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Housemother Blog: Laidlaw South

Housemother Blog: Laidlaw South

27th February, 2019

Sixth Form

Echoing the dawn of Spring with daffodils and crocuses popping up around us, the boys have returned fresh after the Half Term break. I can hardly believe we are already well into the second half of Lent Term! The first half passed very quickly, though perhaps, not so for the UVI Form who completed their Mock Exams just prior to the break – a sense of relief and calm set in as soon as the last exam was over and some very tired boys departed for a well-deserved Half Term break.

By the time the boys reach UVI Form, they are fairly well skilled in both revision and exam techniques, but a pre-exam reminder is always helpful. Mrs Stewart, Head of Sixth Form, set the scene early in the term in one of the VI Form Assemblies. She was powerful in her delivery of revision tips through students’ own words and experiences; she highlighted the importance of making a timetable for revision, taking regular breaks including exercise, scheduling in rewards, eating well and getting enough sleep. These important messages were reinforced, by both House Staff and Tutors alike, and the boys also had the option of subject clinics as well as in-house tutoring to reinforce their revision. Stress levels appeared to be either low or well contained, hopefully, a reflection of being well prepared. I was certainly very impressed by the way the boys got down to some serious revision, particularly after Weekend Leave, and their composure, maturity and positive work ethic set an excellent example for the LVI Form pupils in the House.

All this hard work was rewarded in the form of a UVI Form Social in the House with some tasty canapés, homemade lasagne, salad and garlic bread, which, judging by the empty dishes, was enjoyed by all. Accompanied by some very good music (really!) and lots of cheerful banter, the boys had a well-earned celebration, and I am happy to say they cleared up and filled the dishwasher afterwards!

Merchiston-Castle-School-Sixth-Form-Celebrations

A large part of my role as Housemother involves preparing the boys for the next stage in their lives; leaving the cosy folds of both home and the ‘home from home boarding community’, developing self-reliance and independence as well as life skills. Cooking is, of course, a vital skill, and with this in mind we have had a series of cooking socials this term with groups of 8-10 boys, cooking chicken fajitas with all the accompaniments. This has been in conjunction with some guidance on loading the dishwasher! It really is quite amazing that dishwashers do not fill themselves, get rid of leftover food or stack things neatly in the racks designed for the purpose! I am happy to say we are getting there!

Merchiston-Castle-School-Sixth-Form

Merchiston-Castle-School-Cooking

The Six Nations has kicked off, and many of the boys have taken the opportunity to head off to Murrayfield, as well as watch the games in House on TV. Mr Lieberman reflected the Italian theme, following the Scotland – Italy victory, with a pizza night, which the boys much appreciated.

A key feature this term has been Prefect applications for the next academic year, and there has been much discussion, drafts, redrafts, requests for ink corrector or a new form, and a general buzz surrounding this! Many of the boys have now submitted excellent statements; a heart-warming, and admirable common thread seems to be the desire to ‘give something back’ in return for the ‘care’ the Prefects afforded them in previous Boarding Houses.  This, I think, answers the first question posed in Laidlaw House Prefect Handbook:

“What is the first question you ask yourself when thinking about the role of a Prefect?
Is it What can I get out of it? or How am I going to help others?”

Matthew, our current Head of House, has however, taken this challenge in his stride:

“As a Prefect in Laidlaw South, I feel it offers an opportunity to act as a leader within the School, particularly within the senior year groups. I like being able to offer advice and answer any questions, which the LVI Form pupils may have based on my experiences of previous years.”

Prefects, once appointed, will be orientated to their new positions of responsibility by the House staff and also guided by the Prefect Handbook, which outlines key features and expectations of the role. This coming year in Laidlaw South, we hope to roll out the duties outlined in the handbook, monitoring and gaining feedback as we do so. Our new Prefects will start to shape their role and take on responsibilities during the Summer Term, as an induction to the role. In the words of Matthew, this appears to be a very useful step:

“Coming into the role, I felt all Prefects were well prepared as we began an induction, in the previous term, which gave us a bit of an insight into how it would be for us in our final year.”

Matthew also commented on the support through regular meetings with staff “we have all been very well supported and have frequent meetings with Mr Lieberman and Mrs Coyne, in order to voice opinions and ideas which boys in the house may have.”

Over the year we hope that the Prefects develop and create their roles to add to their own plethora of skills, particularly those of leadership and responsibility; they will also be trained in Child Protection. We also hope that the Prefects will develop their own skillset, enjoy and get the most out of the experience and see it as an opportunity to influence the wellbeing of their peers as well as contribute to the development and improvement of the School.

In a short interview with Hamish, our Laidlaw South Social Prefect, on his thoughts and experiences as a Laidlaw South Prefect, he commented:

“I have enjoyed my social role, developing the quiz in VIA Club has made a positive impact and that has been rewarding.” Hamish feels that the quiz ‘has also helped with the integration of LVI and UVI Form pupils’. He also mentioned that ‘it feels nice to have a taste of responsibility’, an experience which will set a foundation for further developing his leadership skills in the future.

His overriding advice to incoming Prefects is to ‘get to know your year group’, this, he feels, ‘helps gain respect’ and therefore makes it easier to guide them.

Rory, Deputy Head of House, added the following:

“Being a Prefect in Laidlaw South is a very rewarding and enjoyable experience. Being in a Boarding House with boys of a similar age to ourselves, means that the role is not as demanding as being in one of the younger houses, but it is still a great opportunity to develop leadership skills, as it is a valuable skill to be able to be a leader to your peers.”

“We are very well supported in the role by Mr Lieberman, Mrs Coyne and other Prefects so if there are issues or changes we would like to see happen we are able to get these sorted, and it also means that we never have too much on our hands during the busy last year of school.”

As staff, we hugely appreciate the crucial, supportive role the Prefects play in the House, which is integral to the running of the School. Although appreciated and acknowledged throughout, we like to mark our appreciation periodically with either a Prefect’s meal out or a Prefects social in.

Merchiston-Castle-School-Prefect-Meal

We look forward to announcing our new prefects at the end of this term and to working with them over the course of the next year!

Mrs Coyne

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