Innovation in Boarding Schools Award Winners




First page of the PDF file: WLDBoardersFP20231

The Wilderness Boarding House Community has developed an annual fundraising event, the Boarders' Fashion Parade to raise much needed funds to support girls in Nepal access an education as Boarding Students at the Wilderness Bahadure School. A rich community event, the fashion parade provides an opportunity for South Australian regional fashion brands to take center stage in Adelaide, showcased by Wilderness Boarding Students. While modelling the garments is optional for boarders, each girl is involved in the event in some way, from backstage, hair and make up, raffle tickets, to music and modelling. The event builds confidence and inspires creativity with a seamstress coming in to assist girls in making their own garments and a deportment course to equip girls with the skills to walk the runway. The event also saw collaboration with regional artists, old scholars and staff who make their own clothing and fashion labels.



Our inaugural Boarding Manager – Sean Hunter, at AFL Cape York House for Girls, last month released a sixteen page, fully illustrated children’s book “Home Away From Home” which is a guided story of how young indigenous women transition from their home communities into boarding.

After working in remote indigenous communities throughout Cape York and the Torres Strait Islands before his appointment as boarding manager in 2019, Sean saw first hand the very real need for a functional guide that could be used by young kids from community to assist them with their transitional journey.

As such Home Away From Home, the first book of its kind, was created with the intention to be distributed throughout remote communities so young kids had a good sense of what to expect from boarding life.

The book has been illustrated beautifully by indigenous artist, Jonas Dare.

All profits from the sale of the book go back into AFL Cape York programs.

You can buy the book here.



VI in Latin has two meanings. In Roman numerals it means 6 and represents the important steps our boarders take along their journey from children in Year 7 to young adults in Year 12. VI is also translated as ‘you’ and in this way represents the crucial role we all play in managing our own lives with our personal well-being sitting at the centre of this.

The VI Program provides a comprehensive and individualised pastoral and well-being initiative that ensures all our boarders leave School with the social and emotional skills they need to succeed in a complex and challenging world.

As part of the VI Program every boarder will engage with a different ‘well-being centred’ theme each year. These themes will be explored, practiced and reflected upon every Wednesday night on a three week cycle.



The Mount St Bernard’s College boarding staff created a Mountain Bike Park to engage students in physical activity in the outdoors. Students love bike riding and have already improved their riding skills. Having a Mountain Bike Park on site means students don't need to travel for recreation. The track is used daily by boarding students and has become extremely popular.

It was back in April of 2019 when discussion began about possible recreation ideas for boarders at MSB. The school surveyed students on ideas and mountain bike riding was high on the list of desirable activities. Given the location in the Atherton Tablelands, they are privileged to have such incredible countryside suitable for a variety of outdoor recreation activities.

Once COVID-19 reached lockdown stage, the school was in a position where staff required alternate duties due to having no students at school. Staff were consulted about which tasks they would like to undertake and several of our boarding staff indicated they would like to construct a mountain bike track on College grounds as a way of allowing more students access to the mountain bike program. We are fortunate at MSB to have our own piece of scrub at the northern end of our property. This block was not being used for any particular purpose and seemed perfect for a mountain bike trail.

The boarding staff sought approval for this project and it was endorsed by the College Principal. A small group of staff begun work on preparing the site and planning the trails. Three tracks were initially planned - beginner, intermediate and advanced and as the project progressed, the plans changed several times and new ideas were considered. At this point the staff had to decide whether or not to hire some expensive equipment to create the required surface or to enlist the support of a professional organisation. In the end, they enlisted the support of a local company (Ground Creations) to help fine tune the tracks and bring them up to competition standard.

The staff spent countless hours each day levelling the track and packing down the berms. The site was reviewed weekly to ensure it was meeting safety standards and was suitable for a variety of skill levels. After ten weeks of extremely hard physical labor the track was completed. The staff involved in this project are most proud of their efforts and have created a track that will keep our students active and engaged in an outdoor recreation activity for many years to come.



Boarding has been at the heart of Christ's College for over 160 years. It is fundamental to what has been a College experience. In 2017, in a strategic environment which we describe as ‘innovation and excellence wrapped in tradition’, the Immerse and Inspire Programme was started to make boarding an experience for every boy at College and by doing so establishes a unique feature of a Christ’s College education.

Immerse & Inspire is an innovative four-week residential programme for Year 10 students (aged 14–15 years). During Terms 2 and 3 groups of around 30–35 boys from each of College’s ten Houses live as boarders in Jacobs House and participate in a carefully curated programme of activities. The intent of Immerse & Inspire is to:

  • Guide boys to a better understanding of themselves and their unique strengths and character at a pivotal time in their personal development
  • Introduce concepts of character and leadership in a meaningful way, as they relate to the College experience and to life
  • Create a service learning experience focused on teamwork and community need, where the boys learn the power of giving
  • Introduce unique learning experiences focused on social entrepreneurship and outdoor education
  • Allow all boys to experience the fun of boarding and learning to live with others as a key part of their College experience
  • Encourage boys to form friendships across College and between Houses

Every aspect of Immerse & Inspire is geared to encourage the boys to learn new skills, be open to different ideas, come to understand their unique character strengths, learn to respect each other, appreciate their lives and environment, and help them develop a growth mindset.



Spinifex Residential Campus in Mount Isa has been undertaking Community Service projects for the past two years. Whilst many of our students come from remote and rural communities which lack significant services that many take for granted, I believe that it is important for the students at the College to develop their community mindedness. I explained that it is important to be a “Giver and not a Taker.”

