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Boarding school in Sydney: What is it like?

Are you thinking about sending your child to boarding school overseas and exploring options? You may be worried about whether it is the right thing for your child and how they would settle into boarding school. What is the experience is really like? For Sam Lye, boarding school in Australia was the logical solution to complete his education while his family was overseas. Here he tells us about his experience at Sydney’s Newington College.

What does an average day at Newington entail?

I normally wake up at 6am to go to either football or swimming training. Then I have breakfast and go about my school day. Once my classes are finished, I either go to sports training or to prep (supervised homework). Dinner is at 5.30pm and then there are sports afterwards or prep until 8.15 pm. Personal time for everyone lasts until 9.30pm. At 9.30pm, we put away our electronics and prepare for lights out at 10pm.

Newington Boarding School - Sam Lye
Sam Lye

What do you do on the weekend?

I often visit my Grandad at his place. I’ll usually have school sport on Saturdays, and club sport on Sundays during winter. Some weekends we have school or House activities, meaning I have to stay in. The boarding house is really flexible in allowing you to have a break from school, but there’s plenty to do if you stay in for the weekend. We have an evening prep session on Sunday.

What’s the best thing about boarding?

The best thing about boarding for me is the structure of prep and the academic support and assistance from the teachers who live in the House. It allows me to stay on top of my homework and study, and have access to facilities that the day students don’t have. There’s also a great community of support.

What’s the food like?

The cooks keep us all well fed and I think the food is great. We also get a voice through the Boarding House Food Committee. Breakfast is normally cereals and toast; recess consists of snacks; lunch is normally a stir-fry or burger with salad; and dinner is usually meat, pasta and vegetables. I never go hungry!

Newington Boarding School

How do you stay in contact with your parents?

I usually ring Mum or Dad once a day at the end of prep just to have a chat, or I send a text to say hi, and I will try to Facetime on the weekends to talk to my sisters. I fly home for school holidays, or my family visits Australia. Mum or Dad will try to fly down for important events, too.

How would you sum up boarding at Newington?

The boarding house feels like a big family, and there is a great mix of kids from Sydney, as well as from overseas. On weekends in, we have heaps of fun with sports games, pizza nights, rock climbing and movies. Overall, I’m so glad I joined Newington Boarding House, as I really feel part of the school community and I’m much more organised and confident with my schoolwork leading up to Years 11 and 12.

Find out more about Newington College at


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This article first appeared in the October/November 2018 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.