It’s not all about league tables and academic achievement, though they do play a big part in boarding school life. For a school to foster achievement, there have to be times for the pupils to relax with their friends and try out new and exciting activities.
Weekends have a relaxed feel, a home from home. There are organised trips and activities, but plenty of time for relaxation and catching up with friends. Thornton is well situated in Buckinghamshire with easy access to Milton Keynes, Oxford and London. The local area and surrounding counties have many attractions which make great days out.
Most trips take place on a Saturday. On Sunday mornings girls attend Mass and then have a leisurely brunch. On Sunday afternoons members of teaching staff take over and run a variety of activities from cake making to orienteering in the grounds.
Weekend Activity Programme For Residential Pupils
We carefully plan our weekends so that we can offer a balance of fun, cultural excursions, 'down time' and physical activity. We work with the boarders to establish the trips and visits they would like to go on throughout the year and develop a weekend schedule for each term.
Great Days Out For Boarders
The typical weekend trips for boarders include:
- Milton Keynes: Milton Keynes is 20 minutes from the school and is one of the largest shopping centres in the UK with lots of leisure and cultural attractions. Girls visit the theatre where they have recently seen 'Guys and Dolls' and 'Chicago'. They regularly go bowling and ice-skating and visit the cinema in the town centre. They also enjoy going to the Xscape complex which includes the Snowdome where they can ski, board or toboggan on snow!
- Oxford: The girls very much enjoy their days out in Oxford, including touring the Bodleian and visiting sections of Oxford University where Harry Potter was filmed. They also love punting on the river and the opportunity to have a look around the shops.
- London: On recent excursions to London the girls have enjoyed The London Eye, The London Dungeons and trips to the theatre to see performances such as 'The Phantom of the Opera' and 'We're Singing in the Rain'.
Excursions to theme parks such as Chessington and Alton Towers are also organised and at the beginning of term each year all the boarders visit Wicksteed Park. The girls also visit places of cultural interest such as Waddesdon Manor, Warwick Castle and Cadbury World.
To see the most recent weekend activity and excursion programme, please visit the link below:
Lent Term Weekend Activity Programme
Boarding highlights, 2015/16
Thornton’s boarders enjoy weekends topped and tailed with exciting outings. Once they had settled in at the beginning of the Michaelmas term in 2015, they took to the nearby countryside with a trip to Salcey Forest in Northamptonshire. Along with staff and Meg the dog, they followed the three-mile Elephant Walk, which included the Tree Top Trail. This wooden walkway reaches to a height of 20 metres above the trees and leads to a crow’s nest platform. From here, the group had a wonderful ‘squirrel’s eye view’ of the forest.
Another weekend, boarding staff arranged a trip to see Oxford’s historic sights, including a visit to Christ Church Great Hall, familiar with many as Hogwarts’ dining room from the Harry Potter films. In other outings, the girls visited the cinema and they enjoyed facing the lofty challenges of rope bridges and swinging logs at Milton Keynes’ Aerial Extreme.
The girls loved their trips to Waddesdon Manor and to the National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham for a close-up meet and greet with sharks, penguins and jellyfish from the deep. Cadbury World also proved a firm favourite among our chocolate lovers, of which there are many!
In the Lent term, the girls enjoyed some seasonal ice-skating and they also went bowling and paid a visit to the cinema, with a detour to the shops for the post-Christmas sales.
Straight after the Easter break, the first weekend of fun was a visit to Whipsnade Zoo. The girls saw baby giraffes, meerkats, rhinos, brown bears (which looked very cuddly), flamingos, penguins and some very cheeky monkeys! While enjoying a warming hot chocolate they were also thrilled to watch the elephants walking through the zoo one behind the other – a truly wonderful sight.
Another Sunday, the girls headed off to Planet Ice in Milton Keynes for a spot of ice skating. It was wonderful to sit and watch the girls helping each other on the ice and enjoying themselves over three hours of icy fun. The following week, they all enjoyed a trip to the cinema with Jungle Book proving very popular with almost everyone.
To round off the half term with style, Thorpe Park beckoned. The girls were very excited about the prospect of all the exhilarating rides waiting for them. Because they all left the Tidal Wave to the very last ride they got back on the coach with rather soggy bottoms but incredibly happy after their superb day.
In the latter half of the Trinity term, the boarders also visited the Warner Bros Studio Tour to explore the world of Harry Potter as well as London and Cambridge.
My Weekend As A Boarder (Girls aged 14 years to 16 years, New Wing Boarding House)
At the weekend things are more relaxed – even though some of us went Rock Climbing last night which is anything but relaxed! We can go climbing on a Friday night or on a Sunday evening. We are working towards the National Indoor Climbing Award (NICAS) which takes six weeks to complete.
On Saturdays and Sundays we don’t have to get out of bed until 9.30am and we all have breakfast in our pyjamas – home from home, only there is more of a selection for breakfast!
On Saturday mornings we have ‘free time’; some people even go back to bed! The grounds at our school are lovely, so if it is fine some of us go for a walk with friends, some will watch TV in the common rooms and some will get together and chat or rehearse for something at school. Lunch is at 12.30pm and for this we must be dressed!
At lunch we hear about the activity that will be happening in the afternoon; this might be shopping, the theatre, theme parks or a trip to London.
Today we went to Milton Keynes for some retail therapy. The shopping in Milton Keynes is amazing with not one but two super shopping centres to explore and enjoy! Next Saturday we are off to London. We will take the train and go to The Tower of London, get a river taxi to the Embankment and then go on the London Eye – great fun!
When we return from our Saturday activity, we have free time until bedtime. On a Saturday evening we often watch TV and are allowed to order takeaways if we wish. Bed times are little later at the weekend, but there still has to be quiet on the corridor from 10.45pm.
For an idea of boarding life see the My Life As A Boarder page.