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What it’s like to live in Howard House (Year II)

Howard House offers a safe, comfortable environment where there is always something happening and where the girls are constantly occupied. Situated in a unique position, with enviable aspects from all of the dormitories, Howard House has a very homely ambience where it is easy to relax. The House offers an appropriate transition into life in the Main School – something the girls very much look forward to, as they are now able to socialise with the senior year groups, maturing in a respectful environment.

The daily routine takes the girls away from the House, to their common room for Registration, to their book room to prepare for the day’s lessons or maybe to the Dining Hall to enjoy the culinary delights on offer. Coming home to Howard House really does signify the end of the day’s lessons, Prep and their academic routine. Now is the time for relaxing, socialising, reading, and discussion, providing a time to develop and expand one’s circle of friends from across the year group.

At all times, Howard House has a purposeful, nurturing atmosphere which is unassailable, in which caring for one another is not only commonplace, but expected by all who live there. Supporting each other in this way helps to forge lifelong friendships which help to endure almost anything.

We asked our Howard House Housemaster about his favourite part of life in Year II. Here’s what he had to say…

In Year II no two days are the same but one thing is for certain, at some stage during the day the girls will make me roar with laughter. Especially with their reasons of why it’s imperative I open the Tuck Shop on a Friday night for Year II only, why “the fresh air won’t do us any good” and how often they say “it was like that when I found it”. A favourite part of my job is meeting the girls in registration on their first morning in September and asking them what they are looking forward to over the next year, and then watching them grow, realise their dreams and expectations for that year, and seeing them get back up when they get knocked down. I have been very lucky in my life and very privileged to do and achieve some great things but I have always said being Housemaster of Year II at QM is the best job I have ever had. I have been guided, helped and supported by some great people, however it’s the girls that make this job so special. One day I was asked by a girl from another year group what I taught at the School, my reply was “I don’t teach anything”, a Year II girl quickly corrected me; “yes you do, you teach us to be kind to each other and to have good manners”. A lovely response. I feel very privileged to be part of the girl’s everyday life and do not underestimate the responsibility that holds. On a lighter note another favourite part of my job is knowing that there’s no such thing as too much birthday cake!

What should parents know about Howard House?

Situated at the top of four flights of stairs, the journey up to Howard House could leave one thinking that it would require great stamina and much training to live here.  This may be true at the start of term but on a daily basis the journey down the 47 stairs and back signifies the start of the day and the trip home after working hard. After a very short while, most of the girls quite happily ascend with gusto, bursting with tales of the day’s events and all it has had to offer. Due to the size and layout of the house, with all dorms centred around one large landing, in the evening it can feel and sound like a busy market square with girls playing games, listening to music or just chatting. It has a lovely homely feel. Howard House consists of six dorms; four are large and spacious and accommodate up to eight girls and two are smaller dorms accommodating four. This gives us the chance to tailor the dorm lists according to the girls’ friendship groups. The dorms are furnished with large, comfortable bunk beds and the girls brighten them up with personal items. There is also a snug where girls can have a peaceful moment or two if they wish. When it comes to time for the girls to relax and grab a bit of ‘me time’ we have a cosy single bathroom (with bath) as well our bright and modern bathroom with showers. The house study is at the centre of the house and is a place where the girls are more than happy to come in, sit down, chat about their day or just tell the house staff how they are and sometimes to seek advice and guidance. The study is also bustling in the evening when the girls come to sign their electronics out (in Year II electronic devices are only permitted from 17:30 – 20:30 and at weekends to ensure that all girls get a good night’s sleep). Laundry is done on a daily basis and is returned to the study.

What makes Howard House unique from others on campus?

In addition to its elevated position within the School’s Main Building, Howard House is physically unique in that all of the dormitories are arranged around a central landing area.  This not only gives a strong sense of community, it gives each dormitory very individual views across all aspects of the campus – out over miles of fields, down onto the front drive and paddocks, overlooking the tennis courts and landscaped gardens or up into the clear night sky – the aspects for all of the girls living here give much to be pondered over.  The entrance to Howard House offers an instant welcome.  The immediacy of the landing area and all those present within the house make it not only physically unique, but also spiritually unique, warming and welcoming.  Due in part to its layout, often described as feeling like a large apartment, and the close proximity of the dormitories, the opportunity exists for all of the girls to become familiar with each other’s wide-ranging experiences, to learn from each other, to understand each other and to tolerate each other’s differences, growing closely together and offering support for one another.  Howard House plays an important part in a girls’ transition through the School; they are no longer the youngest and they are now maturing, taking their place at the start of their senior years.