BOARDING DEVELOPMENTS THROUGH CONSULTATION
Dollar has been consulting parents and boarders for many years now, seeking their views on life in boarding and giving them the opportunity to have a say in how things are run.
Traditionally, Houseparents have always been receptive to suggestions and comments from parents and pupils and have sought to take them into account in organising House routines. In recent years, House meetings have given more structured opportunities to boarders to make their views known. More recently still, each house has installed a Suggestion Box for written comments to pass through to Houseparents, in conjunction with the main school suggestion box [located by the Library]. Since 1999, the Heads and Deputy Heads of House have met with the Deputy Rector, who has overall responsibility for boarding in Dollar, and regular consultations take place throughout the school year on matters of the pupils’ choosing; meetings are minuted, tasks set and follow-up action recorded. In 2008 termly boarders’ questionnaires were introduced and in 2009 a parental questionnaire was also created.
The results of all this consultation are discussed at the regular meetings of Houseparents with the Deputy Rector and Assistant Bursar, and also at the weekly Senior Staff Group meetings [Rector, Deputy and Assistant Rectors]. Action is taken as appropriate.
What follows is a selection of some of the recent developments that have come about as a result of our consultation processes.
From the Heads and Deputies’ meetings with the Deputy Rector
CURFEW: a request for flexibility over the times at which pupils have to be in Houses at night was made. Following wide discussions, it was agreed that senior boarders could have a later return to Dollar from Stirling on Saturday evenings. It was also agreed that movement between Houses could be extended to 10.30pm.
FORM IV INCLUSION: Form IV pupils were given the option of joining senior social events or those organised for Form III and below, given their pivotal position in the year groups.
TIES: following representations from the Heads and Deputies and based upon their designs, a new tie was created and awarded in Third Term 2009 to recognise the Heads and Deputies’ position in the Dollar community.
DINING HALL: numerous suggestions have been implemented, from greater flexibility in the meal options available, to the quantity of fruit juice on offer at breakfast…
UNIFORM: following requests from the Heads and Deputies, boys will be permitted to wear black trousers [but not jeans] rather than only dark gray. It is expected that pupils will thus get more wear out of clothing that is acceptable out of school contexts.
VISITS FROM NON-DOLLAR FRIENDS: subject to certain restrictions, friends who are not Dollar Academy pupils may visit the boarding Houses.
“AFTER-PARTIES”: new arrangements have been put in place to allow longer attendance for senior pupils at events such as cast parties.
TV SCREEN IN DINING HALL: this was requested, and subsequently actioned in the Autumn of 2010.
FITNESS SUITE: following requests from pupils and wide consultation through Houses, the previously single gender evening sessions at the Fitness Suite have been opened up to both boys and girls to allow for boarders’ greater convenience.
MCNABB & TAIT ASTRO PITCH: the astro pitch at the back of the House has been completed rebuilt and relaid, following boys’ requests.
From the Pupils’ questionnaires
BEDTIMES: an inconsistency over bedtimes was dealt with following observation made by a pupil.
RULES: an inconsistency over rules about eating / drinking in the IT room was dealt with in a similar way.
CURFEW: following numerous requests, a later all-round curfew has been introduced, extending by 2½ hours the time by which pupils have to be in the House on weekdays.
WIRELESS INTERNET ACCESS IN HOUSES: it has been agreed that Wi-fi access will be introduced, and research is underway [Nov 2010] to design the best solution, for introduction in session 2010 – 2011.
WHOLE BOARDING TRIPS / EVENTS: in response to the volume of requests, a new whole boarding trip was introduced in September 2010, concluding with the first of the Boarders’ Dining In nights, a formal meal which all boarders attend along with senior staff and guests.
CHURCH ATTENDANCE: partly in response to pupil observations, attendance at Sunday church services became voluntary for boarders.
MEALS IN HOUSES AT WEEKEND: following requests, a new system of Saturday meals in Houses has been introduced [Autumn 2010].
From the Parents’ questionnaires
ROOM MOVES: greater flexibility in allocation single study rooms to Form V pupils during the SQA exam period was introduced following a parental observation.
CO-CURRICULAR: the suggestion that the school could mount an “activities fair” at the start of the session has been taken up on an annual basis since it was first put forward by a boarding parent.
RETURN TIMES: requests for greater flexibility for boarders to return before or after published times at the start and end of term are being actioned – it is appreciated that overseas boarders can have difficulties with travel arrangements that do not coincide with our timetables.
DEVELOPMENT OF FACILITIES: it was the views of a number of parents, among other observations, that led us to completely redevelop Heyworth House during the summer of 2010. The rooming and facilities are now of a remarkably high standard.