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What are the realities of being a housemistress?

Discussion in 'Independent' started by dianaprince, Feb 20, 2011.

  1. I am very tempted by a job, feel I have the necessary qualifications etc. Although I have worked in the independent sector, it was a day school, rather than boarding.

    This would be a live in position, with accommodation provided. I am married and have a young child.

    What are the realities of this kind of position?
  2. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    It is very difficult to generalise - you really need to look at the job specifications for specific housemistress posts.
    On the plus side is your experience in the independent sector. This type of job is often linked to light teaching duties (usually less than half timetable), although many schools will also consider women who can complete their timetable with non-teaching duties.
    On the negative side is the fact that boarding schools generally prefer to recruit residential staff from among their current teachers, because of the greater security that should result from someone who is already known to the school for a post with a very high degree of pastoral responsibility. However, few day staff are willing to take on the considerable task of running a house, so jobs do appear in the press.
    Also on the negative side could be, I'm afraid, having a family. Unlike boys' schools, who generally offer family accommodation for a housemaster, many girls' schools have traditionally employed spinsters as housemistresses, and can only offer a one-bed flat (one current ad specifies that "It is not suitable for families"). Co-ed boarding schools with reasonably modern buildings are probably more likely to offer family accommodation for a housemistress.
    I think all you can do is to look at the ads and download the job specifications, and see if anything looks likely.
  3. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    Sorry, I should have added that if the specific job you have in mind does indeed offer family accommodation, you should certainly apply.
  4. funkyfairy2004

    funkyfairy2004 New commenter

    I work as a teacher in a co-ed boarding school and I have taken on part time boarding duties. I love this part of my job and do it free of charge (although I have a lovely new bedroom which the gap students envy!!). The house parents have a huge amount of involvememt in the boarding and often only have one night a week off. Its full on and I get roped into other duties all the time but I really enjoy the life style (however I don't have my own children so I can switch off when I put the boarders to bed). Its a huge change when you first start but if you are willing to make the change it can be a great job. I would advise that you visit the school and ask lots of questions (especially about money alot of my friends get very little for the amount of hours they work - I got roped in by accident when I needed a room after I crashed my car and now I am a permenant boarding fixture!). If you like the place and the people you can really enjoy this type of job and meet some fabulous people (I like to think of them am my other family!).
    Good luck
  5. I used to be a Housemistress and I have not been working since I was pregnant and do not feel I could go back this September - have been looking at the jobs and there are some nice ones (the one with an acting head is a lovely school) but I know that I could not juggle the house and my little one until he is school age. Obviously this is personal but be aware that even if you are "off duty", if you are in the flat then your doorbell will go on occasion!! Prep schools may be a better option in the beginning as quite a few of them do Mon-Thurs boarding only so you would always have 3 nights with your family. xx
  6. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    And don't forget this case:
    I do always say that you must be in a Union.
    TheoGriff. Member of the TES Careers Advice Service.
    The TES Careers Advice service runs seminars and workshops, one-to-one careers and applications advice, one-to-one interview coaching and an application review service.
    I do Application and Interview one-to-ones, and also contribute to the Job Application Workshops. We look at application letters, executive summaries and interviews.
    There is now another seminar on Applying for Senior Leadership on 13th March.
    E-mail Julia on advice@tsleducation.com for how to book a meeting with me personally.
    Look forward to seeing you!
  7. I work in a co-ed part boarding school and do occasional boarding duties (one weekend a term to give the houseparents a break). I love it but, to be honest, I could NEVER do it full time.

    Our house parents have 2 children and live in. Their own children, in many ways, are just like the other boarders in term time but they've grown up with it and don't seem to mind. This couple are much more hands on that is the statutory minimum - they never have a night off (except that one weekend) and only one day! I don't think it's so much the level of work that's the problem but more the idea of never being able to go out for the evening to do something you want to do.

    However, I think you can actually ask, legally, for at least one night off a week, if not two.

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