The Impact of COVID-19 on Boarding

Posted by Kambala

Term 2 2020 has started for teachers, parents and students across New South Wales. For the most part, the return to school this year is remote learning from home, with staggered returns planned over the next few weeks.

At Kambala, the Year 11 and 12 boarders were invited to return to their boarding house, Fernbank, for the start of Term 2. During the first week, the girls took part in remote learning from their dorm rooms. Today, Year 12 recommences with face-to-face study in school along with day girls. Year 11 students will follow next week.

Cherie Brodie, Director of Boarding at Kambala explains that while the pandemic has created significant upheaval for all students, the impact of COVID-19 on boarding families has been particularly complex.

“While Kambala has been at the forefront of remote learning amid this crisis, it has not been without difficulty for our country boarders. One of the most significant challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic has been the necessity to remain connected with our boarders and boarding families.

“The boarding staff has built a strategic framework for Term 2, to ensure our boarders in Years 7 to 10 achieve academic success via the School’s remote learning program. This has meant both staff and boarders have had to develop new ways of engaging with each other, utilising technology. And although some boarding families in western NSW experienced internet issues – with the help of Kambala’s ICT Department – these connection issues were resolved quickly,” said Cherie.

Year 9 Kambala Boarders, Cleo Baldwin from Young and Annabel Brooker from Harden are yet to return to their boarding house, Tivoli, but they have spoken about the challenges first-time boarders face and the unwavering support they received from Kambala’s tight-knit Boarding community.

“The biggest challenge of boarding is being away from home and family. I live on a farm in Young where we breed sheep and crop,” said Cleo. “I have three dogs – one Jack Russell called Pipi and two Kelpies called Charlie and Ziggy. At home, we also have chickens, guinea fowls, a rabbit, a poddy lamb and a cat. I love being at home and spending time with my family. I am always used to mum and dad helping me with my work at home but since starting at Kambala I have learned to become resilient, more independent and to do things for myself.”

Annabel agrees that homesickness is the first major hurdle for new boarders to overcome but understanding boarding staff and a supportive boarding community makes a big difference.

“The Boarding staff are so supportive and help us when things are tough. They know how to keep us busy. They are experienced, caring and professional at what they do,” said Annabel.

Reflecting on their two years as boarders, the girls are unanimous in their view that their independence and resilience has grown and they now thrive in the Boarding environment.

“Being a Kambala Boarder has helped me build resilience. The Kambala Boarding community is very close which helps us cope with our ups and downs. We are constantly challenging ourselves and the best thing about it is having our friends living with us to support us along the way,” said Annabel.

Annabel’s Mum, Katrina Brooker agrees.

“Since Annie has started at Kambala she has become a very independent and responsible person.

Annie loves boarding house life and has built so many strong friendships that we know will last a lifetime.

Kambala, being the size it is, has allowed Annie to be involved in all areas of school life. This includes both academic and co-curricular activities which has helped her build confidence and resilience,” said Katrina.

For girls and families who may be planning to board in Sydney next year, the girls’ advice is to try not to be too worried and focus on the opportunities that will open up.

“There is absolutely nothing to worry about because you will make friends and adapt to boarding life very quickly. Kambala has made it a very smooth and easy transition for me,” said Annabel.

For families who are still considering boarding options, Cherie offers this advice on how to choose the right school for your daughter:

“At Kambala, we take pride in our friendly boarding community. A happy environment is key to helping any boarder develop her skills and talents and shape her into a confident and independent young woman. Look for a boarding community that is caring and inclusive and provides your daughter with a real sense of belonging.”

About Cherie Brodie

Cherie is the School’s Director of Boarding and has many years’ experience in boarding houses and education.

Cherie Brodie

Care and community are at the heart of a Kambala Boarding experience. Located in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, Kambala is a vibrant day and boarding school for girls up to 18 years of age. To learn more about boarding at Kambala, download our Prospectus, or contact Tracy Mulligan, Director of Enrolments on 02 9388 6844.