Frequently Asked Questions
- DOES HARROW SEE CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT AS AN ESSENTIAL COMPONENT OF EDUCATION?
- HOW CAN WE BEST PREPARE OUR SON FOR LIFE AT HARROW?
- WHEN WOULD YOU RECOMMEND A BOY TO CHOOSE A BOARDING SCHOOL VERSUS A DAY SCHOOL?
- WHAT ARE THE BOYS' ROOMS LIKE?
- IN WHAT WAYS DOES HARROW SCHOOL TRY TO GIVE BOYS SOME UNDERSTANDING OF THEIR FEMALE CONTEMPORARIES?
- WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A SINGLE-SEX EDUCATION?
- WHAT IS YOUR APPROACH TO BOYS' USE OF MOBILE PHONES AND OTHER TECHNOLOGY?
- WHAT DOES HARROW OFFER IN THE WAY OF PERSONAL, SOCIAL, HEALTH AND ECONOMIC (PSHE) EDUCATION?
- OUR SON IS EXTREMELY SPORTY AND CURRENTLY TAKES PART IN GRASSROOTS SPORT OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL. DOES HARROW ALLOW BOYS TO PARTICIPATE IN ANY WEEKLY TRAINING OR MATCHES AWAY FROM SCHOOL, IN ADDITION TO THEIR SCHOOL SPORTING COMMITMENTS?
- WHAT ACTIVITIES ARE PUT ON AT WEEKENDS FOR BOYS?
- WHAT ARE THE ARRANGEMENTS FOR CATERING?
- HOW EASILY DO BOYS FROM STATE SCHOOLS INTEGRATE?
- HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH BULLYING?
- HOW DO YOU ENSURE THAT NEW BOYS SETTLE IN WELL AND HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH HOMESICKNESS?
- HOW FREQUENTLY IS TERM-TIME PARENTAL CONTACT ALLOWED AND EXPECTED, AND WHAT IS CONSIDERED THE NORM AMONG EXISTING HARROW FAMILIES?
- HOW ARE PARENTS KEPT INFORMED ABOUT THEIR SON'S OVERALL WELL-BEING?
- WHAT HAPPENS IF MY SON IS ILL?
- HOW ARE OLDER BOYS ENCOURAGED TO SUPPORT AND LOOK OUT FOR YOUNGER BOYS?
- IF BOYS ARE CAUGHT DRINKING, SMOKING, VAPING OR CONSUMING DRUGS, HOW DO YOU TACKLE THIS?
- HOW DO YOU SPOT WHEN A BOY IS NOT OKAY GIVEN THEY OFTEN WON'T COME FORWARD AND INITIATE CONVERSATION?
- WHAT IS HARROW'S RELIGIOUS PROVISION?
- ARE THERE ANY ACCOMPANIED TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS FOR YOUNGER PUPILS TRAVELLING TO/FROM FURTHER AWAY PARTS OF THE UK SUCH AS THE NORTH OF ENGLAND OR SCOTLAND?
Our purpose is clearly defined as follows:
‘Harrow prepares boys with diverse backgrounds and interests for a life of service, learning, leadership and personal fulfilment.’
In fulfilling this purpose, we focus on our key values:
Courage, Honour, Humility and Fellowship.
We achieve it through boys’ engagement with an incredibly broad range of opportunities in academic life, sport, music, drama, art, CCF, DofE and community service – encouraging boys to push themselves beyond their comfort zones, and to learn and develop personally through those experiences. We also expose boys to very deliberate training through, for example, our PSHE education, Peer Mentoring and Monitor preparation programmes. All elements of our provision come together in the Harrow Prize, towards which boys work over their five years in the School.
In all that we do, we are seeking to prepare boys for the challenges of life in the 21st century, and character education is an integral part of that process.
We will provide a huge amount of support and structure for your son whenever he arrives as a Shell, in both pastoral and academic contexts, but the more independent he is, the quicker he will be able to adjust, settle in and thrive.
