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Boarding Life

What our boarders say!

  • I love my bedroom at RSD, I have a roommate who I easily get along with and can chat to about anything. I also like having my own sense of personal responsibility and independence. I moved to RSD from Spain and it has been an experience that has taught me a lot as a person. I have grown and matured as a person and boarding has helped prepare me for the future. Boarding is not as scary as it seems, the experiences and memories are ones you’ll keep forever.

    Rebecca – Year 14

  • I enjoy Boarding School as it is a very good experience, I get to learn new skills and meet lots of new people. I love the free time that we get, I enjoy playing with my friends in the common room and using the sports facilities. If you are thinking about going to Boarding School I think you should remember – don’t be shy!

    Marie – Year 11

  • I love boarding at RSD as I really like music and we get access to the music department equipment at the evenings and weekends. There are lots of pianos which makes me happy!

    Benson – Year 14

  • I enjoy boarding as not only do I get to make friends, I have made friends for life. We have a fun time hanging out in the kitchen/TV room. I also love the food.

    Lincoln - Year 14

  • RSD is a great place to study, I have made many new friends here and we get to spend lots of time together.

    Yannie – Year 12

  • I like boarding at RSD, I get a lot of free time to do whatever I want to do and the boarding staff are all so nice here.

    Harold – Year 9

  • Boarding has been a great experience for me. I am in my 6th year at RSD, having left home to come here when I was only 10 years old. It has given me the chance to become so independent and develop my social skills. It teaches me not to become reliant on others and to be able to adapt to a new lifestyle. We have seating plans at mealtimes so that we get to know other boarders from different year groups and countries. I think this is a really good idea.

    Justin – Year 13

  • I have gained my own independence since moving here from Hong Kong and made many new friends.

    Ryan – Year 12

  • Boarding helps you to experience new cultures and make new friends from all over the World.

    Hazel – Year 14

  • Since I came to RSD I have been able to find my own interests.

    Ivan – Year 11

  • Boarding at RSD has enabled me to make new friends from different countries. It is a wonderful place. We have many fantastic facilities that we have access to all the time. I can play badminton, basketball, and play games in the TV common room with my friends.

    Jim – Year 11

Pastoral Care

Boarding at RSD is based around high standards of pastoral care and developing a rich experience of community living. Our aim is to ensure that boarding is an enjoyable experience and that the boarding environment helps boarders to develop academically, spiritually, physically and emotionally. Boarders are encouraged to develop a sensitivity to the needs of others; to be respectful towards one another; to accept difference and diversity; and to integrate with the wider school community.

There are two boarding houses, one for boys and one for girls, located in the heart of the school. If it is raining, boarders don’t even have to go outside to reach their classrooms!  Both houses are divided into dorms, with 2-4 boarders to each room. Some Sixth Form boarders are appointed as boarding prefects and asked to help with the smooth running of the houses.

New boarders

Where possible, new boarders are encouraged to visit the school and spend a little time in boarding before their first term begins. This is an opportunity for those joining the school to ask current boarders any questions they may have. There is also a general induction process, with each new boarding family receiving lots of information about the boarding houses, how boarding works and school life in general. Current boarders act as ‘buddies’ for new boarders and within a few days most new boarders understand how boarding and school work and are well-settled.

School days and weekends

On a typical school day, boarders waken at 7.20 am to get ready for breakfast at 7.50 am. The school day begins at 8.45 am and ends at 3.35 pm. After school, boarders are often involved in extra-curricular activities such as sports practices or music and drama rehearsals, or can enjoy free time until tea at 5.30 pm. Many boarders also take this opportunity to catch up on work or to make a quick visit to local shops. After tea, all boarders complete homework during supervised prep, from 6.15 to 7.45 pm. During examination periods there is usually a second prep session to help pupils prepare thoroughly and achieve their best. After prep, there is time in the evening, from 7.30 pm onwards, to enjoy leisure activities. Junior bedtime is at 9.30 pm and for seniors it is an hour later at 10.30 pm.

At weekends, Friday and Saturday bedtimes are extended by an hour and there is a more relaxed feel overall. Saturday morning begins with breakfast at 8.30 am and boarders can decide to join in school sports, spend time with friends or join in the Boarding Department’s organised activities. Sunday breakfast is at 9.30 am and this is followed by church at 11.00/11.30 am. Epilogue on Sunday evenings is at 9.00 pm and this is a chance to bring the boarding community together, including local boarders returning after a weekend away, and to reflect on recent events and look forward to what’s coming up in the days ahead.

