Creating a Home Away from Home: Inside Cherwell College Oxford’s Cherwell House

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In the heart of Oxford lies Cherwell College Oxford, a beacon of educational excellence. An important part of the college which truly sets it apart from others is its nurturing boarding community found in Cherwell House. The boarding house, located in the centre of Oxford, a short ten-minute walk from the main Cherwell campus, is spearheaded by Anca, the Head of Boarding and the Designated Safeguarding Lead, and Steve, who is the Senior House Parent. With a combined dedication spanning years, they’ve crafted a sanctuary where students can flourish, learning important life and leadership skills.


Discover Cherwell House: Anca, a veteran with five years at Cherwell, leads the charge with unwavering passion and provides a seasoned perspective on the multifaceted nature of her role, “As Head of Boarding, I’m responsible for the welfare of all boarders, from the mundane to the critical. Beyond welfare, safety is paramount, extending not only to our boarders but to the entire school community. It’s not just about boarding; it’s about creating a family.”

Steve, a recent addition but no less committed, echoes her sentiments: “Every day brings new challenges, but also new opportunities to make a difference.” Steve ensures the seamless functioning of daily operations, from distributing medication to offering a listening ear to students facing challenges.

Both Anca and Steve underscore the collaborative effort involved in fostering a nurturing environment, Anca stresses, “It’s not just us, every staff member plays a role in safeguarding and supporting our students, it’s paramount for us to be there for them.”

In the setting of Cherwell House, where communal bonds thrive, every student is known individually. Anca shares, “We know everything about our students and their families, so we can be there for them as a home away from home. Cherwell’s bespoke educational approach means we can enhance our focus on personalised care, fostering an environment where every student feels valued and supported.”

Central to their ethos is the promotion of mental and physical well-being. Anca emphasises, “It’s everyone’s job to be involved in safeguarding and mental health issues. We want to ensure that our students not only excel academically but also thrive emotionally and socially.”

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Steve and Anca are also committed to instilling essential life skills in the students, Steve emphasises the importance of responsibility and how to earn it through hard work and dedication. Anca expands on this by highlighting a focus on a spectrum of life skills, including honesty, reliability, and empathy. She underscored the pivotal role boarding staff play in shaping students’ character, noting that their influence is significant, given the extensive time students spend at the boarding house. Together Steve and Anca prioritise nurturing responsible, independent adults equipped with the vital skills needed for success beyond the classroom.

But what truly sets Anca, Steve and Cherwell House apart are their Prefect system. Every student at Cherwell has the opportunity to step into a leadership role, fostering responsibility and empowerment. Anca shares proudly, “We rotate the Prefects, allowing every student the chance to develop leadership skills.”

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Amongst other roles of a Prefect, Anca and Steve work alongside them to create vibrant and engaging activities. From exhilarating PE sessions, football training at Oxford City Football Club, Badminton, BBQ’s or walks around the stunning Oxford City Centre or the peaceful countryside, there’s never a dull moment at Cherwell House. Anca elaborates, “Our activities during the week and especially on the weekends ensure students have a well-rounded experience every day.”

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In Cherwell House, comfort meets convenience. With private spacious rooms for each student, equipped with double beds and ensuite bathrooms, students find solace in the home away from home. Steve adds, “We are proud of our facilities and our location which allows students to explore Oxford easily, fostering independence and exploration whilst also offering a safe space to relax.”

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The culinary experience at Cherwell House is equally exceptional. With a dedicated chef and nutritious meals, students enjoy a diverse menu tailored to their preferences. Anca ensures that “fruits are available 24/7. Engaging students with healthy eating habits is important to us, and I work closely with our chef to provide our students with the best nutrition, so they are prepared for their busy schedule.”

As World Boarding Staff Day approaches, Anca, Steve and the wider team at Cherwell House stand as beacons of excellence. Their dedication and passion have transformed Cherwell House into more than just a boarding facility – it’s a haven where every student thrives. Reflecting on their journey thus far, Anca shares, “We’ve built an environment where everyone feels valued and respected, that is what I am most proud of.”

In the halls of Cherwell House, amidst laughter and camaraderie, students find not only education but also lifelong friendships and invaluable life lessons. As Anca and Steve continue their endeavour, Cherwell thanks them for all they do to ensure excellent experiences for all the students and parents of Cherwell College Oxford.

Happy World Boarding Staff Day!

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