Whilst he is at prep school, encourage him to take responsibility, insofar as is possible, for the management of his own academic work and his other activities.
Encourage him to keep up and pursue as wide a range of interests as possible, so that he can make the most of all of the opportunities on offer here at Harrow.
We like boys to read. Encourage your son to always have a book on the go, so that this is the norm before he arrives.
Talk to him a lot before he arrives about the importance of community and the need to look out for and support other people. Don’t indulge him too much. He will be joining a community of 800 boys, with about 70 in his own House, and he will very much need to be a team player. This is a crucial element of being in a full-boarding school like Harrow.
Boarding is certainly not for everyone, and that’s why in our admissions process we still place emphasis on meeting boys and their families, to find out about a boy’s character and interests, to get a sense of whether he will be a good fit.
For the right boy, it is an incredibly rewarding and enriching experience.
We are looking for boys who are of good character, who we believe will care for other people, look beyond themselves and buy into the idea of being part of a wider boarding community.
We are looking for boys who will not only want to make the most of their academic ability but who will also enjoy the super-curricular opportunities for academic extension on offer here.
Harrow is full-boarding, so it’s very important to us that our boys have passions and interests beyond the academic – whether it be sport, music, drama, art and so on.
It doesn’t really matter what it is, as we have everything on offer here.
Harrow is the perfect place for boys who like to get up and do things, even try activities they haven’t seen before.
If your son is the sort of boy who, for example, much prefers engaging in an extended academic project, being in a musical ensemble, acting in a play or playing for his sports teams, over and above watching TV and playing computer games, then he is the sort of boy who could really thrive here.
Harrow has been a single-sex school since its foundation in the 16th century.
Today, in the 21st century, we seek to inculcate in boys the right skills, responses and attitudes in a societal context where expectations surrounding the place of men and privilege are changing.
We aspire to promote a progressive, empathetic, emotionally intelligent and inclusive outlook. Character education is at the core of this process. All aspects of School life contribute to this.
Our PSHE Education programme, tailored for adolescent boys, regularly covers topics such as gender inequality, sexism, positive masculinity and sexual consent.
Our academic societies invite high-profile female speakers who encourage boys to challenge their own world views.
We have a Boys’ Equality & Diversity Group. Its discussions, which cover topics such as sexism and gender inequality, help to inform our pastoral strategy.
The number of female teachers in the school has steadily increased in recent years and is now around one in five.
We run a very wide range of academic, co-curricular and social activities with many girls’ schools, from symposiums and debates, to Scottish dancing, to our annual Choral Society Concert.
Boys from Year 9 upwards regularly host visiting girls’ schools for dinner on Saturday evenings through our formal programme of socials.
It is therefore very much the case that boys do have opportunities to meet and interact with their female contemporaries.
It is noteworthy that our trends in subject choice do not mirror the gender biases towards certain disciplines that are seen more broadly in co-educational schools. Typically, only around 8% of boys nationally who study A levels opt for English, compared with over 20% of girls. In our current Year 12, more than 25% of boys are studying English A level. Modern foreign languages and the Classics are examples of other subjects at Harrow that follow a similar pattern. It would be simplistic to suggest that operating in a single-sex educational environment was the only relevant factor, but it does mean that subjects are not pigeon-holed or stereotyped as appealing predominantly to one gender more than another. Learners can play to their academic strengths and interests, potentially opening up degree paths and career opportunities which they might otherwise have overlooked.
The same principle applies in co-curricular pursuits. At Harrow, the proportion of boys who sing in choirs, perform in musical ensembles and take part in drama is much higher than one typically finds in co-educational settings. When it comes to sport, we can configure the school’s facilities and games programme to what works best for boys.
As our boys learn each day, they engage in a dynamic, reflective and mature fashion. Irrespective of whether they are playing a character on stage, delivering a solo in a concert, or writing their own AI software, they are typically more willing to take risks, challenge perceived wisdom and explore new opportunities in an environment in which they feel more comfortable than they might in a co-educational context.