What to wear – school uniform & day-to-day clothing

New pupils (and anyone requiring new items) will be taken to purchase school uniform on their arrival at school in August/September. You may want to bring basic items with you, such as white school shirts, but specialist items such as school blazer, tie and PE kit need to be purchased locally and the boarding staff will help you do this. All uniforms are inspected at the beginning of each term to ensure that they are in good repair and that they still fit. You are expected to wear your uniform with pride and you will be required to purchase new uniform to replace any tatty or ill-fitting items. You can find out more here.

The weather in Northern Ireland from September to June is changeable and you need to have a variety of clothing to cope with the different seasons.  A local joke is that in Northern Ireland you could experience all four seasons in one day! It can be cool and wet for extended periods and you will need to make sure that you have a good coat and a pair of strong shoes/boots that will keep you warm and dry. A common mistake is to rely upon items such as hoodies, trainers and canvas plimsoles but these will not work so well if it is raining heavily or snowing. Layering is a good approach, with a variety of t-shirts, shirts and sweatshirts/jumpers allowing you to put on and take off layers of clothing as the temperature falls or rises.


Mealtimes are amongst the most important times of the day for boarders. We all know the value of good food and this is an area of boarding life that we focus upon regularly to make sure that boarders are well-fed with a variety of dishes which reflect boarders’ tastes and draw upon the best of local produce. The Boarding Committee works with the kitchen staff to suggest menus and plan special occasions.

Three meals are provided each day: breakfast, lunch and dinner. Meals are eaten in the dining hall with an informal atmosphere between pupils and staff being an important feature. Additionally, boarders may prepare their own light meals and snacks in the evening or at weekends in their boarding kitchens. The Boarders’ Christmas dinner and Chinese New Year dinner are special events in the calendar where boarders, staff and governors come together in celebration.

Boarding Menus

Typical Breakfast options – Choice of Cereals, Fruit, Porridge, Boiled Eggs, Toast, Cooked Breakfast (bacon,sausage,eggs,beans), Fruit Juice, Tea or Coffee.

Typical Dinner examples – Puchero (chickpea stew with pork and sausages), Chicken Green Thai Curry, Feijoada (black beans, pork and sausage, Moqueca (fish cooked in coconut milk with red pepper, onion, corriander and tomoatoes), Thai Prawn with Rice Noodles and Vegitables, Chilli Con Carne, Chicken and Chorizo Paella, Gyoza (Japanese dumblings), Burritos, Tacos and Quesadillas, Lasagne, Stroganoff, Fish Cakes, Pasta Bake, Bacalhau (cod, potatoes,red pepper, onion and bread crumb), Carbonara Spaghetti, Fusilli a la Putanesca (fusilli pasta in tomatoe, capers and anchovies sauce), Pizza, Roast Beef/Chicken Dinner, Ham Salad, Pinto Beans Salsa Salid, Buffalo Chicken Wings, Burgers and Hot Dogs.

All dishes are served with accompaniments including; rice, garlic bread, noodles, potatoes, French fries, vegetables and salad options.

This is not an exhaustive list and special events will result in special items being offered on the menu.


After school each day, pupils are often actively involved in a range of extra-curricular activities. Many also choose to join local community-based clubs and societies such as Scouts/Girl Guides and the local swimming club and avail of other volunteering opportunities in the evenings. The sports hall and table tennis are available most evenings after prep for recreation.

Weekends are a busy time for the pupils, who may be involved in various sports fixtures, or who may use their time to pursue a favourite hobby, perhaps through a school club or in the local community. The Boarding Department organises an activities programme for each weekend and these include simple things such as a walk to the park or baking as well as day trips to places of local interest. Typical trips include shopping in Belfast or Dublin, sightseeing on the north coast or a day at a leisure centre for bowling, climbing and trampolining. A stop-off for pizza or similar usually completes the day! The aim is to allow boarders both to have a great time when involved in school activities and to broaden their experience of Northern Ireland outside the daily school environment.

Study & Support

Boarders at RSD are amongst the highest achieving pupils in school. The close interaction with teaching staff during prep is a great support for boarders in their learning. There is a sense of community and working together to support one another. In addition, boarders have access to the Library and Careers Library plus the school IT network and the boarding Wi-Fi network (where they can utilise their own laptops and tablets).

Additional English language lessons are provided for those boarders whose first language is not English and who require additional support. Lessons are organised according to an individual pupil’s needs and overseen by a fully qualified teacher each week. Read more here.

Further information about the RSD curriculum and approaches to teaching & learning can be found here.

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