In semester 2016, the students were involved in Clean Up Australia Day and spent time assisting the owners of a local animal refuge. They gathered food, fed Joeys who had lost their mothers and groomed and petted abandoned animals. They also volunteered to participate in the Clean Up Gorge McCoy Park and the Clean Up Pioneer.

In 2017, students took on a variety of activities to support not only the Mount Isa community but also those within a 200klm vicinity. They conducted three sausage sizzles outside Bunnings during term 2. The money raised was donated to:

• Abbey Stewart who is a local girl who was in need of an insulin regulator machine

• Mount Isa Special School to purchase eggs and beans to help feed the competitors in the Variety Bash car rally.

• Joyce Brogden  for food for animals as she is a Mount Isa Wild Life Carer

• Cathy Freeman Foundation

• Golden Octopus Foundation for cancer patients

Students were very busy and participated in the Cancer Colour Run with the entry fees going to the Cancer Council. 

In term four, the students turned their attention to our remote communities. They spent their Sunday being driven out to Camooweal to play soccer and cricket with the students out there who had no one to play against. It was a hot but fun day ending with a BBQ where we fed the students and their families and made great connections 

This year the students have travelled to Camooweal again to play sports and enjoy another BBQ with the local students. They extended their generosity to the tiny community of Dajarra where the students and their families also enjoyed the friendly games with Subway and cookies as a treat at the end of the games. 

Staff and students helped the Salvation Army with their annual collection at the local shopping centre at the beginning of Term 3. Additionally, students were up at 5.30am as they volunteered to help make and serve breakfast for the 2018 Tennant Creek to Townsville Variety Bash.

Our boarders are learning to value the importance of living the words of John F Kennedy when he said “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." They are becoming “Givers”.



The App taps into the communication method being used by our students as a way of supporting the PBS message from staff. Staff are able to use the prerequisite PBS language when engaging with students, but then follow this up with ‘PBS points’ being awarded via the app which students receive as a push notification.

The push notification received lets students know who awarded the points, and for what behaviour expectation it aligned with. In most instances where a staff member has already recognized the behaviour, the who and what for is already answered, but we like to think of the situation where a student is travelling to school on the bus (and maybe aren’t having the best morning), and they receive a push notification to let them know that they have been awarded a PBS point for something as simple as being ‘responsible’ and making their bed well. Hopefully this puts a smile on their face and helps their day move in a positive direction.

Students can track not only their own individual points accumulated, but can also monitor the accumulated points for their respective houses which they are contributing towards.

Students and houses can use their accumulated points to earn prizes at the college.

The creation and implementation of the app has meant that PBS has gone from promoting our expectations through a change in mindset of our staff and students, to something which is in conversation across all year levels in all areas of our college.



At The Peninsula School's Jaffray House, international boarding students learn to grow and flourish within a structured framework delivered through a range of programs. This provides boys with the opportunities to test life skills they will need to call upon to meet the challenges required of a meaningful life. One such program that focuses on social and emotional learning is DRUMBEAT. DRUMBEAT is an acronym that stands for Discovering Relationships Using Music, Beliefs, Emotions, Attitudes and Thoughts. Music is a novel way to break down the barriers these students face, providing the impetus for exchange and interaction. It is for this reason that DRUMBEAT has been such an evocative and powerful program in providing the boys the chance to explore these themes and issues in a fun and interactive way.



Having an idea and then making it a reality are two very different things. In January, 2013 Michael Holland had the idea and made it a reality.

This project began from a conversation about Rugby at Guildford Grammar School and has become a system that can be used by all in boarding. Michael's expertise and experience have assisted in the continued development of REACH Boarding System.

Michael Holland saw a need for a tool that could manage the multitude of functions necessary in the operation of a successful boarding house. Boarders’ leave arrangements, attendance and rolls, projected meal numbers for the Catering Department in a timely manner, recording behaviour and pastoral issues in a searchable format, communicating this information to relevant staff and parents, and being able to quickly access contact information for boarders, their parents and hosts are all part of this system.

While Reach was busy creating the Boarding Management System, Michael set about convincing the Business Manager at Guildford Grammar School that such a system would improve efficiencies and represent great value for money and the school began piloting the system. Initially, only the leave module was used and it immediately reduced significantly the amount of time spent on administration. Over time other modules were used and staff quickly saw the benefit of having pertinent information stored in a central system that could be accessed remotely.

Reach has now been adopted by schools across Australia, New Zealand, Asia and even the United States with interest now from Canada and the UK. It has centralised Boarding House operations in a system that is easy to use and stores information that is quickly accessible.

Michael gave up his time selflessly, attending weekly developmental meetings and has encouraged others to take up the system to achieve a “best practice” model.



The Bibbulmun Track is an arduous trek that the boys commence in Year 8; many are overwhelmed with the experience as they come to terms with a foreign environment and are forced to rely on themselves and their peers in order to get through each leg of the journey.

However, it is not long until they discover the virtues of such an experience as the group of boys forge friendships and bonds that will last the next five years and beyond. As they grow and mature with each successive section of the track, the boys develop a better sense of mateship and team spirit as they discover the importance of considering others and that life is very much about helping and relying on each other.

The expeditions, from Year 8 to Year 12, form an integral part of each boy’s emotional, physical and intellectual development, which makes the journey all the more remarkable for its ability to capture the essence of the adolescent journey. Boys walk approximately 200 kilometres a year in two one-week blocks each year. Each stage gives the opportunity for boys to develop new personal and interpersonal skills.