The argument that learners are less distracted and more academically focused in a single-sex environment is a commonly used one, but it has endured the test of time, not least because experience seems to have borne it out in each generation.
Furthermore, many boys’ confidence levels are much enhanced by operating in a single-sex school, where they are less likely to compare themselves or to be directly compared with girls, who may develop cognitively and emotionally at a quicker rate. Boys who might not step up for leadership roles in the presence of girls do so at Harrow across a plethora of committees, academic societies and co-curricular activities.
We take a proactive educational approach – through the work of the House teams and our PSHE Education programme, which covers topics such as gaming addiction.
Tutors also take all boys through our IT Acceptable Use Policy at the start of each new academic year. Boys are required to sign it to confirm that they understand it and that they will abide by it.
Boys' use of their Surface Book computers on our network is carefully monitored through our partnership with eSafe, who alert us daily to instances of inappropriate material being accessed, as well as communications of pastoral concern.
Boys in the Shell, Remove and Fifth Form are not permitted to keep their devices (mobile phone and Surface Book computer) through the night. They hand them in to the House Master or Matron at bedtimes for safe keeping. We believe it is important to have a screen free culture after lights out.
There is more flexibility for Sixth Form boys, as we try to prepare them for the transition to life after Harrow, but we do intervene in cases of boys finding it hard to manage their devices appropriately. This usually becomes clear when boys struggle to get up in the morning through tiredness, for example.
We very much value working in partnership with parents on this issue, and strongly encourage parents to put parental restrictions on boys’ mobile phones in terms of content, screen time and the amount of data available.
One of the most important components of our curriculum is our comprehensive PSHE Education programme, designed to prepare boys for life in the 21st Century.
The programme is delivered by Tutors in weekly PSHE Education lessons, but they are supported by a wide range of external speakers who deliver seminars, conferences and workshops to whole year-groups. The three strands to our programme are:
· Health & Wellbeing
· Families and Relationships
· and Living in the Wider World
We expect all our families to buy into the full-boarding ethos of the School.
It is such a busy and dynamic environment here on all sorts of fronts, and boys’ schedules are generally very full, especially in the first year. There is also a huge amount of sport available at School, within both School and House contexts.
This makes it very difficult for boys to have time off the Hill.
That said, we do make some special allowances for boys on sports scholarships to train at agreed times with the academies of the professional clubs to which they are attached.
We have very good relationships with rugby clubs such as London Irish, football clubs such as Queen’s Park Rangers, and Middlesex and Surrey county cricket.
A significant number of our boys are signed to academies and the balance of all of their commitments is always carefully managed by their House Masters.
Other than boys on sports scholarships playing at these professional club academies, we do not allow pupils to have time away.
The weekend can typically be a busy time for boys, especially those in the younger years, although there is also some down time too, which is also important at the end of a long and busy week.
We have lessons on Saturday mornings followed by School sport, or other activities, in the afternoon.
On a typical Saturday evening, there will be a range of activities taking place, such as Tutor trips off the Hill to the cinema or theatre, musical concerts in School and socials with girls’ schools. Boys also sometimes enjoy a free evening to relax in their Common Rooms, watch a film, order a takeaway or play FIFA on their PlayStation (Houses allow this at certain times over the weekend). There is no formal prep on Saturday evening.
On Sunday morning, boys attend Chapel or Thought for the Day.
Sunday afternoon is quite often taken up with House sport (e.g. Shell soccer in the Autumn, Harrow Football in the Spring), drama rehearsals and musical ensemble rehearsals.
There is formal prep on Sunday evening, as boys settle down again to get ready for the week ahead.
Boys of course also love to play on their House 5-a-side courts, use the tennis courts and golf course, and visit the Art Schools and DT schools – all of which are open at the weekend for boys.
