Pupils in Years 7 and 8 live in Cotlake House, a family-style boarding house with boarders from the Junior School. Cotlake is run by an experienced and professional husband and wife team, with the support of two live-in matrons, a non resident matron and two resident GAP students who provide a high level of quality boarding in a caring, supportive, family environment. The well-being of every one of the boarders is paramount and ensuring that each child is happy, settled, relaxed and confident is at the heart of the Cotlake House ethos.
Pastoral care is of an extremely high standard and the affectionate relationship between the boarders and the House staff is evident. The House Parents pride themselves on being excellent communicators – emailing or telephoning on a regular basis, when there is good news or for quick updates. They often send pictures of activities at the weekend. There is no doubt that this approach is really appreciated by parents and trust between all parties is evident. The resident members of the boarding team are always available for the children to talk to, read bedtime stories with or to offer comfort when a young boarder feels homesick.
Just like home, the contributions and suggestions made by the boarders as to the running of the House are highly valued. Although most boarders are full time we aim to be as flexible as possible for parents and so also offer weekly, termly and even occasional boarding for day pupils whenever possible.
Cotlake is an extremely comfortable and relaxed three-storey house, designed to be very much a home from home. The communal area on the ground floor has a large lounge with Sky TV, a DVD, comfortable sofas, toy boxes with games, puzzles and Lego. The Games Room is equipped with popular table football and air hockey tables as well as computers, a PlayStation 2, dance mat and art and craft equipment. There is a kitchen for evening drinks and snacks which the boarders also use at the weekend for supervised cooking. Year 8 have their own study room with PCs and their own lounge and chill-out room. Matron’s Room is always open for clean laundry, a chat and lots of tender loving care!
On the first floor there are three girls’ dormitories, bathrooms and toilets as well as the House Parents and Resident Matron’s flats. There is also a surgery where medicine is administered and a single bed for children who want to rest. The second floor houses the four boys’ dormitories, boys’ bathroom and toilets and the Assistant Matron’s flat.
In Cotlake House, the staff keep the children really busy and involved, whilst also enabling them to relax and rest when needed. Juniors have squad practice on Mondays and activities on Tuesdays and Thursdays which are varied and change every term. We try to ensure that there is something on offer to suit everyone and recent clubs have included jewellery making, farming and food, football, gardening, horse-riding, chess, computer games, drama, swimming and cookery.
Once back in the house, the boarders may choose to play table football or air hockey, listen to music, practice their musical instrument, play games, watch TV or just chat with their friends and the boarding staff. As the weather improves, many of the boarders enjoy playing outside on the adventure playground and outdoor toys such as space hoppers, and water pistols are particularly popular!
Weekends are a mixture of structure and free time. Saturday mornings provide opportunities for organised activities such as mini golf, Fimo modelling, cooking and farm visits. In the afternoon the older children play matches whilst the younger ones go for a swim, play outside or just chill out. Saturday evenings are usually curled up in front of a DVD, complete with popcorn, toast and hot chocolate.
Queen’s College is very fortunate to be close to by two national parks and many fun attractions. On Sundays we make the most of these and visit Milky Way, Woodlands, Crealy Adventure Park, go ice skating or bowling, enjoy pottery-painting, geo-caching or visit a wildlife park or the cinema. There is certainly never a dull moment!
These trips are so popular that many of the day children often ask if they can join in. There is, however, no obligation for the boarders to stay in at the weekend and while most will opt to go on the weekend trips sometimes others will choose to go home and spend time with their families.
Doug and Jennifer Baker are the House Parents of Cotlake and they describe it as a relaxed, friendly, homely unit where every child is valued and the personal, social and emotional development of every individual is nurtured. They see the house as an extension of their own home.