Boarders Reap Benefits of Prep

Ascham’s Head of Boarding Allysia Heness-Pugh explains how the nightly routine of Prep for our boarders works hand in glove with our renowned educational framework, the Dalton Plan…

There is a joy in watching our boarders come together each night in Prep because it’s the Dalton Plan in action. Although structured study time is a necessary feature of all boarding school environments, Boarders’ Prep at Ascham aligns uniquely with our Dalton Plan and seamlessly supports the Dalton principles of independence, responsibility, reflection and collaboration. While the opportunity boarders gain by direct access to their teachers in Prep, Sunday to Thursday is significantly advantageous, it is the extension of the Dalton Plan bringing students together within the Boarding routine that is the most impressive. The structure of Prep offers flexibility and choice, which in turn enhances independence and responsibility.

Prep sessions are led by a team of current Ascham teachers and tutors. Our tutors are recently graduated Ascham students who were also boarders—they have great insight in that they have lived and breathed Dalton as students and understand the uniqueness of the Plan. The sense of community support Prep tutors and teachers bring each night also meet many of our wellbeing outcomes in Boarding.

Importantly, the Prep routine allows for much valued extra support for our younger country boarders who may feel overwhelmed. Sarah Purdie, our Boarding Prep Coordinator, explains: ‘Boarders may feel embarrassed in a Lesson to ask a question that’s assumed knowledge, but in Boarding Prep they know they’re surrounded by peers with probably the exact same question. Prep allows for that bridge to happen a lot more smoothly, and also allows for us to see where there are differences and make sure they get the support they need.’

As boarders get older and become more independent, Prep is used more as a set study time where they are separated from distractions and build solid habits for independent study. While they still work with Boarding Prep staff, there is significantly more self-accountability as they complete Assignment tasks. It’s a skill learnt through the routine and common expectations of Prep time, where everyone comes together for one purpose.

Boarders’ Prep at Ascham has certainly evolved in its 135-year history. ‘Preparation’ as it used to be called, had a much stricter beginning to that of the collaborative space we have now. However, the foundation of Dalton has never been too far away. While the routine of Prep has always helped boarders take responsibility for their life’s direction, be it managing at university or managing a large country property, the current shape of Boarders’ Prep reaffirms the Dalton Plan’s significance as a tool for taking on the world.

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