Boys eat breakfast, lunch and supper in their House areas in the Shepherd Churchill Hall. It is possible to sit with friends from other Houses at certain mealtimes. We offer a wide choice of fresh food, with two main meat courses at lunch, as well as vegetarian and vegan options, soup, a salad bar and pudding all prepared on-site by our own in-house Catering Team. Favourite dishes include Katsu chicken curry, Asian salmon with julienne of vegetables, homemade meatballs with linguine, coconut chicken curry, chicken tikka masala with poppadoms and mango chutney, roast beef/pork/chicken/lamb with all the trimmings, homemade beer-battered haddock, teriyaki lamb, lemon-zested turkey escalope, BBQ spare rib chop, chicken Kiev, and southern fried chicken. In addition, boys can buy snacks from the Hill Shop and Hill Café (a social space for use during break times), and they can also make use of the kitchen facilities in their Houses.
Harrow is incredibly welcoming to boys from all backgrounds, and House Masters in particular take great care in putting all the necessary support in place to ensure that boys make a smooth transition and strong start.
The schools and backgrounds that boys come from are not things they tend to focus on or make issues of.
Maybe it’s because at Harrow they all wear the same uniform every day and don the same House sports kit and use the same Surface Computers and so on. Regardless of background, teenage boys are, beneath it all, often motivated by the same things. They always seem to find common ground, for example through supporting the same football team, enjoying the same sort of music or having a similar sense of humour.
Our Awards and Sixth Form Registrar keeps a close eye on boys who are on bursaries to ensure they are supported financially in relation to things like sports tours, music tours and D of E expeditions. It is important that the same experiences are available to all our boys.
We have a very robust and clearly defined Counter-bullying Policy.
There is a zero-tolerance approach at Harrow. In tandem, a strong educational approach is also very important.
The School ensures that parents are clear that bullying-type behaviour is not tolerated and ensures parents are aware of the procedures to follow if they believe that their child is being bullied. Working in close partnership with parents on this issue is absolutely essential and always in a boy’s best interests.
The School ensures that boys understand the School’s approach and that boys are clear about the part they can play in preventing bullying, including when they find themselves as bystanders. Boys need to know where the boundaries are and that we take those boundaries seriously.
Counter-bullying guidance is made very clear to boys from the start. This happens in a number of ways, for example:
· The distribution of Counter-bullying Guidance leaflets at the beginning of each academic year. House Masters and Tutors talk through the content with the boys, so that expectations are clear
· Formal induction programmes that include a Form Room Code of Conduct, an IT Code of Conduct and a Room Mates’ Charter
· Our PSHE education programme, which incorporates Living Together Conferences for each year group
· Year group seminars with the Deputy Head Master, who is in charge of discipline
· The work of the Boys’ Pastoral Committee, the Boys’ Equality & Diversity Group, the House Councils and Flocks groups
· Feedback given to boys following the annual Living Together Survey
· The ongoing, formal and informal work of the House teams
The School regularly reviews and evaluates its counter-bullying approach and procedures, especially taking into account developments in technology and changes to legislation and guidance. Our whole-school annual Living Together Survey – a hugely comprehensive exercise which has been running for many years – also helps us to spot emerging trends and the areas we need to be focussing on.
The School ensures that disciplinary sanctions are applied in such a way that the consequences of bullying reflect the seriousness of the incident, so that others see that bullying is unacceptable. Our approach to sanctions is always fair and consistent. Sanctions almost always include a reflective written work component in which boys are required carefully to consider their actions and write about how they intend to move forward positively.
Support for victims is crucially important. We always ensure they receive the help they need.
Working with perpetrators is also important in order to prevent the bullying-type behaviour from happening again.
We begin to prepare boys for Harrow long before they arrive.
Our Admissions process often involves three or four visits to the School – Open Morning, Year 6 visit, formal testing in Year 7 and sometimes scholarship assessment in Year 8 – all of which help to familiarise boys with the environment.
