Although a boy’s journey at Durston House can witness change of Form or teaching group, there is reassurance and continuity in his membership of a House. Throughout his time at Durston, a boy remains in the same House, and in the same Vertical Group within it, allowing for a feeling of security and the development of an esprit de corps. It is within these ‘castle walls’ that he will develop the confidence to work as part of a team, to compete fairly, and to take responsibility for others as well as himself. It is an example of the holistic care offered at Durston, of which we are very proud.
When a boy takes his first tentative steps as part of the Durston community, he is placed in one of our four Houses – Arundel, Conway, Warwick or Windsor. He is also placed in a House Vertical Group, which consists of boys drawn from every year group in the school. Each of the Houses is overseen by a Head of House and a team of House staff. The Year 8 boys assist by running the Vertical Group sessions and one Year 8 boy is elected by staff to be the House Captain. Boys are immensely proud of the House to which they belong and are easily identified through their House ties.
Houses meet together several times a term. The Head of House and the House Captain lead the Assemblies. Vertical Groups meet more often during the term and consist of boys from every year of the school within a House. A Year 8 Vertical Group Leader runs the meetings, assisted by a member of House staff. The four Heads of House devise, each term, a programme for the Houses and Vertical Groups. It will have a focus for the term and usually will try to develop the boys’ understanding of some of the values of SMSC (Social, Moral, Spiritual and Cultural); a focus may include an aspect of citizenship, cultural awareness, current affairs, or ‘Britishness’. In a more intimate setting such as the Vertical Group, younger boys can get a feeling for what life is like further up the school and the older boys can take responsibility for them, helping them understand new concepts and complete tasks. Teamwork is encouraged and new friends are made.
Boys are bonded together under a united banner and develop a passion for their House and a pride for being a part of it. Regular House Competitions take place both on and off the Sports Field. These competitions offer the chance for House affiliation to be promoted, and a sense of belonging to be nurtured, whether it is by baking a cake, singing a song, or running the Cross-Country. Individual success is also rewarded through the House system, as boys who have earned Plus Points throughout the term, are presented with certificates in the final House Assembly of the term. Plus Points also go towards the overall success of the House for the term, and the overall results are revealed in Final Assembly. This is an opportunity for some to celebrate and for others to strive to achieve more in the future. By being united in either victory or loss, our boys build resilience and learn that collective responsibility is the key to success.