easy access to the sports facilities, music block and the open space of the school playing field whilst still being in easy walking distance of the main teaching block.  
The resident staff in Symes aim to inspire the girls to be the best they can be and not to fear the challenges they may face along their educational journey.  Inspirational quotations and words of wisdom hang on the walls to help maintain the balance of life’s pressures. 

Symes has its own spacious common room, offering the girls an in-house library, TV, piano and most importantly lots of sofas to relax on.  The school wifi is fully accessible from the boarding house so girls can watch their individual favourite programmes on their I-pads, laptops or phones during their leisure time.  

The house kitchen is fully equipped with the necessary equipment to make a range of snacks, from a toaster and rice cooker to a popcorn machine!
Each girl has an allocated work station within the house and through the course of the year the girls begin spending prep time in the boarding house in readiness to transfer to Keller House for the 5th form/GCSE years.  During this time they have access to and support from various subject specialist resident staff. Our aim at this stage is to develop their independence whilst still maintaining a supportive framework around each girl. 

The girls work together to create a vibrant, positive and friendly community which each year reflects them as individuals.  Their dormitories are light and airy and come to life at the beginning of each term with their displays of posters and lots of beautiful family pictures.

Meet the Housemistress: Mrs Helen Harkness

Mrs Helen Harkness is the Symes Boarding House Mistress (BHM) and during the school term she lives in the flat located on the ground floor of the house.  This is an ideal location for the girls to easily stop by if they have questions or just fancy a chat.  During holiday time Mrs Harkness returns to her own family home in Fareham, Hampshire, living with her husband, Dave and two adult step children, Josh and Elliot.

She holds a Bachelor of Education Degree specialising in PE and Dance and during the school day works within the PE and Life Matters Departments of the Senior School.

Mrs Harkness shares her flat with her cocker spaniel 'Reg' who just loves to be petted by any girls or visitors who like dogs.

In her free time Mrs Harkness enjoys trips to various theatres to watch plays, musicals and dance works.  She is a keen recreational runner and has undertaken the Great South Run on a number of occasions. During holiday time she enjoys skiing and loves spending time in the mountains. Mrs Harkness is looking forward to organising another St Cat’s Ski Tour during the Easter Holidays for girls in Year 8 and 9.