All Houses run a Welcome Afternoon in the Summer term of Year 8, before boys arrive as Shells in September. This is an opportunity for boys to meet the other boys who will be in their House year group as well as the boys currently in the House who will be their Shepherds and Mentors.
We run a very thorough induction programme for new boys throughout their first week, which covers a wide range of pastoral and academic matters. This gives boys a calm and measured introduction to Harrow life, rather than simply throwing them in at the deep end.
When a boy arrives, we put a very strong support network around him to support him through his transition from prep school to senior school, and in many cases from day school to boarding. This includes a wide range of adults, from the immediate House team to the chaplains, School Psychologist, School Counsellor and members of the SMT responsible for pastoral care. It also includes boys within the House – especially his Shepherd, Mentor and others within his Flock group.
If a boy is homesick, a very personalised approach is taken depending on the individual circumstances. For example, in some cases encouraging a boy to phone home regularly might be a good idea whereas in others it could serve to make the situation worse.
Sometimes it is helpful to enlist the help of a senior boy who struggled with homesickness in the past, to chat it through and provide the right sort of guidance and encouragement.
We deliberately provide a busy and varied schedule for new boys, especially in their first term, as this helps to encourage a positive outlook. House Masters will supplement the already busy School programme, particularly at weekends, with other House activities.
We find that homesickness tends not to be a big issue and it almost always resolves itself fairly quickly with the passage of time. It is often harder for parents than for boys, who are enjoying throwing themselves into Harrow life and without too much time to think about what’s going on at home.
The key thing is for House Masters and parents to work together in close partnership, to ensure that boys receive the necessary and most appropriate support.
Parents are warmly encouraged to support School and House activities, especially sports fixtures, concerts, plays and Chapel services.
On Saturdays, tea is available for parents after matches in the Shepherd Churchill Dining Hall, and in any of the pavilions in the Summer term.
Sunday afternoon is a popular time for parents to visit and take their sons to lunch or tea, with House Masters’ agreement. It will almost always be possible, but occasionally time constraints due to House or School activities in the early afternoon mean that boys need to eat with their Houses.
As well as the formal exeats and half-term holidays, boys are permitted a number of floating exeats, which are additional Saturday night leaves.
Boys in the Upper and Lower Sixth may be granted three floating exeats in the Autumn term and two in each of the Spring and Summer terms. Boys in the Fifth Form and Remove are allowed one floating exeat in each of the Autumn, Spring and Summer terms. Boys in the Shell may take a floating exeat in each of the Spring and Summer terms.
Floating exeats are only granted with the permission of the House Master, who must be satisfied with the boy’s conduct and academic work. Boys may not miss House or School commitments. Floating exeats are for a maximum duration of 24 hours and boys will still need to do academic work over the weekend, so should not regard them as a weekend off. Boys are expected to engage in some form of activity on a Saturday afternoon before they depart and are generally not permitted to leave the Hill before 5pm. They always need to be back in the School by 6pm on Sundays.
Your son’s House Master is the one person at Harrow who has overall responsibility for your son’s progress – pastorally, academically and also in terms of his co-curricular engagement. S/he will contact you right away if there are any concerns about your son’s wellbeing and chat through with you a plan for providing the necessary support he needs.
We also encourage parents to get in touch with House Masters at any time if they have any worries or concerns, no matter how small. Working in partnership in this way is essential and always in the best interests of the boy.
A lot of regular, informal exchanges take place between parents and the House team whenever parents visit the Hill for sports fixtures, concerts, social events and so on.
Beaks and House Masters write formal reports on all boys at the end of each term. Beaks and Tutors also write formal reports on all boys at each half-term. We have annual parents’ meetings for each year group.
Each House has a resident Matron and sick room. Matrons are supported by the School's Medical Centre, where trained nursing staff offer 24-hour care. The Medical Centre is under the direct supervision of the School Doctor, who is available on the Hill every weekday for consultation. If a boy needs a long time to convalesce or is particularly contagious, he will usually go home or to his guardian.
Every new boy is assigned a Shepherd – a Remove boy in his second year – to help him settle in and find his feet.
He is also assigned a Mentor – a boy from the Upper Sixth year group – who acts as a sort of kindly older brother.
Each boy is also a member of a Flock group within his House. Flocks consist of one boy from each year group from Shell to Upper Sixth and meet regularly to discuss a wide range of School and House matters. This provides an important avenue for support.
Lower Sixth boys are trained in Peer Mentoring and formally mentor boys in the Remove year group.
The Head of House and House Monitors also take a keen interest in ensuring that relationships between the year groups in the House are positive and constructive. A broad range of inter-House and intra-House activities are designed and organised so that they span multiple year groups – e.g. music and singing competitions, debates, drama productions, CCF competitions, charity projects and sporting activities – and these encourage older and younger boys to work together collaboratively.
There is, therefore, a strong pastoral support network amongst the boys within each House. Similar support structures exist at a whole-School level through the roles of School Monitors, and members of The Philathletic Club and The Guild.
We have robust and very clearly defined School policies on alcohol, smoking, vaping and drugs.
Boys are educated on these matters through our comprehensive PSHE Education programme and the work of the House teams. Our aim is to ensure boys appreciate the health and wellbeing implications of involvement with these things, as well as fully understand the consequences of getting it wrong within a School context.
Our House teams are very experienced in working with adolescent boys and will often sense when a boy is not okay.
Beaks, sports coaches, music teachers and other adults within the community will always contact a boy’s House Master if they feel something isn’t right.
Boys are also very good at looking out for each other and will often seek help on behalf of friends who are struggling.
We have very strong pastoral support networks in place, amongst both adults and the boys themselves.
We have very effective tracking and monitoring systems in place.
For example, we use Affective Social Tracking, a breakthrough adolescent mental health tracking tool that enables schools to identify pupils’ hidden risks early.
eSafe, our network monitoring software, occasionally picks up communications that suggest a boy is struggling.
Our own bespoke, internal Harrow Tracking System (HATS), incorporates both academic and pastoral components and has an alert system that flags up boys whose trajectory is giving cause for concern.
We also encourage parents to get in touch right away if they are concerned that something may be wrong. Working in partnership in this way is crucial.
Harrow School is a Christian foundation with the Chapel at its heart. All boys attend a School service on Tuesday. Non-Roman Catholic boys attend a further weekday Reflection while Roman Catholic boys attend catechism. On Sundays, boys attend a Chapel service, Roman Catholic Mass or (by agreement with their House Masters and the Lead Chaplain) Thought for the Day. Early morning Eucharist is celebrated at 8am from Wednesday to Friday. Mass is said on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. These are optional for boys. For Roman Catholic boys, there are Penitential services in preparation for Christmas and Easter when visiting priests are available to hear confessions. Confessions are also heard on request.
Anglican and Roman Catholic boys can prepare for Confirmation. There are two Anglican Confirmation services a year, in November and May, conducted by the Bishop of London on Advent Sunday (at the end of the Autumn term) and the Bishop of Willesden in Eastertide (during the Summer term). The annual Roman Catholic Confirmation takes place in the Summer term.
Parents are always welcome to attend all services and, in particular, they are warmly invited to attend one of our carol services at the end of the Autumn term.
Between 30 and 40 boys attend Flambards, our weekly Christian meeting, to hear talks and to engage in discussion about the Bible in an informal setting.
We welcome pupils from all religious backgrounds and make provision for their spiritual welfare. A Jewish Society supports Jewish pupils and holds a termly Shabbat meal. Boys may return home if it is the custom of the family to keep major days, such as Yom Kippur and other festival days. The Pickthall Society supports Muslim boys who are able to make Friday prayers each week. Marmaduke Pickthall was an Old Harrovian who translated the Quran into English. Special provision is made for those who wish to observe Ramadan. Hindu boys have recently formed a Hindu Society and may go home to keep specific major festivals, especially Diwali.